At Whits End with 4 Year Old

Updated on May 20, 2008
E.M. asks from Louisville, KY
4 answers

Ok i love my 4 year old I really do but she makes me nuts!!! I hate to say it but im kinda always wishing i could have a break from her> she does not listen to me at all. if i tell her to get off the table she goes right back and does it in front of me. i put her in time out she gets up and does it again. when shes in time out she screams this horrible ugly scream that makes me want to slap her mouth and i have before needless to say that didnt work. I dont know how to deal with her anymore. I feel like i need anger management so i dont fly off the handle. shes a very high strung entergetic goofy kid. and im just so tired from being home all day alone with her and the baby. HELP!! how do i become a better parent and have a better behaved child? is there anger management classes in louisville?

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answers from Louisville on

I have 5 kids and I think I know how you feel. Your daughter is probably feeling a little jealous of the attention she is not getting. A 4 year old is not quite as easy or cute as a toddling 1 year old. Kids will get attention, positive or negative. I suggest trying to spend more time with her, reading, coloring, cuddling. Catch her doing good things and really compliment those things with hugs, high fives, etc. That way she is getting attention for positive behavior instead of the negative behavior. I have two 4 year old grandchildren and I know that it is the age to 'not obey'. The good news? You are on your way to an easier 5 year old (usually). When she does need disciplined, tell yourself to remain calm. If you have to, go to the bathroom, lock the door, until you are under control, then go out, explain what she has done wrong, place her in time out (no longer than 4 minutes for a 4 year old), explain again why she was in time out and lovingly encourage her to do better. One of my favorite sayings is "Pick your battles wisely." I had a couple of strong headed kids and I would have to pick one or two behaviors that I would focus on at a time. For instance, I have never seen an adult standing on a table, that is a 4 year old thing. Correct the behavior, but time out might be saved for hitting, talking back, disobeying (I am not sure this makes sense but these are things you don't want her doing as an teen, or adult) So, if you tell her, "Don't get on the table" and she instantly does it, punish her for disobeying (not standing on the table). Don't expect her to remember 4 hours later that she can't stand on the table, but when she does, kindly take her down, explain that we don't stand on the table, encourage her to do better. Hopefully this makes sense. Good luck. I live in the Louisville area and would be glad to be a sounding board. Do you meet with a mom's and tots group? That might help you and her! Hang in there, it gets better! :)



answers from Louisville on

I'm glad you're looking for options. We all think our kids should be and act a certain way and they just won't cooperate. My kids make me say and do things I didn't know I had in me.
First off, please find an outlet for yourself, an evening once a month when you can just be yourself with some girlfriends. Is your daughter going to be in kindergarten next year? If not, you should think about enrolling her in a preschool program in the fall. She'll love it and it's really an advantage for kindergarten. There are a lot of good ones in town. It's expensive but well worth it. For the summer, go to storytimes at the library with your kids, go to the zoo with a stroller - get a membership if you don't have one already. There's a great mother's group out on Westport Road called the Mother Center. They have playgroup 5 days a week from 10 until 11:30 am. You can pick which one you want to go to when you're a member. If you want to just check it out show up on a Monday.

Take care of yourself. You can't be a good mom if your needs aren't taken care of. Know that everything you've talked about is totally normal and you are not alone. Don't take anything your daughter does personally. Strive to be calm and persistent - take deep breaths. Structure your day so your 4 year old knows what to expect. I plan a fun outing in the morning to the zoo/library/playground/or museum, then lunch, then nap, then errands, then a bit of TV while preparing dinner. We may not get around to errands. Read books about anger management and parenting and you're sure to pick up some good tips. I bet you'll get lots of good advice from this request.

Good luck. We'd all love to know what works for you.



answers from Louisville on

I have a 4 year old too, and I so know how you feel, and choosing your battles is really good advice. Also, you are going to have to ignore that terrible scream. When you put her in time out, you need to give her the message that the routine in your household is going to keep going on without her. This always works with my 4 year old son. With him, he wants to control, and get the upper hand. It makes me feel like I need anger management :) If I'm getting ready to go outside I go ahead and go, I leave the back door open and stand by it while I watch my 18 month old play around the back yard. I can just see the top of his head in time out, and he doesn't like it that life is going on and he's missing out. I do agree that you should do something that's just for her, me and my little boy play school. We also will play on the computer together and build with blocks. You could also use bribery, but not with objects. Tell her if she can use her ears and listen, when the baby takes a nap she can help you make cookies. Do you try to get her to "play babies" with you? Let her get out her doll and play along side you while you take care of the baby. Or let her bring you the diaper when you change the baby, and go and on about what a big help she is. If you bottle-feed, or pump, you could let her help feed the baby. (My son thought this was the best thing ever) I've had experience with this, my own kid and the children I taught in pre-k before I became a stay at home mom. If you need any more support message me.
Good Luck!



answers from Louisville on

Oh, Man, E., hang in there! The really encouraging thing about your post is that you realize that YOUR actions might be part the problem, and likewise YOUR actions can absolutely be a big part of the solution.

I have mentioned the book several times on this message board, but the book How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, And Listen So Kids Will Talk is absolutely amazing, and written especially for situations like the one you are describing. The Jefferson County Public Libraries have several copies. It is not a faith-based or "preachy" book; it was written by two teachers as a practical training tool to encourage good, positive, and EFFECTIVE communication. I have used it both in the classroom and with my own daughter (she's 5 now), and when people comment on the good behavior and respectfulness of my class or my daughter, I always mention that book.

Good luck!

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