Advanced search expect my 4yo DD to do what she is told? Friend said IABU

(118 Posts)
ThatsNotMyDinosaur Tue 25-Jun-13 20:26:20

My 4yo DD is a lovely girl, if you ask anyone who knows her they would say she is polite, well mannered and well behaved. But what they don't see is that at home she can be very stubborn, refusing to do what she is told.

It can be anything from 'stop being silly on the stairs, you will fall' to 'stop teasing your little brother' to 'please put your shoes away' or 'come on, into the car please'. She doesn't do it, she looks at me and just carries on whatever she is doing.

I always ask nicely the first time (this is usually enough if we are out or with others), then I ask a second time with a tone that says I am serious, and if I have to ask a third time then I show that I am cross with her (no yelling or anything just a cross face and very firm) and she has to do her 4 minute time out. This always turns into tears and sobbing because she has been told off and in time out, but she just doesn't get that if she had done what she was told then she wouldn't be in trouble.

It drives me mad, why can't she just do what she is told? She used to, then she turned four!

My friend said I am expecting too much, I shouldn't expect a four year old to do what she is told. But I don't think IABU because she used to do what she was told before this attitude arrived and her 3 yo brother mostly does what he is told will cry if he turns difficult on his 4th birthday too


DameFanny Tue 25-Jun-13 20:28:03

Nope. She's old enough to understand, to look at you, and deliberately ignore you - she's old enough to do a she's told.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Tue 25-Jun-13 20:28:46

Not at all. Keep doing what you're doing and you'll have a nice child that grows up into a decent adult. Your daughter knows when her behaviour is naughty and carries on regardless. If you don't teach her, nobody else will. At 4 she's old enough to do as she's told.

Wholetthedogin Tue 25-Jun-13 20:29:46

Sounds perfectly normal to me.
I would be more worried if she was compliant all the time.

Justforlaughs Tue 25-Jun-13 20:34:14

No, she is old enough to do as she is told. However, is there any reason why she has changed? You mention a younger brother. Is he a new addition to the family? Has she just started school? Have there been any other changes in your family? Sometimes, seemingly minor changes can really affect children. Possibly she feels left out for some reason. I'm really not trying to make you feel guilty, as it may well be just a phase she's going through, but try to rule out any logical reason for this change. I would really try to reinforce any good behaviour, so praise (and lots of it) whenever she does what she's told first time round, or pre-empts you asking her to do something. (I'm sure you do this anyway)

ThatsNotMyDinosaur Tue 25-Jun-13 20:34:48

What do I do then? Is it just a battle of wills and I have to make sure I win?!

Just keep going with the time outs? Is there anything more age appropriate or do people still do time out at 4 years. She is spending a lot of time in time out at the moment!!

It is driving me mad, it is just such wilful disobedience.

My friend made me feel bad because she said I was being too harsh over the little things. But my biggest rule is 'do what you are told', so even if it is over something as small as tidying up her shoes I still think she has to do it. I was asking friend what her 4yo is like, and when I described what my DD does she thought I was expecting too much and being too harsh. Then I felt bad for my DD that I was a mean mummy!

Justforlaughs Tue 25-Jun-13 20:35:22

Sorry, just seen that younger brother is 3!

ISolemnlySwearThatIAmUptoNoGoo Tue 25-Jun-13 20:37:18

You have just described perfectly my just turned 4 year old. She is just testing to see how far she can go. No kid likes time out but she knows thats the consequence.

Justforlaughs Tue 25-Jun-13 20:37:43

Is hse going to be starting school in September. Lots of children get quite freaked out by that and their behaviour reflects it.

Wolfiefan Tue 25-Jun-13 20:38:34

Pick your battles!
Does it help if you explain why you want a certain behaviour?
Ensure you reward good behaviour.
Keep doing exactly what you do. Clear and consistent. There are consequences to bad behaviour. She will get the message!

ThatsNotMyDinosaur Tue 25-Jun-13 20:40:11

JustForLaughs No changes recently, younger brother is only a year younger so she has never known family life without him really. She has me at home as a SAHM and she goes to playschool for her free 15 hours early years entitlement.

Things will change in September when she starts school and I go back to work (have been doing freelance whilst they are at playschool up to now) but nothing has changed yet that I can think of having any impact on her.

