Fit Throwing 4 Yr Old

Updated on August 23, 2006
A.K. asks from Tulsa, OK
9 answers

my just turned 4 yr. old just started a pre-k and for the past 6m. i have been having problems with crying her daycare she would be great all day til naptime..she hated it and would start singing and when they told her to be quite she would throw a fit...yesterday her pre-k teacher(it's halle's 3rd day)said she reminded her to say "please"for the marker tub...she had a smelt down...and actually missed 45 mintues b/c she was sitting at the class couch(she could have re-joined the group at will)...halle is very smart and stubborn...i know she just probably got embrassed...but why is she so emotional...i have tried everything, but nothing seems to help...simply stated...if everything goes her way great if not watch home i have sent her to her room...and even spanked for fits...any suggestions?..i hate to have a 4yr. old cry baby?...

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answers from Tulsa on

HI A., My daughter is going thru something similar, being a single parent. My grandson 4, and my granddaughter 3, both have screaming fits as well. I think the "fits" are due to wanting attention, even though you spend time with them. When she throw fits,first take her away from the situation, then when she calms down, let her explain to you why she was so upset. even though it might something little, to her it was big. Also tell her that if she continues to throw fits she will have give you her favorite toy for one day. Make her give it to you, it will get the point across when she is "acting", (thats what we call fit throwing) then she has to give up her favorite toy. You taking the toy makes you look like the bad person,but if she has to give it you, then its on her. I know kids that age are very stubborn, they are testing you to see if and how far you will go. Be calm, just firm with the situiation. One on one time is good, maybe just going to the park, just you two. Good luck

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answers from Rockford on

Maybe it has to do with all of the changes in her life lately. She was in daycare, now in preschool, you are in school and need study time too, her sisters are involved in many activities and school. Maybe she is a little confused about it all. I don't know the situation with her daddy, but maybe that is part of it too. I would say try giving her more one on one attention and maybe set aside some special time just for you and her each week. At her age little ones need to be reassured often that they are loved and safe and that Mommy will always be there for them. If she is throwing fits it may be because she is wanting extra attention and children will do whatever it takes to get attention even if it's "bad" attention. Make a big deal over things she accomplishes and really brag her up and I think the more good attention she gets, the less fits and bad behavior you will see. I am going through something similar with my little grandson (he's 3 1/2)right now because he is with my husband and I 3 days a week, his other gramma 2 days a week and with mommy and daddy at night and weekends are hectic too so he gets a little lost in all of this shuffling around. You sound like a wonderful mother and I commend you for all that you are doing to make a good life for yourself and your daughters. Also, don't forget to take care of YOU. You need a break sometimes too and it will benefit all of you if you can get away once in a while and regroup. Good luck! :)

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answers from St. Louis on

Hi A.,

I think it's simply something some children must grow out of. Every child is different, and even though we all hope for easy going, cooperative children, that doesn't mean we will get it. For the most part (and thank the Good Lord above), my oldest son (age six) is easy going and cooperative, but once my youngest son (age five) turned two he became Jekyll and Hyde! I haven't met a more stubborn child yet.

I believe some of it has to do with genetics, because both me and my husband are very stubborn, and we both have one parent who are extremely stubborn, so I think this kind of thing can be passed on.

The best advice I can give is to stick to your guns when it comes to ultimatums. We count to 10 with our son when we mean business, and if he doesn't cooperate by zero, then we stick to whatever consequence we warned him about. If you don't, then your daughter will know if she holds out long enough you will let her win. Nip that behavior in the bud now, because imagine what our children will be like when they are teenagers if we don't make them obey us now. When they become teenagers, they will have plenty of outside influence to lead them astray.

There will be times when whatever tactics you use to get your child to cooperate won't work, but don't throw in the towel. When these times happen, we place our son in his bedroom (while he screams and cries), until he gets it out of his system. If he comes out and continues to scream and cry, then we take him right back in his room. Stay on course!

One of the best things you can do to try to get her to cooperate is to know what toy or activity she enjoys most. When she loses control and won't comply, tell her she will lose whatever toy or activity she likes for a full day if she doesn't cooperate. (Don't go longer than a day, because then it just seems mean to them...believe me, a day is long enough at this age).

The BIGGEST key is NOT to give in and let your child have that cherished toy, nor should you let them participate in their favorite activity for the ENTIRE NEXT DAY! I know this is hard to stick by once your child begins to cooperate and behave nicely again, but the ONLY way this tactic will work is if you follow through with it. Last but not least, don't use this tactic every time your child misbehaves! Save this tactic for her worst times. If you use this tactic too much, it will again lose it's power.

When my son calms down and begins to cooperate, he then expects he will get to play with whatever toy or activity I took away from him. I then CALMLY AND NICELY remind him why he lost that toy or activity, and if he behaves well for the entire next day he will get it back the following day. (I explained "days" to our children at that age by associating it with going to sleep and getting up in the morning as being one day, then doing that twice is two days, etc...). Our son is never happy about it, but God willing it seems to work so far.

I hope this helps!

Take care!

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answers from Tulsa on

My 4 year old has started throwing fits as well. I have learned that if I cut him off from all of his fun activitys he soon realizes that he will not get his way and he will stop. He has always had a problem with fit. When he was 2 he would throw himself on the floor and hurt himself. I started to ignore him and I would let no one else interfere. He learned that I won't react so he stopped. I started telling him that he did a good job when ever he did something right and not making a big deal when he did something wrong. Praise her more and I would stop her naps for a while just to let her know what it's like to not have one.

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answers from St. Louis on


I am having the same problem with my soon be 4 year old son. I am very consistent, do the counting thing and use taking away a favorite toy or activity (such as playing in the basement playroom); yet he still had a fit in the middle West County mall this afternoon. I couldn't leave right away as I had to get something before the weekend ended so the result was an on and off fit for over an hour. Yes if you saw a screaming 4 yo and a Mom lugging around a tubby little baby that was me.

No new advice. Just wanted to let you know that you are not alone. Hang in there!!!

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answers from Rockford on

A., I think all of these moms have wonderful advice. I really don't have any more suggestions other than make it known fits are not acceptable, either by ignoring so she sees it won't get her attention or by having a constant consequence. I do have to touch base w/ the preschool aspect, though. Being a person who used to work in a daycare/preschool facility, it is VERY important that she knows the teachers are the authority figures and she needs to listen to them. I understand that you shouldn't wait so long after an incident to discipline, but the teacher can't run to the phone to call you at work every time something happens at school. I suggest at the very least talking to her after you pick her up from school about her behavior. (and if she decided to sit out of play time for however long, that was her choice and maybe she needed that time to cool off) So many times I witnessed parents doing absolutely nothing about their child's behavior at school (and I mean biting, spitting, kicking, hitting the teachers!) and the kids see no "severe" consequence for their behavior, therefore they don't truly understand that is not allowed. Teachers can't discipline the way a parent can. I'm sure this is far easier to say than do. I'm blessed w/ fairly mild mannered kids. But it has been made known that ANY misbehavior for anyone else, (babysitter, school teacher, Sunday school teacher, grandparents, whomever it may be) is totally unacceptable and they have consequences at home if something should happen. Once they didn't go to bed when the sitter told them to and they got in trouble from us after she left. It is NOT acceptable for them to misbehave for us, but in my eyes it's even worse when they don't listen to another adult in charge.

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answers from Kansas City on

I agree with the other mom that said that if she is emotional you can't change that. However, maybe she just does NOT need naps anymore. I am a caregiver and have been for 20 years. I find that nap time for 4 year olds is more about the caregivers than the kids. Would I love to have a couple hours of quiet time every day? I'd even love 20 minutes! But it's not right to push a naptime on a very wide awake child. Since I do have babies that need their quiet time, I make a deal with the older kids. If they can be quiet they can stay awake. My best suggestion is get her a leapster with several learning cartridges and some headphones. That is, if you can get the teachers to allow her to sit quietly during nap time and play by herself with the leapster. If they won't allow that when you request it, then it's the wrong preschool.

It could also be that she isn't ready for the structure that is taking place in the preschool. I have taught all my preschoolers everything they needed to go to school and yet I've done it in a family type environment. Pushing our kids into institutions too early isn't always the best things. Some children thrive in those environments. Some do not. Then again, I am a homeschooling parent and didn't send my kids to school until they were much older than the norm.

The important thing is for you and her to have choices. She does need to respect the other sleepy students and her teachers. But the teachers need to respect her needs as well.




answers from Oklahoma City on

If she's an emotional child, that is a character trait which is something you can't change. You have to let her be who she is. You can teach her methods to soothe herself. One of the things I do with my sensitive 3 year old is get down to eye level with her and encourage her to take deep breaths into her belly, like she's blowing up a balloon. Something else that works sometimes is simply saying, " I give you permission to be upset." But stick to the rules. The rules are the rules and she doesn't have to be happy about them. It also helps them to own their own emotions and actions. Make sure you are giving her choices. It's either this or that...
If she is continuing to do something you told her not to do, be firm and consistent sticking to one method of discipline. "Stop doing that or you will go to the naughty corner" works for us. If she doesn't stop we put her in the corner. If she won't stay in the corner she starts losing priviledges like tv time or one of her bedtime stories.
If she hasn't always been this way, sit down and have a talk with her ask her what's going on. Maybe it has something to do with her missing father. It might just be that your family has a really busy life (looks like it reading your a little about me, wow!) and she's feeling overlooked. At our before bed teatime ritual, my daughter and I talk about the day and dreams we had the night before. It makes her feel special and grown up.



answers from Oklahoma City on

Almost every kid is that way my daughter was the same way when they have something new come into their atmosphere that they have to get used to they act out because they aren't used to it and they are trying to get attention in the wrong way from the teacher

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