4 year old bad behaviour advice required please!(37 Posts)
My 4 year old DD is playing up a lot at the moment, by which I mean:
- shouting at me and her Dad
- occasionally hitting me or her 2 year old sister
- getting very angry and throwing things around
- being rude to me and her Dad
- acting up at bedtime
She has recently recovered from croup but her nursery school tells me she behaves well there although sometimes doesn't like to take 'adult instruction', for example when writing her name.
I try to give her and her little sister equal attention.
I'm currently staying very calm but telling her that it's not acceptable. If she hits me or her sister, or says something rude like 'shut up' to me, then I take away something she values immediately. Like her favourite book or toy of the moment. This causes her to be upset but stops the behaviour. I felt like I was making progress but this afternoon she had another meltdown as she wanted a story but we needed to go out. She hit me (I removed her doll) and then she told me to shut up (I removed her book).
Things have calmed down now but I'm feeling like a bad mother.
Do I just need to persevere with this and it will work?
Before the last fortnight, she was generally reasonably good. She's a very headstrong character, strong willed, etc, but is a sensitive soul at heart.
My AIBU is, am I being unreasonable taking away her favourite things every time she does something that I find unacceptable?
What happened two weeks ago? Is that when she had the croup? Is she well now?
Yes the croup started 2 weeks ago and she's 90% better now. She still has a runny nose but no more barking cough etc.
But, she has always been the kind of child who tests boundaries and wants the opposite of what is offered. Her sister is very easy going and is a totally different personality.
Her behaviour has got a lot worse in the last 2-4 weeks.
I think taking her favourite things away is a good approach to be honest if it's done immediately after the bad behaviour - it teaches her that there are repercussions.
Did anything happen 2 weeks ago that has triggered this off? Has her little sister started walking or talking or anything like that which she might interpret as a threat to having all the attention on her?
Have you sat down with her when she's calm and asked her if there is anything she is worried or cross about?
And give yourself a break - you are not a bad mother!
My two cents is that the she enjoyed the attention she got when she was sick sick.
And now she’s 90% better she’s not getting it and even attention has now gone back to her and her sister.
I would have a big day out or a picnic
Is there anything in the lead up to her shouting at you
I think she's probably still feeling under the weather. She's clearly been quite poorly and its probably knocked her for 6.
Keep doing what your doing, you're setting good boundaries and are a good mum x
I'd do the same as you. Persevere with removing toys and reinforcing boundaries until she learns.
Taking things away usually gets the message across. But how long do you take them away for? if its just a few minutes or an hour its likely she doesnt see it as a punishment as she knows she gets it back. It needs to be at least a day, upto a week if she carries it on.
Could be she loved the attention from being ill but maybe also shes now realised she can be the boss at times? Its just a case of persevere really and eventually you'll find something that works.
For the hitting and anger i'd put her in a different room, don't get cross and tell her she can come back out when shes calmed down.
Nothing has changed with her little sister but DD did get a lot of attention during the croup and I had to have her sleep with me because her breathing was very bad at night. Obviously she was upset to not be sleeping with me anymore and now "hates her room", etc.
I've asked her during calm times if she feels sad or angry and she says no, she feels happy!
The lead up to the shouting...
So she gets very frustrated if she wants to say something and someone else interrupts her or she'll have a natural pause, we'll think she's finished, and a grown up will speak. Then she'll get very frustrated and angry and starts freaking out. It's like she's a very angry, frustrated grown up who has no filter!
SweetMoon, when I've tried to remove her to the hallway she just goes mental and starts screaming and hurling herself against tge kitchen door.
I've found the removing favourite toys thing works reasonably well at the moment but I feel like the 'enemy' and hope she gets it before too long!
I should add that I'm an only child so have no real understanding of sibling clashes and sibling rivalry. I was a very good, passive child so never really experienced much in terms of punishment. Also, I absolutely hate conflict so this is a perfect storm for me. My stomach is all knotted up.
My DD on the other hand is very passionate and feisty - qualities that I love in her. But I'm never sure of the best way to manage her behaviour.
Sounds reasonable to me, better to have a bit of drama now than an out of control teenager.
Thank you Notevilstepmother, yes that's what I'm hoping.
If it makes you feel any better - I have noticed my 3 yr old ds does this once he is feeling better having been ill.
He's had a few ear infections and it tends to happen once he has recovered when he's not getting the same attention. Bedtimes are a particular challenge - but it usually rights itself after a few days.
Hesburger, that's interesting and does make me feel better, thank you!
Tiredness sets mine off more than anything. I have a son (4) who is similar. You're not alone! I try to remind myself that each time he tantrums he is a) expressing his Big emotions which can only get better with time and b) he is actually looking to achieve a connection with me at the time. He is a very affectionate little wild one who has always needed a lot of me. But now he also has a younger sibling (1) so there's only so much to go around. I agree with confiscating. Also with talking about things when he calms down, with a focus on not what he did wrong but with how he will behave instead next time.
I would maybe take something away for the day. 5-7 days seems too long. What is her incentive to behave in that time if her favourite things have already been taken?
I think you also need to be helping her with alternative ways to express her frustration/anger as she likely doesn't want to behave this way but is struggling to find alternative ways of expressing herself in the moment.
When she's calm I'd roleplay the situations that tend to make her blow her top and teach her things like breathing techniques and arm her with the language to express how she's feeling. So she could say 'it makes me feel really frustrated when someone speaks when I haven't finished'. Just being heard and you acknowledging it with something like 'I'm sorry, I didn't realise' may be enough to diffuse the situation and help her understand that people aren't generally interrupting her on purpose.
Oh and I also try to preempt strong reactions by prepping him to know, for example, that something is happening in a few mins time (eg TV goes off)
lurkingnotlurking, yes I think tiredness is a factor here. She's getting 12 hours sleep a night but I'm having to wake her up in the morning.
BlueMirror, good idea about the length of time. I'll shorten it to 2 days I think. Her favourite things change all the time but I think 2 days would work better.
Also, very good idea about the roleplaying. I'll try that.
lurkingnotlurking, yes I do that already. I always do a countdown... we're leaving the playground in 5 minutes, 4 minutes, 3 minutes, etc. I started that a couple of years ago and it helped immensely.
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