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Our 4 yo is driving us batty

(11 Posts)
Luxnuova Tue 03-May-16 09:11:17

My DD is a bright, loving, and very verbal four year old, but we are really struggling with her behaviour at the moment. Just today, we had three major meltdowns - tears, shouting, the works. Utterly horrible to the point where I just want to cry myself. We've also had a number of these episodes in public, (not today, but last week) and I find that incredibly distressing. I've been trying to work out what it is that sets her off and it's a few fairly predictable things, probably not unusual for her age. She hates things changing when she's in the swing of them (ie stopping games for dinner), so have been trying to give her notice (two minutes till dinner, etc). But she also just flat-out hates not getting her own way, straight away. So, fo example, one memorable occasion was set off by a refusal of a lollipop. I am constantly torn between thinking - 'this is just her age, she's tired, she's hungry,' or other situational factors and then -' nope, I'm just a crap parent, and she's running rings around us'.

I have read a bit of parenting stuff around this area, mostly in moments of desperation. We have always tried to do the warning thing (ie two minutes to go, etc), to focus on positive incentives, to give herself a way of coming down from battles of will...but, in spite of some successes on a case by case basis, the overall behaviour is just NOT showing signs of improvement. I'm at my wits' end tonight - she went to bed without usual story and snuggle because she was just being so ludicrous. I can't work out if she's pushing to see what the boundaries are, or if she's feeling anxious or unsettled and that's the cause of the constant whining, etc.

I have been travelling quite a bit for work lately, but she has a very close relationship with DH, and she has had plenty of quality time with me to make up for the trips. Any advice? Am I completely messing this thing up. I feel like crap at present.

Luxnuova Tue 03-May-16 09:15:35

I should also say, it sounds like I'm a pushover a bit, but I'm not. I do try to set firm boundaries - she's generally well mannered and polite (mostly), but it seems that even when I use a firmer disciplinary approach, or use natural consequences (ie, if you don't eat yr breakfast we'll have to leave without, etc) it doesn't seem to improve things. Maybe I'm being inconsistent though....

KittyandTeal Tue 03-May-16 09:16:41

I have no suggestion I'm afraid but you are not alone. My 3.8yo is almost exactly the same. In fact I am currently ignoring her shouting at her duplo for some perceived slight.

If you are a crap parent then so am I! We seem to have phases where she's almost totally in control of her emotions and can ask for help before getting frustrated, happily agrees to do something after a time warning etc then suddenly it all changes and it all fall apart. Whinging and whining and refusal to do pretty much anything. It's bloody exhausting.

Malvolia Tue 03-May-16 09:26:24

It sounds very like my just turned 4 year old DS. I had thought when he was younger, and his friends were specialising in those screamy back-arching tantrums, that we'd been lucky, because he was so verbal from so young that he seemed to get less frustrated than some of his peers, because he could tell us what was wrong and that he hated us and we were the nastiest cruellest excuses for parents who had ever walked the earth.

However, he's had more complete tantrums in the last two or three months than he has had in the entire rest of his life put together. I agree it's incredibly trying, but I do think it's just another developmental stage. I think they've learned so many skills and become in their small way so independent between 3 and 4, - toilet training, pre-school, school starting/talking about it etc etc - that not having control over other little things seems more difficult, if that makes sense,

Anyway, we are just trying not to murder DS, and shrugging and saying 'This too will pass' etc.

Luxnuova Tue 03-May-16 09:44:27

Oh thank god we're not alone! Sorry to hear you're both suffering too, though. It's incredible how much havoc a small person can wreak, and how shit it can make you feel. I'm do wonder if it'd be easier if she didn't have such unalloyed adult focus! Have been trying to give her a sibling for a while (um, obviously not solely for her sake but because we really want another baby) but it's taken longer than hoped, with a couple of setbacks along the way. But, then again, I know plenty of only children her age who are little angels....

ShitUsername Tue 03-May-16 10:31:28

No advice sorry op but just wanted to let you know you're not alone.

My dd is 3.5 and almost exactly how you've described. She's had a number of changes to her routine over the past few months including a new sibling and starting preschool, and I'd mostly put her behaviour down to that. However, I have a few friends with children of a similar age and the general consensus is they're all arseholes the same at this age. It's hard going at times but I guess it won't last forever.

Like the previous poster's suggestion of trying not to murder her child - if you can get through the day without doing that you've done a good job imo grin

GrouchyKiwi Tue 03-May-16 10:40:11

I'm finding 4 more difficult than 3. DD1's tantrums are stronger and last longer and are over more ludicrous things, which seems odd. I suspect part of it is trying to exert her control and exploring what boundaries it has. My least favourite thing, though, is the deliberate defiance. Last night we reminded her to be quiet when going to bed so she didn't wake her sister (who shares a room with her) so of course she started shouting as soon as she got into the room and woke DD2.

I am finding, though, that staying with her when she tantrums and offering a hug when she's ready for one seems to help deal with things sooner, and then we can talk about it when she's calm. And, to be completely fair, we are beginning to have more days between the big blow ups. So there is light ahead?

happygelfling Tue 03-May-16 22:38:11

So pleased to have found this thread! Going through similar with my DD (4.5). I am trying to encourage her to ask for things nicely, rather than scream and yell that she has the wrong colour cup, or whatever it is this minute, but I'm not sure I'm making noticeable progress.
flowers and wine to everyone.

Luxnuova Wed 04-May-16 23:29:09

Yes wine and flowers to all - even if no one knows what the hell to do about it, at least we know we're not alone. Also, just to make you all feel better - tantrums aren't just limited to our species. I am totally feeling this mother elephant's expression:

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHorrid Wed 04-May-16 23:29:21

I know plenty of only children her age who are little angels

Lots of my friends think my dd (5 and still has god awful tantrums) is an angel. She's good when she is out and at school - home is a complete nightmare at times.

She's been hell on earth tonight, she has a cold. Being ill always makes her exceptionally grumpy. Could that be a factor.

I know just what you mean about feeling like a shit parent. I swing from feeling I'm too tough and then back to too soft. It's exhausting. Good luck ttc for number 2. Ds (2 1/2) is a much more placid cheerful kid, has been since the day he was born.

Xmasbaby11 Wed 04-May-16 23:32:32

Dd is 4.3 and also tricky. She is so stubborn if she wants something and gets her 2 y o sister to join in the whining, begging etc. An utter nightmare!

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