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4-year-old acting out
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4-year-old acting out

Help! My daughter will be 4yrs. old in a month. I have been having problems with her behavior for a long time now. If she asks me something and doesn't like the answer,(I don't even have to say the word 'no')she tells me to 'shut up', 'go away', 'I don't like you', I don't love you'. When I try to correct her she gets violent. She throws things around the room, at me! She hits me, slaps me, grabs at my clothing, screams, slams doors. It's like having a teenager for a 4-year-old! I've tried time-out but, she screams almost the whole time, then, when I let her up and calmly explain to her what she did, and what I want to change, she seems to understand but, a few minutes later it starts all over again. I even treaten her with a spanking(some times it gets to that point, it still doesn't help). I try so hard to not get down at her level and yell but, there's only so much I can take. I'm a stay at home mom, so I'm with her all the time. She doesn't act like this with anyone else. I'm afraid for her to start pre-school because of her behavior but, I know I'm the only one she's like that with. When I get mad and need to walk away, she cries and say's 'she loves me','you're my best friend', I miss you', I need you'. What can I do to get her to stop being so mean to me? I have no one else to turn to.  
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242606_tn?1243786248
You should seek some help from a pediatric behavioral health specialist. The fact that your daughter is fine with others indicates that this problem is in the interaction between you and your daughter. It can be hard, but you've got to maintain your equanimity - it will only make matters worse if you 'lose your cool'. When you give your daughter time outs, start the time only when she is seated and quiet. If you count the time she is screaming, she'll still be upset once the time out has expired. Track the time with a digital cooking timer, and tell her you will start the time when she is quiet. Eventually she will stop a lot of the noise that accompanies time outs now. But I can't stress enough how important it is for you to remain calm. She will change to the degree that you can change. As you note, some of the time you are acting in a childish way; don't allow yourself to do that. Follow the procedures detailed in Lynn Clark's book SOS Help for Parents and you'll be on your way to improvement.
12 Comments
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Avatar_f_tn
Does your daughter have any other issues or is it just behavior problems?  My son is 6  with special needs and very bad behavior issues.  We don't always know what causes his outbursts.  It's not easy....boredom is when he acts out most.  He's very active and we have to keep him busy....I have 2 other kids also.  We have an appt. with a psychiatrist next month.  I'm concerned about his impulsivity....why out of the blue would he just walk up to his sibling and smack them.  He's in a special school with a behaviorist involved.
It's not easy.  We are told to ignore the bad behavior....name calling, cursing, etc.  They say when he makes a mess, make him clean it up.  Stay calm, no yelling.  Supposively that's what the child thrives on....the reaction they get out of us.  
I guess you have to take everything into consideration...how long have these behaviors been occurring?  Is she like this with friends?  Maybe she's looking for your attention....is the bad behaviors every day?  
Just thought I'd give a few of my thoughts....hope it helps for the moment.
Good Luck and remember there is always help out there....call your pediatrician for advice....or someone that specializes in child behavior.
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13167_tn?1327197724
Momcrazy,  do you have a husband?  You say you're a stay at home mom,  so I'm thinking you're married.

What does your husband say when she acts this outrageous way?

Two generations ago, this never ever happened.  Children wouldn't have dreamed of talking to a parent this way,  and I have to think it's because parents don't take charge anymore.  I'm shocked at what I see in public - parents pleading,  weakly,  for their children to behave.

I have three boys,  who would NEVER ever have addressed me the way your daughter is talking to you.  I'm married, to a very strong and wonderful man,  and he never has ever spanked the boys,  but his mere presence is enough to set the standard of behavior.    All it takes is an "excuse me???" to get them to behave respectfully.

It sounds like you're pleading and begging and bargaining with her,  rather than outright demanding that she stop this brattiness.  She's a little tiny girl - it seems to me like you could get control fairly quickly.  When she's taller and heavier than you,  you don't stand a chance at the rate you're going.  

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Avatar_n_tn
Well aren't you the perfect mom with the perfect kids!!  I am not a doctor, but it is possible this child has some type of disorder that is the cause of all this bad behavior. I notice you spend a lot of time of this behavior management forum which is a surprise since your kids are as you stated so well behaved.  To the woman posting the plea for help I wish you luck.  Parenting is the hardest think I have ever done.  The book that the doctor recommended has helped me a lot.  
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154929_tn?1196191338
I get where you are coming from.  I have two little boys--my oldest also does this he will be 5 in December--he pulls this stuff with me and my husband.  Sometimes it is just a control issue, other times it is becasue he is overly tired and will not take a nap--and other times he is just plain mad--this little they don't know how to wlak away and be mad like an adult--they just blurt out what they are feeling.  If my little guy hits me--it only happens one time--I pick him up and hold his arms--and state that there is no more hitting.  I will also try and put him in his room.  He does liek to slam doors--let them--let the aggression get out of their system.  Sometimes, the faster we let them act out at home the better--they get over it quicker and then they are back to their normal sweet self.

