4 Year Old Daughter Just Does Not Listen

Updated on January 10, 2017
M.G. asks from Los Angeles, CA
17 answers

I have a 4 year old daughter and she just doesn't listen or learn, recently she has started to pick the paint in her bedroom i told her not to do it again and took away her fav toy, the next thing she does is draw all over her wall so i made her stay in her room all day and now iv found she is picking the paint again, I just dont know what to do, its causing me and my partner to argue, im 35 weeks pregnant and dont need the stress.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

why do i feel like everyone is having a go at me, i come on here for advice as i dont want to punish my daughter anymore and alls i feel like is that your all having a go at me, for starts she wasnt in her room all day she came out at 1 had her lunch then stayed down till dinner time then just went to bed earlier than usual... Thanx for all the advice and I feel like she does need more attention, its just hard with a partner that doesn't help around the house, i also have a 1 year old and 35 weeks pregnant, im exhausted most of the time, we did bake buns together today and watched a film together.

More Answers



answers from New York on

Hummingbird's response is right on in my opinion. It sounds like your child is screaming for attention. Instead of sticking her in her room all day why don't you redirect her and color with her, and communicate what she needs to be doing verses constant punishment. Let her know that there are other positive things to do to spend time with you. She is going to keep acting out until her needs are met!!!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My son did this sort of thing when he was four. He is borderline ADD and of a creative nature. Please don't "over" punish your daughter. I doubt she is just ignoring you. Probably more likely she didn't hear you in the first place or just forgot. She may even be compulsive. Helping her to clean the wall might work better, then give her an appropriate place to draw. Get her some play doh to build a wall with and pick pretend paint off that. Re-direct her rather than making a big punishment out of it.

AND spend lots of time with her. She is probably very insecure about the baby to come, which is totally normal. You don't need stress I'm sure, but consider your little girl is also having stress. You can help her get through it.

I also agree making her stay in her room all day is counter productive. It will just cause more stress.

I'm going to ask a tough question here, but I promise you I am not assuming anything...... does your partner like your little girl? If not why not get some family counseling to help the situation and protect the environment your child is in.

Wishing you the best.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Fresno on

Hi M., I read through all of the responses to your questions. I feel that your were given some great advice! Collectively, if you put several thinking minds together, the resulting "main ideas" should be of help to you. This is the reason for a forum, or question/answer avenue such as this. Be ready and willing to understand and accept the advice you get, and try to ignore the way people say the parts that sound insulting to you. Nobody means to be insulting, it is hard to put feelings into words sometimes without being hurtful to another, and this makes one feel defensive. I do agree with the feeling that your daughter, at the age of 4yrs., is at the age where she is very perceptive of the family dynamics. She will need lots of positive attention, affection, and reassurance from you of how important she is. That's when you'll notice these behaviors decline, and more positive behaviors emerge. Through your redirection of more fun, and entertaining things for her to keep occupied with, the other things you don't want her doing, won't matter so much anymore to her. Your new baby is almost due, and you already know that the other little ones feel frightened that they will not be as important to you now. That must be a scary and lonely feeling to carry inside, and not know how to handle when you're only 4, but old enough to be worried. This all means that she really loves you a lot, and can't imagine losing any of your love. You can show her how moms have enough room in their hearts for all of their children. She will start feeling like the VERY IMPORTANT big sister, and can help do and make special little things for the new baby. For one example, you can tell her that you and she will go out for an ice cream treat together, after she helps you make something for the new baby. Yes, of course you are tiring now, with less energy and being due shortly, also having a 1yr. and 4 yr. old child. Your little 4 year old can perceive this too, and it worries her about you. She doesn't know how to handle it though. Hopefully, your partner will find ways to help you out, lessen the load, and give you some times to divide your attention to each of your family members. The best of wishes for you, and your family. Sincerely, Kathi

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Stay in her room ALL DAY when she is 4? No wonder she's picking the paint off the walls.

First of all, I agree with Diane and Hummingbird. She wants attention and let her out of her room.

Secondly, in hindsight, (my oldest is 21) I can say that stuff like that DOESN'T MATTER, and I wish I'd never punished my children for toddler behavior. I remember one time getting all upset when my oldest was 5 because he had poked his fingers in some caulking that was drying on the sink. He was 5, and that stuff DOESN'T MATTER! When your kid is 21, you realize just how very, very young 4 and 5 year olds are.

Let her color on the walls, and pick off the paint. When she's 7 and stops doing it you can repaint her room. Who cares, it's her room. (And by the way, I'm an interior designer, and love a beautiful house, and I still say this.)

And don't put a 4 year old in her room all day! She's lonely and bored, that's why she's picking the paint off the wall!

