Child Development/discipline Book Recommendations Needed!

Updated on August 06, 2016
N.Z. asks from Los Angeles, CA
17 answers

Just to give you a brief sense of the reason I'm asking for book recommendations, I have a just turned 4 year old who gets angry/has attitude for no apparent reason, constantly refuses to listen, purposefully does something immediately after she's told not to do something (or vice versa), and being spiteful. Everything is a constant battle with her.

I feel as if I've tried everything -- I've taken parenting classes that focuses on positive discipline, being patient, never yelling, time-outs, counting to 1-2-3 (based on 1-2-3 Magic), etc., and making sure I'm being consistent for a period of time no matter which method I use, but things are getting worse, not better. I feel the only thing left to do is showing extreme anger, yelling, or corporal punishment, but there has got to be a better way, right?

We recently spoke to her pediatrician at her physical and the doctor gave us a referral to see a someone in the mental health department and an intake is scheduled for next Thursday. I was told that the intake will determine who my daughter will be scheduled with (therapist, psychologist, etc.), which might take some time.

In the meantime, I would like to be productive by reading up on some parenting books for kids who have the types of issues my daughter has. Any recommendations? I've already purchased Raising Your Spirited Child on Amazon and will finish reading Love and Logic.

Thank you!

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So What Happened?

A big thank you to those who have replied so far. Please keep your advise, personal experiences, and book recommendations coming!

ADHD and focus has been mentioned a few times and I want to note that my daughter doesn't seem to have an issue with attention and focus -- her ability for attention and focus is actually beyond her peers according to her teachers. Also, she only acts like this at home -- her teachers tell us all the time that she's so easy to take care of, that's she's a good listener, follows instructions well, has good attention/focus, well-behaved, and has no problems with transitions -- which tells me that she is mentally, physically, and emotionally capable of behaving.

I have looked into ODD and will definitely be asking the therapist about that.

Featured Answers


answers from Chicago on

You've just described my son, who is now 8.
We finally spoke to a family therapist, when nothing we did mattered to him. He literally is not a kid that responds to ANY kind of consequences or rewards. Nothing.
The therapist made is really easy for us, and literally we made huge progress after 1 conversation. I learned that my son is a kid that needs to feel control. He needs to feel in charge of his environment. We just rearranged how we talk to him and "make requests"...and it's made ALL the difference in the world.
He chooses his punishments for certain behavior types (within reason that we've outlined), I "put him in charge" of his behavior, telling him he has the control of how things go... etc.
POOF. Totally different kid.

Maybe try something age appropriate along those lines, while you wait?

8 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Honestly if she is well behaved at school and for other adults I don't see how it could possibly be ODD. There must be something going on between you and her.
(and believe me, I know, I have a daughter with whom I have ALWAYS has issues, still do and she's 20 now)
I would focus on some kind of parenting therapy. Kids with ODD, ADHD, etc. these conditions affect them at school and at home, this really sounds more like a parent-child relationship issue. Good luck.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Chicago on

What saved us was the book "10 Days to a Less Defiant Child." It really is a 10 day program, and it was our go to when we ran into similar issues.

It sounds to me as if your child has more of a teenage mind than the usual 4 year old mind. She wants to make her own decisions, determine her own activities and becomes frustrated and angry when that doesn't happen. It is a pain, but another way to frame this: She has a mind of her own. That's a good thing. With a very similar child, the key has been 1) connect 2) be calm 3) offer choices. Connect: I love you, I'm so happy to see you this morning. 2) Let's have a great day. 3) Would you like to put away your toys now or would you like to put on your clothes? Ultimately, we want them to make choices, and you're fortunate (hard to believe!) that you have a child who wants to make them now.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

How to talk so kids will listen, and how to listen so kids will talk.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

"The Explosive Child" by Dr Ross Greene. We were at our wits end when my youngest was about 6. When she got mad, there was no incentive big enough and no punishment enough of a deterrent for her to control her behavior. 123 Magic worked on my oldest and not AT ALL with my youngest. It just made her increasingly anxious and angry. After several bouts of "grounding" did nothing to bring about any long term changes and created a miserable (and definitely remorseful) kid, we decided we needed to change our approach with her. Sometimes her behavior was so startling we felt compelled to respond swiftly and "nip it in the bud" This authoritative type of response, however, was not effective. We found using the collaborative approach worked well with her.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I would suggest not showing extreme anger, yelling or physical punishment. With my very aggressive 4 year old, it only makes the situation 50 or 100 times worse. He will meet us pound for pound in whatever dynamic we set up. If we are aggressive to him, he escalates the aggression to a whole new plane. It is bad for everyone at that point. We have learned to stop tangling with him. When we see him getting wound up, we walk away. It takes two to argue and by removing ourselves, it does help diffuse the anger and power struggle. In general we ignore the bad and praise the positive. We give him lots of control and options where we can to give him a sense of empowerment. We use kind, soft words to keep situations from escalating and when he cannot hear those words, we stop and walk away. Eventually he will calm down and come around; he rarely initiates hugs but we will offer him hugs because we need them. He responds well to giving hugs because we need them. We do talk to him gently and shortly after an episode. We repeat things like "Use your words so we know you are mad." We also tell him regularly we love him and everyone gets mad but we all need to use our words and be kind. Finally we have found if we reward a negative, it lives on much longer. For instance one time he opened all of the kitchen cabinets and drawers while I was making breakfast. He was mad at me about something but I totally refused to acknowledge him or what he was doing. When he finally got them all open, I closed them one by one without a single word or look in his direction. He slunk off after that and we haven't repeated that since. However, in another instance I got all hot and bothered about him stuffing something in his backpack. Now I have to live with him repeating that action when he gets mad. There are many examples I can give but the idea is by ignoring and not feeding the negative, he doesn't receive anything in return and moves on to something else for attention. For what it is worth our son is an angel at school. Other than minor, age appropriate instances, we rarely hear negative feedback from daycare. Good luck.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Have you checked out allergies and any possible deficiencies? My daughter used to get extremely agitated and angry when her blood sugar was low. I kept a quick protein snack available (cheese stick, small yogurt cup) or orange juice, and it would create a very noticeable improvement in her behavior in minutes. You might ask the doctor for blood tests and allergy testing.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

"1 2 3 Magic" was always my go-to parenting guide.
But since that hasn't worked, I believe the dr is correct in giving you a referral.
Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Good luck with the referral meanwhile we made use of a cognitive behavioral psych to help us with our parenting skills. It proved invaluable.

F. B.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

The major problem could be the "constant battle", I wouldn't argue or constantly say to do or not to do something, it makes everything like a negotiation.
Look online for the "if-then chart", set clear rules and consequences, be strict and consistent with that and go straight to consequences just after she misbehaves. Be firm and at the same time talk, listen and explain to her as much as you can. IMO extreme anger and yelling are totally counter-productive, some swat could be effective but I would never make that yelling or in anger.
Hope this help, good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I was going to suggest Raising Your Spirited Child as it was a game changer for me but you already know about that one. Another one that I liked was the Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child - very good, very specific.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Just wait till you hear what the therapist has to say.
She might have O.D.D. (Oppositional Defiant Disorder).
I think my sister has it and was that way WAY before they ever had a name for it.
Stubborn, argumentative doesn't even begin to describe it.
I could say on a lovely day that the sky was blue and she'd be "No it's not!".
I have literally walked into a room to see her when we haven't had contact in 9 years and in 15 minutes I'll be wrong about something/anything.
She ENJOYS arguing and doesn't understand that I don't enjoy it.
She's hurt that I don't want anything to do with her - but she doesn't really want a relationship - she wants a sparring partner - and I won't do it.
Growing up with her was a nightmare - she was a definite challenge for our Mom - and Mom still worries about her.
If your daughter is anything like my sister - giving her tantrums attention of any sort positive or negative just won't work.
My sister would throw herself on the floor, kick and scream, bang her head against the floor - full blown melt down.
My Mom discovered the only way to stop it was to leave the room.
When the audience was gone, the performance was over.
For your daughter you might just haul her off to her room and leave her there - she can come out when she's finished with the tantrum.
There's no reason everyone has to listen to that.
It's a shame my sister never was evaluated - I think some medication back then and even now might make a positive difference in her life.
In the mean time - make sure she's safe - and invest in ear plugs.
You might want to record a meltdown or two (or more) to show to the doctor.
A glass of wine once in awhile for you at the end of the day might help your frayed nerves.
You'll get through this.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Check out the book Smart Discipline by Dr. Larry Koenig & also the website Life changing for us. I think they also give seminars too.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

check out her diet. whats she eating (or not eating)

my nephew was going thru stuff and asked for a stress ball to help him focus. thats when mom finally realized that there was something going on. she brought it up in a conversation with someone she works with and they suggested she see a nutritionist. the nutritionist looked at the boys diet and had them change it. (removed all things gleutin, all sugars and changed him to water only with milk once a day) and he is a different kid. he is focused and no longer wants a stress ball to help him focus.
i know other mothers that have changed a childs diet and the beahvior improved so look into it and see if a simple dietary change will help

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

You've gotten lots of good specific advice for your situation. For ANY parent, I recommend "How Much is Too Much?" By Jean Illsley Clarke, and the "No" book, by Dr. David Walsh. You sound very sensible, keep on your track, and don't be afraid of investigating mental health issues. Best of luck!


You've gotten lots of good specific advice for your situation. For ANY parent, I recommend "How Much is Too Much?" By Jean Illsley Clarke, and the "No" book, by Dr. David Walsh. You sound very sensible, keep on your track, and don't be afraid of investigating mental health issues. Best of luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

I don't have personal experience with Love and Logic, but lots of my friends say it is really great.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

That was me when our son was a preschooler. I am so happy the pediatrician made that referral for you, because chances are if normal parenting techniques aren't working, there's something else going on. I say this from experience. I was the one reading every parenting book out there for spirited children and taking parenting classes, trying to help our son get his behavior on the right track. It was only when we got in with the child psychiatrist that the pieces fell into place and we could help him.

Take a look at the website for CHADD, which is for families dealing with ADHD, and see if anything there sounds familiar. Also read up on ODD, because that is also a possibility, based on what you've shared.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful
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