J.M. asks from Minneapolis, MN on September 14, 2008
4-Yr-old Girl Behavior
Having lots of trouble with my daughter's behavior in preschool. She just started a new program, but is showing the same behavior she showed at her previous place (we changed to a preschool program at the school she'll attend for kindergarten, and where her brother already attends 2nd grade). She is bright, and wants to write letters and do so many things her peers were not yet doing at her previous school, so we thought the change would be good and would keep her more challenged. The main problem is that she doesn't respect and talks back to teachers, and sometimes pushing or being a bit of a bully to other kids. The girl refuses to nap (but does on occasion), so I'm sure there is some sleep deprivation (but she goes to bed easily at 8, but gets up after about 10 hrs, which I'm thinking isn't enough when not napping). When she turned 4 in June, I asked her dr about her behavior then, and he thought it was just typical for the age. Now that the behavior is still going on, and now that we're in the school system where there is free support systems, I asked if a social worker or psychologist could sit in on the class to see if there are other ideas. So the social worker came Friday, but saw now problems since she was an angel at that time! So I think she'll be coming back again. I just hope there is some magic thing we can do, but am afraid there won't be. She plays well at home (has normal sibling spats) and with neighbor friends, so it seems to be mostly not wanting to conform to what teachers/adults are telling her. We've done everything from yelling, one-on-one talking, to taking away all her toys (and having to earn them back one by one, which we're still working on). My son is such a sweet kid--not near the problems we've had with her in the past year. Is this just a normal girl problem??
Just to add some more info: her pushing and territorial behavior occurs when others enter her space, not the other way around, and the transitions seem to be hardest for her (like when I had to put away something she was working on in order to go home, she absolutely freaked out).
K.S. answers from Minneapolis on September 15, 2008
Does her pushing or seeming to bully come from her personal space being invaded by other kids? Or does she enter their personal space in order to push or bully them? This is a very important distinction. Many bright kids get frustrated at this age by kids who don't understand the concept of personal space, still grab toys without asking, ruin a project she has created, etc. If she is the one invading other kids space then research sensory processing disorder as she may be seeking some sensory inputs that can be met in more positive ways.
In terms of talking back to teachers...again it is important to know when this is occurs. Is it most common during transitions from one activity to the next? Many kids this age struggle with transitions. Bright kids, especially, want more time at a particular task than most preschool teachers allow (they tend to move on when some of the kids are losing interest but this means interrupting other kids who want to continue). What techniques do the teachers use to transition kids? Just verbal warnings or visual timers or what?
There are so many possibilities of what is going on that without specifics it is hard to know what direction to go. Obviously you are concerned enough to feel it is outside the typical behavior of the average 4yo. So it is good for you to pursue some answers. I find peds often poo-poo parents concerns in this area so you are better off talking with her teachers about where she falls in the range. You don't say whether they have concerns as well, but they are your best resource in terms of what direction to go.
J.D. answers from Madison on September 15, 2008
I just want to start out saying I think you have a very intelligent child. Now here is the problem with that. They get board, and will start trouble. I and my close friend have had this problem. My friend's child has already reprogramed the teacher's computer, thrown stuff around the class room and bullied other children. I think you need to video tape (if possible) not have someone sit in on the class. Your daughter knows she is being observed, so of course she is going to act like an angle. I want to say you are doing the right thing by acting on this now. Both I and my friend were told to leave it alone they will out grow it. That did not happen for either of us. Yes it is normal behavior for a girl or a boy. I think you need to keep doing what you are doing, it will get through! As long as you keep telling her (and showing) that her behavior will not be accepted you will do just fine. I hope that helps.
C.B. answers from Milwaukee on September 15, 2008
All I can say is check out Love and Logic parenting. There are a bunch of books written on it and you can find out more about it at www.loveandlogic.com. It is a wonderful approach to parenting and it has worked well on our strong willed 3 year old from the day we started using it!
