Parenting Toddlers (1-5) Community
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Avatar universal

4-year old girl won't listen

My 4-year old daughter won't listen at all.  It is becoming very frustrating.  We have tried every possible thing we know or have heard of to try to get her to behave.  Discipline eludes her.  This has been going on for over a year, but it is getting worse and worse.  She goes out of her way to receive attention from strangers, no matter how many times we tell her not to talk to them.  She LOVES strangers because they constantly dote on her.  I've even received lip from strangers when I explain to them that I'm trying to teach her NOT to talk to strangers.  When she is told she to do or not to do something, she will ignore us the first several times we say it until we physically have to stop her from doing it, like running in the street or running up to a strangers dog, or throwing dirt, or taking things from strangers, or taking off in large stores on her own when we've got our backs turned.  She gives me attitude like a 16 year old girl.  She is very intelligent, but not in the way I want her to be.  She lies, she's sneaky, she gets violent, and we have no idea where she's getting it from.  I'm losing my mind, my husband and I don't feel like we can handle her anymore, especially if it just keeps getting worse until she's 18.  Is this normal 4 year old behavior?  I mean, it is hard to describe EVERYTHING she does, you really have to be there.  We even had a mother stop her daughter's playdates with ours because she found her too annoying, the mother yelled at her (we were in a different car) and told her to stop being so bossy.  That's how everyone who knows her feels:  that she is too annoying.  Even my parents won't watch her for more than a few hours.  My parents told me I was nothing like this, and I've tried to raise her like my parents raised me, but nothing works.  Recently she's been throwing things, slamming doors, shoving people and even hitting us.  Her doctor thinks she's intelligent for her age, but she did nothing in the way of helping us solve discipline issues because mentally she is very intelligent.  I'm just so tired.  Any suggestions?  She has playdates twice a week with children her age (slightly older since they are starting school this year) that she seems to get along with, but she makes them cry, ignores them, and then she'll kick and scream when we tell her its time to go home, she even tried running into one of the kids houses when we just stopped over, screaming that she wanted lemonade.  We went into their house for the first time ever the other day and my daughter went straight to their fridge and opened it like she owned the place.  That's really her problem, she thinks she's in charge of everything and will throw a fit when it doesn't go her way.  She'll even run to strangers if she doesn't get a desirable answer from us.  I'm afraid one day she's going to be kidnapped or killed.  I have a daily routine, I try to take her to the park at least twice a week, she has Tae Kwon Do classes twice a week and even the teacher has a difficult time getting her to listen.  We've tried talking to her, time outs, grounding her, spanking her, rewarding her (gold stars, treats, ice creams and such for good behavior)-rewarding didn't even matter because she got bored with it.  I don't even know if I can get her to start school because she just refuses to learn to read.  What can I do?  I need a break and I can't even get anyone to babysit her.  We have a one year old boy who is nothing like this, but I think she's becoming a danger to him, I'll catch her hitting him, yelling at him, and dragging him by his neck when she thinks I'm not looking.  My husband is ready to put her up for adoption-that's how serious this is becoming.  If we neglected her or beat her, I could see this being a problem, but that isn't the case, and we just don't know what to do anymore.
17 Responses
Avatar universal
Sounds that you have tried every possible way to stop this exept for one. I've baby-sitted children 1-5years old several times, many of them were a bit restless but not even close to what you describe. An appointment with a good child therapist could be very useful. Good Luck
Avatar universal
Thank you for your comment.  I used to be a private teacher for young children, and I babysat for years, but she's the only child I ever had a problem with.  A friend of the family suggested a psychotherapist, so I may ask her doctor for a referral next time I go.  I also read a very good response last night to someone having similar problems that I'm going to try, I think this might work, for anyone else having the same problem:

