My daughter turned 4 in January and is a very smart child. We are having problems both at home and daycare not listening and doing what she is told, lately she will hatefully talk back when corrected. When at school she will boss her friends around and wants to act like the teacher or the mommy all the time. At daycare she has started hitting her friends and in one case chocked one child while playing monster. We have gone through the gambit of trying to cope with this; we use time-outs, talking to her to, taking toys or favorite activities away and making her earn them back with good behavior, and unfortunately spanking at the worst.
When we talk to her and ask her what she did wrong, she can tell you exactly what it was. If you tell her not to do something or a favorite toy will have to be placed in time-out, she will go ahead and do it, then when you ask her what is going to happen she will tell you that a favorite toy is being put up, but then she will get mad when it happens.
I'm going to assume that your daughter lives in a stable environment where she receives sound parenting involving nurturance, attention and sensible limit-setting/discipline, and that she has not experienced upheavals or important changes in her environment in recent months. If all these things are true, developing a systematic behavior management approach will help the situation. Now, it's not that some of the things you've tried aren't sensible. They are. But it's important to design a plan and stick with it, not move from tactic to tactic. That's part of what I mean by systematic (vs ad hoc) behavior management. Any episode of aggression should be met with immediate time out, with the time out period (10 minutes would suffice) commencing only when she is in the designated time out space, sitting quietly. Track the time with a portable cooking timer. Time out should also be employed when she does not follow directions after one repetition. First, issue the direction (make sure you are near her and have established eye contact). If she does not comply, repeat it only once, and do so in the form of an ultimatum. That is, say the following: '(Name), if you do not ....., then you will go to time out.' Now do not issue the direction again. If she complies, offer verbal praise (mildly). If she does not comply, institute the time out. If you adhere to this plan faithfully, over time you will see a definite improvement. By the way, to obtain more information about such an approach to behavior, look at Lynn Clark's book SOS: Help for Parents.
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