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why do I find four years old so HARD? need support! (sorry, long)

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Tell me, wise mamas, how on earth do you keep your cool????

I am finding this stage very hard. DD is four and half years old. She's a smart, funny, very very energetic little person and I just can't get enough of her ... but there are some behaviors that are really wearing me down. How do you deal with:

- Refusal to do ANYTHING the way I suggest - from what she wears to when she'll go to the bathroom. (She has worn what I requested she wear exactly ONE TIME in the last year and half. Yes, only once. Of course most days I don't mind what she wears but sometimes it matters!!)

- whining constantly c.o.n.s.t.a.n.t.l.y.

- angry loud screaming if she doesn't get her way, even in public

- everything done at a snail's pace, obviously this drives me nuts when we are on a schedule and need to be somewhere, but even days when we have no set schedule she is so slooow we could really go the whole day without leaving the house (and we have)

- tantrums seemingly out of the blue

Today was typical: I arrived to pick DD1 up from her part-time preschool. She was mad I'd come too early, then a moment later mad I'd come too late to get her. She refused to put on her shoes until I stood in this-very-specific-spot and screamed at top volume if I looked in her direction. She refused to let me help her carry her stuff to the car even though it meant dropping everything in the rain. This type of stuff continued all the way home, and at home.

I hate this anywhere we are, but in public there is the added embarrassment component. I had planned to run a couple errands on the way home but scraped that because I knew we'd never make it without another scene. Canceling plans for this reason is happening way too often now.

Even the tiniest disruption can set her off into difficult behavior. It can be something obvious - like not getting enough sleep, hunger etc. But there are so.many.triggers (house guests, bad weather etc) that it seems we are ALWAYS trying to deal with this. Yes, a day at school is exhausting so maybe that explains today's disruptions - but a day at home can be less stimulating and then THAT seems to lead to disruptions.

As her mother I think I should be helping her find a way to navigate thru life and all the inconsistencies so that she learns to handle the mildly hard days... But HOW do I teach her that??? I know she can't like feeling this way so much of the time, and that breaks my heart.

Some background: DD has always been very high energy... verging on high-needs from when she was a baby (never sleeping etc). When her baby sister arrived 1.5 yrs ago I always found that I spent way way more energy parenting my older DD, the baby was (and still is) sooo incredibly easy comparatively!!

I know this is all four year old stuff, DD can be quite sweet and thoughtful and cooperative, but it just feels like this difficult behavior is becoming NORMAL. I am generally very very patient but this is wearing me very thin. I can't stay sane with her acting like this day-in day-out. Today I didn't lose my temper but I have been starting to lose it most days and I hate that. But by the she was in bed tonight, I was just depressed. All I could do for a while was just sit on the couch and stare into space.

And then I worry constantly how much of my time is taken dealing with all this - my poor 17 month old gets very little attention when all this is happening. That just eats away at me.

So how do you A. keep your cool and B. avoid / stop these behavior??????

Help!
post #2 of 17
Hugs, mama.

I have a 4.5 yr old, too. She's difficult. Her older sister was difficult in a different way. I don't remember 4.5 being so hard with her, though. So, I can only compare my DD1's difficult moments to DD2's. I'm not sure it's so much age as personality.

DD2 blows up a lot. She speaks in a very disrespectful tone of voice most of the time. Screams when she doesn't get her way. Doesn't want to do anything I ask her to do and argues all. the. time.

Unfortunately, I don't have any tips. But, since it sounds like we're in the same boat I didn't want to read and not reply.
post #3 of 17
Wow, your list of characteristics had DH & I dropping our jaws LOL It sounds exactly like DS2. We didn't have a hard time *at all* with DS1 so it's hitting us hard with DS2.

The whining, snails pace, tantrums, etc are sooooo sooo hard. DS isn't even quite 4 yet (4 weeks away) so we have awhile before he outgrows this (he will, right?!?! )
post #4 of 17
DS is now 6, almost 7 (!), but I still remember the time from 4 til around 4.5 as the hardest we had. He was a remarkably easy toddler -- only a few tantrums *ever* -- so we were completely unprepared.

I'm not sure what it was with him, but, yeah, four was really tough and I've heard this from other parents as well.

However, he *did* outgrow it and by 4.5 and certainly by 5 he was (and still is) a delight.

Hang in there.
post #5 of 17
Yeah, four is really challenging. I didn't always keep my cool, that much I remember. There were just things I had to stop doing with my children when they were at that age. I went for about a year never taking them with me to the grocery store because I just couldn't deal with them there.
post #6 of 17
I agree. DD1 is 6 now and I would say 4 was the hardest so far. Hands down. DD2 turns 4 in January. Pray for me.
post #7 of 17
I've got the same kid. Even as you described your dd as a baby, that was my ds1. Add in a sibling that is 17 months younger and I've got it bad these days.

