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I really need help with my 4yr old

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I don't know what to do. Please give me advice.
My 4yr old girl is a highly sensitive one and she has a terrible temper. She often whines, screams and throws tantrums. If I try to do a time out for that, such as taking her to a corner, she gets even more hysterical. Her behavior got worse since her brother was born 7wks ago. Now she refuses to eat herself and asks us to feed her and dress her. She wants us to do everything for her. Obviously she wants to be like a baby.

My husband and I start to really resent her behavior and her. She really makes our lives miserable. She threw tantrums 4 times today. What should we do? How can we do time out effectively? How should I respond to her when she is screaming and whining and throwing things. I know I have to be calm but telling her to stop it with calm voice does not work either. Time out does not work. Should we ignore her? If we respond to her at all, she gets even more historical. With whining, we told her that we would not respond to her unless she stops whining, but she is so stubborn and she keeps whining and drives us mad. We end up yelling at her back. When she is really bad, my husband takes her out of our apartment and that calms her down. But when I'm just with her and the baby, I cannot do that. First I cannot physically lift her while carrying the baby.

Sorry for the rant. But I feel like I'm at the end of the rope. I've read no cry discipline solution and it has great ideas but somehow nothing works on her...
Her preschool teacher says that she is great in school - never whines or pouts, throws tantrums, etc. She does it only to us...

Thanks so much for reading. Hope someone gives us advice....
post #2 of 25
I'm sorry that you are going through this but rest assured that you are not alone and the good news is that you are looking for solutions.

When she throws a tantrum I would take her to the side if you are out of the house and get out of the public eye which can often make things even worse. Give her the time to get the tantrum out, and say that you understand her frustrations, the thing that gets me through this is that she's seeking the attention that is now directed at the new baby and has been 'taken' from her, before the baby was born she would get all the oohs and ahhs and now that's changed.

One turning point for me personally was when I was pregnant dd was nearly 3, we'd been out in town all day and she was just tired and fed up - and so was I if I'm very honest, we were on the metro and no seats were to be found, dd wanted to lie down on the floor of the metro and i just couldn't let her do that, well she went bananas on me - kicking, screaming, shouting you name it - of course nearly everyone had a 'helpful' comment, at the first stop that came along we got off the train and sat on the seats at the side of the quay - we missed 3 or 4 others trains, but she just needed that time to get out of the hussle of the moment, we eventually got on a train and then a bus and made it home - I learned a big lesson then, not to try to fit everything that i wanted to do in one day and to take it at the pace of my child - who has needs and wants too, it really was a turning point for us both; I took time to listen to my child and she felt heard. Then I found the Faber Mazlish books which confirmed what I had just started doing.

If she mimics the baby then you may need to show her that you love her - yes she can feel as strongly as this, try to reinforce your affection for her not that you have ever stopped loving her but she may feel this, take her for an afternoon out at the cinema or to go for a long walk or something that makes her feel special again. There is a wonderful section in Siblings Without Rivalry in which they cover this exact subject - it really makes you think - I'd highly recommend that you read this book.

Personally I don't find that time out works - i'd rather let the kids tell me what's wrong in the moment - if they can, than expect them to keep quiet and keep all that anger inside, the child concentrates more on the punishment than what the action that they are being punished for.

When it comes to pre-school it's perfectly normal for the kids that are really polite and well behaved at school to take things out in the home or with the people they feel safest with - it's actually abit of a compliment - if you can see it as that, but she feels that she can act out all her frustrations with you because you'll understand rather than act up at school, not easy to deal with when you are in the middle but honestly it's better this way with you than in another place where she'll be very judged and 'pigeon-holed'.

With you and the baby - maybe you can give her the responsibility of something, ask her to help you out and bring you a nappy for changing the baby, or can she go get a book that you can read to her when you are nursing baby, make her feel important and special that she has an important new role in the family which developed when the baby was growing in you, rather than just when the baby arrived, maybe she would like a baby sling or wrap to put her dolls in to carry them around and to look after as well so that you can do things together, give her a little grown up time a day - put on a short film if you do tv, jigsaws, books, maybe doing some yoga together would work.

I hope that some of this has helped and good luck - keep posting and you'll get lots of ideas and support.
post #3 of 25
I think I'd approach it differently even though you're already probably so tired you could cry. Try "time in" instead.

With my highly sensitive child - I would look for tiny opportunities to be only with her. For instance, when you are finished nursing the baby, call out, "where's my big girl??" Then put the baby down and snuggle with your big girl. It doesn't have to be for long, let her know you're going to "steal a secret minute" to be just the two of you. If you see her doing the tiniest, helpful thing - even going to the toilet - take her into your arms and tell her how glad you are that you have her, and that she's a big girl. Even when you're nursing the baby - and she may be doing something independently, call her name and wink at her - or develop a special sigh (fist to your heart or thumbs up) that shows you two have a special bond. Let her do some things that she may not have done before - get a pitcher she can handle, keep it in the fridge and ask her to pour herself and you a glass of iced water/juice - then clink glasses and tell her how helpful she's being. She needs lots of reassurance from you right now.

With my sensitive girl, I see the tantruming as her way to communicate because she isn't as verbal as her older sister. She's feeling so many emotions there is no way for her to express, so it all explodes in a tantrum.

Also - when she is tantruming, ask see if you can verbalize what she's feeling, "you're really frustrated that xxxxx." It will help her to begin to verbalize what she's feeling.