These little people just know what buttons to push to get mom and dad really mad...I sometimes lose it myself--and you know what there is nothing wrong with this. I think sometimes if a parent doesn't lose and yell or get mad that kids just do not understand how to actually verbalize for themselves later on.  Now a good swat onthe butt-will not hurt them (scar them) for older years.  In this society I think that is the problem that to many kids know that they can get away with any behavior and only get talked to---wrong you need to let her know that you are the boss and the rules need to be followed.  It takes work--they say it takes at least 21 times of repitition before something is learned and only one time of not following it to break the rule--so be consistent.  
I bet that when your daughter goes to pre-school she will be just fine.  She will probably be a great child and the teachers will love her.

Good Luck.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi Momcrazy...
Do you have any other children?  You haven't posted again so I have no idea how you are doing.  Just remember one thing....you are not alone!  I have a severe behavioral child and it's because he can't get what he wants to say or think expressed so he frieks out.  He does everything you say your daughter does.  It's been going on for years.  AND we are right on top of it...He is going to a psychiatrist to furthur explore what the causes of his actions are.
You are doing the right thing by taking care of this while she is young because yes, it is true...as they get older and stronger it will get harder to discipline.  Don't worry though because you are on the right track by asking for help.
People that could also help would be a child psychologist....behaviorist.and a pediatrician would give advice.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hello Momcrazy- I've been working with preschoolers for 20+ years. I have 3 daughters. My oldest one, now 17, is sort of like your 4-year-old.  However, she never engaged in manipulative behavior after consequences.

It would help you to go to counseling if you can afford it, but I know that is too expensive for some people. Or you may benefit from reading the book previously posted here. You also need to read some books on co-dependency. It sounds like you are in that type of relationship with her. Developing insight into that will help you deal with her behavior and your emotional response to her behavior.

I naturally like preschoolers and it is hard for me to be really angry when they misbehave. What I learned though was that I could "act" angrier than I was when they acted out. This way, I still maintained good emotional control. (My girls are 17, 13 and 11 now). Whatever you do, you need to continue to nip this behavior in the bud. Your daughter sounds like she has a strong will, which will be beneficial to her in some situations as she becomes older. But she cannot be your boss or tell you what to do. You are not going to damage her ego. She will probably be "perfect" in preschool- my oldest who is the most difficult at home- has always had good behavior reports at school. On the other hand, my middle one, who is virtually perfect at home, had her clip moved twice the first week of kindergarten.

Don't let your daughter have her way after she feels sorry. Make sure she receives just punishment. Also, just as an aside, some children respond to punishment better than reward. And I don't mean "beating" them. What I mean is that my oldest and my youngest do not like to have things taken from them (computer time, nintendo, etc.), so threat of punishment works for them. For e my middle one, the promise of a reward (rent a DVD, etc.) works better for her. In fact, if someone even yells at her she falls apart. But I do believe the other two could be beaten within an "inch of their life" and they would still be difficult sometimes.

Good luck. Parenting is the hardest thing I've ever done. Anyone that tells you anything else is living in a dream world.
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Avatar_n_tn
My daughter is still the same. My husband works two jobs and I know that might have a lot to do with her behavior. Now when my husband is home she gets mouthy with him to. She'll say the words 'shut up' about 7 or 8 times with in a few minutes! She definitly knows how to push my buttons. Taking things away from her does not work! I have an over-stuffed closet full of things I've taken away from her. Promising to take her some where or buying her something if she's good does not work! I now the logical thing to do is seek a pychologist to she if they could help but, my husband seems to think that is too drastic. Although, he doesn't have to deal with her temper 24/7. Do you have any suggestions on how I can convince him this is a good idea? It hurts that I'm not turning out to be the mother I always hoped to be. It's sad that my 4-year-old hits me and disrespects me the way she does when I love her so much and do everything for her.
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Avatar_n_tn
I am in the same boat as you.  My son is also 4 and I am dealing with some very extreme behaviors from him.  I don't want to go into great detail but he has epilepsy and has learning and speech problems.  He was always a very good little boy, then back in May I started getting bad reports from his daycare.  Temper tantrums, screaming, spitting, hitting, kicking.  He would try to pull this stuff at home and we would nip it in the bud by ignoring him.  It worked for awhile, but now when he starts, it is very difficult to stop it. Timeouts don't work for him either.  He can't sit still, it becomes a second battle in the war to try to get him to sit there.  Constantly picking him up to plop back on the bench.  I tried one night for close to an hour.  By then, who remembers what started it.  

We made an appointment with a child psychiatrist and went in 2 weeks ago.  We learned so many things from her.  She said it was very clear to her that he has ADHD.  Most docs won't diagnose this until the child is at least one year into school.  He had such tell tale signs that were not so obvious to us.  Then she started us on the right path.  Using charting for one activity that we need improvement on.  We chose picking up toys.  If he gets 4 stars (max of 2 per day) in a row, he gets to do something he likes to do but we don't already do everyday.  In our case, we chose a trip to the park.  Then last week we added another chart...for getting into the car when it was time to go somewhere.  So far, this has been helpful.  Granted yesterday and today he has been very naughty.  Has not been listening and has been very combative at every turn.  

Our next appt is a week from tomorrow when we are going to talk about consequences for bad behaviors.  I am interested to see what she has to say.  She knows timeouts don't work with him, nor does reasoning or lecturing why a certain behavior is not acceptable.  These are all great ideas for children who are only pushing the limits..like my daughter was.  Not for ALL children.  Not for my son.  

There are several actual aggression disorders that if not treated can turn into some very problematic behavior later in life.  I would make the appointment.  If your husband has insurance that would at least cover the evaluation, what do you have to lose?  Good luck to you.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi again,  
Hang in there.  You know sometimes men don't like to think something is wrong with their child.  Not that something is "wrong" I should say something is different about how our children react in situations.  We have our babies and think the world of them...raise them in what we think is the best way...then we are thrown for a loop.  We get a child with issues...I swear this behavioral issue thing with my 6 yr. old is the hardest thing I've ever had to deal with.  I have two other children...they are typical kids...never had this kind of problem.
It's not us as parents...NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE SAYS OR THINKS....
It's something neurological with our children...the way they are wired, maybe?
My husband and I have to literally be trained to deal with our son....
What to do in certain situations....how to and not to react.  We have two other children that never had these kind of issues so we were not prepared....
I take one day at a time.  It's not easy.  I think your hubby needs to spend some more time with your daughter.  So he realizes what's going on.  I understand it's not easy though...he works a lot...so does my hubby.
You may need to talk to him again and explain to him what a toll it's taking on you and how you feel.  Explain to him that by talking to a child psychologist isn't going to hurt in any way.  As long as your child isn't being abused...a visit to a psychologist is all confidential as far as I know.  I've been confiding in one for years.  And they can direct you in the right direction on what step to take next.  (I'd talk to a child psychologist)
I could go on and on.  
I'm reading a book called "The Explosive Child" by Ross W. Greene  so far, it's all my son.  Very interesting.
I'll be happy to talk again anytime.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi again,
One other thing.  Like I said earlier.  My son is special needs.  He started getting early intervention around 2 yrs. old.  When he turned 3 the town took over and had him evaluated and placed in a special school program.  His behaviors started getting worse and coming out excessively in the school setting.  That's where the spitting started.  It was terrible.  He's spit right in someone's face...but that's not my point right now...
What I wanted to say is...I don't know where you live or the laws anywhere else but in my state the school district is responsible to take care of special kids.  Another words, if you request an evaluation for your daughter because you feel something is going on...whether it be behavioral...something neurological..
Think back was she on time for all her milestones?  Did she talk late, walk late?
You could request an evaluation in writing from the school district and they will have to honor your request.  If they find there are issues they will place your child in the right program.
This may be way off....(that's why I adviced you to see someone educated in the dev. of children, like a child psychologist)  
Sorry for writing so much.  One other thing...there are lots of groups at yahoogroups.com (check out something like children with behavioral issues) that you could join and ask a ton of questions and maybe find people in your situation with better answers.
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Avatar_n_tn
This is the first time i ever thought that maybe there are mothers out there that have problems with their kids too. So I decided to get on the internet and i found exactly what i was looking for...  I have a son who will be 5 years old at the end of this month, he makes me want to pull my hair out, he doesn't listen at home or at pre-school. Nobody ever wants to babysit him, he picks up stuff he's not suppose to play with (which is usually glass) and throws it, He beats up his older brother,   The listening is the biggest problem and trying to get him to go to bed is almost impossible.  He throws tempertantrums usually in public.  and now days you can't spank your child without somebody calling CPS because obviously talking to  him doesn't do the job.  If you find anything that works for you please share with others by the way time-out doesn't do the job either.     sometimes you just can't help it to yell.

Is behavior a hereditary thing....because i also have to check my 4yr. olds pockets before we leave the store....9 out of 10 times i find something he feels like he has to take.    father is in prison for theft.

my 2 year old listens and is more well behaved than the 4 year old.

WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO!?
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I read most of your comments but did not see something that worked well for my daughter & I when she was 2-3 yrs old. Her father was abusive in every way I found out when she cld talk better. I was told she hit & raged at me because she knew she was safe with me.

The best technique I found is when she did that EVERY TIME NO MATTER WHERE WE WERE ( yes there were some public embarrassments but I told myself we r more important than anyone else!) I would put her on my lap & hold her arms with one hand & the other went around her waist to keep her from falling. If she tried to then use her feet I locked them firmly between my legs & if she tried to head butt me or bite I used the supporting arm to hold her forehead. The whole time I said nothing but I will let you go when you are safe, I am keeping you & myself safe, I love you. She wld scream & scream. If she did it again after she calmd down & I let her go then we'd be right bck into the "safe love pretzel"! Worked wonders!!!! Took a few months but the slowed & then stopped & rarely have a problem now!
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