J.B. answers from Minneapolis on September 27, 2008
There's no magic - just setting limits and enforcing them while instilling character in you child that will help her self-limit in the future. I highly recommend reading What the Bible Says About Child Training by Fugate and putting it into practice before she is too old to control. The school will try and help, but respect will never come from working with social workers or psychologists - you need good rules, consistency and a reason for your little one to want to behave in a healthy, polite manner. This book will help you.
Retired K-1 teacher, SAHM of seven (four adopted)
J.T. answers from Minneapolis on September 15, 2008
I agree with much of what has been said in the previous 3 posts. Along with those comments, I would strongly encourage you to be aware of and/or experiment with what it is she's eating.
Kids' behavior can change dramatically when the right foods are eliminated. The tough part is that each child is different, so you don't know exactly what food it might be.
I've found that casein (protien in milk other than lactose/whey) has an effect on my 3 boys. I'm still trying to figure out if dyes do, too. I've learned that as a whole, dyes are the first things we should eliminate from their diets. No easy task! But it could make a world of difference. It may even be just one color in particular. Also, your child may have a yeast issue. When you feed this particular child sugar, sugar feeds yeast, and the behavior continues to get worse.
From the looks of what you're saying, it seems that perhaps she's getting 'the wrong food' at particular times in the day, and not necessarily every day.
I would caution that a typical pediatrician may not support these findings. Physicians aren't required to have nutritional training. You may want to find a nutritionist, or perhaps a DAN! Dr., or even someone in holistic medicine to speak with.
Just a thought.
H.A. answers from Waterloo on September 15, 2008
This could be typical 4 yr old behavior, but to me she just sounds strong willed =) Give her time to adjust to being in the classroom and remember that those teachers have had their share of kids like yours (and worse!). They know what to do and pretty soon she'll be behaving like she should.
S.G. answers from Rapid City on September 15, 2008
I don't know many 4 year olds who still do nap. While I worked as assistant director at the main day care in town (7 years), raised 3 children and took care of neices and nephews, only a few 4 year olds still napped, rested maybe but did not go to sleep. Four year olds are getting ready for school and need their mind challenged. She is wanting to do more then others her age are ready for, shows how bright she is. Teachers don't always challenge these children and sooner or later they get bored, which is when the behavior problems start. Find out what the teacher does to challenge your daughter's learning and what can be done to challenge her while others are trying to catch up. My daughter learned all her letters and numbers and sounding out the letters in preschool and wanted to read so bad, but her kindergarten teacher wouldn't work with her on that and taught mostly letters and numbers and didn't even touch the reading so she was totally bored in Kindergarten. Then in first grade they reviewed what they learned in Kindergarten for the first 9 weeks of school. My daughter was so bored that she started reversing her letters just for something different, making her teachers think she was dyslexic, I knew better because she didn't reverse them in preschool or kindergarten. When they got to more challenging work, she did much better. This is probably the same problem your daughter is having but instead of finding different ways of challenging herself, she is showing her displeasure. My daughter probably would have done that also but she was one who hated to be in trouble at school until she was 17 and then it became her middle name.
Your teachers need to handle the talking back and such and you reinforce it at home. They should have an awards system going, stickers for days that she didn't interupt, talk back or bully others. At home you should have something special for her when she behaves well in school. Stickers adding up to a ice cream or movie date. This rewards good behavior and encourages it. If she back talks you at home, you need to put a stop to that since she is figuring it is ok behavior and doesn't see what difference it makes between home or school or any authority figures. Don't feel she is a bad kid, a lot of kids back talk adults, they just haven't learned it wasn't ok, or know it isn't but it gets them the attention they want so don't care.
keep your chin up, this too shall pass
G.H. answers from Duluth on September 15, 2008
Hi, I just want to say that every child is different, learns at different times and isn't going to always do the same as your first child. I think she is acting out because maybe she just doesn't want to be there, too many changes are so hard for little kids, remember she is only 4, changes should ALWAYS be done gradually, I don't know how you could yell at a 4 year old for things that she is doing in school, how is that going to help her?? It is only going to make it more frustrating for her. Try not to expect so much out of such a little person:)