4 Yr Old Talking Back?!

Updated on February 28, 2012
T.R. asks from Altamonte Springs, FL
8 answers

My just turned 4 yr old is becoming the worst listener, and starting to talk back to me! For example; if I try to send her to her room for a time out, for not listening, she says to me "No! I won't go to my room, I will not have a time out, I will sit right here!" and she'll sit on the floor or sit on the couch, and cross her arms defiantly, while, I'm doing everything I can to NOT pick this kid up by there ears! And the not listening thing is really driving me nuts, whatever I tell her not to do, she does it. Example, I say "no computer, don't touch the computer", and she goes and turns it on! And the worst for me, is when we're at the store, she'll walk away from me, especially when we are at the check-out, she doesn't go far, but she knows I'm preoccupied w/ the cashier and can't keep my eye on her (my back is turned), I HATE THIS!! It really freaks me out, because I am so worried someone will grab her and take off. BTW, she has never been a runner, she always stayed next to me, this is new, and so is the talking back and not listening! I'm trying to chalk this up to her being 4, but I have to admit I'm worried it's going to continue. She also started the "nanny-nanny-boo-boo" kinda sassy talk, that I know she got from preschool. Seriously? Why and how do kids get this stuff? Geez... Anyway, How do I handle this, and make it stop?

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

Featured Answers


answers from Los Angeles on

The shopping part is easy to fix, the first time she strays you put her in the cart, the bigger she is the better, you want her to feel as if everyone will know she has misbehaved. When she complains tell her that's what she gets for not staying with you, that you have to protect her. Then put her in the cart when you enter the store a few times, always explaining this is a consequence of her behavior. After a few times give her the opportunity not to sit, and if she strays repeat a few times, etc., until she obeys and stays with you.

As far as when she sits on the couch and defies you, or does something you told her not to do, calmly stop what you're doing, walk over without a word and pick her up and carry her to her room, ignoring any tantrum. Put her on the bed or wherever you want her to sit, and tell her that you will let her know when she can come out, that she is to think about her behavior and talking back. When you decide she can come out tell her that when you tell her to do something you expect her to do it with no back talk, period. Be prepared to do this each and every time she defies you, consistency is the key, and defiant toddlers and preschoolers need to know you mean business. Do this with the sassy talk, too.

And if this doesn't work you can start taking away toys or privileges. Do what you have to do to get her attention, and be consistent, it's bad enough she will be doing this in her teens ; )

6 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Washington DC on

Whenever I feel like my relationship with my kids is turning more negative with lots of no's, timeouts, defiance, and temper from both of us, I try to find something to turn it more positive. A few times I have turned to a sticker/stamp chart with a reward for filling up the row. I would go to the dollar store and let her pick out a few stickers or stamps. I put a few things I know they do naturally and a few things that I want to work on like listening or picking up toys etc. Maybe also give her some small responsibility to make her feel more independent...feed the dog, wash the dishes...let her pick. Let her pick her own clothes each morning...make a big deal about it. Have her put the stuff on the counter during checkout and give the money etc. At first it might not work smoothly but keep trying to work on it. Also, I do one errand then do an "errand" for her like the park, library, etc. The first time I do this I would say that she has to behave then we'll get to do her errand. If she misbehaves by walking away, then you won't get to hers. Good luck and hang in there!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

well i wouldn't pick her up by her ears, but i WOULD pick her up and physically put her in time out. every time mama. hang in there...4 was a pain in the butt for us....lol.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

She is trying out her new awareness of being an independent person. She's at the stage where teaching her appropriate behavior is more effective than punishment.

For the running away from you, once you catch up with her put her in the cart, hold her hand so she can't get away, or leave the store. All the while telling her running away is not acceptable and this will happen every time she runs.

For back talk, decide on a related consequence. My daughter took her children to their room, telling them they could come out when they were ready to apologize for their disrespectful talk. They could play in their room. The idea is to separate them from their behavior so that they can calm down. Once they come out, their mother would have a conversation with them about why what they'd said was unacceptable and how she expected them to talk to her.

