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My DD reduces me to tears, can no longer control her behaviour, what would you do?

(75 Posts)
angelica30 Wed 19-Aug-09 09:10:31

My DD is almost 4 and the first 6 months of her life were sheer joy, she was a very happy baby and I loved spended time with her. Now, its a different story and I am finding the time I spend with her a daily battle rathern than getting much joy out of it. I work part-time and DD attends nursery 2 days a week. Apparently she is a 'joy to be with' at the nursery, is always happy and smiley and is no problem at all. However, at home she is completely different.

I try to think of fun things to do with her and we spend lots of time with friends, going swimming, going to the cinema etc but she is never happy. She moans as soon as she wakes up until we finally get her into bed. She is constantly grumpy and seems to whine non-stop. Yesterday she reduced me to tears, had tried to do lots of nice things with her but she just moaned and complained constantly. I just want to enjoy spending time with her but at the moment its impossible. Its now got to the point where I dont think we can have any of her friends round to play as her behaviour deteriorates so badly - and other mothers look on in shock.

I have never smacked her but DH thinks that it has got to the point where shes needs to understand that if she doesnt behave she gets smacked. He thinks we are too nice. I never lose my temper with her even when shes naughty, I try and stay calm and end up crying but DD seems to take delight in the fact that she can upset me. I have friends with dc of a similiar age and although this sounds awful, they are angels in comparison with my dd. I just don't know where we've gone wrong.

Do you think smacking her is the answer? I have tried putting her in her room when she's naughty, taking away all toys and treats when she's misbehaving, but nothing works. Any advice would be appreciated! Currently pregnant with number 2 and to be honest I am scared rigid about how I will cope with a newborn and dd...

MadameOvary Wed 19-Aug-09 09:39:31

If she sees she is getting a reaction out of you she will continue, that's for certain.

You seem to be stuck in a pattern where you assume she will misbehave, she does and you are feeling constantly defeated.
I would not smack her, I dont think thats the answer.
Have you ever tried laughing? Seriously, your DD will see that her behaviour is not having quite the desired effect and it will (hopefully) make things less tense. You dont describe exactly what it is she does that is naughty, can it be something that can you can distract her away from/show a different reaction?
When my DD is tired/hungry she is very whingy and clingy. As I am a single Mum with no family help it is hard if I am tired too, but my solution is to try and make a joke of it. If she wails, I wail louder. Or sing "Old MacDonald" or when all else fails put the TV on.

Also how does your DH react? Is he a passive observer or do the two of you form a united front? You definitely need him on side.

MamazontheDailyMailtakingadump Wed 19-Aug-09 09:40:37

no, smacking is not the answer.

punish bad behvaiour by all means but not smacking. it really serves no purpose other than teaching her that if somoene does not behave in the way she wants she shoudl hit them.

I don't know the answer as my DD is exactly the same and she is about a year older.

I would suggest reading the incredible years- carolyn weebster stratton

It is the book that they base most postive parenting courses on.
I think its great (used to facilitate such courses so maybe im bias)

I would suggest asking your local HV if there are any courses running in your area actually. it will help you build your confidence in dealing with her and you can spend time with other mums in a similar position to you.

Lizzylou Wed 19-Aug-09 09:43:15

Have you tried ignoring her, just walking away? Something like:
"Oh, you don't want to do that, OK. I'm off for a cup of tea and a read of my magazine, you can play here then"Big smile and leave her to it.

Could she be overtired, does she sleep well?
I do understand, my boys recently have been whingers from hell, but they have been waking early and are often overtired.

notyummy Wed 19-Aug-09 09:52:08

I don't think smacking the answer either. We have a 'spirited' 3.2 year old dd and she can be challenging so I feel your pain.

A few thoughts - attention is the oxygen of bad behaviour - you need to work out some method of withdrawing it when she is behaving badly, and just not engaging with her.

Also, whilst smacking isn't the answer, your DD needs to know when you are angry/in charge - and crying doesn't do this. When you say that you keep calm (well done btw!)do you also use an appropriately firm/scary voice, unambivalent body language and clear consequences? I think at this age it is all clarity - they are not really old enough to be made to feel 'guilty', so crying won't have any results apart from upsetting you.

She can't always be entertained and it sounds like you are being a lovely mummy by tryig to keep her active, entertained and engaged. I think it does kids no harm to be left to amuse themselves - then they appreciate better the outings when they go on them. I don't mean dumping them in front of the telly, but sticking a tent up in the garden and being told - 'go and play'. If she keeps wanting to be played 'with' then you need to push back and keep reinforcing that Mummy and Daddy are busy.

It's not easy is it?