535822 tn?1443980380
Many good books out there to read..SOS Help for Parents by Lynn Clarke may help you, seems to me there is a child/parent interaction problem here ,sometimes it happens , its possibly the way you are getting into battles with her. .Doting on a child is a good thing, focus on her positive side and praise her when you see her doing something right ....good luck
Avatar universal
Thank you, I will check out the book.  I think I'm getting to be exhausted and even though I'm home all the time I seriously feel like I need a vacation, but not even my parents will watch her for a day, and my husband's family lives in Japan.  We'll figure something out, it seems a lot of other people are having problems with their 4 year olds too.
535822 tn?1443980380
4 year old does seem to be an active time .it used to be 2 year old have some repurcussions for her behavior,reading your post she does need a few rules she could also be a bit jealous of her sibling and this is her way of getting attention, negative attention is better than none ....Some one to one attention may work so she doesnt feel left out, take just her out with you, get  Dad  playing games with her ,.walk in her shoes ..
1388445 tn?1289270988
I read your post because I also have a daughter that just turned 4 and it seems that with the progression of age 4 girls seem to come into themselves- a little too much. But you think of it like, they turn four and we make a big birthday deal 'youre a big girl now, youre not a baby anymore!' and it seems like with mine she just decided that she is grown now, like 4 going on 16. She walks in my kitchen and goes through cuborts and my refrigerator (against the rules for the kids they must ask- I have 3 children) she snot mouths me talks back and will deliberatly look me in the face and not listen, as if testing me to see if I am going to enforse everytime. And so on and so forth. Now, not to the point that your daughter has taken it. But I think the key is CONSISTENCY. She is testing her age. she is determined to 'Run things' and she will until she feels she cant. I try to stay very consistent with my daughter as I've tried spanking time outs rewards ect. I have a three time rule- Im going to tell you once, im gonna warn you again but the last time i tell you youre goin to time out. No matter what, No matter if youre in the store, or at the play grownd or at home. I started it at home first, but not out in public because i worried of people staring or saying something- My daughter caught on to that as she's very smart too and would act down right absurd in public because she knew i wouldnt do anything. The key is to stay calm but firm. Sounds funny but children can tell when you are frustrated or when you are feeling overwhelmed or out of control- and they'll react to that. A firm quiet voice, a strick tight line of rules and discipline and NEVER budge! It is hard at first, and sounds like something you've probly already tried, and very frustrating- but it pays off. I have three children 4 years 2 years and 1 year so I like really need rules in my house or it gets crazy :-)
I also understand your maternal need to protect your younger child, but i must say that I think eventually you may regret the adoption thing greatly and so would she. I also agree it might be a good idea to talk to a some kind of therapist just, for her, you never know she may just enjoy having her weekly friend to talk to eventually.
Also, You said that the problems started about a year ago... And that youre youngest child is one year old. The times line up very closely. The problems started happening right about when the younger one was introduced, or idealized. She may have had a problem with that that she feels was never addressed, so it just keeps getting worse and worse. Maybe try a good daily talk about her feelings, ask her about the baby non judgemental or weekly 'You and her times' no baby allowed, allong with new dicipline that she knows is because you love her and want her to be happy. it will take time it took about a month befor my kids really got it ( and we still have problems now and then because kids will be kids) But I really hope this Helps you! Best of luck, and you'll be in my prayers :-)
Did this ever pass?
Avatar universal
wow u have just described my daughter to a T she is 4 years old and doing everything u just posted i just found this website and i am looking for some help as well as others with there children at this age its very frustrating i know i am dealing with it all at this moment and in the same boat maybe we can all come together and figure out a solution on how to go about this i have been to 92 sessions of parenting classes and put her in calm to figure a solution to stop the behavior but all they did was nothing helpful i had to watch movies and all the lady did was let her play no talking to her and no one on one to straighten her out i have my in laws and they dont know why she is acting like this and they dont even want to watch her i am so done with it i am pulling my hair out as well please any suggestions will help
Avatar universal
I also have a 4 yr old daughter who does EXACTLY the same things as your daughter. My pediatrician is also no help and thinks its "just her age" but I've been told that for two years!! I see this was posted two years ago and is wondering how this turned out? Did you eventually get any help or did her behavior ever get better?
Avatar universal
Haha, I am on here looking for advice, too, wondering if the little girl has calmed down in the two years since this was posted. I'm frustrated because my ex-mother-in-law tells me "She is good at my house. But she knows I 'mean' it. You need to mean it." On the other hand, my own mother thinks I'm too hard on her. She says, "You tell her 'no' all of the time. She isn't allowed to do anything." But I tell her "no" a lot because she keeps repeating the same bad behaviors..! Like she can't keep her hands to herself, she will go into a total stranger's house and start picking up their glass objects, or she will come over and take things off of my desk [I work from home, I NEED this stuff,] or she will walk right over to a dog we don't know, or run around my car in a busy parking lot while I'm trying to get the doors unlocked. It's scary and dangerous. People seem to think I haven't tried EVERYTHING to get this child to listen to me, but I have. I'm definitely not a push-over. I'm a single mom, so I'm the only person around to do the disciplining, and she is my only child- so no sibling rivalry. [Her dad is in the picture, as well as his family, and my mother and two sisters and numerous nieces and a nephew.. there is no shortage of love or attention.] However, nothing works to curb her stubbornness and unwillingness to follow simple rules that have ALWAYS been rules, [Don't pet strange dogs, don't talk to strange people, stay near the car and mommy, keep your hands to yourself, etc.]. I have gone through politely asking her, to yelling, spanking, bribing, reward systems [marbles, stickers, treats at the end of the week for a certain number of good occurrences, etc.], time-outs, and I even got to a point one day where I just quit talking to her. I asked her to do nothing, I didn't yell, and I told her she could do whatever she wanted. The idea of not having any rules scared her more than anything else, so it's almost like she just likes the confrontation. I swear she has shaved off 10 years of my life.. the stress she induces is unbelievable. It's not even to a point where I need to talk to a shrink or anything; she never hits me or screams at the top of her lungs or hurts the animals or any other startling behavior.. she just seems to live for making me frustrated and I don't understand why.

