4 Yr Old Little Girl Is Extremly Disrespectful

Updated on July 14, 2009
S.D. asks from Central Islip, NY
13 answers

My 4 yo. is so fresh to everyone at home my parents her aunts & uncles & myself. She says things like I hate you, Your not my mom you cant tell me, I dont have too just really really fresh shes my only child and I do this alone Im not really to sure how to handle it Ive tried time out Ive tried taking things away, Ive tried positive reinforcement, nothing seems to work. "When she's good shes very, very good & when she's bad she's horrid!" We dont speak like this to each other at home we dont speak to others like this. Im not too sure how to handle this & Im starting to loose my patience because nothing I mean nothing seems to work. Please Help!!!
Thank you

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answers from Albany on

I'm guessing she's probably got a food allergy that's affecting her brain. It happens. Keep a log of everything she eats and I mean EVERYTHING. It can take up to two days for a reaction so monitor it closely for a month or so and look for a connection. Typical allergens are dairy, food additives, wheat and sugar and HFCS can all affect the brain adversely. Even when you leave those items out of the diet it could take several weeks for the residues to leave the body. Try switching to organic foods. Those chemicals can make people crazy and violent and even autistic. I know a child who "lost" his autism simply by switching to organic.

Some people feel allergies in their sinuses or lungs, others in their brains.

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answers from New York on

Hi S.,

When my boys picked up these phrases from others, I would just deflate it. My response to "I hate you!" was "Good! Because I love you" and go about my business as if he had just told me his toy was green. This did not happen too many times.

She's trying to get a rise out of you. Changing your beat in any manner accomplishes just that. But, you are not going to get immediate changes; accept that.

Of course, if she's doing this at the top of her lungs in the middle of the grocery store, as opposed to the middle of your living room, you feel like all eyes are on you. If you really cannot dismiss her outburt (Silly girl! Of course I am your mother and I will tell you! Now, shall we have carrots or green beans tonight?), you just leave the shopping cart where it is, pick her up without a word and go right back to the car. Put her in the carseat and go straight home. Do not speak to her. She will know that you are angry. This is a 'moving' time out since you cannot put her on top of the bananas and continue your shopping without her. When you get home, put her in her room, without a word, and go do something for you for a few minutes will you decompress.

She's going to outgrow this as long as she does not get the reaction that she wants. She'll take negative attention over none. Give her none.

They sure can be trying, huh? Good thing they're so cute!

best wishes

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Dear Single Momma,

Don't Worry, she will grow out of it,

My oldest son used to act out this way.

I suspected the main reason was because Family members , INCLUDING myself felt sorry for him because he didn't have a good dad.

So they would spoil him with gifts that were extravagant.
He had no siblings so he never HAD to share, just maybe iof he had a friend over.

Every meal I cooked was catered to what he wanted.

All my time and energy was dedicated to him.

Every weekend was devoted to making him happy and entertaining him because I felt bad about working ALL week.

Even tho he spent his time with his fathers mother.
OR at an expensive private preschool.

I was teh only one in my family with a Child, so my sister, brother, his wife, my mom, his fathers brother and sister,

All Catered to his needs.wants and desires, no matter how small.

When he was fresh they overlooked it the first few times.
or tossed it off that well he didn't have a good dad.
OR whatever.

And ME well I was so tired from working all flipping day I barely had the energy to discipline,


Well I did.

No one would love my child the way that I did.
No one would put up with all his nonsense like ME

And in the end I was actually hurting my child, because he seemed to have this air of entitlement floating around him.

SO I just knuckled down.

AND it was HARD

When he got fresh, He went to bed on the first shot.
When he talked back,

When he was rude we left the party,

when he was fresh to grandma, I tried to encourage HER to also follow thru. ( not as easy as it may seem)
Because punishing a 4 year old after the fact doesn't work, because they really have no comprehension.

But I would talk to him about it.

NOW how do you know your consequence is working?
And How do you get them to take the TIME OUT when they won't stay there. And HOW do you get them to stop playing with their toys during a time out. And what about when she is fresh to someone else when your not around.

OK SO we need to prepare the room,
You need to remove ALL of her toys and play things from the room. ( Throw them in a corner in the living room or even in your room) This will be temporary but you don't need the added distraction. If she has a TV you unplug it.

SO TODAY she is Being fresh-----

Well, when she is fresh you need to PHYSICALLY get up and take her to her room,

Explain to her that It is NOT acceptible for her to talk that way, and from now on when she does it, she will go straight to bed. ( END OF CONVERSATION)

SET and Egg timer. for 5 minutes ( if and when she stays in the room )

and leave the room.

She will scream and carry on.
and this is ok, she doesn't have to LIKE being punished.
For you to think that is not reasonable.or fair to her.

If she tries to leave the room , you need to take her back in there, even if it takes 10 or 15 times.

Your gonna be wiped out, and so will she but you cannot give up. NO matter WHAT. This is how she learns you mean what you say.and how you show her that you love her enough to teach her what she needs to know to get thru life.

