4 Year Old with Attitude

Updated on February 22, 2010
D.P. asks from Gainesville, FL
13 answers

ok so i know i ask alot of question,but im just curious how yall handle these kinds of thing. so my oldest daughter is 4 and she had the bad and very rude attitude like if she dont want to do it she will tell you no im not you do it. things like that but only at home not in public and it more twards her dad than it is me.i dont know what else to do we have tried grounding her and taking things away she is very advanced for her age,she act like she is 4 going on 45 instead of 4 goin on 5 in july but she is very rude to her dad she think he should clean up everything after her so she wont clean her room and he will ask and she refuses to do it so he finially does and no matter what we do it doesnt work at one point she had nothing in her room but her bed and clothes and it still didnt work.she doesnt do this to my mom or me really at all just her dad.what should i do that might actually work her her with this attitude.HELP any advice will help thanks in advance...

What can I do next?

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

So What Happened?

just want to say thanks to everyone.my daughter still has her attitude but not directly with her dad anymore.she and her dad now have weekly father daughter dates and that is when they get to spend time together with out her 6 month old sister always needed the attention...but thanks again

Featured Answers



answers from Miami on

Sounds like she has a subconscious issue making her feel like she should be in charge... could even be a "past life" influence where she was the parent and her dad was the child role in a past life. Maybe he can do some regression therapy to see where her attitude toward him comes from, and perhaps release that pattern at the soul level. Otherwise I'd suggest he'll just have to not give in to her and be patient with this until she gets tired of being that way. Punishments aren't likely to work.

More Answers



answers from Lakeland on

Hi there. My 4 y/o got into a phase where she was copping an attitude with me just like this. Rude, defiant, bratty. I couldn't believe it! i think they get to thinking they rule the roost at some point and they know everything and they don't need us anymore... anyway, this is what I did and it worked:
I made a rule chart and went over it with her and her little sister. Rules included show respect, do what mommy and daddy say the first time, and help keep the house looking nice. I figured it wasn't fair to expect her to follow the rules if she didn't know exactly what they were. I drew little pictures and made it a game of them matching the pictures to the rules (because they can't read they needed a visual to remind them of the rules) and I posted them on the wall.

Then I went Supernanny on her with the time out. If she was even a little bit rude or disrespectful, she got time out for four minutes. Things I would have let slide before, I no longer tolerated. Right to time out. She hated it. She would sit in the chair announcing, "I don't want to be in time out! Get me out of here! I hate time out!" That's when I knew I was winning. :) Literally 2 days later, she was an angel again. No backtalk, good listening. So I was able to relax the discipline a little. Even now though (she's almost 5) if I see her starting to get all cocky and rude again, I institute strict time outs and it usually straightens her right up. Oh, I also took away a toy for repeat offenses-- for example, if you do that one more time, I'm taking away a toy. I don't tell her which toy and she gets all concerned, asking me which toy it is so she can gauge whether or not it's worth repeating the offense. So funny-- they are so clever sometimes. I tell her I don't know which toy I'll take away but I can guarantee it'll be one she loves and doesn't want to lose. Then she'll ask me for how long it'll be gone and I say until she can be respectful again and follow the rules for a little awhile-- maybe a week, maybe a month, maybe forever. That threat always seems to work around here. Anyway, good luck.

Oh, here's something dad can try. He should tell her to clean up her room. She will refuse. He should tell her that he can go and clean up her room, but if he does it's all going into a garbage bag and she won't see it again. If she calls him on it, he needs to follow through, though. If she really lets him pick it all up, it will have to go to charity or garbage or (the most painful to watch for her) garage sale. I bet you'll never have a problem with room cleaning after that. But you have to be willing to give away or sell some nice and/or valuable toys-- not easy. Luckily, we haven't had to do that.

If the problem is that she doesn't really know how to clean up properly, standing there coaching her can help. I.e. pick up the books and put them on the bookshelf. Now get the barbies and put them in that bin. Sometimes a huge mess is overwhelming for them, but I taught my daughter to break it into pieces, just focus on one thing at a time, and now she's the best cleaner upper I've seen-- even separates the toys out into appropriate bins. It's a learned skill, so to give your daughter the benefit of the doubt, some clean-up coaching may help.