Life is short, and one day there will come a moment when you realize that all that small stuff you fretted about is trivial. Paint, schmaint, you're gonna die one day. Don't waste your and your daughter's time together fretting over paint. You know the saying "don't fret the small stuff"? This falls under the category of small stuff.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Maybe you could get her a large craft roll of paper and some washable markers so she could make some pictures for the soon to be baby brother or sister and hand them on the wall before the baby comes home. It sounds to me like she's trying to get your attention in any way that she can. My oldest daughter was almost 6 when our youngest was born and she was just looking for things to do to drive me crazy. If you know what you are having could you and her sit at the table with some onesies and do some iron on patches or even get some kids sized plastic gloves and let her decorate them w/sharpies - most craft stores sell them individually so she can have the baby's shirts decorated anyway she wants them and really feel a part of things. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Glens Falls on

All day is a very long consequence for a 4 year old so she probably got bored. Sometimes kids act out because they want attention and she may realize that your attention is diverted by the pregnancy as well as a bickering partner. With the baby coming, there is just more in store for her so try to make sure that there is at least an hour a day when your attention is focused solely on her, sit one the floor and play with her, take her on a nature walk, read her some books - tell her this is Your Time. Then when there are issues, just use consistent discipline with one warning and a time out (short time out, but immediate). Not sure what to tell you about your partner - if a 4 yr old coloring on the wall makes him argue with you, he's in for a rude awakening once there are 2 little ones in the household. I mean this is just normal kid stuff.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

M., Good morning! I hear your stress, your frustration, with your daughter, with having to do everything around the house, plus a 1 year, 35 weeks pregnant, and some of these responses. WOW! You have so much going on. Before you can help your daughter, you need to help yourself. Your days are going to get much crazier in a few weeks, so let's do some planning now. 1)Your 4 yr old daughter: Is she is daycare or preschool of any kind? Can you afford that even a couple of mornings a week? That would be a great help to both her and you. Plus, you would have Also, think about ways she can be involved with the new baby. She will feel so big and important if she gets to sit with you while you feed the baby, or if she gets to sing to the baby before nap, little things like that. Your baby and your 1yr old will nap at the same time at least once during the day, and this will be a great time to cuddle up with your 4yr old while she tells you a story, etc. 2) Your partner. Probably works a lot of hours, and you feel everything at home is your responsibility. Stress & resentment. Can you talk with him/her and figure in what ways he/she could help you - what do you need most? It is all a partnership. 3) your 1 year old, 4) your new baby, 5) you. Well, actually, YOU are #1! You have to be a healthy woman to be a healthy partner & a healthy mommy. Really sit down and figure out some sort of routine for your 4 yr old, your 1 yr old, the housework, and then mix in a new baby. Of course that sounds so overwhelming...and it can be. But you CAN make some changes that will make things easier for you, and ultimately easier for your family. For your 4 year old, read the book "How to Talk so Kids Will Listen, & How To Listen So Kids Will Talk". It is a super fast read, and at the end of each little chapter, there are notes from parents - which is the part I love most because all theories look great, but you cannot see how they would work in your life/situation, but the parent stories often mirror something that is happening in your own home. It really is about choices, for your 4 yr old and for you. Give yourself a chance. You are going to figure out how to be successful with your family. Not everyday is perfect, and let's be thankful for that - perfection is quite boring! ha ha!! We all want to be supportive of you...please keep us updated on how things are going. If you want to chat, my email is ____@____.com Love & Peace to you and your family. B.



answers from Los Angeles on

I also have a 4 year old..the 1st half of 4 was rough..now it seems to be getting easier my son also needs to work on listening and has always been very active..what i do is..sometimes i whisper to get his attention..i say.."let me tell you something......" then i whisper what it is i want.. we hug things out in our house..he will get out of control or if i see the beginning of a tantrum and i say.."lets hug and talk" but i've been doing "hug it out" now for a couple of years..works like a charm..ends all tantrums..and it has made my son a very sweet boy..
at school they have made a chart..
there are different color zones..
1. Blue..excellent
2. Green ..good
3. Yellow...not so good
4. Red...bad
5. Black...in trouble..

they take a clothes pin with their names and it depends on how they're behaving what color their clothes pin is clipped on..
you could make this at home..i swear it works..or maybe b/c its school it works..
but i just say to my son.."ok..now you're in the yellow zone" when he starts to misbehave..
and he always answers.."i don't want to be in the yellow zone!!"
so i answer.."well then you must listen to me and stop doing things i ask you not to" i also explain to him "WHY"
i say.."i wouldn't tell you not to do something if it were a good thing to do"
or "if candy were good for you i'd let you eat it all the time...but i'm your mother and its my job to take care of you and teach you what is the good thing to do and what could be harmful to you or others" etc...
you have to explain to them why you don't want her to ...peel the paint..taking a toy and getting mad really doesn't let her know "why"
that's why i hug and i explain..sure i get flipped out sometimes..but then i just say.."Ok now you're in the red zone!" that is something that is easy to understand b/c the zones have been explained to him..

i hope this was helpful
good luck take deep breaths..





answers from Los Angeles on

HI M.,

Wow, you have your hands full, don't you? I really like the "Positive Discipline" series of books by Jane Nelson. She helps parents know what's normal behavior for various stages in our kids' lives and how to respond to the frustrating things they do. I think you'll have more ideas on how to respond once you've gotten the books. There is one for preschool-age kids that would be a great place for you to start.

