December 15, 2007,
C.M. asks from Fort Leavenworth, KS on December 14, 2007
Unruly 4 Year Old
I have a 4 year old daughter who is very bright;however, her behavior is awful at home and worse in public. She does not listen and is often a terror in public places. I am a single parent and spend all of my time with her...we play games at home...read books...watch movies...do learning activities..etc. I am at my wits end!!!! I am trying to figure out what I am doing wrong or need to do...please help!!!!!
D.B. answers from Wichita on December 15, 2007
V.W. answers from Wichita on December 15, 2007
When my daughter turned three she started throwing fits, screaming, and completely ignoring me, unless she wanted something. She would lay on the floor screaming so loud, I thought our neighbors would think I was beating her. We would have one good day and one day from hell, then repeat. I couldn't figure out if there was some trigger that was setting things off, if I was doing something wrong or she was just testing how much I was going to take.
She turns four in a few weeks and through this last year I have found that testing boundaries is usually the case. I read a book called 'Parenting with Love and Logic' and it really helped me cope and not add fuel to the situation. It also helped me understand what she might be learning from a situation and that her behavior was her choice and her choice had consequences. Learning that I can help guide and show her how to make better behavior choices actually helped me. Helping her learn that good or bad behavior is something she chooses has helped us both.
For me it is hard not to give in to everything. I hated having her mad at me, but by standing my ground I have gained her respect. I talk to her with respect and explain why or how something makes me or others feel and I ask her questions about how she feels when she is mad. I also really listen. In turn, her respect for me and others has developed and grown. She knows if I say no, I mean it and bad behavior is never going to change my mind. Within a few weeks things started to change and the fits were less often. She still has a meltdown once in awhile when she is tired(she is three, right) but very few and I can handle them easily.
I hope some of this helps.
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J.K. answers from Oklahoma City on December 15, 2007
I started out right away with the no tolerence for bad behavior in public, even if it means I have to stop what I am doing and leave the store immediatly...I only had to do it once with my daughter, I went out to the car, gave my daughter a spanking and told her she would not go to the store with me if she did it again...
I watch mothers all the time in public, buying candy ect. because a child is screaming and crying....it is only making the situation worse if you give in...and you can expect that behavior to be the norm if you are because you are letting it work for the child.
Sometimes I dangle the carrot for my 10year old mentally disabled son, he is a real terror in public...I promise a treat or reward if he behaves...but this can backfire if he loses the reward in the store, then he throws a fit. For example...He cleaned out a whole shelf of medicine at walgreens, screamed cuss words out, and threw his self on the floor kicking, screaming, crying and hitting the whole way out of the store because he lost his toy for choosing to cuss and run away. Everyone was watching me, and it was horrible, but I refuse to reward his bad behavior just to avoid a tantrum.
On a side note, my daughter is five and we are very close as well...I am always struggling to overcome the "friend aspect" of our relationship...she knows I don't want to punish her and she takes full advantage of it. We do allot of "bargining" and she is very smart so sometimes I give in. But when it really matters she knows who is boss. You have to keep your respect.
A.T. answers from Tulsa on December 15, 2007
I think the most important thing to remember is that every other parent has gone through a similar phase(s) with their children. Sometimes it seems like everyone else's kids behave perfectly when mine are at thier worst. It sounds like you're doing all the things a loving parent does, but all kids need a good dose of 'tough love,' too. Don't feel bad when she screams at you because you tell her no or give her a consequence. She'll thank you for it when she's about 20 :-)
A.O. answers from Dallas on December 15, 2007
I read the book Your Four Year Old:Friend Or Enemy. It helped to explain a lot about how their mind is working. It was written a long time ago but I'm still amazed how things haven't changed.
It helped me with their reasoning and logic and how to approach things with mine.
J.S. answers from Cleveland on December 15, 2007
Don't worry every child has their day, not every child is perfect. I have a 4 yr old myself and what has worked for me was the advice from the tv show Nanny 911 and Super Nanny. You can purchase their book as well at any bookstore. My husband and I will put him aside for time out even if we are at a restaurant, he gets so embarrassed and it works. You have to correct her right there and then as camly as possible. Explain to her what she is doing wrong and that its unacceptable behavior. Praise her everytime she is behaving well. If your out shopping, you can let her pick out something to play with before you start shopping, and let her know that its just for her to play with and that you will put it back in the shelf. If the time out doesn't work, you can always take all her toys ( or any special things she likes to do) away, and she can only recieve them after good behavior.