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3.8 year old daughter is mean to other kids
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3.8 year old daughter is mean to other kids

My daughter is over 3 and a half years old now and I think she has social problems.

In particular she seems disinterested in making friends with other kids.

She does have one friend who she is very mean to sometimes.  Her friend is very nice and the 2 get along great most of the time.  There are occasions, however, when my daughter will say mean, spiteful things such

"I don't want to sit next to here"

"I don't like her"

She seems to hold on to a single bad memory (perhaps a time when her friend and her argued over a toy), and use that the generate anger at a whim.

My daughter also made virtually no friends during her first year at preschool.  She does seem to like older girls and will walk up to them and introduce herself if we are out.

Is this extremely abnormal behavior?

We are thinking of seeing a developmental specialist.

THX!
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All young children have to learn over time how to relate with their peers. With some children this process is fairly easy; with others (perhaps most) it has its ups and downs. Your daughter's behavior does not indicate a serious problem. Rather, it indicates that she needs some support by way of guidance, supervision and teaching to help her learn how to interact. As people often say, she can disagree without being disagreeable. But she'll need help in gaining the skills to do this. Before play situations, briefly talk with her about the importance of treating people well. If you observe a problem, intervene. Don't be shy to set very firm limits on treating her peers poorly. If she acts in a nasty fashion, place her in time out for a few minutes, then have her return to the child with a plan for some cooperative play.
4 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
I am a preschool teacher (I teach age 3).  While I'm not a doctor, in my experience, this behavior is very normal.  I deal daily with a class full of three year olds that don't like each other one minute and love each other the next.  In particular I have one little boy who tells his friends he hates them, he doesn't want to be near them but then later is upset when they don't want to play.  He also screams at them.  My co-teacher and I have tried, throughout the year, to provide the children with the words for dealing with their feelings.  When there is an outburst we first figure out why.  Once we know what is going on we explain to the child that it is okay for them to be angry, and that it is okay if they don't want to play with their friend, but what is not okay is to use hateful or mean words.  Then we equip them with the proper words.  Its okay for them to say "I don't want to play right now" but it is not okay to say "I hate you".  Its okay to say "I want to sit with Summer right now....etc.

At the same time, we have to sit down with the child who is at the brunt of the attack and explain to them what the other child is feeling.  Sometimes they are upset.  We try our best to explain that we understand how they are feeling and that they can go and play with this toy, or that person until their friend is ready to play again.  

Ususally this calms the storm and within 10 minutes the friends are playing again.

I don't know if I've helped at all, but I don't think your daughter is abnormal at all, she is just learning to express her opinions and feelings and trying to figure out what her boundaries are.  Even my 8 year old still has trouble with figuring out what is appropriate to say and what he shouldn't say.  It takes time to learn and its an ongoing process.l

Julie
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Avatar_n_tn
You guys have to give your children more disiplince. Just talking to them sometimes wont help. Give them a pat on the bottom or a good whack in the head. This will tell them that what they are doing is wrong.
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Avatar_n_tn
I have a similar problem - except that it is my neighbor's 4 year old girl.  Normally she and my 4 year old daughter have played well together until recently.  Recently, the other girl will has taken things a step further by saying things I consider hateful such as, "I don't ever want to play with you." and "You are not my friend anymore."  This leaves my daughter sobbing.  While I can agree that all 4 year olds get into disagreements periodically, I don't think it is appropriate to use hateful language, and they need to be taught that hateful language is not OK.  When I witnessed the neighbor girl say the above statements, I said nicely to her, "Now I'm sure you don't really mean that.  Can you say sorry for saying that?"  And she looked at me in the eye and repeated the same hateful statements.  When I gave her the chance to apologize for that again, she looked at me right in the eye and smiled at me, as if she were saying "F- you, I'm not apologizing."  Is that normal?  I have NEVER seen a child by the age of 4, who wouldn't just say sorry if an authority figure asked them to apologize for saying something inappropriate.  Then when I walked her back home and discussed the incident with her mother, the daughter said again in front of my daughter, "She is not my friend and I'm never going to play with her."  And the mother, instead of telling the daughter that type of language is not appropriate, said to my own daughter, "I'm sorry if that made you feel bad" - which to me is condescending psychobabble empathy but not the equivalent of actually saying sorry -either by the daughter, or by the mom on behalf of the daughter.   The mother went on to tell me that she didn't think it was useful to make her daughter say sorry, if she didn't sincerely "feel sorry".  Well - that to me is utter ****.  At the age of 4, you teach kids to say sorry, whether or not they feel true remorse is not a prerequisite.  You need to make the victim know that things have been set right - not at the convenience of the offender.  At age 4, girls know when they've said mean things and they should know how to say sorry.  I mostly was blown away at how the girl just smiled at me when I asked her to apologize.  I was secondly blown away by the mom's willingness to let the incident pass, even though she heard the comment adamantly repeated by her daughter.  Is that just a different parent style or what?  
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