Disrespectful 4 Year Old

Updated on January 30, 2007
M.H. asks from Anchorage, AK
13 answers

I got married in May and I have a 4 year old daughter from a previous relationship. At first all was okay. She listened to my husband and was the good child she usually is. But then he went TDY(temporary duty) to Guam from May to September. When he got back it was chaos. My daughter won't listen to him. She talks back to both of us. She yells at him and says I hate you. (which she happened to pick up from a friend of hers) She won't pick up her room anymore, she won't eat when she is told to. She hits and trys to bite. I have no idea what is wrong with her. I am at my witts end. Nothing I do works. Time out doesn't work. Taking away privelages doesn't either. She is turning 5 in April and I can't have her go to school like this. They won't let her be there. Does anyone know what else I can do? Please tell me.

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So What Happened?

I bought the book 123 Magic today. I read half of it already and have began to implement the stratagy in the book. Its already working. And I love it. I have a feeling things will be much better from now on. Thanks for everyones tips.
I would also like to say that I didn't mention before that I have known my husband for over 10 years...we went to high school together. We haven't been together that long though. And when he left to Guam I went back to Texas to visit my parents and my neice who was there on a visit. My daughter did not get along with her neice at all the whole summer. (she said she didn't want to share her grandparents.) I do believe that part of her acting up is that I moved her away from the only family she knows. And I as an adult know that my husband leaving is part of his job, but I know he will come back. I know she knows its his job to leave but I dont think she quite understands it all and that he will come back. And just to answer all of your questions...no she doesn't not have contact with her biological father. She has never met him. And he wants nothing to do with her as I don't want him to have anything to do with her either. So thats just a small update. Thank you all for your comments and support. I appreciate it.

More Answers



answers from Seattle on

Read the book 1,2,3, Magic. It will work.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Eugene on

Do you watch the show "Super Nanny"? It is on ABC Monday nights at 9:00 p.m. I have learned so many discipline techniques just from watching that show. Last night they had a 4 year old little boy that sounded very similar to your daughter. I bet when she goes to school she won't act like she does with you. I know there is a book written by Super Nanny. Check that out... maybe it will help! Good luck...



answers from Fresno on

I had a little bit of this as well in my previous marriage. Here is the solution that worked best for us. It's hard to have a deep meaningful talk with a 4 or 5 year old, but you should ask how they are feeling. It sounds silly I know, but it opens the lines of communication. Asking her if she felt sad when Daddy left, and then talk about the feeling. I am sure you know by now not to make an empty promises by saying he's not ever leaving again. Talking about her feelings and explaining what they are can help her with all the weird emotions she may be feeling. I hope this helps! Good luck and God Bless!



answers from Anchorage on

Hi M., first welcome to Alaska. I live here as well.what part? I live in Soldotna. with my daughter who just turned 4 in january went through this as well should say is still going through this.and my husband works from home,he is gone for6wks at a time so i think she pushes me to see if i cave in because daddy's gone but I am the diciplinary. he's like the disney daddy.but i get to my witts end every day. I notice that when my oldest is at school and its just me and her she is so good. then when we pick up sis oh she does a 180 the back talking just being a stinker so what I have started doing is the time out chair,she HATES it.i have taken things away,yelled, talk nice,got to her leval and nothing and she knows i am not a spanker so she would push and push me so one day i was beyond frutration so i said thats it i put her in a chair and she screamed at me said she hated me. told me she was not going to sit in the chair. so i told her that her time would start when she kept quiet no crying,screaming ect. then i would set the timer for her age 1 min per age and i told her if she got off the chair her time would start all over, it took a bit but it seems like that has worked so far. if i even say now the chair she starts to cry because she knows i am not playing. so maybe that can help your little one. every child is different though. it took me a while to do this but now looking back on it and say why didn't i do this in the begining. my girlfriend also said to watch super nanny she has great pointers so i am going to watch maybe i can learn a few things. and get re parented hehe. good luck



answers from Anchorage on

I really think it has something to do with being up here in Alaska. I don't if it's in the air or what. School would really help a lot belive it or not. My friends 4 year old son is going through the same thing. They live up here also. The doc told her that alot of children do not adjust well the first year being up here. He told her to get him in rolled in something on base, because the energy that they have is so built up they can't do anything to get rid of it. That's why they act the way they do. They can't express to you what is wrong so they act up in other ways. And it doesn't help that your hubby was gone on TDY. See it was just you and her, now he come's home, and she could be thinking that his is taking you away from her. I went trough that with my son when my hubby came home from a 6 month deployment. We were not up here, but I feel it might be the same case with you.