Her information has really helped me!

best of luck to you and your growing family.



answers from Los Angeles on

I was surprised to find out that four was as bad as two. I was expecting and understood the terrible twos, but four? The best advice I got was catch her being good four times for every time you catch her being bad. It turned my daughter around and we quit fighting and arguing as much.



answers from Los Angeles on

You should spend more time with your little girl. She needs you.



answers from San Diego on

Hi M., this is late, but after reading the responses, I wanted to respond, for future advice if you want. My kids are 27, 23, and 21 and we taught our children how to respect the home we were blessed with, I don't think you were wrong to punish your daughter, only because she flat out defied you, it's not like you punished her the first time she picked the paint. Coloring on bedroom walls can always be painted over, but like everything else it takes money. Know one took into consideration that you may be in a rental, and have to pay for coloring on walls and damage to walls. I will say this bring a BF around your daughter is not a good thing to do in my opinion, (Just my opinion) but she may have some resentment. I pray things get better for you. J.



answers from Phoenix on

I have a 3 year old and a 5 year old that don't like to listen or seem to learn from my past disciplinings. Swouts on the bottom, taking things away, and rewards for good behaivor. Didn't seem to help but I'm trying something new that seems to work. I make them stand in the corner for about an hour. I know it sounds funny but their legs start to hurt a little and they think about what there missing out on because of their bad behaivor. My boys stand right where I can see them but where they can't look at a t.v. or anything that could keep them company while their standing there. Did my advice help?


I have a 3 year old and a 5 year old that don't like to listen or seem to learn from my past disciplinings. Swouts on the bottom, taking things away, and rewards for good behaivor. Didn't seem to help but I'm trying something new that seems to work. I make them stand in the corner for about an hour. I know it sounds funny but their legs start to hurt a little and they think about what there missing out on because of their bad behaivor. My boys stand right where I can see them but where they can't look at a t.v. or anything that could keep them company while their standing there. Did my advice help?



answers from San Francisco on

I don't have any advice-- just to tell you that you are not alone! Be patient, it will pass.




answers from Cleveland on

Sorry to say, but a lot of kids at this age don't listen or choose to listen to what they want to at this age... and sometime I think it gets worse as they get older. Maybe it is a way of getting us ready for the teen years - not sure, but it can be very flustrating.

As to the paint... how old is your house?? My house was built in 1893... which means that some of the paint in the house has lead. Lead is sweet like candy & some kids will actually get a "taste" for the paint do to it being sweet. We had to remove the woodwork & replace it in one of my son's rooms do to this issue. And are trying to remove all the wood work though out the house as we are able to affored to - in hopes to remove the lead danger from the house the best that we can.

As to the drawling on the walls... I have had issues with that with 3 of my kids & still do sometimes with the 3 & 5 yr old... the 6 yr old has stopped doing it now. But I don't think I have a room w/out someting written on the walls, they even managed to write on the shower walls once. Now they are only permitted to have crayons at the little table in the living room where we can watch them as they drawl.

One other question I have - is your daughter jellous of the pregnacy? Could that be why she is acting out a little?

Good luck with everything & congratz on the baby to be.


answers from Modesto on

Where are you when your daughter is picking at the paint or drawing on the walls? Those are pretty normal things for a 4 yr old to do when they are left unattended. I agree that giving her some art paper and maybe getting some things to write with that arent indelible would help you out some. But at 4 they usually need some hang out time with mom and her undivided attention for a certain period of time each day. I agree with Page that these are minor things and not worthy of a huge punishment. When my boys grew up I found some of their markings that were left behind in their bedroom quite endearing to look at......
If you want her to play alone and not be destructive you have to give her something constructive to do.... she wont figure it out on her own, she'll just peel paint ;)



answers from San Diego on

Might want to work on your discipline plan. 4 yr. old - all day in her room? Time outs work wonders, and it's only supposed to be a minute per year of age. It takes patience & re-inforcement. Sometimes you will have to sit with them until they understand they have to sit in their time out seat for the entire time. You have to remain calm. There is alot of reading material on how to raise toddler with love & discipline. Sounds to me like you have other issues going on & this is your child acting out. Maybe a time out & then help mom clean the wall would have been a better solution? Do you sit & read with your child? Play games? Go to the Park?.....I believe a child that has a good relationship with their parents (with love & respect) is pretty easy to discipline, and they do learn their boundaries. It starts at birth & never ends.It's never to late to start, but you do have some work ahead if you want a calmer household. Hope you aren't telling your 4 year old that they'd better be good because you don't need the stress because you are pregnant. Not a good way to welcome a sibling - there will already be jealousy of a new baby. Research how to discipline a toddler & hopefully some of these responses will help you.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions