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


intheshed Tue 25-Jun-13 21:41:25

My 5yo DD1 is like this at the moment - little things suddenly turn into a battle of wills. I got the book "how to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk" and I find some of the techniques do work, if I have the patience!

I also try to pick my battles and I'm trying to make time to do more one on one things with her, and trying to say 'yes' more often (as I am very guilty of constantly saying 'mummy's busy'...)

She knows that if I start counting 1,2,3 then when I get to 3 she will be on the naughty step. It used to be that 90% of the time she would do the thing I asked her to do before I got to 3, but lately she's been spending more and more time on the step. So I might need a new strategy!

Beamur Tue 25-Jun-13 21:42:25

YANBU in expecting a reasonable level of compliance.
Personally I don't like time outs or even punishments - I just expect my reasonable requests to be met fairly promptly. And they are.
Start as you mean to go on - be firm but fair.

MmeLindor Tue 25-Jun-13 21:42:34

I am going against many on this thread.

You can't always get to dictate to your kids that the do EVERYTHING you tell them. Life doesn't work that way. They need to have the feeling that they can 'win' sometimes.

This has to be done by talking to you, not by having a tantrum. They have to learn that if they want something, they have to argue for it in a polite and respectful manner.

eg she doesn't want to put her shoes on, she wants to put her sandals on. She has to explain to you WHY she wants her sandals, and if there is no logical reason why she shouldn't, then let her wear her sandals. Don't back yourself into a corner on principle of 'doing as she is told'.

It is an important lesson in life.

I would also think about how you are phrasing your instruction.

'If you don't put your shoes on, we are not going to the park'.


'Once you have your shoes on, we can go to the park'

Get the book 'How to talk so that kids will listen' - it is really excellent. I don't follow it religiously, but there were a few really great tips in there.

Your kids don't have to obey your every word. My DC are now 11yo and (almost) 9yo and I am often complimented on their lovely manners and good behaviour.

pointythings Tue 25-Jun-13 21:43:24

Mine didn't do very many chores at all when they were 4, we started when they were 6-7. They are now 10 and 12 and do their bits, and have started doing stuff without being asked, like the dishes. <worried>

It's completely normal for a 4yo not to do things the first time of asking some of the time. If it's all of the time then it's time to do some work.

I think the 'sad voice at bedtime' stuff sounds sinister too, like emotional blackmail. Would never resort to that.

MmeLindor Tue 25-Jun-13 21:43:47

oh, and stop with the timeout.

I have never found it effective.

pointythings Tue 25-Jun-13 21:45:01

MmeLindor just put it much, much better than I ever could.

If children only learn to obey, they will never survive in the real world. They have to learn to negotiate to get their own way within the boundaries of politeness, they have to learn to stand up for themselves, otherwise they will end up as the kind of sheeple politicians love.

Beamur Tue 25-Jun-13 21:46:58

Ditto to MmeLindor - spot on.

CreatureRetorts Tue 25-Jun-13 21:47:12

Sorry misread. However I agree with MmeLindor.

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee Tue 25-Jun-13 21:47:27

God - don't start the counting thing (sorry I'm a doozer!) but that just ends up with you having kids that don't do anything until the very last minute of it - it's a nightmare.

Also, no, you don't need to pick your battles other than the one you are picking now which is 'do as you are told'. She is small, get it sorted now, it is much harder when they are bigger and wont do as they are told! You enjoy her (them) more when they do as they are told! Stick to your guns but think about the consequences of not doing it and see if you can think of something that will work better for your DD than 'time out'.

... and no, not getting the 'sinister' thing at all.

greeneyed - you are most certainly and absolutely not the worst parent in the world! (Did you see the 'mother' on the news tonight - now she deserves that title sad ) What happens when he sobs? What happens if you completely ignore the sobbing?

cjel Tue 25-Jun-13 21:48:29

As a mother of two and grannie to 5 who runs a toddler group , I would say back off a bit. if you want to break her spirit and turn her in to a frightened wreck who will do whatever she is told by any one carry on. It may be 'driving you mad' but that is for you to sort out internally only you are making yourself mad!!!!
re assess why you feel the need to have this little person do everything you want when you want it. Are you like it with adults? if not why not? and if you are?
Be more encouraging, loads of praise and positivity, try and do things with her instead of standing away and telling her do xyz. If you think educating your children is a battle of who gets there own way there will come a day when you will lose. Big time.

ThatsNotMyDinosaur Tue 25-Jun-13 21:49:13

Yes, they both have jobs to do, they love it because they know they will get their pocket money. I don't even have to tell them to do the jobs, they do it without any reminding.

DD at 4 can make a passable attempt at straightening her duvet, DS at 3 needs me to do it with him together but is very chuffed with himself that he has done it.
Tidying their rooms is just straightening up toys, so putting her My Little Ponys in their box and putting his cars in the car garage.
Each night one of them puts the cutlery on the table for dinner. It is hardly slave labour!

We have plenty of fun too. Having some responsibility to help around the house doesn't mean we don't have fun as a family hmm

Smartiepants79 Tue 25-Jun-13 21:49:28

Remember all these are other people's opinions. You're must do what works for you and your family.
It only matters if YOU truly believe you are too strict and mean.
Is this really impacting on your relationship and enjoyment of your time with her? Or is just annoying you a bit at the minute.
I think I'm probably strict BUT I'm comfortable with that!
I believe that I'm laying ground rules that will be the foundations of our relationship for her whole childhood.
I would rather have these battles now, with a 3 year old than in ten years time with a 13 year old.

Fightlikeagirl Tue 25-Jun-13 21:50:19

I'm a childminder and totally agree with what Neverbeentome wrote.