answers from Los Angeles on




answers from Los Angeles on

All is not lost M.. My kids did the same thing when there father left us. They feel abandoned. As strange as it may sound that's what she's feeling. She doesn't get why dad left for so long. You just need to include her some more. Next time you husband has to leave again why don't you guys make a count down calender. Make it a family project before he leaves. Start with the day he leaves and end when he comes home. Mark days when he's going to call. Make sure he writes her letters as well so she knows she is not for gotten. So then next time he has to leave it won't be a war zone when he gets back.



answers from Sacramento on

It sounds like she's got a lot of feelings that she doesn't understand or know what to do with. If she grew to love your husband, or at least to expect his presence, his sudden departure for what (to a 4 year old) seemed like forever was probably very confusing. That change was probably more difficult for her than she let on. Then he came back, and suddenly everything is different again. 4 year-olds believe the world revolves around them, that everything that happens was either caused by them or directed at them. They don't have the vocabulary to tell you how much these changes hurt them. She needs extra TLC, and lots of love and understanding. She doesn't hate you or your husband, she's just been put off-balance and doesn't know how to handle it. If you respond to her outbursts with things like "sounds like you're mad!" and show her that her feelings are ok, the behavior will improve. Make her feel like her feelings are bad, and this will take a long time to heal. Good luck.



answers from Seattle on

Well, my child is only 1, but if i had a child that was acting that way, i would want to write supernanny. I have many friends who have children, and I can say that all of them are very different. Though, i have found therapy with other children that do not have terrible habbits like you mentioned is good. Also, 1 on 1 therapy is good too. Maybe something happened that is making the child act out. Have you tried talking to her? If she is 4, she understands a lot more than you think. I know it is hard to stay patient, but that is very important. You have to hold your ground as an authrority in the child's life. We are going to a great parenting class. I think even good parents need those. We learned that there is a huge difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline is when you explain boundaries and enforce them. Punishment is done w/o the child understanding why, and usually in anger. Maybe a class would give you and your husband a different perspective. One other thing we learned was be consistent!!! If you dicipline a child in one way, keep doing it. For example, if you do time outs and your child won't listen and stay there at first, keep moving her to the time out space. Eventually, she will listen. Seriously, Supernanny is a very helpful show. LOL I don't know how you feel abt prayer, but i will pray for you and your family. If you are Christian, I say give it to God, He will help you most. Hope this helps...




answers from Reno on

hey is your daughters real dad involved? if not maybe she is feeling a little insecure seeing how her dad is not in her everyday life and your husband in and out ( for a good reason) she propobly doesnt understand maybe she thinks hes not staying try talking to her explaing what dad (husband) job is and that sometimes he has to leae but she can count on him coming home see what happens believe me kids are smarter than everyone thinks



answers from San Francisco on

I say continue to put her on time outs, in her room don't let her get off you have to stay consistant all the time. No play time for her with friends, and then try to explain to her why she is on time outs. Even if you have to sit with her on her time outs, make sure that she completes the 10 min or 15 min which ever you give her. Take away favorite things,clothes, toys, when she wants it back explain that when she can be nice she will get it back.
Eating well kids go thru periods of not eating then eating way to much, I believe it's a growing pain. If she doesn't eat then tell her no desert, take her plate away and tell her she needs to sit and be good till everyone else is done eating. Eventually she will see that it is lonely by herself.
Hope this helps.



answers from Los Angeles on

4 is a tough age. I think she is punishing you guys for the time she missed with your husband. It's hard to explaine to a child why a parent isn't around and often children think it's something they did to drive that parent away. Be consistent. Don't let her walk all over you or your husband. But understand that she has feelings just as complicated as ours and no way to understand or reason them out.



answers from Bakersfield on

How did she behave while your husband was gone? Did she understand where he was and what he was doing? Maybe she feels like he abondoned her and this is her self defense mechanism. Children are very quirky with how they perceive certain situations. When my middle daughter was 5 she went through a similar faze. She was not responding to the time outs or the loss of her toys and play time either. I decided that I would have her help me clean out her room and we sorted through all of her stuff. She was required to pick 3 toys to give to the homeless shelter ( wich I had her physically walk into the shelter and donate herself), then we went through and boxed up the rest of her toys and put them in the garage. I also took her favorite shoes since she has ALWAYS been a fashion diva this was a sore spot for her. Then we took all of her extra blankets and stuffed animals off of her bed and boxed those up too. For everything that she asked for over the next weeks she was told no and she was required to earn every toy, pair of shoes and "fluff" back by following the rules, talking politely and not throwing fits. I also set up a chore board for her so that she could mark off her tasks as she did them and she could keep track of them herself. She did it and she is 8 years old now and a very pleasant child. All of my children have chore boards and have the opportunity to earn computer time, play time or a trip to the movies by completing their chores. It wasn't easy, but it worked and it worked quickly. My daughter had all of her stuff back in just a few weeks and we didn't have anymore problems with her.

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