Okay, I'll stop blathering. Again, good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

I am sorry, but you should have started earlier. I will do the same thing to her, and refuse everything she wants. I will explain to her that I will only start doing the stuff she likes when she starts to cooperate. The two of you need to work as a team, be firm, and consistent. I will say "no" to everything she likes, and will continue until she drops her attitude. If you do not stop it now it will be impossible to manage her at 11, or later. You think she is difficult at 4, and just imagine her at 14 years old. She will take over your lives, and treat you like her servants. My answer to her will be "NO", and then remind her why it is "NO". I do not care if you suffer along with her, but continue to say "NO". I need to remind parents that discipline start once you bring baby home.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

I can recommend a great book, "How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk," by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. It really changed our lives.
There are a lot of great tips to get kids to cooperate without the negative discipline (which doesn't work in a lot of cases).
We also had some trouble when our daughter was four -- I never know why people complain about the terrible twos -- for us four was much worse!
Get the book, use the tips, our kids are much happier now and so are we!


answers from Kansas City on

if this is TRULY only with her dad, then DAD needs to be the one to step up. you need to be behind him and support him, but he has got to be the one to demand respect from this child. it sounds (if it really and truly is only him that she is disrespecting?) like to me that he is just letting her walk all over him. why? and if this behavior is only with her dad, is he even interested in stopping it? you can discipline her all you want for attitude, and she may show respect for you, even show respect for him while you're in the room, but if HE doesn't back up your rules, and discipline her when they're not followed, he will never have control over her. he can't tell her to do something then five minutes later after she throws a fit, do it for her. he's got to do his part, not be lazy or give in to her all the time. you can't fix their relationship. he's got to do it or she will always railroad him. having said all of that, some dads just don't have a clue how to deal with kids, especially a 4 year old with a bad attitude. you might have to give him a crash course. when she does this, time out. when she does this, take away a toy. make sure he knows he has to stick with it and not give in. but he's got to want to do it. if you're both on the same page is the only way it'll work.


answers from Dallas on

you've gotten a lot of good advice. Be sure not to over discipline. That will either back fire or crush her spirit. Be reasonable. I always send other mom's struggling with discipline issues to the "Love and Logic" books because they really work. Get Dad a copy.



answers from Miami on

Some of that behavior is normal but it doesn't mean that you are going to accept it. Somewhere along the line, she got the message that it was ok to act like that. Think about how you are modeling your own behavior and be very careful with your own attitude. I would recommend a child psychologist because they can set upi a nice behavior plan and you can have that in place at home. Do it now before she gets one minute older. Good luck.



answers from Indianapolis on

There are a few things I'd recommend (some based upon other people's advice and some of my own).

We grew-up in a very disciplinarian environment - respect was expected. As a parent now, I'm trying to balance it out that discipline is a requirement of being a parent, but respect is a mutually earned thing.

My recommendations are as follows:
1. Have dad set-up a special event just with her once/month (or whatever frequency is doable). Go to the park, the library, to Chuck-e-Cheeses. Just something special that she and daddy do to strengthen the bond.
2. Work together on some of her chores to help her understand it's her responsibility, but that you're there to help her with the process as needed.
3. Take away important things that she derives enjoyment from when she throws fits. For our 3.5 year old, if he acts-up he may lose watching one of his favorite shows before bed, may not be able to play with a friend, etc. He's just learning action/consequence......and, it appears to be an effective motivator for now.
4. Consistently praise and reward her for the positive behaviors. When our kids say please and thank you without being prompted, we always make sure to comment. We always make sure to use the same behavior to them to set an example. If I need him to help with something, I always ask, "Would you please help Mommy with something?" "Thanks, Buddy, that was a big help"......it seems that when we focus on the negative instead of the positive, it has the opposite impact of what we'd like.

Good luck. No one warns us about 3-4 years and all the drama that comes with it.



answers from Port St. Lucie on

HI, I think you and your husband need to decide how to handle this stuff and get on the same page, then no backing down! If he gives in, she will never do it herself. We have always not allowed our son to 'tell us' what to do...he has always had to clean up his own things -and has to ASK nicely and in whole sentences when he needs something-I odn't take orders!.,...the few times it has come to him sayig no, we give him a time limit, if he doesn't do it, they go away (On top of the fridge usually so he sees the reminder). Since she is older and so smart already, it will take time to reverse this (I think anyway). I would start with small direct steps, ex. "this morning you have got to clean up your stuffed animals, all your dolls and all dirty clothes in the hamper" if she doesn't, by a certain time given-before afternoon playdate, etc., you take the stuff away (not forever and don't say forever unless you mean it :) and possibly don't go to whatever activity you had planned for that afternoon, or whatever the time limit was for.

I think getting them into a routine, being consistant and not backing down/giving in EVER will work, it just may be frustrating in the beginning for you guys.

Good luck, I hope I was able to help a little.



answers from Tampa on

We have had the best input from YokaReeder.com.



answers from San Francisco on

Have you tried a rewards chart? Let her know that you will give her a sticker/star/pretty color mark/ whatever on the chart for every time she is does the things you ask her to do. Help her choose a reward that she is working to get. Then, when she has enough "good days" in a row she gets the reward.

Start small. Use a shorter the length of time she has to be good, maybe 2 or 3 days in a row. Or do it incrementally. If she does everything you ask of her in the morning, you'll take her to play at a special park in the afternoon. That way, hopefully you'll set her up to succeed.

If she is good all day, she'll earn something that she's asked to do. It doesn't have to be costly, it could be playing a game with Daddy and Momma, or helping to make some cookies or having a special play date.

With my daughter, I have a similar issue. We just started the chart again. If she is good all day, she gets to play one of the wii games. I used to let her choose which park we go to, she now knows that I'll take her out to run around, but I choose unless she has been a good listener and not given me attitude. When she's been good all week, she'll earn a mini golf outing. She can't lose something she has earned, but it can be postponed if behavior is an issue when the reward is being 'spent".

Attitude is learned bahavior. For me, DD unfortunately has seen some passive/aggressive stuff and thinks she should be able to do it too. That she's quickly learned is not acceptable.

I am fair, but tough. In the end, if I don't "lay down the law" now, by the time she is a teen, it will be a nightmare.

Good luck, attitude can be challenging. I hope you find something that works.



answers from Tampa on

I have a 4 year old girl too. The answer is simple...positive reinforcement. Get a bowl and buy her treats, toys, stuff that she really likes. Call this a "treasure box." Then, tell her that when ever she's super good (good manners, cleans up, etc...) she gets to take something from the treasure box. This will work (tested on my 4 yr old girl). If she has a bad, negative attitude, the only thing you can do to turn it around is positve reinforcement. Grounding and time outs won't help because that supports the negative atmosphere. Leave the treasure box where she can see it (to remind her) and tell her exactly (be very clear) on what she needs to do in order to get something from that box. Just make sure you put super cool stuff in there that she really wants :-)

Good luck!


answers from Miami on

Good Day,
As a family, you may want to try to strengthen her bond with daddy. Let them try a few special; "moments" with each other. EX.: a lunch trip to Mc. Donalds, a hour at a park. I think daddy has to re-enforce his position in her life; and then HE needs to speak to her about respect! I have the exact same situation, but my husband works very long days and doesn't get home 3/4 of the time until both my 8 yr. old and 5 yr. old are already in bed! Plus my 5 year old get flippant with me on occasions, especially when I ask her to clean her room. So I get angry (or pretend to) and throw everything into 1 big pile; and tell her to rescue what she wants and I am throwing all the rest out! That's when she steps up the most. In school she is an angel, at home she expresses all the "bad" stuff she has heard or learned. But we are working on it! You are instilling life long responsibilities into your children now, keep up the fight for their future! Right always prevails, if we as parents don't give up! May God Guide & Bless you all..
Kathy N.

Next question: My 6 Yo's Mouth and Attitude Is Driving Me Crazy!