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Need help with difficult 4 year old.

(14 Posts)
monkeyflippers Sat 04-Dec-10 08:54:23

Hi, my 4 year old daughter is lovely, sensitive, creative and affectionate and really, really smart. The problem is that she is (and always has been) quite difficult. From birth she has objected to everything from having her nappy changed to not getting her food immediately. She has no patience and argues about everything and she often has really good points! Personally I think that she should be on a debating team . . . she'd be good at it.

If she asks me for something she will ask over and over and over and over and over and over and over (getting the idea?) again. If I tell her to wait as i have to finish typing this message for example (so far she has asked for a snack and crayons) she will ask again a few seconds later so I explain that she needs to be patient which is something we talk about a lot and wait quietly because I can't concentrate with her keeping asking me things/whining/banging things etc. Then she will keep on and eventually I lose my temper (as I just did) and raise me voice and tell her to leave me in peace for a little while. So now she has gone off crying. She just came back and said that I had made her upset so I explained again about patience and have had to tell her to leave me alone for a while.

This is probably a good example of how things go but eventually I lose the plot as I can't stand being hassled ALL THE TIME! I have a 2.5 year old as well but he doesn't get much of a share of my attention which is something I have been trying to change but it does mean that I have to be stricter with my daughter. We have a sticker chart which we use to reward good behaviour which works lovely but I can't use that ever time she doesn't hassle me! About 15 minutes ago she asked for a tissue, i went and got it and came back and she wanted to know why it had taken me so long! I told her that was rude. She didn't agree and started argueing with me about it. I used my "this is final" voice and said that it was infact rude to be so demanding.

So the main problems that we have are the impatience, whining (which often sees her being sent to the naughty spot if she doesn't stop after being warned) asking for things over and over again, argueing with everything we say, complaining about everything (which includes her dinner every single day so dinner times are a nightmare as she makes such a fuss about whatever we give her, then starts acting stupid which the younger one copies and then neither of them eat anything) and just being generally difficult. She also has selective hearing and when asked not to do something will just do it anyway like she hasn't heard (she doesn't have a hearing problem) or if she screams her high pitch ear splitting girly scream and she is asked not to do it she then just does it again within about 10 seconds! It drives my husband crazy that she doesn't just do what she is told.

Just came back asking for things again. There is a part of me that thinks I should see to her needs immediatly but that's just not realistic as I have the rest of the family to deal with and lots to organise and work from home sometimes so need to be left alone (a reasonable amount) at those times. Back again, now she wants to open her advent calender.

My home isn't a nice environment for quite a lot of the time as these things drive me and my husband crazy so there is shouting and crying and it's just horrible. I really don't know what the problem is or what to do about it!

Just came back again asking twice if I have finished yet and I lost my temper and said "what the f*ck is wrong with you, go away!" That is such a horrible thing to say to a child but it happens alot as she drives me crazy. It probably doesn't help that I never ever get a break and apart from husband have no one else to take the kids off my hands. I hate being this horrible mum and need ways of dealing with her.

Someone please help!

hillyhilly Sat 04-Dec-10 08:59:27

I read the book called Toddler Taming and found it very helpful, not that it gave me great strategies, just that it explained that all your toddler wants is 100% of your attention, 100% of the time.
That said, by 4 years old, she probably should be able to start learning that she can't come first all the time, so I would carry on with the stickers charts but perhaps focus on one area at a time, eg talking nicely - I can't bear it when my 5 yr old talks rudely to me.

monkeyflippers Sat 04-Dec-10 09:01:57

So after I had finished we went and did advent calendars and then I asked her what the other urgent thing were that she kept asking for and she can't remember . . . so they really can't have been that important. So she's not asking for stuff she needs she just likes asking for things, does that mean it's attention seeking? She now wants hot chocolate but I have said it's too early in the day for hot chocolate but she says that seeing as they just had the chocs out of the advent calendar then that's not true. If I let her would argue about that all morning but she has seen sense and stopped going on about it. See . . . she had a good point!

mamaloco Sat 04-Dec-10 09:11:57

I am in your situation. But DD1 is now almost 6. the good news there is hope! DD1 is very nice and considerate now and understand "wait".
My guess is your DD needs a lot of explaining, time her day (no promess you can't keep).
Tell her before she starts what you are doing and going to do, AND what she can do and is going to do. (just the immediate future not the all day at once)
i.e. I have to send that email, you can watch a bit of TV while I do it, in 10 min I will call you and we are going to get dress to go to the park.
Be realistic with the time.
don't do like DH who says he is ready in 5 min and make us wait an hour...
make her help too (DD1 loves it) while preparing meal shopping, writing the shopping list (or drawing it...), taking care of the other DC...