Believe me this ALWAYS ALWAYS works, I have 3 very spirited sons. and my oldest is 13 years old,

She needs to know what is expected of her,and she needs ONE standard routine for punishment, switching it up just confuses them, and makes her feel like there is no stability.

OK So now we've accomplished getting her to stay in the room alone to work it all out.

After the timer goes off, you go back to her room and say very gently

Are you ready to talk now?
( hopefully she say s YES)

If not - you say OK I will come back when your ready.

walk away and come back to the room in 45 seconds.

and Say Are you ready to talk now.
( If she says No again , then walk away and come back in 45 seconds and re ask the question)

So she is ready to talk now.
And you sit down beside her at eye level, and very gently and sweetly and calmly say, Mommy loves you very much.
you know that right? But you CAN NOT talk to me or anyone else like this, It hurts our feelings. And you wouldn't want us to hurt your feeli
ngs.RIGHT? Well we don't like you hurting (our feelings. Do you understand? ( hopefully she says yes) ( this doesn't mean she actually DOES understand, but atleast she is trying to understand which is half the battle LOL)

Then you hug her and kiss her and let her play again.

NOW that you have established the RULES>
Don't think that this will be the LAST time you will have to explain the rules. And be prepared that she will in the very near future need to be punished for the VERY SAME OFFENSE> This is part of mother hood.

OK so how do you know that its working, Well in a few MONTHS
you will notice a change in her behavior AFTER you first warning. What I mean is she will probably stop and consider whether or not she will follow thru with the act.

AS for the attitude well thats a little more difficult because its her personality and alot more difficult to control emotional out bursts.

BUT since she has a place to go to to act out ( her room)
and work it all out , it should affect you less, and help her try to control her temper.

And managing her anger takes time.
You definately don't learn it at 4.LOL
BUt that is where you start teaching her
Who what when where why and how.


So all this advice is fine if your at home.

Lets say she doesn' it at grannys,the mall or a friends house--- You need to warn her that you will go home.
and then follow thru and take her home.

DON'T Say it if your not actually planning to leave.

If you don't plan to leave you take her by the hand to an area that is less populated, or even the car,

and have her take her time out there.
with you sitting beside her riding out the wave together.


When granny says she was talking fresh, after a long day at work. and it happened 12 hours ago.or even just 2 hours ago

You simply explain the rules and your expectations.

and tell her that you are dissapointed in her behavior.

Now is not the time to act, because its after the fact.

BUT if you gently remind her that you expect her to behave BEFORE going into grannys, and then offer positive reinforcement saying you know she can do it because she is smart, and knows how to follow the rules. and then thank her for being a good girl. Chances are she will try to live up to your expectations of her.

And then when you pick her up,have a small token like a lollipop ask how her day went, and if she was good, you praise her saying HOW proud you are of her. hug her and kiss her saying I KNEW YOU COULD DO IT sweet heart, adn then say because you were soooo Good I brought something for you. ( and give her the pop)

Remember she isn't gonna be good everytime.
no child is. it takes time to learn tese things, and heck I know plenty of adults that still have trouble with following rules. BUT if your consistent. and you use a little positivity and a little structure, follow thru with consequences. She will get the message. and your life will in the long run be easier.

I hope this is helpful,

I wish you the best.

Good luck


2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Hi S.,
It's up to you to teach your daughter how you expect her to speak to and treat adults. Respect is an important lesson. Speak to her at a time when she has not just been fresh, start a conversation and let her know what you and the rest of the family expect in terms of her treatment of adults. Let her know that little girls do not say things like I don't have to and you're not my mom so you can't make me. She needs to be told that she must treat the grandparents, aunts and uncles with the same respect and that they ARE an authority to whom she must listen. She is not a toddler, she is old enough for punishment. For something like this, the consequence really needs to be immediate to be effective. I'm all for the chair facing the corner and as soon as she is disrespectful, I would take her to the chair for punishment time. I wouldn't speak to her when you are doing it or tell her "Now you have to sit in the punishment chair," I wouldn't give warnings, just do it. Afterwards, I would require her to apologize to the adult who she sassed, and not just say "I'm sorry," but to teach her that she must apologize for what she did "I'm sorry that I was rude and disrespectful" - that's how she'll learn what her actions are and it's making her take ownership and acknowledge what she did. Good luck.

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answers from New York on

Well it sounds like you've tried a couple things that didn't work so you stopped and tried something else. You need to figure out what you hope to accomplish and set a path to accomplish it. When you waffle between punishment, bribes, rewards, etc you are letting her set the rules. You're the grown up and you're in charge.

Yes it's a phase but unless you correct things it'll become a habit. One warning of "I'm sorry but we don't act like that in this household" followed by a time out (where she will scream and cry) for the next offense is reasonable.