Completely over do the praise when she is good, tell her how proud you are and how happy it makes you when she is nice to her brother/puts her shoes away etc.

In the case of unwanted behaviour, give a couple of chances for her to stop the behaviour, then give a clear consequence of what will happen if the behaviour continues.If needed carry out the consequence (time out or whatever), stay calm and firm and then move on, don't dwell on the incident or re visit.

Is lovely that you talk about your favourite parts of the day together but maybe leave out the least favourite parts. Just keep things positive.
Children crave attention and if you give them loads when they're good then ( normally!) they want to behave well to get that good attention.
Another really important thing is consistency.

CreatureRetorts Tue 25-Jun-13 21:52:07

They do it to get pocket money? Why not do it because they should? I don't like pocket money conditional on chores - teaches your child that they only do something in exchange for something else as opposed to doing it as part of contributing to the family.
You can teach a child about money without doing it as you are <anticipates response>

mrsjay Tue 25-Jun-13 21:53:13

OH I agree that children shouldnt be little robots and do as they are TOLD all the time but for important things they should learn what mum says goes

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee Tue 25-Jun-13 21:53:44

You are not too strict or mean - you really aren't. There is nothing wrong with expecting your children to do as you tell them - it doesn't 'break their spirit' fgs. They have plenty of choices, plenty of praise & plenty of fun...

greeneyed Tue 25-Jun-13 21:54:04

Glad to read some of the other points of view - enlightening thread - book ordered tonight on Amazon, thank you!

MmeLindor Tue 25-Jun-13 21:54:25

I don't think that the chores are a problem. We have never had regular chores for the kids, cause I am too chaotic to sort them out, but they do help with setting table and keeping their rooms tidy.

lecce Tue 25-Jun-13 21:55:23

I totally agree Creature. I also like the fact that ds1 has recently started tidying his room of his own volition, with no monetary incentive. It is nice to see them start to take pride in their belongings, though I am fully prepared for him to go through a 'slobby' phase in the future.

ThatsNotMyDinosaur Tue 25-Jun-13 21:57:35

I don't do any sort of sad voice at bedtime, it is a lovely bit of the day where we compare our best bits and whether there was anything that we didn't enjoy. Usually she says when she scraped her knee or something like that and usually I'll say when mummy burnt the toast or something lighthearted, though sometimes I use it to reinforce something serious, say why we don't play by the fire or the road or something important like that.

MmeLindor Tue 25-Jun-13 21:58:15

you are absolutely not a bad parent. I did a parenting course and learned loads on MN - including the suggestion to buy the book.

None of us are experts on parenting, but we have all tried various methods. Children are all a bit different. I have to use different tactics with my laidback son than with my worrymouse daughter. Over the years, I have found what works for us.

Painting myself into a corner with 'if you don't do X, we won't do Y' is one of the mistakes that I made, and learned from.

Don't make threats you cannot follow through, and let your kids win the argument once in a while are my rules.

Sparklyboots Tue 25-Jun-13 21:58:16

yy lecce Know that it's an unpopular position, but I'm not so into the obedience-as-a-goal school of parenting. I was a particularly compliant child and it was terrifically convenient and valued for my caregivers but not all of them should have been entrusted with my compliance.

Asheth Tue 25-Jun-13 21:59:38

I think Ya being a tiny bit u to expect her to do as she's told all the time. Yes, she does understand but also she's testing out her own ideas and opinions. And while she might undertand that she should do as she's told, she may not understand the importance of tasks. To a 4 year old the fact that her shoes are in the middle of the room rather than neatly away probably doesn't sound like that big a deal.

I think that's where pick your battles helps. Which ones are entirely up to you. For me the major ones are anything to do with his safety and his health (so holding my hand to cross a road is non negotiable, for example as is brushing his teeth) After that ones that impact on other people. In your example of teasing her brother and picking up shoes I would want to clamp down on the teasing before worrying about the shoes.

I think also be aware of how much attention she gets for not doing as she's told. If she picks the shoes up she gets a quick well done. If she doesn't she gets a 4 minute, temper tantrum - fantastic fun for any 4 year old! grin I find it far more effective with my DS to just shrug my shoulders and say "ok, Mummy will do it" and walk away. This will usually prompt him to run after saying "No I do it!" But even if he doesn't at least he hasn't had any attention for his disobedience.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Tue 25-Jun-13 22:01:24

I completely agree with pick your battles when they're older. Now at age 4 I'd make allowances for their age, tiredness, the kind of day they've had, but if they used to be able to do stuff or follow instructions aged 3 why on earth let them off because they've flat out decided

No, I don't want to do that
I'll do it in my own time (if at all)
If I disregard her, mummy will do it herself or leave me in peace

The sobbing or dismay at being ticked off by a parent won't wash with other adults. They're still little at heart and don't like being in our bad books so turn on the waterworks but they're being called out on something they opted to do.

You're not a tyrant OP.

cjel Tue 25-Jun-13 22:05:17

Yes it can break spirits. where does it stop (Not suggesting this for you OP or anyone on this thread) but if they learn they have to do anything they are told even if its not what they want eg wear red top not blue. How far would it go -all the way to abuse!!
It is suprising how little not having the choice of becoming the best they can will definately damage a person, 20,000 choices wouldn't be enough if they are denied the choice of tops etc that is the very person they want to be. YOu are teaching them that they can't trust their own judgement. This is proven to be a huge cause of mental health issues in later life, I AM NOT SUGGESTING THAT I HAVE READ ANYTHING HERE TO SUGGEST THAT!! but just don't 'fgs it won't break spirits' it will. best parenting is encouraging dcs to be the best version of themselves they can - not your dream of who they should be. I have dicsiplined mine they know what is right and wrong and are told off but they have also had the freedom to explore themselves.

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