Remember that time is still relative to her 10 min can be 1 min or 15 min. So set clear signals, 10 minutes is when I am going to call you, 5 minutes is when your program finish... IYSMD

She is only 4 too , you can't expect her to leave you alone for an 1h or more, may be 20 min would be the max if she has learn to play by herself.

Good luck

mamaloco Sat 04-Dec-10 09:14:53

Also when you say no or stop mean it (don't cave in) she seems clever and she will remember and argue over and over.
I usually do "No that is final, if you ask again there will be no TV, park, treats or there will be timeout..." pick what works for you

monkeyflippers Sat 04-Dec-10 09:29:36

Just thought of a couple of other things I should mention (see once i start i can't shut up!). She doesn't believe anything I say or take my word for anything. If she has a friend coming to play she asks if they have our address and I say yes. Then she says but how do they know it, who told them, what if they forget, they might get lost, etc etc. Also if I say that it's cold out and she needs to wear her coat she won't believe me and will go out without it and then will find out for herself and will want her coat on. Why doesn't she believe me?!

She is also very, very emotional and if a day doesn't pan out exactly as she is expecting (she makes up in her head what she thinks will happen) she gets a bit hysterical. I have to try to warn her in advance of any situations that I think will make her like this.

hillyhilly - so what do you do when yours is rude to you? I tell her it's rude and then if she carries on give her a warning and then if she still carries on she goes on the naughtly step.

mamaloco - so there is light at the end of the tunnel! Was yours like this from really tiny as well?

mamaloco Sat 04-Dec-10 10:53:34

MF yes she always has been very independent, stubborn and demanding, but she is lovely. grin
Do you have any skills? education? (everyone has something, reading, knitting...!) You have to play it to her so she doesn't think you are just mum!
I was a scientist and she began to believe me after I told her I was like nina neuron before having her. DH also took her to his work and explain about building roads and excavators... Then she listen to us when we explain something (she usually ask the questions, we don't encourage her confused)
Good news she has always wanted to believe her teachers.
But she has also come back home a few months ago saying that "adults don't know anything because they learn a long time ago and have forgotten everything since, just children have knowledge because they are learning now" shock I gave an adult book and ask her to read (she can't) and read it myself, point proven she has be quiet since grin.
try to understand her way of thinking and juggle around that.
The tantrums will stop soon if you don't give in, DD1 sometimes still get sad when her plans don't happen but no more crying for hours or yelling (it always been punished here)

TheMethren Mon 06-Dec-10 11:42:05

One strategy that works well for me with DS1 (4) is to make time periods easier to grasp and less abstract by using hourglass timers. You can buy them in sets with 30sec, 1 min, 2min, 3min and 5 min timers (and even longer periods like 15 or 30 min). So you can ask your DD to wait until the timer has run out before asking for something again, or tell her you will be busy until the timer has run out (works well for getting them to finish a task within a certain time too). You can start with a very short time interval like 30sec if she is really impatient, then gradually increase the time interval.

monkeyflippers Mon 06-Dec-10 12:37:51

TheMethren - wow they sound great, where do you get them from?

stayinbed Mon 06-Dec-10 12:52:38

Wow, i like the hourglass timer! I might try that.

Mamaloco - do you try to answer her demands with 'get it yourself' (at least some of the time, when it is relevant?)

Poogles Mon 06-Dec-10 12:55:16

We put black crosses on DS sticker chart when he has either been naughty/not listening etc. He gets a warning that he will get a black cross (and usually this is enough to stop the behaviour). He then has to 'earn' a sticker with good behaviour to cover it up.

We found that whilst giving a sticker for good behaviour worked some of the time, we found that we couldn't give him a sticker every time he listened (not listening is our biggest issue with him). We also found that it reinforces what is good behaviour and what is not.

Hope this helps!

TheMethren Mon 06-Dec-10 15:04:44

This page has a range of different types. I like the large ones because they are easy to see from a distance, e.g. across the room.

Danthe4th Mon 06-Dec-10 15:11:11

Start giving her some responsibility so she has a bit of control over some of her day.
If she wants crayons, can they be kept in a box that she can get on her own, if you want her to use the kitchen table to colour on make sure she can get everything she needs herself. Give her lots of praise for doing things on her own and she will learn to do them well.
If she wants a snack can you have a small box in the fridge that she is allowed to get on her own with a bit of chopped fruit in.
Start them off young with a bit of responsibility and they often react well to it and it does carry on into the teen years.

TheMethren Mon 06-Dec-10 15:12:33

Meant to say, I originally got them because I kept saying to DS1 "You've got one minute to do xxx" or "I'll be there in one minute", and one day he said to me "But Mummy I don't know how long a minute is!". It seemed only fair to find an easy way of allowing him to track the passage of time (he doesn't "get" clocks/watches yet).

The first few times I used them, DS1 would stop what he wasding and just watch the sand run through the timer, so it might work well as a way of distracting from incessant demands.

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