19 answers

4 Year Old Not Listening

My 4 year old daughter does not listen very well. It's driving me & my husband crazy! We will tell her to do something & she will throw a fit & not do it. An example from this morning:

She comes in & tells me she is hungry. I go with her to the kitchen. She says she wants a cookie. I said no, you need to eat a breakfast food first. Would you like cereal? Or oatmeal? She fusses that she wants a cookie. I continue to tell her that she needs to eat something else, until she finally picks oatmeal. Now the real fight begins...

As I start making the oatmeal, she goes & sits at the table. Her bowl from last night was still on the table. She pushed it away from her & tells me "put this in the sink." I told her she needed to put it in the sink. She just sat there. I told her she wasn't going to eat her oatmeal until she put the bowl in the sink. Again, she just sits there, but now she is fussing & repeatedly saying she wants her oatmeal. For several minutes she fussed without doing what I said. I told her she couldn't watch TV anymore & that just made her fuss more. Her dad came in & she wouldn't listen to him either. So he put the bowl in the sink & I turned her TV off in her room. Now she starts screaming that she wants to put the bowl in the sink! Ahhh!

Then, after she eats her oatmeal, she comes & asks me for that cookie!!!

What are we doing wrong??? Why does she just sit like that & not do what she's told? What should we do??

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Because she knows that if she holds her breathe long enough she can get either of you to do what she supposed to do. My oldest was like this and still is in many ways (she's 12). I outright refuse to have my child dominate my life - a lot of my friends think that i'm too harsh but I know that I didn't have the option of telling my mother what I was and wasn't going to do.

My oldest has had many punishments and she still hasn't caught on. The most recent was last summer we were all cleaning out my van because it wasn't all her mess & she shouldn't have to clean it all. So she fussed so much that we had plans to go down to the shore overnite so I made arrangements for her to stay home with my mother-in-law. Maybe it was a bit extreme, but if I don't stick to what I'm trying to show her then she'll continue doing this forever. One of the hardest things for me is to stick to the punishment, but after you do it it knocks them down a few pegs and makes them realize it. My daughter has had sleepovers cancelled at the last minute for her attitude and I know that maybe I should ease up a bit, but it just gets so frustrating. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

This sounds just like my 3 year old! It's so hard. I tell myself that she's 3, she's not an adult, so I shouldn't expect her to behave like one. I may have to tell her 500 times before she gets it right. Or more! And I refuse to argue. I tell her that I can't understand what she's saying when she whines. The thing I have the hardest time with is what to let slide. If I stayed on her back about everything I think she should or should not be doing, her life and mine would be miserable. So we are having a pretty rough patch right now, too. I wish I had the answer. If you find out, please let me know too!!! Good luck!

More Answers

Hi, my daughter is five years old and I had a similar occurence this morning.
She's hungry but after her friend invited her to come over, she said she wasn't hungry for her oatmeal. She started to cry and scream that she wasn't hungry. I said either you eat your oatmeal or she wasn't going over to play. As soon as she realized that screaming wasn't going to work, she finished her oatmeal in 5 mins. It's not easy to do day after day, but you have to set the law and stick to it. If you don't stiick to it, they will pick that up and scream longer until they get what they want. If they continue to scream I progressively will cut things I know she likes such as cartoons. It works for me and I hope it will help you out.

2 moms found this helpful

Because she knows that if she holds her breathe long enough she can get either of you to do what she supposed to do. My oldest was like this and still is in many ways (she's 12). I outright refuse to have my child dominate my life - a lot of my friends think that i'm too harsh but I know that I didn't have the option of telling my mother what I was and wasn't going to do.

My oldest has had many punishments and she still hasn't caught on. The most recent was last summer we were all cleaning out my van because it wasn't all her mess & she shouldn't have to clean it all. So she fussed so much that we had plans to go down to the shore overnite so I made arrangements for her to stay home with my mother-in-law. Maybe it was a bit extreme, but if I don't stick to what I'm trying to show her then she'll continue doing this forever. One of the hardest things for me is to stick to the punishment, but after you do it it knocks them down a few pegs and makes them realize it. My daughter has had sleepovers cancelled at the last minute for her attitude and I know that maybe I should ease up a bit, but it just gets so frustrating. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Fortunately we did not experience this with our children. Is it possible that this really started early in life.........they are so cute and we give in so easily.

I would sit her down and tell her what the rules are from today forward and that we will all work very hard on these rules together. I would start with a chart/calendar in the kitchen or a good common area and list the things that she can do for a treat...........like clean her plate from the table......ask for things politely.........do what she is told to do the first time.........When she does these things she can have a treat - TV for a 1/2 hour - a cookie - whatever you determine as a treat.

And..........I would unplug the TV in her room until she learns to behave better.

Just some thoughts from my perspective.

1 mom found this helpful

You are not being concistent. You told her to put her bowl in the sink before she could have breakfast but she sat there and whined and someone else did it for her. She is used to whining abd getting her way. If you tell her something be prepared to follow through. She sould NOT have eaten her oatmeal until she put the bowl in the sink. If that means she misses breakfast then so be it. She is not receiving consequences for her actions instead she is learning that if she whines she gets what she wants. It can be hard but try it and be firm. You are here parent and what you say goes! Good luck to you!

This sounds just like my 3 year old! It's so hard. I tell myself that she's 3, she's not an adult, so I shouldn't expect her to behave like one. I may have to tell her 500 times before she gets it right. Or more! And I refuse to argue. I tell her that I can't understand what she's saying when she whines. The thing I have the hardest time with is what to let slide. If I stayed on her back about everything I think she should or should not be doing, her life and mine would be miserable. So we are having a pretty rough patch right now, too. I wish I had the answer. If you find out, please let me know too!!! Good luck!

Have you had her hearing checked, if so, suggest a second opinion with a tuning fork. When I was drafted, many years ago, they checked my ears with a electrical machine. They insisted I was lying. I knew I was not as I told them I was deaf in the ear from scarlet fever. Finally they reported me to the Captain he immediately checked my ears personally withthe tuning fork. He told them I was not lying and to have the machine checked.
Your may want to have her eyes also check, and a complete physical.

Reverse psychology works best in these situations with my 5 year old son. This mainly happens when he's cranky. I've learned that me getting frustrated over it, does not help the situation at all... it only makes it worse. If he were to refuse to put the bowl in the sink, I'd say something like well, you better not put it in that sink! and then smile... he thinks it'd be fun because he likes to push my buttons. I wouldn't say you do anything wrong to cause it, it just helps to follow through with your threats. Because she's probably just testing you to see how far she can get with it.

Wow, sounds very familiar...like my six year old. Here are my suggestions:
Make sure she realizes she gets what you give her or nothing; be grateful for what she has.

A belt works wonders and usually only takes one good whipping to carry a threat later on.

Remember you are the adult. No matter how much it breaks your heart or reminds youof your childhood, don't give in. A child needs a parental figure, not a friend, raising her.

Leave her messes for a day or take her messes to the middle of the floor in her room and explain that these are her responsibilities...once she realizes that she is the only one not pulling her weight maybe her views will change. Kids don't like to be negatively singled out...yes, even at 3, my daughter knew she had certain chores that had to be done before bed or she would be doing them in the middle of the night.

No matter how stern you are, try not to yell or show frustration...they feed off of this...means they got to you and they know it...calm assertiveness with love.

Different things work for different ages and temperaments.

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