My 4 year old is a bright young girl however she has a serious problem socially. She is downright mean, throws tantrums and screams and cries over the tiniest things. We live in an apartment building and I am afraid the cops are going to come thinking Im abusing her, which I do not do at all. She constantly says she doesnt like me, she wants a new family etc. It is hard to work because no one wants to watch her because of her behavior. I can not afford preschool either. Any help please?
Hm. Well, four year olds are tricky little beasts sometimes (I say that lovingly, of course!!) But I do think four year olds are hard with the testing of the boundaries, the immature emotions, the volatile disposition--------------- not all of them, but many of them.
So, I would start to track what causes these melt downs. I'd understand when and why she has them so that you can predict it and have a game plan. Sometimes changing a few simple things can cut down on the volatility. I'd also watch her closely and look for what signs she shows that she is getting upset. Anger is on a continuem. Some do go from 0 to 10 but most start by getting agitated, then move to upset and then go all the way to full tantrum. So, your goal would be to identify when she is simply agitated and head the further steps in the anger process off at the pass. Redirecting is a good preschool way to handle it which means to distract, get her focused elsewhere, defuse the situation. You can also offer calming things to do--------- go to a cool down spot to calm herself, use her words to tell you what is wrong, counting to 10, taking deep breaths, etc. Blowing bubbles is calming and an indoor version of that is to get a straw and cut it into half and blow cotton balls across the table. Blowing bubbles into the bottom of a cup as well. Also, letting her drink something like a thick smoothie or apple sauce through a straw are all ways to calm. A piece of gum to chew works too.
I'd go to the library and check out books in the kid's section on emotions. There will be many to choose from. Read them to her and talk about it. Give her the kid language she needs to express herself. Then act out something that makes you upset and do it in an exagerated way so she thinks it is funny. Then, stop the upset process and go through some things to calm yourself. Visibly show her that you are getting calm. This gives her a visual on how to calm
For discipline, I look at discipline as teaching rather than punishing. I've had good luck with that approach. It is important for a child such as this to stay very calm. Do not lose your cool and yell and don't spank. Model the behavior you want her to have. There are some great books out there---------- SOS for Parents by Lynn Clark is often recommended which goes through the time out process. I think 123 Magic is good too. I also believe in natural consequences such as "throw a toy"--------- and you lose that toy. It is taken away. I have always told my boys that I will not listen to them when they are screaming/crying (I say because I can't understand them) and when they calm down and speak in a regular voice, I will listen to them. This works really well for me.
Lastly, if you think your daughter falls outside of normal, you could ask to have her evaluated by your local preschool for early intervention. It is free if they determine she has a need. And many school districts have a lottery for other families that would just like their child to attend that has no need----------- so call your local preschool and see what their program is. good luck. This parenting gig is hard work!!
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