25 answers

Trying to Avoid Spanking Fiesty 4 Year Old -- Help!

My daughter Alexandra is an adorable, very smart, very strong-willed, very independent, VERY FRUSTRATING 4-year-old little tornado. She has many wonderful qualities but her extreme shortcoming at this point in life is minding. More often than not, she just chooses to ignore requests completely. After the "count to three" final warning has ended, she'll just barely pick up her feet and start to mosey along over to whatever it was I asked her to do but by then it's too late. Because timeouts and getting sent to bed early don't seem to bother her, I just lately have begun smacking her bum out of sheer frustration -- but I absolutely hate doing that!

I don't want my children to mind me because they are afraid of me, and I loathe myself when I lose my temper the way I have been lately. Any suggestions on how I can try to approach her differently when she flat out refuses to mind? I understand her behavior is perfectly, developmentally appropriate, and I don't want to stifle her spirit; but I also want her to have a healthy respect for authority. Please help me find the right balance in how I deal with her. Thanks so much!

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Can you think of a conseqence for her that she would mind? Taking away a favorite toy or something else that she looks forward to? You've got to make it so that it is in her best interest to mind you. . . .good luck.

Hi K.,
So glad to hear that there are many mothers out there that have the same spirited child that I do! And even more glad to hear that there are others that are trying to find ways besides spanking to get through to them. I am actually suprised at a couple of the responses here.....

My theory about spanking.....I do not like to do it but will if it means something very serious such as going out into the road when told/taught not too or doing something that could potentially harm them. I would NEVER hit them with another object.

Counting backwards does help us sometimes, time outs do help us sometimes, and taking things away helps us sometimes. I went and bought the "Love and Logic" book today for more ideas. Good luck and if you need someone to chat to...email me!

Try telling Her that you will take a favorit toy away. And stick too it. Or we wont go outside to play if She wont be good.

More Answers

My advice from the perspective of a grandmother who absolutely loves children is consistency and acting promptly. I see so many parents (and grandparents and other caregivers) who ask a child to do something, then don't do anything about their refusal to respond. The counting to 3,or 10, or whatever just tells them they have that much longer to do what they are doing or try to wear you down. I really think a few times of jumping up as soon as they refuse to mind and either making them do it (often helping them) or at least stopping what they are doing will make a big difference. It seems the next step to follow is for them to defiantly look you in the eye and do exactly what they have been told not to do, whether it is eating a cookie, hitting someone, or running into the street. You can kind of tolerate the first two, but when it comes to something dangerous, they have to know to mind the first time, and not after the count to 10. They won't know to do it when it is dangerous if they get by with ignoring you the rest of the time. It takes more of your energy to jump up and stop them than telling them over an over, but I think in the long run it will save a lot of trouble - for you, the child and everyone around them! Also helps you avoid you getting to the point of frustration to have to resort to yelling or a spanking. I also think it is important to "pick you battles" - have a reason for telling them to do or not do something - not just say no for the sake of saying no. An explanation of why is good, but I think after you stop the behavior, not to try to convince them to stop. Hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi K.,

It sounds like you are definately going through a difficult time with your daughter. The only time I have spanked our children is if they have done or tried to do something really dangerous, like running into a street or running away from me in the parking lot, lclimbing up onto high furniture ot putting things in electical outlets (my youngest could get the plug covers off at 16 months old,scary!). Have you tried having Alex repeat the request that has been made to her? That's what I do with my oldest who is almost 6 and he's busy playing. Also, if he's playing with something and he doesn't do as told after repeating the request, I take that toy away from him and he isn't allowed to have it until the next day. I also try to give him a lot of choices so he feels in control (For example Do you want to clean up your toys now or in ten minutes wehn the timer goes off? Do you want oatmeal or yogurt for breakfast?, do you want to wear the red or green shirt today?, etc.) Then when I need to make the decision that is important to me I say "It's mommy's turn to decide." Alex may not be so defiant if she gets to make lots of choices (about things that don't really matter to you) and feels like she is in conrol. The key to all of this is to remain calm and don't let her see that she has gotten a strong reaction from you such as anger or frustration. Keep your voice calm and matter of fact, then she won't be so entertained by the reactions she can elicit in you. If these approaches don't work you might also consider taking away her favorite toys one by one for a period of time (a week seems like an eternity to a four year old) and then giving them back to her as a reward when she is behaving well. Good luck! I'll say a prayer for you.

Try the book Love and Logic. It's all about consequence for their actions, and being consistent.

Try telling Her that you will take a favorit toy away. And stick too it. Or we wont go outside to play if She wont be good.

Hi K.,
So glad to hear that there are many mothers out there that have the same spirited child that I do! And even more glad to hear that there are others that are trying to find ways besides spanking to get through to them. I am actually suprised at a couple of the responses here.....

My theory about spanking.....I do not like to do it but will if it means something very serious such as going out into the road when told/taught not too or doing something that could potentially harm them. I would NEVER hit them with another object.

Counting backwards does help us sometimes, time outs do help us sometimes, and taking things away helps us sometimes. I went and bought the "Love and Logic" book today for more ideas. Good luck and if you need someone to chat to...email me!

Can you think of a conseqence for her that she would mind? Taking away a favorite toy or something else that she looks forward to? You've got to make it so that it is in her best interest to mind you. . . .good luck.

I know that there are books about strong-willed children, and since I'm a reader, that's the course of action I'd take.

Good luck! Kids can be hard to work with. I work with 16 four year olds everyday! They can definatly be hard at times, and some of them more often then not. I don't have a good answer because every child is so different and different things work for disipline. But what we try to do if at all possible is really look at what is causing the behavior...attention getting, if they are testing you ,etc. And try to get to the root of the problem. There are many things you could try. For attention problems we ignore the bad behavior to the point possible, and praise even the slightest improvement. For difiance you have to give them two choices you are okay with "you can either pick up your toys by yourself, and we will sit here as long as it takes, or I can help you pick them up, we can race, etc..." or if you need to set up consequences and let her know before what they are. Most important is consistancy and follow through for any child I think. Also sometimes when I am really starting to get ajetated I go to another area take a slight deep breathe go back to the situation and sometimes get on their level and just talk about what is going on, tell them "I see a problem"ask them what they are doing that isn't right, ask them what the rule is, ask how they can fix the problem. Also I try to view things from their world occasionally.It does sometimes get hard for everyone to keep their cool..even those of us who most people consider pretty patient! :). So good luck, I've had quite a few children that have been very difficult to deal with, just keep trying. You are a great mom for wanting to teach these things to your children! Keep going!

1 / 3
Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.