So ANY advice that anyone else has found useful would be awesome.. haha. [Also, I think I forgot to mention her age- she is 4, going on 5 in about three months.]
Avatar universal
I am here for the same problem... It is not YET very very bad but if I am looking for help, it means that the red light went on.
Did you find the solution?
Avatar universal
The question about time outs. Perhaps it will sound stupid, but how do you perform it? My friend has three kids as well and time outs work. She follows the same rule - the third time is a time out. Sometimes I am with her when it happens. The kid is stopped and we are all waiting till the time out ends. But my daughter would not just stay still in one place. She would not stay in a place at all! Perhaps you could give any tips?
377493 tn?1356505749
I use time out's with my three year old, but I don't give warnings.  I only use it for major issues such as hitting, biting, any sort of aggressive behavior, full blown tantrums, etc.  As soon as it happens, I just scoop him up and say "it's too bad honey, now you need some quiet time in your room".  No voice raising or anything.  Just a calm, sympathetic tone and off he is taken.  It has worked incredibly well for us.  I learned it from the book "Love and Logic" and that is probably the best parenting book I have ever read.  Give it a try....

Good luck to you.
Avatar universal
most parents are to blame.you need to  love  your child. some parents are to strict with young children and then wonder where they went wrong or somethings wrong with there kid. My advice is if your child lets say wants ice cream before bed , try to explain why that not a good idea. if they don't listen  let them have it. But next time hind it under the peas so when they ask for it again around the same time say 'it's finished'.
Avatar universal
most parents are to blame.you need to  love  your child. some parents are to strict with young children and then wonder where they went wrong or somethings wrong with there kid
Avatar universal

If we did not love our kids we would not be reaching out for help.
I've read love and logic, and Kid Cooperation.  I recently read about ODD and don't know if my daughter's condition is that severe, but some of the behavior matches.  I have ordered two more books if those do not help, we will have to talk to her Dr.  Although he thinks she is a saint b/c she is an angel around him because she says wants to be a Dr.  So she is just calm and checking everything out when we go there.  Now do you have any books that you can suggest?
I give hugs, give praise, snuggle her, give time outs, play with my daughter, cook with her, go for bike rides, to the zoo, play dates, and tell her more than once a day what she does that I am proud of and that I love her.  The problem is she does not listen when I request that she do something.  She is easily distracted and does not care about pleasing anyone.  She test limits all of the time with me, her dad, her baby sitter and other kids which is the most annoying. If they say no, she will just keep on pushing, it is as if she is messing with them.  She will show no interest in something until they want it, then jump in the moment the other kiddo wants that toy, and grab it.  Of course we talk about how this is not kind or polite and do a time out, but she will go right back and do something similar again.  I think I will start giving two strikes and on strike two we leave. However, I fear that our play dates may end after 10 mins.   I try to be very consistent with boundaries but not so strict that it's like the army, and make the consequences logical, you ran the toy into the wall after being asked not to two times, so you cannot play with it until tomorrow ect.   I am open you input here. My eyes are crossing, she can be so wonderful and seems very bright, wants to know how everything works, but the above mentioned behavior is leaving me wondering how I can better set limits in a loving way, so that she is better about listening and play with other kids.
Did this behavior ever pass c madok
Avatar universal
Has she changed since?
Avatar universal
I know this is an old post.  Please tell me you found something that works, I currently have a 4 year old son that will not listen to me ever. And Im becoming overwhelmed, and exhausted and emotional. No one can seem to help me and tell me I should do this or that. I have seriously tried everything under the sun from rewards, time outs, spankings, warnings, visual aids, physically making him listen, asking kindly. Just nothing works. He seems to listen to other people when they ask him to do something, except for his dance teacher. He has a speech delay that we discovered at age 2 because he wasn't saying anything. We found out he couldn't hear because of fluid in his ears. Now it seems like he is catching up and going through the terrible twos for 2 years if that makes any sense. Just looking for some advice, if you were able to resolve it and what you did.
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