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Too strict for 4 year old?
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Too strict for 4 year old?

I have a four year old daughter whom most would agree is "strong willed".  No matter where I draw the line, she feels compelled to step over it.  As a young toddler (1-2 years old) she was more compliant but in the last two years she has become increasingly difficult.  I enforce the limits that I give her advance warning of, for example if I tell her that she must go to sleep or there will be no class trip to the farm the next day, I follow through.  It happens again and again, and every time she says she doesn't care that she doesn't get to go on the class trip, or doesn't get to play at the park.  Whatever the consequence, she says she doesn't care about it.  I am sure that it is an act, but she is so tough that she won't let me see that it bothers her.  She fights me for control over everything.  I am happy to allow her to have more priviledges, however when I give them to her (for example I let her have crayons and markers in her room -per her request- to color pictures during quiet time, etc.) she immediately misuses them (colors all over her sheets and walls) and then throws a huge fit when I take them away.  As I type this, she is beating on her walls with her princess shoes, after I have told her that if she did it again I would take her shoes away.  Excuse me while I go take them away.  Now, there will be about an hour of her crying and whining and screaming at me because I have followed through with the exact threat that I gave her a moment before.  She seems like an intelligent child.  She spoke in complete sentences very early (before she walked), she can write every letter in the alphabet and most numbers.  She has friends at school and I've never heard a complaint from her teachers.  I am just wondering, am I being too strict to expect a four year old child to behave?  If I give her a direct order such as "do not use your shoes to pound on the walls or I will take them from you" and she says "okay mom" and then does it again right away, am I wrong to then take them?  I feel like my entire life is spent taking things from her.  She spends most of her time in her room completing time outs, or sitting on the sidelines because she has misbehaved and isn't allowed to play.  It kills me because I WANT her to be allowed to play, but she forces my hand with her behavior.  Worst of all, she seems to take delight in goading me.  Just last night when I told her she wouldn't be going to the class picnic today (because she kept getting out of bed after being warned) she says "I don't care, I'll spend the whole day in my room".  What is this?  Why doesn't she get it, that if she complies she will have more fun?  Some times I worry that I'm being too strict, but then I see her younger sister complying and it makes me worry that there's just something wrong with her that she can't figure out it is more beneficial to follow the rules.  I am exausted by this!  Help!
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11 Comments Post a Comment
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303824_tn?1294875001
No, I do not believe you are being too strict. In fact, I think parents these days can be too lax and not have enough control over their children. How many times have we been in a public place and witness a child acting all crazy and screaming because they didn't get their way, while their parents just ignored it?

You should never question whether or not your child should obey you. You are the parent and she is the child. In your case your daughter IS strong willed and sounds extremely smart, and IMO, she's just testing you. She is only 4 and hopefully *fingers crossed* she will grow out of it very soon. If it continues, maybe try a different form of punishment. Taking things away from her may not be getting your point across.
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535822_tn?1389452880
Good book out there SOS Help for Parents by Lynn Clark and yes I do believe you are being too strict with her,it sounds as if its all about warnings /punishments and consequences. Avoiding problems in the first place will help with her attitude , distraction / accomodating her when you can works well instead of laying down rules and regulations. Read that book it will help you with child /parent interaction.Giving choices when she had to do something works well, instead of saying Brush your teeth /hair say would you like to do it now or after breakfast. Focus on her positive side and praise her when you see her doing something right.. Good luck  
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676912_tn?1332816151
You are definitely not being too strict. You are disciplining her for her actions, and following through. If you were to not follow through she would see the ability to get away with things she knows she might get in trouble for. She's being a testing child it seems, and you are doing good to stand firm and follow through with your word. Try, instead of sending her to her room (where she can play in time out), putting her nose in a corner, or having her sit in a chair facing the wall. It's worked well with my experiences with other children, my son is only ten and a half months so he's not old enough for any of this. I agree with everything imanaddict said. You are the mother and she is the child and she needs to know that, and like she said maybe taking things away is not getting your point across. Maybe you need a different form of punishment, like time outs. If she is getting in trouble and has to sit and not play maybe she will get the point.
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Avatar_m_tn
My 9 year old is exactly the same as your daughter, always has been.  We do take many things away from him, but it got to the point that we really didn't have very much left to take.  We decided to post a consequence cart for him.  If he decides to ignore us, he has to write sentences.  In your case, you might want her to write her ABC's 10 times.  If he leaves toys out when it is time to clean up, he does not get dessert for dinner.  You need to find consequences that will be effective.
If my son lies to us, we make him move a small pile of rocks in the back yard.  He really hates that.  

