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My 4 year old's behaviour is exhausting me, help please

(17 Posts)
Trickymoments Mon 25-Jul-16 20:12:26

I am really struggling to cope with my 4 year old dad's behaviour. She has become bossy, defiant, moody & argumentative and she shouts & screams constantly. She goes to a childminder/pre-school until early afternoon each day & then home. It's like a switch is flipped when she comes home with me as both her childcarers have said she is very good & a quiet little girl!

She will not do anything I ask her without a struggle, she complains about every meal I try to give her, she orders me around like I'm a servant & generally plays up. She argues constantly with her brother who is 8 and it doesn't help that he winds her up all the time & she reacts.

Yesterday we were having a family tea and she picked up a forkful of rice and threw it at me across the table. DH was really cross and put her in her room where she screamed.

She goes out in the garden now the weather's warmer & shouts about everything she's doing. She doesn't just talk, she shouts. If DS is out there it won't be long before she is screaming at him or crying. I spend my whole time asking her to quieten down but she takes no notice. Our neighbours must hate us as they are constantly out there bickering & screaming.

I have tried the naughty step but she just gets off it. Putting her in her room works but the at this rate she will be spending most of her time in her room.

Please can anyone give me some advice on how to regain some control of her. I am literally fighting with her over everything and it's exhausting me. I actually thought this afternoon I'd be better off working full time as it would be easier!!

Trickymoments Mon 25-Jul-16 20:13:20

That should say 4 year old dd's behaviour not dad's!

daisydalrymple Mon 25-Jul-16 20:29:01

At a very basic level, it sounds like she's attention seeking, and is trying to get any kind of reaction from you. At four, she's old enough to understand consequences, so could you try some positive reinforcement stuff for the times she's particularly trying? Explain how negative behaviour takes up a lot more time to resolve and that when there's good behaviour there's time to play a game / read a story together / do some colouring together etc. Are you able to set aside a dedicated half hour with her everyday to do stuff together?

So set a simple list of rules of expected behaviour (for everybody, not just her) at mealtimes, when playing outside, when speaking to people, getting ready for bed etc. If she gets a smiley face everyday, and she gets to go with you to choose a magazine at the weekend / go to the park / go swimming (or whatever would appeal to her).

No idea if this is at all useful or if it's stuff you've already tried. I hope you manage to resolve it soon (I'm no expert, just I have 3 dcs and it's fascinating how they can all have such differing personalities and temperaments isn't it). I really feel for you.

daisydalrymple Mon 25-Jul-16 20:36:12

Ps things that stand out in your post are she won't do anything I ask her, and, she orders me around like a servant.

For things that she needs to do, don't ask, tell her, but then give her options and a choice about some element of it.

If she orders you around / throws food etc again, react calmly but tell her the behaviour is totally unacceptable and if it happens again X y z will happen. (But be prepared to follow through - eg with the rice throwing I would probably have done the same as you, but told her if she ever throws food again, her meal would be removed and she would be hungry until the next meal).

If she's complaining about the meals you serve, get her involved in choosing a couple of meals for the week / shopping / helping prepare etc.

Trickymoments Mon 25-Jul-16 20:54:46

Thank you daisy. With your experience of 3 dc's can you suggest any suitable consequences for bad behaviour for this age? That's half my problem as I often say I'm going to count to 3, but then I'm not sure what I'm going to do when I get to 3!! The naughty step has no effect whatsoever.

daisydalrymple Mon 25-Jul-16 21:30:03

I honestly think at that age the consequence is knowing that she won't get the treat she would get for good behaviour if that makes sense.

I always try to make it clear what kind of behaviour is good and expected and emphasise the positives. (But what do I know, dc3 is rewriting the book at 21 mo grin )

HumphreyCobblers Mon 25-Jul-16 21:41:37

How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk is a great book for general parenting advice.

I have a nine year old, a seven year old and a two year old and this book has saved my sanity over the years.

The naughty step is a rubbish technique imo (am a teacher of little kids too) it only works on those who don't really need it anyway.

walde Mon 25-Jul-16 21:53:22

My dd is going through a similar phase. I am trying to give lots of praise for positive behaviour and letting her overhear me saying positive things about her to dh. i am trying to be more decisive and following through with threats (ie taking away her tea when she was being awful at the table) I am also trying to be less shouty myself and generally calmer. I hope it might rub off on her. I am also setting aside time when we can do things together just me and her. I also think I sometimes expect too much of her as she is the eldest, so I am trying not to mither her about every little thing she does wrong. Hopefully some of that will help, as it can be wearing.

drspouse Mon 25-Jul-16 22:11:52

I see you've borrowed my DS. We also have a DD aged 2.

We have been dealing with this for a while and felt at one point like we were constantly shouting at him. It is by no means resolved (he has some SN too) but we find a few things help a lot:

The book Calmer Happier Easier Parenting was a turning point. We use Descriptive Praise till it comes out of our ears. He responds so well, he is delighted to be told things like "I saw how nicely you walked past DD and didn't push her".