Heated Wed 19-Aug-09 10:04:01

I too was going to ask, do you think she's getting enough sleep? If ds is tired he is whiney and approaching bedtime he can end up in tears at the drop of a hat.

She's also gearing up for school - is she going this Sept? Practically this will make caring for nb and her easier.

Have you also read Magic 1,2,3? It's giving a consequence for poor behaviour without thankfully taking a lot of emotional energy or turning it into a battle ground. It might suit you like me doesn't believe in smacking, not convinced by the naughty step but is worried about what else to do with them at this age.

We use with ds1 because he gets so het up he can't listen to reason so needs something simple. You really need to read it, but basically when the misbehaviour takes place you calmly but authoritatively say "1" and then give 10 seconds. If the misbehaviour continues go to "2" and again 10 seconds (the pause is the most important bit at it gives the child time to reflect) and when you get to "3" the consequence takes place - in my ds' case this is 5 mins (1 min x his age) out in his bedroom because it gives him and us time to calm down. Afterwards no recriminations but no big fuss either. The first day you might get to 3 a lot but these days all I have to say is "1" and that's enough.

CybilLiberty Wed 19-Aug-09 10:12:01

Reading your post what comes across is a Mum who is trying to do her best by entertaining her daughter round the clock when it sounds like dd would rather have a quiet time just you and her.

Are you frightened of her becoming bored? Does she spend time entertaining herself or all all the entertainments laid on for her?

She sounds exhausted and in need of a some direction and firm boundaries.

When you have paid for swimming, orgainsed friends etc it's so much easier to get hacked off when they grumble and moan.

It's ok to tell your child in a cross voice that you do not like their behaviour.

Dazmum Wed 19-Aug-09 10:22:26

As Heated says, maybe try 1-2-3 Magic 1-2-3 Magic by Dr. Thomas Phelan We used this on our DS and it still works now, with no smacking involved! Smacking will only make you feel worse. You have to be strong and enforce 1-2-3 though. It's good because it doesn't drag out the rules or the 'punishment' for everyone concerned. Don't beat yourself up, she just knows which buttons to push to get attention from you!Also agree with CL, ok to tell them firmly that you don't like how they are acting.

Heated Wed 19-Aug-09 10:40:16

Oops yes, sorry is 1,2,3 Magic - always get that the wrong way round!

mrshibbins Wed 19-Aug-09 21:58:19

just had a full tantrum from 8yr old when i switched off the DVD player because it was gone bedtime ... overturned chairs, the works, stamping, slamming etc.

no tv tomorrow for her is the punishment (probably my punishment too as she'll be lolling around whining all day while I'm trying to work...) but the volume and tragedy of her tears as a result makes me feel like an ogre ... she so knows how to turn it on

i am very much liking the sound of the 1-2-3 Magic and have just ordered from amazon

thanks for the top tip!

angelica30 Thu 20-Aug-09 09:05:16

Thanks for all your comments/suggestions. Think I too will need to look at purchasing the Magic book.

I don't think the problem lies with my parenting skills. I spend a lot of quality time with DD as well as involving her in activities like swimming and meeting friends. She gets plenty of sleep, so its most definitely not a lack of sleep issue. Up until now she has never been smacked even when she has been really naughty and even now the few times my DH has smacked her its been too light for her to even feel it.

I have tried laughing/walking away/ignoring her when her behaviour is bad. When I'm desperate I have to go into my bedroom and shut the door to give her time to calm down, none of this works.

I'm hoping this is a temporary phase and her behavour will improve soon.

AnnieLobeseder Thu 20-Aug-09 09:11:53

Perhaps instead of you going into your bedroom, just put her in her room? Or she might think she's succeeded in chasing you away! You could try boring her into behaving!

It might be worth having her looked at by a GP. A good friend on mine had an awful whiney clingy child who was never happy. Turns out she had tonsils and adenoids from hell and glue ear too! So she's having surgery next month to sort it out. She was behaving so badly because she felt crap all the time, poor mite!

none of us like to think its our parenting skils tbh. But it does sound like your quite soft on her. YOU leave the room when she's misbehaving, I think she should be the one to be removed. Does she still get all these lovely activities when she's not behaved? Also think about the level of control she thinks she has over you, if she can make you cry?

Magic 123 is great and there is a lot of these courses running in area's might be worth a look.

I hope i havent said anything out of line blush

melmog Thu 20-Aug-09 09:20:39

Back in the olden days, my Dad used the 'I'll count to three' thing and it worked like magic on us.
I'm pretty sure we thought there'd be a smack at three but we never chanced it!

I use it now on dd1 (3) and she prides herself on doing what I've said before I can get to two.