I think that you are doing the right thing with following through.  My son constantly test us, and everyone else, to see if they will follow through with a punishment or not.  As a result, he knows exactly what he can get away with when he is with the babysitter, or his grandfather, or anyone else.  He will keep pushing that limit; it never stops.  So be sure to keep it up.   Just find other ways to punish so that she will not miss out on all of the fun.

But, at the same time, if the punishment fits the crime, don't hesitate to keep her from doing something that she might find fun.  
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Avatar_f_tn
The fact that she behaves well at school is a good sign - time to find out what is going on at home to set her off. Also, mabe you can adopt some discipline techniques they use at school - since it certainly works for her

"she must go to sleep"....well - next time when you suffer from insomnia, how about your spouse will take a dinner at a restaurant from you. Try to see things from her standpoint - all she sees are punishments and consequenses.

You have to pick you battles. Pick important things to act on - start with sleep time.

Put a big sheet of paper on the wall and let her color - maybe she wants a bigger space to color on. She may be bored and uncertain with lack of routine - you can try to structure her time.

It may be as simple as her having trouble falling asleep due to grouth sprut - lack of routine - not being able to relax - what have you

She defenitely has control issues - my son does it to dad when he sees that dad gets irritated with his behavior.

React in a calm manner, no emotions whatsoever, clam and firm - and see whether there is an improvement. It will get worse (for about 2 weeks), but then it will get better.

good luck
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Avatar_f_tn
I am hearing great feedback to your question. I am a proud mother of two adults 30 & 28. I worked hard at "parenting" (alone) and it payed off for them to lead productive lives that they chose with the best tools I could have given to them to decide their own future. You are so correct to be raising them; but as parents we need the tools too. You sound like you don't get out of control- that is thumbs up to you.
There were a couple of things that really changed my life almost overnight.  Most parents don't paren, so good for you to seek the best way to do your job!  It is too difficult for many- but really you are laying the foundation to raise and mold your children for their future- If you don't do anything now it will escalate to horrible teens (I have seen it with my friends) but there is the way to do it without frustration the S.T.E.P. book changed our lives to a harmony and understanding almost overnight. I took a course in parenting when I felt out of control and this book was God sent. You said she has a sister that ist totally compliant. It is fact that siblings will be opposite each other it is their way of being their “own person” their developing their identity and it will be different purposely. That is the norm.  The S.T.E.P. parenting book is awesome for raising self children through natural consequences.You're "consequences" sound like punishments to me. The consequence has to make sense. Not being allowed to go somewhere is a punishment not a consequence. There is a difference between consequences and punishments for behavior; if you would get into an accident because you were speeding or a ticket from a police man- that is a consequence; if the policeman told you, “you can’t drive your car for a week”...well it just doesn’t make sense.
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Avatar_f_tn
THANK YOU! I thought I was alone my 4year old is the same so I feel your frustration, he was very good until he hit 3and half 4 now all hell broke loose, he answers back, does something he knows he shouldn't then looks at me for reaction, which I don't give, I just say
"you know it's wrong to do.... that's why your looking at me, but if you do it again or anything else naughty you will go in time out!"
then he will do it again, I will put him in time out, some days I really feel like I would of been better off leaving him there because h goes in it so much, but of course I don't. funny thing is I work in nursery at school (have even been in his class) and the methods are the same yet he listen's but it's as if he just doesn't want to listen to me, I'm lucky cos my hubby very good and we both work as one and have done from start, I just wanted to say that I think ur doing a great Job but maybe time out might be better and perhaps saying
"you carry on banging your shoes on wall you choose not to have them for a week..or however long" when she does that take them from her go to her eye level and sya now because u did that you have chosen not to have them for week, let her scream tantrum etc and just carry on as if nothing happened. don't know if u probably tried this but sometimes just changig words can be effective as It's new and different. I think you should take bits from all the posts above and combine them, I tell you what really helped me too, a behaviour chart, I got piece cardboard (a3) cut it into a castle shape at top, and cos my son loves trains put a track from bottom to castle doors for every part of good behaviour he goes up two (or three if been very considerete etc!) but if he has bad behaviour it goes down, if he physically hurts someone or wets pants on purpose (his fave at moment!) it goes back to start, when he raches half way he gets small prize (not sweets or edibles) when he gets to castle he gets his silver train track out and if he been fantastic he may even get a new train to go on it, sometimes he chooses some other toy to have that he hasn't had for a while or he may have trip to libary (his choice!) hope this helps too. thanks again for making me feel "normal"
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