She has been going to the same playschool since she was 2.5yrs, no house move, no routine change. It started around Easter when she turned 4. No idea what has set it off really.

MerryOnMerlot Tue 25-Jun-13 20:40:40

YANBU at all. You're friend on the other hand most definitely is!

Time out will get a 50/50 vote on MN, but fwiw I used it and it does work.

My only nugget of advice is to pick your battles, but your 4 yr old needs to know who's the boss!

BigBongTheory Tue 25-Jun-13 20:42:28

Thank goodness it's not just us. Mine is driving me crazy and I feel like I've lost all control in the house.

Justforlaughs Tue 25-Jun-13 20:43:20

I think that time out can work, but not for every child. Maybe try a different approach. Crying when she gets a time out doesn't mean it's effective.

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee Tue 25-Jun-13 20:44:35


Though you will be told you are being too harsh and she's just a baby! (you aren't and she isn't!).

I don't like 'time out' myself. I'd go for removal of something she values - screen time, certain toys, playing in the bath, pudding - whatever you know will actually bother her.

FiddleDeeDees Tue 25-Jun-13 20:44:49

Very interested in people's thoughts on this as I have an almost four year old who is similar.

I agree with OP that at that age they should just do as they are told...surely I shouldn't have to "negotiate" with him to put his shoes away - something that I have to tell him to do umpteen times a day, every day...

Aargh! It's driving me mad too!!

ThatsNotMyDinosaur Tue 25-Jun-13 20:45:25

How are you meant to know which battles to pick though? Ignoring me when I ask her to tidy her shoes is just as disobedient as when she ignores me telling her to stop snatching from her brother.

If I let her get away with the small things then won't that make it harder to enforce the bigger things?

formicadinosaur Tue 25-Jun-13 20:48:17

Of course a 4 year old can do what they are told. Mine do. We also do time out etc in a quiet, fair but firm way. All children need regular boundaries.

sparkle12mar08 Tue 25-Jun-13 20:49:18

Sorry to be the harbinger of doom, but I'm still facing these battles with a 7 and 5 yo! But yes I thoroughly agree, she's not to young, and yes, you just have to keep going!

formicadinosaur Tue 25-Jun-13 20:49:35

It is worth giving praise and more attention to good behaviour.

ThatsNotMyDinosaur Tue 25-Jun-13 20:50:23

So what do others do if they don't do time out?

I could limit screen time, but they only have about 30-40 minutes of TV a day after dinner in the evening anyway. Mind you, she loves her Innotab but it wouldn't bother her to have it taken away, she'd just pick up another toy without being too put out. They share it between them so is used to her brother having it and her not having it.

No pudding could be an option, will have a think about what she would really hate to miss out on.

Apileofballyhoo Tue 25-Jun-13 20:51:19

Have you explained to her what you have explained here, that she must do what you say when you say it or else she goes in time out? After time out does she do the appointed task? I was having terrible difficulty with DS (5) until I explained it to him logically (if you do what I ask first time neither of us get upset).

Not sure asking her repeatedly is a help. I do try to explain the logic behind things (if we don't leave now there won't be time later for.../if your things are on the floor someone might walk on them and break them).

matchpoint Tue 25-Jun-13 20:53:19

I can't give any advice that hasn't already been said on this thread, but you have my utmost sympathy. It's called the 'fucking fours' for a reason!

Glittertwins Tue 25-Jun-13 20:54:36

I found the wilful disobedience started about this time last year ie when they were 4. Nursery said they see it every time as its right in the run up to them leaving, being big fish in pond to go to school. I don't think you are being unreasonable as my two are also old enough to understand exactly what they are doing. We get it bad with twins as I can guarantee that the other will do exactly what the first had been told off for. If we ask them why they did it, we get a pitiful "I don't know" answer.

ThatsNotMyDinosaur Tue 25-Jun-13 20:54:52

Apileofballyhoo Yes, I have explained and explained and explained. She is a very verbally able girl, I know she understands me. We discuss it, why mummy was cross, what she needed to do. She understands it I am sure, but it hasn't helped. If anything it just makes it harder to put up with because I know she is choosing to be defiant even though she understands what the consequences are.

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