As to not listening, squat down to their level, hold onto a hand, look them in the eyes being sure they're looking back and then tell them what you want them to know or do. Yes, sounds like a lot of trouble but it's worth it. They will learn to pay attention so that you can shorten the actions, tho you will always need to be sure that you have their attention before you start talking.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Victoria on

I do pick my four year old up ...by the arms. Look him straight in the eye and tell him to go do "such and such and do not tell me no"! If my son went and turned the computer on he would get a spanking. That is dangerous if it were to ruin the computer or if she were to decide to mess with plugs, ovens, or other electrical that could harm her or the appliance. The store is a great opertunity to get her involved. This works wonders for me. Have her help pick out some fruit. If she dosent get aggrivated easly you can even begin to show her how to find nice fruit. "Humm looky at this apple it has a bird bite out of it...lets choose another good apple". Something intreasting and let her pick another showing her first how you find good ones. Through the whole store even giving her a list of her own (not an important one but having things double listed from yours to hers so when she looses it its not drama). Have her help push the cart. This goes wonky sometime but it distracts durring shopping times. At check out time if you have cupons have her hand them to the cashier, help unload groceries. Also reward charts are working wonders for my son. When he wants a toy we have him earn it by doing things, pick up toys, eat veggies. To get him potty trained we rewarded him with a trip to the Zoo.

At this age they are testing there limits. And our motherly patience!!! It will continue if you dont show her this is not allowed. Even if your not a house hold that inludes spankings its totally needed that you dicipline your child if that means getting in her face and talking stirnly. Thank you God that my son dose not do the sassy talk. I am dreading when my daughter reaches that age. The above are suggestions on how I am handeling the same kid...just a boy in Texas though.

Do you have an iphone where she can play games durring check out? If she is good durring the trip tell her at check out. "You were such a good helper and a wonderful girl at the grocery store I really appericiate it. You can play a game on my phone." We arent rich by any means and we have an old iphone that only plays games. My husband bought it from a friend for thirty dollars!!! I just last month got an iphone. So tech my son had iphone before i did!!!! If not then just tell her what a great girl she was anyway!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Champaign on

I tend to make my kids repeat back to me what I said. Sometimes they are focused on other things, but more often than not they just don't like what I'm saying so they pretend they didn't hear me. If I make them repeat it back to me, they pretty much know they have to follow it.

I try to keep my words simple and to the point. Otherwise I become the teacher from Charlie Brown - "Wah, wah, wah, wah ... "

If she has earned a time out, pick her up and put her there. If she has trouble staying by your side at the store, hold her hand and learn to do the transaction one handed. She'll soon get the point. If she tries to do something you told her not to do (ie, the computer), physically block her from doing it. It sounds a little bit like you are across the room telling her things, and you might need to be right next to her making sure she does what she needs to do.

Try to remain calm. When she talks back to you or says "nanny nanny boo boo," just ignore it, pretend she isn't doing it at all. Just go about your business. If you need to communicate with her when she's in one of these moods, just say, "I really need to talk to you about dinner. Please let me know when you are ready," and don't talk to her again until she stops. It's like the wining stage. I would look at my son and say, "Mommy really wants to help you, but Mommy can't understand what you're saying. As soon as you're able to talk to me like a big boy I will be ready to hear what you have to say." Of course sometimes it comes out more like, "Stop wining!!!!" But I've had greater success when I remain calm.

Hang in there! Be consistent, and she will learn.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

Back to Basics Discipline by Janet Campbell Matson. -and fast! Four is getting too late to make a big impact on her personality. Don't delay! And if she's abusing time outs and mocking them, I definitely wouldn't be using them. Mine are 6, 4 and 2 1/2 and would not DARE do these things. Therefore, we get to goof off an have fun all day instead of worrying about discipline. Effective discipline is very firm, but it's rarely needed. And NEVER ignore her disrespectful speech to you. That is critical.



answers from Jacksonville on

Sounds like she is test her limits with you and she is slightly winning. If she touches something you tell her not to touch, pop her hand afterwards. If she does it again, sit her in a corner or facing a wall for time out. Sending them to their room will end up in them playing with toys and forgetting why they got sent there. When you pop her hand, she will probably cry, throw herself to the floor and you'd thought that you broke her hand. This is all part of the 'game' to turn you into a marshmallow parent that whose child controls the house and not you. If she wants to wander away from you at the store make her keep 1 hand on the cart while you shop. If she takes her hand off then she has to sit in the seat of the cart for the rest of your time in the store. She will more than likely cry, scream and die all to cause you great embarrassment in public but you will NOT give in and you'll continue your shopping. If you let her out, you'll only send the message that if she acts that way, you'll give her what she wants. So what if people stare! I'd rather see your kid sitting in a cart crying because she is in trouble than running around the store acting all crazy (she'll wander further and further over time). There is nothing wrong with yanking her up off the floor by and arm and putting her in time out either. You handle this and make it stop (and it will come and go in rounds as she grows up too!) by being the parent and taking control of the situation and not letting her have the control.

Good luck

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions