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DD is 4 years old and we really need some advice please her behaviour is horrible, there is no other way to describe it

(55 Posts)
hereagain99 Tue 19-Nov-13 11:04:26

As I have said DD is 4yo and at the moment nothing seems to work.

A bit of background:

I have been separated from her dad since she was 16 months old so she doesn't remember us living with him. We live with my partner, it has been almost two years now. She accepted him very well and loves him to bits. DD sees her father every 8 weeks (although sometimes more) due to distance, we live on the other side of the country (that has been a blessing). Our parenting skills are completely different, we have rules and routines which go out of the window when she is with him (I am not criticising him for that it is his option and we cannot do anything about it)

Now, DD's behaviour has been very difficult lately. She will shout, scream, stamp her feet and everything else at the moment that she doesn't get her own way. When we ask her to do something she will answer "I am not going to do it". We try to reason with her, explain to her how it makes us feel, tell her that we don't like her behaviour, explain to her that when she ask us to do something we do it and we expect the same from her when we ask her to do something (we don't ask anything unreasonable, i.e. set the table, get dressed, tidy up).

We have always used "unconditional parenting techniques" but at the moment we are questioning if it is working. We are not happy about rewards charts or "naughty steps" or things like this, we believe that she should be doing it not because of the reward she gets but because it is the right thing to do.

Today she has told us that she wanted a "Proud Parent Certificate" for the school and we have told her that at the moment given her behaviour we cannot write anything on it. What would we say? That she only shouts and screams at us, that she is treating us badly. We know that she can behave very well, she does it at school and with other people so the problem must be with us. We don't know what to do at the moment, we need some advice please.


dozeydoris Fri 22-Nov-13 11:10:43

An unreliable DF must be v difficult for her to handle. Poor DD. This is possibly enough to cause tantrums in my nonexpert opinion. But she will learn to cope or find it easier when she is older. Best of luck.

sesamechoc Fri 22-Nov-13 21:04:02


Reading through all your posts, OP,this might be the best link for you and then you can choose between them

As there seems to be a sort of escalation of behaviour with your daughter , I wonder whether it might be worth you investing in a coaching session with laura markham - she's based in the US but does Skying...

( To keep me going! I get her regular emails and use her site and refer to my 3 fave parenting books - UP alfie kohn, how to talk, and peaceful parent, laura markham)

Have done a long postings to give you some of our real life your question what else can we do instead of punishments and rewards? there really are lots of things.

The reason I would encourage you not to give up is that me and DP are really in quite a minority in the way we parent -and DS1's primary school is full of liberals! - so we're encouraging anyone else who's trying as well cos it's tougher in the beginning.... It hasn't been plain sailing for us , especially when DS1 had the dreaded testosterone increase age 4 when DS2 was 4 months old.

I use a lot of stuff from laura markham's book. E.g. we have weekly family meetings ( v quick of course about 20 mins max ! - we started them when DS1 was 6 1/2 and as DS2 was just under 3, we used to say we're just having a family meeting - join in if you want to but we understand if you just want to play. But he did join in!

Both boys give their choices for the weekly food shop and really feel that their opinions are taken into account just from this small step of getting chicken legs instead of chicken breasts, and about 2 months ago, when we got to the end with AOB, DS2 age 3 said "oh yes daddy, we need a new light for the upstairs loo!"

Because neither of us were brought up this way, a lot of the stuff seemed unnatural and I have been on quite a journey and continue on this journey.....

We have kept going through the sort of difficult times that you're experiencing now by keeping the long term relationship with our children in mind.

It is an amazing experience to see our 2 children learning to emotionally regulate themselves ( DS1 stopping himself thumping DS 2 by saying, when you snatched my toy away, I was really irritated, lets think about what the options are) be thoughtful ( when our washing machine broke a few weeks ago, and I was getting stressed about it DS2 came and gave me a hug and said" you seem frustrated, but don't worry i'll help you calm yourself down, let's call someone to fix it!!!!) ,to hear things about DS1 at his parents' evening like - he gets on with everyone, his problem solving abilities are extremely well developed for his age etc etc.

Wishing you lots of luck - I would really like to hear how you're going in a few months so please think about PMing me in a few months time...

HoneyandRum Sat 23-Nov-13 12:09:01

I don't know what Unconditional Parenting is but I don't agree with the idea that simple ideas of reward and punishment are damaging to small children so instead what is put in place is a much more manipulative (in my opinion) form of emotional control. I have three kids ages 7, 10 and 13. They are all the typical intelligent, expressive, affectionate kids. They are able to talk about and show their feelings and also understand what their dad and I do and don't approve of. However when they were little, I didn't go through lots of weighty discussions and rigamarole. They want to know who they are, who you are and what the boundaries are. OK! I'm the mum and I'm in charge and here are the boundaries and within those firm boundaries here are choices and freedoms you get.

I saw some friends (especially when we were living in the USA) what appeared to me overwhelming their small kids with choice such as pointing at a huge drinks cooler in a cafe with literally tons of choices and saying "What do you want sweetie?" while I would just say do you want water or milk? I don't mean to be a pretentious super-mum as I am quite the opposite. I just found some parents making everything way, way more complicated than it need be. They would also have all these charts and what I would consider emotionally manipulative happy faces and sad faces "Use your words" and "Are you being PRINCIPALED?" i.e. are you "choosing" to do what I want you to do when we all know it's not a true choice.

Keep it simple. Kids thinking is very black and white when they're so young, the age of reason has always been considered to be around 7 and you are expecting the critical thinking and reasoning abilities of a child way above the age of 4. It's very overwhelming as other posters have stated for a child to think they have this much power over the significant adults in their lives. I had struggles with my kids behaviors like everyone else, but I saw it usually as my problem - what should I do differently. With very young kids it often comes down to simple bodily needs, they are tired, hungry - feeling overemotional and need some quiet time or a nice warm bath. In fact at that age if I had a child that couldn't get a grip emotionally I usually ran a bath and let them play in there while I sat and chatted to them. They are not experiencing the world as we are!

Help your dd with simple comfort and simple consequences.

clearsommespace Sun 24-Nov-13 19:19:14

I get overwhelmed by the choices in restaurants/cafés in the USA!

gamerchick Sun 24-Nov-13 19:34:18

I had to keep checking her age.. she's 4? Poor little bugger. Is she just allowed to be a little kid with no responsibilities sometimes?

You seem dead set on blaming her dad for her behaviour. You are treating her far older than what she is IMO.

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