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Change in behaviour in nearly 4 year-old

(15 Posts)
stacysmom Tue 15-Jan-13 10:06:26

Can anyone tell me if they've been through this before? DD (an only, 4 at the end of the month) has been an absolute nightmare since Christmas. We put it down to too much excitement/attention (both parents home and off work) and generally being off schedule a bit but she's back in the routine now and it's still terrible. Generally it's disobedience but we've also had lots more tantrums over the tiniest thing. The other new thing is the 'I'm too scared to go to sleep without a grown-up, I'm afraid of the dark' having had no issues before. She still goes down fine but the second she wakes in the night she trots through in to our room and gets in to bed with us. We keep telling ourselves it's just a phase - please someone tell me we're right.

amazingmumof6 Tue 15-Jan-13 10:35:00

probably withdrawal symptoms post Christmas coziness, so do try to give her a bit of extra attention to make up for the difference.

a soft nightlight will help with fear of dark - if it is a real thing, but if she just uses that as an excuse to be with you, than not the solution (though still reassuring).

you could try this - she has to stay in bed all night for the school nights (sticker if she did), if she does well she can sleep on her mattress on the floor next to your bed on Friday or Saturday night as a treat.

(mine do that anyway if ill or scared or wet the bed, so we have an extra cot mattress with a cover ready to use)

if on the other hand you don't want her to get in to your bed/bedroom ask her what it is in dark she is afraid of?

I heard this story, thought was fab : kid was afraid of the dark, coz of imaginary wolves coming to eat her, so dad helped her make a wolf-zapper out of an old plastic bottle, which she kept next to her pillow just in case. no point telling there are no wolves, to her they were realm, so needed a real solution!

mine used to be afraid of crocodiles, so I'd stand at the window and shout - "go away crocs, back to the Nile!" then we'd giggle at how scared the crocs were of mummy and they'd point at the shadows look mummy, there's one running away! (then back to bed, safe from predators!)

what do you think?

stacysmom Tue 15-Jan-13 10:48:51

Hi amazing (great name), thanks for taking the time to reply, these are all really helpful ideas. She has a gro-clock next to her bed which gives off a nice subtle light but I guess she needs more. I have suggested moving in the hallway nightlight but she bats it back by saying that won't help - I need to do it on the quiet so she can't complain (although she has eyes like a hawk and sees everything!). I love the wolf-zapper and think we shall have to get crafting this afternoon when she's back from pre-school. I have tried the stern mummy voice on the occaisional ghost in the wardrobe but clearly they've not scared of me!

amazingmumof6 Tue 15-Jan-13 11:07:47

grin deaf ghosts?

come to think of it I'd love and idiot-zapper and one for those who can't park properly....

she doesn't want your solution (hallway nightlight) coz keeping the problem allows her to choose her solution (your bed)

telling her that's not an option will be very frustrating for her.

coming up with a solution that she can control and she can choose (or appears to be chosen by her!) will be more successful, her rule so she will have to stick to it.

the key word might be "control".

perhaps there are other things she can be more in control of as she's getting older and wants to be more in charge/more responsible/independent?

have a think or chat with her what are it might be that you can make changes, something that's important to her and is relatively easy for you to adjust?

make a deal - if she stays in her bed all night she can choose what to have for dinner or for pudding (for example)

amazingmumof6 Tue 15-Jan-13 11:10:06

scred up that sentence, so here it is again : have a think or chat with her what they might be, so you can make changes...

amazingmumof6 Tue 15-Jan-13 11:10:49

and screwed up the word screwed up - aaagggghhh, need an idiot zapper for me! grin

stacysmom Tue 15-Jan-13 11:15:18

I'd have an idiot zapper out constantly in the supermarket car park...

I think control hits the nail on the head perfectly. Giving her a solution she can control and 'choose' is perfect. We have recently put her in charge of feeding the cats which she is loving, so maybe we need to scout around for something else to give her. Not sure that cleaning the bathroom is necessarily going to work for her though... wink

amazingmumof6 Tue 15-Jan-13 11:16:52

or ironinggrin

amazingmumof6 Tue 15-Jan-13 11:22:19

and remember this chat when she's a teenager, control is what we all crave in all aspects & levels of life, politics is all about power struggles and tactics, and so is work , marriage and bringing up kids !

good luck!smile

WingDefence Tue 15-Jan-13 11:29:43

My DS (4 and a few weeks) was really unsettled too over Christmas and his birthday period but has settled down mostly since being back at preschool last week.

However, he's still overtired so playing up a bit eg at tea time and bed time and I think his body clock is just getting used to being back in routine/less time slobbing out in front of the TV playing with my iPad blush so I'm not too concerned.

I'm assuming your DD knows it's her birthday coming up? DS was super-excited about his birthday and party etc for weeks beforehand, and that plus the first Christmas he properly knew about/anticipated made him very excitable for quite some time. It could well be that she is excited about her birthday coming up and that plus the hangover from Xmas means she's not yet settled down.

I'd probably give her some slack until after her birthday (I appreciate those couple of weeks may feel like a long time) and then start to worry?!

stacysmom Tue 15-Jan-13 11:32:27

Hi Wing, yes, there is lots of pre-birthday excitement and you're right - this waiting between Christmas and birthday feels very painful and very long!

Dinkysmummy Tue 15-Jan-13 11:47:22


That is definetely a hard one. If kids really want something they will find ways to skirt around your solutions. My dd went though a phase just after 4 where she wanted to be in my bed.
At first I tried all sorts and nothing was working, until I tried bribery!
For every night she stayed in her own bed she had a sticker, each sticker earned 50p and at the end of the week she could take her coins and go and get some trash pack toys. After about 2 weeks she stayed in her bed because she wanted her toys more than my bed!
Good luck!

ponderpondering Tue 15-Jan-13 12:50:38

I use an imaginary spray when my daughter 3 yrs mentions monsters she keeps it under her pillow wink, and uses it if she wakes in the night but there are still nights when she gets in with us.

stacysmom Tue 15-Jan-13 13:42:57

So, stickers, anti-monster weaponry (real or imagined) and (parentally-managed) control for her. I love MN.

amazingmumof6 Tue 15-Jan-13 16:01:55

you got it! and happy birthday to her!

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