DS needs one to one attention - so we try to do something quick when DD is napping (craft, cooking) and I'm also booking some extra mornings in childcare for DD (tomorrow we are climbing a mountain - OK a small hill with a view). This builds him up to be calmer and more in control the rest of the time.

Ignoring is more or less the only consequence that is viable - he tends to go into a rage if we try to do anything like time out our time in. Putting things right sometimes works (you throw it, you clean it up).

And finally 123 only works if 3 is followed by "I'm going to make what I want to happen, happen" So it works for "give that toy back RIGHT NOW" as you can take it off them. It doesn't work for "say sorry"!

drspouse Tue 26-Jul-16 08:41:06

Of course none of this lovely parenting stops me shouting at him for snatching DD's toy... And breathe.

blinkowl Tue 26-Jul-16 08:59:57

DS was similarly exhausting at this age. Two things helped, firstly the book Calmer Happier Easier Parenting had some good techniques in it that actually helped.

Also a sticker chart - but bear with me on this! - the sticker chart had two functions. Firstly it became very clear we weren't giving DS enough praise for doing things right - hard when he's being do bloody difficult! - but that this was enforcing the idea for him that to the way to get our attention was to be naughty. So the sticker chart was partly for us, to remind us to reward even tiny things he did right, to make sure the praise outnumbered the negative remarks.

I read somewhere your praise should outnumber the negative comments at least 10 to 1. That gave me pause for thoight as ours was the opposite of that - probably more like 30 negative remarks for every positive as he was being so challenging.

The other thing the sticker chart was good for was helping DS learn to do specific skills. So as well as getting stickers for anything good he did, he knew he had certain tasks that would get a sticker. We used it to help him get dressed himself. I started offering a sticker for getting dressed by himself but soon realised that was too ambitious and broke it down into two tasks - getting dressed by himself and getting dressed without fuss. So he could earn 1 if he did it himself / didn't create a scene but 2 if he managed both.

And do you know what, it actually worked!

He would also get a sticker if he tries a new food. When he completed a line on the chart he got to choose a toy from our local charity shop which he loved.

This didn't change DS's personality! But it was a positive step for us.

welshbetty77 Tue 27-Jun-17 07:35:01

I know I'm resurrecting an old thread, but just going through this with my almost 4 year old...he is AWFUL to his younger brother, constantly hitting/slapping. He shouts in anger and says the most hideous things (like I'm going to spit in your face...where he's heard things like this I honestly don't know). Part of me knows he watches too much tv and probably doesn't get as much 1:1 as he needs with me but it's hard with more than one child and the everyday chores of life isn't it?! How do other people manage?! I guess I want to ask you guys who were posting last year did things improve, and how are they now?! I'm starting to think my little boy will be 'the one' people dread at groups/parties as his behaviour is so challenging sad and obviously no one wants to think/believe that of their own little one x

grounddown Tue 27-Jun-17 09:32:39

I'm reading this sat in tears at my DS behaviour on the school run today. I'm completely at the end of my tether. Dd is 6 and a dream, DS is 4.5 and I don't know what to do with him.

He refuses to hold my hand and when I make him he hits me with his free arm. It's absolutely humiliating in front of all the other parents with their children dutifully trotting along holding their parents hand whilst I'm dragging my snotty, shouty monster of a child along trying not to cry myself.

Nothing works, if I shout at him or put him on the naughty step he just laughs and calls me bumhead. He's in his room now, he's been there 10 minutes since I got in, he's playing nicely with his toys having a lovely time, he has no idea how awful he's been. I made him sit on the ground outside school when he would hold my hand, thinking he wouldn't like that but he just sat playing with the dirt, loved it! He has such a strong will and is so determined - I don't want to take that away from him, I just want him to hold my hand and walk with me!!!

grounddown Tue 27-Jun-17 09:33:32


grounddown Tue 27-Jun-17 09:37:26

Welsh betty DS says things like I will spit in your face too - I have no idea where he gets that from either. DD wouldn't say that.
It's just so tough. He starts school in September and I really want him to be ready so I feel I need to instill some better discipline techniques now or I'll just spend all my time up there talking with the teacher about him.
He can be really lovely and he is an intelligent, generous child but he is not easy going and likes everything to be about him, that's hard for me and DD.

welshbetty77 Tue 27-Jun-17 20:55:47

Hi @grounddown ...I really feel for you and know exactly what you mean. I actually by pure chance met a lovely lady today who has a 'challenging' grandson and she spoke so kindly and with experience of it all!! I said I worried about what others thought and she replied that the majority of mums understand 'difficult' times, and the ones that don' don't really want to be friends with anyway, and one day...they'll likely be in a position of challenge that they'll understand too. It really comforted me. We also had a better day being out and about and I managed to both keep him busy, and tired him out! My DS1 is also loving, funny, generous kind and funny...ALOT of the time, but when he isn't...he's hades! 🙈 Good luck mumma, I'm here to chat and handhold!!!

welshbetty77 Tue 27-Jun-17 20:56:40

Ps mine also starts full time school in September! I think (hope) it will be the making of him!

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