I've not had to get to three yet so we'll see what happens then. I think the threat of having to go and sit on her own but having the option to stop it from happening is working a treat.

I've never read a book about it though. hmm

Supercherry Thu 20-Aug-09 10:31:13

Angelica30, it would be really helpful if you could be more specific with the naughty behaviours that you are having to cope with.

Also, it probably is just a phase, my nephew went through quite a challenging, almost regression to toddlerhood, phase at around 4yrs.

Agree with the other posters in that smacking is ineffective and also think that you've been given some really good advice.

Pitchounette Thu 20-Aug-09 11:41:24

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angelica30 Thu 20-Aug-09 12:08:52

Of course I sometimes put her in her room when she isn’t behaving and when she’s being naughty I explain to her that if her behaviour continues then we will not do x, y or z. She is perfectly healthy too, so there is no issue with her mis-behaving because she’s unwell. To be honest, I think some of the comments on here have been way out of line. Criticising my parenting skills is not supportive. I was asking for advice on how other parents manage difficult toddler behaviour. I see parents swearing, shouting and slapping their children on a regular basis and the fact that I do none of these things does not make me ‘too soft’.

well in one way your asking for help and advice and then saying you dont think its your parenting, so which is it? If you could give some examples we could say how we dealt with them or if they are normal 4 year old behaviours.
No one is suggesting your parenting isnt good, just we can only go on the comments you have written and you either want help or you dont. We cant change your dds behaviour, just give you idea about your parenting so you can change it. There is no simple answers.

"I never lose my temper with her even when shes naughty, I try and stay calm and end up crying but DD seems to take delight in the fact that she can upset me" says to me that she is in control (my girls have made me cry before but never infront of them) and you need to try and stay strong and not let her get to you in this way.

How does she react when you say "we arent doing X Y Z when she's misbehaving?

Pitchounette Thu 20-Aug-09 12:22:35

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mumofeve Thu 20-Aug-09 13:04:34

IME just because they're an angel in nursery and not with you, doesn't mean that you are doing anything wrong per se. My DD (3) plays up really badly with me and DH, but everyone else thinks she is a total angel (including nursery and playgroup). My DD is fine when she has CONSTANT attention and/or friends of her own age to play with, but unfortunately I have to cook the dinner sometimes, or, god forbid, even try to clean the house. At some stage they have to entertain themselves at least some of the time (dont they!?!)!
For me it's just a question of bearing with it until school starts grin.

Dalrymps Thu 20-Aug-09 13:21:42

Tbh I don't thin people on here are saying your way of parenting is 'wrong', they are merely offering advice of parts of it that you can maybe tweak to get the desired effect.

You are the adult and she is the child, she will reflect what you are feeling whether you realise it or not. For what it's worth I think you've been doing incredibly well (I for one have trouble staying calm when my ds is naughty and he is only 22 months old!).

I actually think it might do her some good to see that she has made you angry, not in a scary way but in a firm/ in conrol way. It can't be easy, I think the thought you need to keep in your head is that you are the one in control and let your actions stem from that.

Kids can actually be happier with clear boundaries and rules in place as it makes them feel more secure and they know what is expected of them.

You sounds like a very caring mother and one that wants the best for her little girl and just wants to enjoy her. I'm sure with a bit of persistance (which you are very good at) you will see changes. Keep praising her when she does what is asked and make sure there are consiquences when she is naughty. For eg: in her room for 4 mins and then a firm explanation as to why followed by an appology from her, or, favourite item removed/ activity not allowed etc. ignore the behavior you don't want and praise the behaiour you do.

MrsGravy Thu 20-Aug-09 13:33:10

Ok so it's absolutely NOT your parenting skills, everything you're doing is perfect.

Your daughter is well rested and healthy.

What do you want people to suggest angelica?

Your daughter is 4 years old, she cannot improve the relationship between you by herself. The only person who can do this is you. And to do that you will need to change some of the ways in which you parent. Not because you are doing everything wrong or are a terrible mother but because what you are doing right now, whilst it wounds 'perfect' on paper and might work well with another child, isn't working with your daughter.

No mother has absolutely no problem with their parenting skills - not even Tanya Byron. Instead of getting defensive I'd take on board some of the advice on here, you've been given plenty of different approaches to try, why not give them a whirl?

RumourOfAHurricane Thu 20-Aug-09 13:33:15

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RumourOfAHurricane Thu 20-Aug-09 13:37:13

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BitOfFun Thu 20-Aug-09 13:44:05


Nobody likes having to do it, but you have to sometimes. You don't have to rant like a loony, but you need some authority in your voice, and to take back control.

Your posts sound a bit like you feel helpless and are throwing your hands up in despair. That mindset needs to change pronto- they can smell fear.

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