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answers from New York on

I suggest you bring the child to church. This is a great place for children to grow up. Also, karate lessons, they teach discipline there.



answers from Albany on

Hi, I think Mindy T is on the right track. so often we think that our children will learn by our example, but we have never actually teach them what we expect. A 4 year old is old enough to learn the expected behavior. You need to decide what you expect, teach her and let family members know what is expected.
My youngest was carried kicking and screaming out of the house on more than one occasion because she chose to "test" the expectations. (our method of negative reinforcement) She has learned that we will not accept certain behaviors in our home and no longer has "time outs" in the garage. In fact, family members, friends and teachers comment on what a nice (10 yr. old) girl she is.
I would make sure to communicate your love for her every day, no matter what!



answers from New York on

I think this is a normal bratty stage. My 4.5 year old and my niece is also 4.5 and they act very similar even though they live 500 miles apart.

A few months ago, we went through a particularly bad fresh stage with my son who tended to only act out with us (his parents), but started with my mother and sister as well. When he would say "i hate you", I would tell him that I knew he still loved me even though he was just angry. I would also let him know that it was appropriate behavior, that I didn't appreciate it and that I did not want him to speak to me unless he improved his behavior, I did the time out thing, took toys away. Nothing was an instant behavior modification, it just took patience and time. He still has his moments, but much fewer and much farther between. The other day when I asked him to do something he did it right away and said, "see I listen now, aren't you happy?" I don't think her behavior has anything to do with you or you being lazy as a single mom-you probably work HARDER, it is a stage and she is testing you! Keep up with with what your doing, talk to her about manners and treating people with respect and this shouldn't last much longer.



answers from New York on

Its one of many stages and you need to be consistent. She is pushing your buttons to get a reaction and you need to figure out what she absolutely hates and then do that whenever she mouths off. You said you have tried many different things, well that is not consistent. Which of the things you have tried bothers her the most? Have you tried putting her in a corner, facing the wall? I found this to be most effective, they cannot see what is going on and if really really bothers kids. Sitting in a chair for 4 minutes is not much of a punishment, since they have to sit in high chairs and car seats for longer than that.
Whatever punishment you chose do not talk to her when you do it. Simply say go to the corner or I am taking away your doll and then dont talk to her. She knows she is being bad and she knows why she is being punished. The more you talk the more attention she is getting. Dont despair, most kids outgrow their 'evil' stages, but then figure out another one. They are testing their parents and themselves, trying to find limits.
When my daughter was 4 and in pre-k she came home with all kinds of naughty things. One time she kept sticking her tongue out, after about a week, I took a kitchen towel and caught her tongue with it. She couldn't pull it away. I said since you like sticking it out, let's leave it out forever. She shook head and mumbled no no. I let go and she never did it again.



answers from New York on

My son went through the same thing so we would walk away from him and not speak or do anything for him until he talked politely and was not disrespectful. At one point it was so bad we all left the dinner table and ate away from him. After a few weeks of this he got the hint, but I will tell you it was a royally tough few weeks. He is now a teenager and the most respectful kid I know, always helping his teachers, friends, family, and strangers, and likes it when people do what they are supposed to do. One other thing he has made the Honor Roll every single marking period since he started middle school, that is 8 marking periods so far, he plans on doing this all the way through high school and then college; I never expected this seeing how tough he was as a toddler.




answers from New York on

Dear S.,

I think some of this is the age, learning that words have meaning but not understanding the meaning. I would just explain that we do not say that it is hurtful and why it is hurtful. I think children are a sponge and use words from TV without understanding the meaning.

You can try a reward chart, a star everytime she does not use those words and at the end of the week she can get something inexpensive like a bottle of bubbles, sidewalk chald, tatoos or stickets.

Do not put too much attention to it. My granddaughter went through a period at 4 of doing the same thing and she outgrew it in a few months.

GOod luck,




answers from New York on

Hi S.,

You need to have a consistent punishment for her behavior. Find what she loves and will really make an impact take it away and always follow through. There is no punishment in my opinion to harsh for disrespect. If you do not get a handle on her behavior now and it spills over to school with teachers, principal, etc you will really have trouble on your hands. Plus, the fact that she is four I wouldn't want to see this continue into the teenage years which in my opinion is the most challenging time. She is not a toddler she is old enough to know what is expected of her.
When she is calm talk to her let her know what you expect of her and what will happen if she mouths off again. Don't do it in the heat of the moment. You seem like you have tried so many different things and that in itself is ineffective. Find one punishment that you know will get to her and stick to it. Consistency and consequences in my opinion are the key to success. If you are at the store and she is disrespectful leave the cart grab her and go home. Don't speak to her just follow through with the punishment and eventually she will know you mean business. There is nothing worse to me then a disrespectful child, I can handle misbehavior because that is how children learn but not disrespect. I was a single mother for a short time and I know how tough it is and how much easier it is to just give in or ignore things because it is exhausting. But trust me putting in some time now in the long run will pay off. Good luck and keep us posted.



answers from New York on

Seems you've gotten some good advice here.
Whichever route you chose, try to do it with as little emotion as possible. This sounds easier than it is. I had a similar situation and would get really angry and the kids could tell. As a result I worked hard a deep breaths, counting anything that would allow me to deliver the response without sounding angry.

I would also make sure that you are responding with empathy to her indications of distress, this will help her understand you are there to help.

It is very stressful. Good luck!

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