The one thing that has been helping ds1 is when I give him "big kid" responsiblities. I wonder if it's because they are at an age where they are not toddlers anymore and on the verge of becoming big kids. Whenever I show my ds how to do something new or ask him to help me with a task he's never been "allowed" to before, he seems to have a confidence about him that lasts at least several hours! A couple months ago, I told him he could go into the pantry and make a snack for himself and his brother, and he was floored that he could do this on his own and that I would trust him to! (I know some people probably have their kids do this much younger!) After that, he ventured into the fridge and poured himself a cup of milk and just beamed with pride that he could do that for himself. So, I've kept up with this theme and I try to find new ways for him to feel confident. He also seems to like that he can do some things that his little brother can't. I don't love that idea, but he seems to need it right now.

I am really encouraged by other posts that they will outgrow this and return to the sweeties they once were!
post #8 of 17
Yes. it all sounds so familiar..mine is also a fiery little sprite.
I guess there are acouple of things that help me out:
*remembering that she is so a reflection of me when I was little help me have compassion
*structure is a must, nap everyday..even napping yourself cause you probably need it if we're talking about a similar type of kid
*no sugar, fruit sugar ok: I would defintaly notice her tantrums increase a thousand fold whenever we thought we were being sweet by giving her special treats hot choc., etc.
* the book "Positive Discipline" this book really taught and continues to teach me how to comunicate with her in a way that allows mutual respect, its amazing how once I started changing my tone and way of requesting things she changed her brat like responses to cooperation....

babes crying gotta go..good luck!
post #9 of 17
My 4 year old is so hard to deal with too. Ds1 was never this bad. We're just at a loss what to do with him. He destroys the furniture, abuses both his brothers, esp ds1, & will just plain refuse to do things like get ready for bed.
post #10 of 17
Quote:
- whining constantly c.o.n.s.t.a.n.t.l.y.

- angry loud screaming if she doesn't get her way, even in public

- everything done at a snail's pace, obviously this drives me nuts when we are on a schedule and need to be somewhere, but even days when we have no set schedule she is so slooow we could really go the whole day without leaving the house (and we have)

- tantrums seemingly out of the blue
This describes my daughter exactly. Three was a bit more challenging than the first couple of years, but it was nothing compared to this. It's like she is a different kid, and it's wearing me and her dad down in a big way. I'm just at a loss at this point.
post #11 of 17
absolutely my DS to a T - and he's 5.5 already. Sometimes he's great, but other times he will refuse to come downstairs and have his breakfast unless you go back up and hold his hand (even if you've already offered to hold his hand and he's said "no") and the whingeing is sometimes never ending. And we still have frequent tantrums, disrespectfulness and the constant refusing to comply. And then some days he is a complete angel and really surprises me by being very cooperative and helpful. So, no help from me I'm afraid, just commiseration!
post #12 of 17
I could have written your post. Add in waking up in the middle of the night and screaming, "Nobody is going to sleep!!!!" to the mix and, I swear if I didn't know any better I'd call them deliberate mind games she plays (as in, demanding I "Say something else!!!" even when the answer is yes; insisting I said something other than what I said, insisting I remember what I said if I say I forgot and it goes on) you'd have my daughter. She turned 4 about 3 weeks ago and this began around 3.5. And we have a 7 month old.

I tell my husband he must have been like this because my mom says I was a dream child and duped her into a 3rd!

What has helped to ease the tantrums here is giving her some 1 on 1 mommy time (and I've just started trying this in the last 2 weeks). It requires me getting up well before I ordinarily would - like an hour - as I work outside of the home full time. We now have our "cuddle time" on the morning before baby brother gets up and sometimes get to eat breakfast together or I'll help her get dressed - of course in the clothes she agrees to wear. Anyone need any gorgeous Tea brand pants and sweaters in a size 4 that my daughter refuses to wear? It's all about the dresses and tights. And don't even get me started on the undewear!!!! I've ordered to sets of Hannah's and 2 sets of mama made from Etsy. All worked fine for about 2 mos. Now, outta the blue - "These bother me!!!!" Well, no one in the whole wide universe makes panties that don't. So, I'm done trying to find some. Now, when she puts her pajamas on, I see never ending renditions of her squating to align the seam of her pj's with her bodily seam!

Ok, I'm sorry, not my post. The 1x1 time. Yes, that has helped us a lot. Doesn't take a ton of time. Like this morning, she ended our cuddle time herself to do something else. Usually only lasts about 2-3 min. I've also started giving the babe back to dh at bedtime so that dd can have her bedtime routine to herself again.

The reason I have to get up so much earlier is so that I can be more relaxed as she vies for attention all morning long. If I haven't completed preparing bottles, steaming my bottles for pumping and making my lunch before she gets up, I'm stressed and short tempered with her.

Hope that helps!
post #13 of 17
Really be vigilant with sugar. I was really careful with DD's food and drink and then when she turned 3 people started giving her sweet stuff all the time and I started buying more juice boxes and packaged yogurts--those things can be really, really sweet. 1 Capri Sun has as much extra sugar as she should have in a day---add summertime at the beach to that and it can equal a lot of juice boxes and a crazy making amount of sugar. And some kids are more sensitive to it than others.

We've been doing low-sugar juices and lots of water for the last month or so and I feel like her edge has really mellowed.
post #14 of 17
Wow, I am at my wit's end also with my 4yo ds. He was the mellowest, most laid back child, now at 4 he's making me want to run away.

So obviously, no advice here, just commiserating. (Over a glass of wine, I might add...
post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
OH oh oh! THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU! I can't tell you how much it makes me feel better to read all these responses. I really thought my child was the only one. I have several close friends with children who are four and none of them complain about this. We all laughed together about the trials of three year olds but now the kids are four it is as though theirs all turned to angels and mine got more challenging.

I wish I could respond to each and every one of you, but I had no idea how much I wrote in my original post. Yikes! Guess I had to get it all out.

Honeybunmom - yes yes yes! The waking in the middle of the night all angry. What IS that? We talk about it at bedtime, how at night she can tell us quietly what she needs, no need to shriek the whole house awake. One that that helps - making sure she goes potty right before sleep. If she wakes with a full bladder, our night is shot. And my suggesting she just go pee results in MORE screaming!! (And then eventually she pees, peace is restored almost immediately, and we all go back to bed, where I stare at the ceiling and wonder how we got into this!)

Cujobunny, pass the bottle my way! I've been needing it a lot lately!

Oh, thank you again, everyone. I don't wish this on anyone (parent or child) but wow is it a relief that this is normal. And better yet, they might actually grow out of it - oh JOY!
post #16 of 17
Not alone at all!

To get my daughter to go to the bathroom at night, I would ask her just to sit there on the toilet. If nothing came out - no problem (knowing full well I'd just witnessed about 30 minutes of her potty dance). Just sit there and let me count to 10 or 20. Sometimes, just sitting there would get her to go. Other times, she'd still hold it! Then I'd ask her if she was sure that there was nothing in there. Then I'd say, "What does your body say about that?" Then we'd hear the tinkle. I have also told her that holding it is not good for her body.

And please don't get me started on cleaning the important places. You'd think I was trying to torture her. I finally had to call her doctor because dd was complaining about vaginal discomfort. Got someone else in the practice on the call back. Thank goodness it was a female (dd does have a female pediatrician). She spoke to my daughter (she was still 3 at the time) and all has been much better since then. She cleans first, then it's my turn.

All that to say, if holding her urine before bed went on for much longer, there would have been a call to the doctor about that so that she could explain to dd how unhealthy that is.

It's only been in the last 3 weeks that she has begun to sleep through the night without having to wake to go to the bathroom. She gave up the nighttime diaper back in January or February. A long road indeed.
post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Heatherb917 View Post
The one thing that has been helping ds1 is when I give him "big kid" responsiblities. I wonder if it's because they are at an age where they are not toddlers anymore and on the verge of becoming big kids. Whenever I show my ds how to do something new or ask him to help me with a task he's never been "allowed" to before, he seems to have a confidence about him that lasts at least several hours! A couple months ago, I told him he could go into the pantry and make a snack for himself and his brother, and he was floored that he could do this on his own and that I would trust him to! (I know some people probably have their kids do this much younger!) After that, he ventured into the fridge and poured himself a cup of milk and just beamed with pride that he could do that for himself. So, I've kept up with this theme and I try to find new ways for him to feel confident. He also seems to like that he can do some things that his little brother can't. I don't love that idea, but he seems to need it right now.

I am really encouraged by other posts that they will outgrow this and return to the sweeties they once were!
ITA with this, doing this was one of the only things that saved our sanity during the worst of it. I also had to learn to LET GO and let dd wear whatever she wanted most of the time. That meant two toned socks and funny outfits. I'd proudly announce that dd dressed herself when we reached our destination and get the knowing nods from the other moms.

It helped to give her control over things like setting the table, even if that meant everything was mismatched (NO she would NOT take suggestions about matching the placemats).

I have also started to insist that she do big girl things like tidy up after herself, put away laundry, put utensils from the dishwasher to the drawer. The last two stuff happens still very rarely, but the fact that it's in there is a plus. She is definitely proud and happy when she can do things.

Reading over the Positive Discipline series for this age reminds me that kids do well if they can, they want to be included, that they may be seeking attention in a mistaken way, that we need to teach our child they fit into the family by cooperating, helping and contributing what they can. In the beginning, when changing tracks, dd often protested the change (ummm, a LOT) but I calmly stuck with it and it seems to have made a difference.
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