Aa
A
A
A
Close
Child Behavior Community
14.2k Members
Avatar universal

Any Tips for My 4 Year Olds Back and Forth Power Struggle?

My daughter is four years old. Since she was around two, she's played a game, or not a game, where she will ask for something and then refuse what she has asked for.

Tonight for example, she woke up out of bed and asked for water. When I gave her the water, she refused to drink it. Not because it was in a cup she didn't want, or that it came from a certain sink, or anything that I feel I could fix. She simply refused. When I took the cup away, a fit ensued because she wanted the water. Again, she refused to drink it. This continued until I finally had to scold her several times and eventually she took a sip and went back to bed. It's not a sleep related thing, either. Other examples are her asking to give hugs to her grandparents as we were leaving and then refusing to do so. In that instance, the consequence after several back and forths was that we left without her giving hugs. I've left the item she's asked for and walked away. I've made her do the thing she's asked for. She's gone without the thing she's asked for. I've done each for months at a time to try and set a boundary but it doesn't help, so I try another tactic. I've tried discipline. I've tried explaining how silly it is to refuse the thing she's asked for, especially when I've said yes and given it to her.

I had hoped this would be a toddler phase that she would eventually grow out of but it only seems to be getting worse. She's a delightful child for the most part. Very social, cuddly, smart. She's just finished her first year and preschool and did so well. She's very active and curious. I feel like she's an absolutely normal child. She simply demonstrates this one very frustrating behavior.  

She does not sleep well at night and hasn't since about 11 months old. She wakes up on average 4 times a night for various reasons. She's not hard to get back to sleep, but she does wake up often. She wakes early with the sunrise. She eats a well rounded diet. I don't know if any of this information is important or relevant. I am just trying to get any advice I can to help solve this behavior.

I've tried to see it from her point of view, but I've never found a way to understand it. She has asked for something, I have said yes, and she begins to throw a tantrum because she no longer wants that thing and then the tantrum grows when the table turns based on her response.

Please help!
2 Responses
973741 tn?1342346373
Oh man, they can drive you a little bonkers, can't they?  This would definitely test my patience.  I'm guessing she is your only child?

So, what I'd do in all sincerity with new earnestness is to tell her the new rule.  She may ask for something once and has one chance to receive what she has asked for.  Just one. And at that point, if she refuses, she will not get another opportunity.  Explain it to her.  Then do not bend.  Do not indulge. If my child asked for water I would not worry about what cup, what faucet, etc.  If I did it wrong, that is okay, she has her one chance to drink it or that is it. She will not thirst to death at night without the drink of water.  :>))  So, one shot and then whether she has a fit or not, that's it.  Ignore all fits.  PRAISE all good behavior. No matter how small.  Positive attention can be something some kiddos crave.  You can try something like a positive bean jar so when she does it the first time, you put a bean in the jar.  She gets 1o beans or whatever it is and gets a treat like picking which game to play, which park to go to, getting an ice cream, etc. (small treat and nothing like a toy).  If she doesn't do it the first time, a bean is removed, just one.  

What is up with the waking up and waking you up 4 times a night?  I'd nip that in the bud as well which I know can be hard but it's time.  For a drink of water---  we put a sippy cup by our kids.  Filled it every night before bed.  To this day, they put water by their bed at night (themselves) and they are teenagers.  In no way should you have to be getting up 4 times a night and putting her back to bed.  If she is sick?  Yes, get up.  But at 4, that's not necessary. Tell her we all need good sleep. YOU and her both.  And she needs to stay in her bed.  She may go potty and get back into bed. And this is hard but if she comes into your room, you can either walk her to her bed silently with no ritual or cuddles or sweetness, just walk and put in bed and walk out or you can tell her you can't get up and she should go get in her bed.  She can handle that!  I promise.  

My younger son was (still is) very sweet.  But since he was tiny, he tried to control where everyone sits.  At the table, in our family room, in the car, if we go to a restaurant or a movie theatre.  And it doesn't always work out his way.  He wants to never sit on the end, wants to sit next to me, blah blah blah.  And I have another child who also wants to sit by me.  Taking turns when it was just the three of us was not an option!  Fits would ensue.  For a long time I thought it was easier to just do it his way.  But after he threw a fit in a friend of mine's car when transporting several kids because he had to sit in a specific spot and it wasn't working, I was like DONE.  Then I just ignored it.  He still wants things in a certain order when we sit.  But he's older now.  lol.  He's a teen so we just laugh about it and move on.  That was definitely his hot button.  

Parenting is very tiring!  Does she do great behaviorally in school and is the obstinance just with you?  Moms usually get to see the good, the bad and the ugly that all kids have.  :>)  Hang in there.
973741 tn?1342346373
How is it going with your little cherub?  :>))
Have an Answer?
Top Children's Health Answerers
189897 tn?1441130118
San Pedro, CA
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Fearing autism, many parents aren't vaccinating their kids. Can doctors reverse this dangerous trend?
Is a gluten-free diet right for you?
We answer your top questions about the flu vaccine.
Learn which over-the-counter medicines are safe for you and your baby
Yummy eats that will keep your child healthy and happy
Healing home remedies for common ailments