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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    597

    Default 4 1/2 year old's bad behavior

    Just when I thought I was walking down easy street from about 3 1/2 until 4 1/2....my daughter's behavior has become intolerable. She'll be 5 in July and has taken to screaming at us, throwing toys, pinching, hitting, yelling that we are bad if she doesn't get her way, etc. We've always done time outs and up until now, they worked. She is told calmly (most of the time!) that what she is doing is not acceptable, she loses privileges, she has to apologize, etc. This morning - she whipped a wooden spoon at me because I told her no and she got a swat on the behind (and I'm a non-spanker!!!!!)

    Hubby and I always back each other up so at least we aren't divided on discipline. But nothing is working! Two days ago I put up a new rule chart (ala Super Nanny :P) and if she followed the no screaming, no hitting, no pinching rule for a day, she would get a sticker. She helped me pick the rewards (a trip to the library, something from the $1 section at Target) if she got so many stickers.

    Needless to say, there have been no stickers rewarded! (And yet - reward charts worked like a charm a year ago.)

    She is great for everyone else (thank goodness for that!) and is by far, the worst with me.

    Does anyone have any suggestions or thoughts? TIA!!
    Married 6.21.03
    DD 7.21.05

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    NJ
    Posts
    1,514

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    Sympathizing because Connor knows how to push my buttons too. His attitude is definitely sassier lately. When he doesn't get his way he can get violently mad. And it's not like he gets his way all the time, he doesn't. I'm hoping some of it's a phase and it will get better. In the mean time I just try to be very consistent with discipline. We mainly use time outs and loss of toys/privileges.
    Nancy & David 10/12/02
    Connor Ryan born 7/15/05
    Avery Elaine born 4/2/07

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
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    1,796

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    When my 4.5 year old gets exceptionally rude, back-talkish, entitled, etc, I almost always eventually realize that it is my fault. I've started being lazier with discipline, giving him too many chances, not following through the first time, etc. Once my husband and I crack down for a couple of days, he is back to his lovely, pleasant self. I'm sure there are plenty of other reasons for a 4 year old to suddenly have bad behavior, but that is almost always it around our house.
    Megan and Derek: 6/15/02, Dean: 6/27/05, Reed: 10/3/07, Ruby: 11/21/11
    My determined purpose is that I may know Him.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    3,548

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    i've come to realize that negative reinforcements does very little for us. catch them when they're being good or even just ok and tell them that you noticed them playing nice, being polite, etc. we're still working on it, but being positive and using descriptive praise has made a world of difference.
    noa 6.6.04
    henri 9.10.06

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    2,663

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    I have found that rules are most effective when framed positively, so instead of "No yelling" I'd have "Use kind words" and instead of "No hitting" I would say "Keep your hands to yourself." I generally give a warning, too, because I know I can't always remember to be nice when I'm pissed off, and I can't expect my kids to remember that either.

    When things get tough at our house I turn to our Melissa and Doug chart, which has positively phrased rules and expectations. I allow 3 "strikes" per week, though if you are working on a daily reward I would set a different expectation that still allows for some "bad" behavior. So if you have 5 rules, maybe tell her she has to stick to 3 of 5 each day in order to earn a sticker at first. Then you can increase it if she is consistently earning stickers.

    Oh, and when I give a warning, I use the wording of the rule. So if my son yells at me, I might say "Are you using kind words?" or "Can you try that again with kind words?" I think that kind of reinforces the rules a bit and helps him see exactly where he is making a mistake, while giving him a chance to correct it.

    And when things get really bad, I give everyone a time out. Sometimes we all just need to go to our separate corners and chill out.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    NY
    Posts
    4,036

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    God so glad to see that I am not the only person who is dealing with a 4 1/2 year old who is pushing buttons right now

    When my 4.5 year old gets exceptionally rude, back-talkish, entitled, etc, I almost always eventually realize that it is my fault. I've started being lazier with discipline, giving him too many chances, not following through the first time, etc. Once my husband and I crack down for a couple of days, he is back to his lovely, pleasant self. I'm sure there are plenty of other reasons for a 4 year old to suddenly have bad behavior, but that is almost always it around our house
    Yup this is pretty much us. We are doing some tough love right now in our house
    Allyson and Brad 11/23/02
    Aiden Harrison 6/10/05

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    1,604

    Default

    We've had issues, too. In addition to being consistent with discipline, I've found that more one-on-one time with my daughter helps. I'm a working mom, and DD craves times with me (I crave time with her, too, actually!). We've always spent a lot of time the two of us (and I do bedtime every night, too), but she wants more. We tend to see family and friends a lot on my days off, but I realized that I need to cut some of that out and do some significant mommy & daughter time to help with the behavior problems. Daddy is fine sometimes, too, but it's me she wants (she gets a Daddy day during the week). Since I've been making the effort to have more 1:1 time, her behavior has gotten better and she is happier.

    ETA: Just to be clear, I pretty much spend every non-working minute with my DD...so it wasn't about increasing my time off of work with her, it was about making it 1:1 time. That's what she needed more of.
    Last edited by Dally; 03-08-2010 at 11:28 AM.
    Wife: August, 2002 ~ LJ ~ Mother: May, 2005

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    I thought of another idea of something that has worked for us. My DD went through a long period of dropping her nap, which completely messed up bedtime. I found she was often getting only 9-10 hours of sleep a night. We've been working hard to get her closer to 11 hours a night. When we get that, we have a much better behaved child. It's a struggle for a variety of reasons.

    But sleep (and quality of sleep) is worth looking at.
    Last edited by Dally; 03-08-2010 at 02:53 PM.
    Wife: August, 2002 ~ LJ ~ Mother: May, 2005

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    SC
    Posts
    908

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    I'll tell you what's currently been working for us. My sister gave me an article by John Rosemond about the "ticket method". You establish the rules (no sassiness, no hitting, or whatever). The child gets 3 tickets each day. If a rule is broken, a ticket is taken away. When all three tickets are taken, the child spends the rest of the day in their room (where toys, books, etc. have been removed). It felt a little extreme making a 4 1/2 year old stay in her room all day, but it worked!! (All day for us was from the time she came home from preschool and had lunch - about 12:30 - till about 4:30 - that was enough). I made the tickets out of cute scrapbooking cardstock and they stay up on the fridge with magnets. She likes to look and see how many tickets she still has up there and it's really important to her to still have 3 tickets. That's what worked for us (more so than time outs or spankings). I do agree with PP about praise for doing good too!!
    Married 6-14-03
    DD #1 6-13-05
    DD #2 9-21-07

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    597

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    Thanks for all of the good ideas, everyone. I will definitely use some of them!! I think its a combo of not being very consistent, not getting enough sleep and - I *think* something I was giving her to eat for a few weeks (probiotic yogurt). I skipped the yogurt today and she was an angel. She has a history of being a maniac when her tummy hurts but she never tells me that it hurts! She got excited to earn stickers today & I hope that continues. Hubby and I also held more firm to the rules. She tried hard to manipulate but did not get her way. One day at a time, right?
    Married 6.21.03
    DD 7.21.05

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