Good luck!

post #4 of 25
post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for your kindness for offering advice. I will definitely try your advice and read the book too.
post #6 of 25
For whining I would try modeling the words/tone you want to hear from her. If she's throwing a fit/whining about wanting a drink, you can say, "Can you say, May I have a drink please?" And just keep doing that until it clicks for her. If she refuses to copy your tone, then what I do with my spirited 3yo is to take him to his room and sit him on the bed. I calmly look at him and say, when you're ready to speak nicely to me, I'd be happy to help you with what you need. After a few minute fit, he will come out and say, I'm ready. I also do the thing where you say something like, "I don't understand that whining voice, can you try a nice voice?" and when she asks in a nice voice, gush over how sweet it was and how now you can help her because you know what she needs.

I've gone through the whining and temper tantrums with both boys around age 3 or 4. It has passed for my 4.5yo. We're still in it with the 3yo. I know you know this, but the better you get at being unshakable, the less she gets out of it. Just try to breathe and remain calm.
post #7 of 25
I have a spirited 3 year old and a 3 week old so we've been going through some of these issues as well. This is what we're doing:

1. When she wants to do baby things (regressions, essentially) we are putting them in "wishes." Like if she wants to get on the changing table, have me take off her clothes, wipe her and put on a diaper we'll say, "You wish you could be a baby. It looks like fun. Let's pretend to wipe your bum." She hops up, I pretend and she gets down. That way we're indulging the wish, making it a fantasy/game, and setting limits with the behavior.

2. In response to inappropriate behavior we're trying to help her voice what is really going on, particularly using the phrase "it's hard to share Mommy." I also emphasize when the baby has to wait for her so she knows it's not always her that has to go second.

3. We are doing "special time". Everyday I spend a set period of time with her where she gets to pick the activity and I spend one on one time with her. Of course, she often invites the baby to "come along", but that's her choice. Knowing she'll get your full attention later may help her wait other times during the day.

I hope this helps. I was completely floored going from 1 to 2 children. I never thought my daughter would take this transition this hard. Thankfully, I can say it's getting a little better each day.
post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 
Ok...We had a total meltdown today. Please let me know what I should have done. I was at a loss.

We came home from a playground very tired. My daughter was hungry too. But the baby wanted to nurse so I did not give her snack. The tiredness and huger probably was the root cause. My daughter took off her dirty pants but she would not go to her room to get her clean pants. So I told her to close the window as it is a bit chilly for her without her pants on. She refused. I know she would not listen and throw a fit. But I kept insisting that she should close the window. She started whining. I said I will not listen until she stop whining. Her whining gets even worse and worse and becomes screaming and crying while I keep ignoring her. She kept saying she was sad while crying out loud. And I walk out of the room wanting to be left alone but she keeps following me and crying out loud. The situation escalates and I could not ignore her any more. I lose my temper and start yelling and end up pushing her (she did not get hurt). It gets worse and worse, and I was so mad that I start to hate her. Her screaming and yelling is also not acceptable especially because we live in a condo. She kept going and I wanted to stuff her mouth. There was no hint of her calming down unless I give her hug. But how can I give her a hug? Not only that I feel so mad at her, but also that way I will lose again and end up saying ok to her whining.
Anyway, I asked her if she hates me, she said no and she likes me. I asked if she loves me and she said yes. I said I love her too and gave her a hug in the end. She calmed down.

I feel awful about my behavior. I did and said things I should not have done to my child. I must admit I was quite abusive to her tonight. I said to my husband and he said he understands me as he felt the real hate toward her too. But I really hate myself being like this to my child but don't know what to do. What could I have done differently? I know if I didn't tick her off by insisting that she would do things she didn't want when she's tired and hungry, nothing would've happened.

She has a habit of saying she was sad while crying when I discipline her. When I get angry with her behavior, she wants sympathy. But if I give her hug and she calms down, but that would blur the issue at hand. She gets away with her bad behavior so I don't want to give her hug.

I really want to learn. Please help me to be a better parent.
post #9 of 25
I don't know what advice to give really but I couldn't read and not respond...

I'm so sorry you're going through this. My 4yo is acting out as well, for different reasons and they sound so similar.

I think that your dd is feeling extremely insecure and afraid that she is unloved because of the new baby. Although defiant behavior is unacceptable, I think that she still needs to hear and be shown that she's loved. If she's tired & hungry and you're nursing the baby, will she snuggle up next to the two of you until you're ready to feed her? When she's whining or having a tantrum, you can still tell her that you love her, like saying "I still love you very much, but you have to listen to Mommy".

post #10 of 25

A couple of things...in my opinion, hungry and tired make a toddler/preschooler incapable of making intelligent, rational decisions. It is my responsibility to keep my kids' bodies working properly. If I don't, it's my own fault that they melted. So, I ALWAYS keep in mind how much they've eaten and when, so that I can be prepared to meet the next need. I know it's so hard with a new baby and keeping that baby's schedule in mind too. But you said you knew she was hungry and tired when you walked in the door. I think the new baby could have waited three minutes while you threw together a tiny snack to tide your 4yo over during the nursing. That probably would have kept 4yo from having the major meltdown.

Also, I have read this and found it to be true, that you can't teach a child anything during a tantrum. They just don't hear you. So while you're ignoring the tantrum-ing child and yelling and trying to "teach her a lesson" she really isn't learning said lesson. In that case, I would try something like, "come sit in your room until you can speak kindly to me." But, alot of times, if they are over the edge that won't work. So I give us each a few minutes and then I would calmly go into my child's room. Sit on the bed and hold them. Give a hug and say something like, "I would really like to help you with what you need, but I can't understand you when you're screaming that way. It is not ok for you to shout/scream/yell at mommy. Can you tell me what you need in a nice voice so I can help you?" Usually this works. The child needs to feel connected and then can cooperate with you. If there is no connection then there is no one to cooperate with, no teammate. And you said that you tell her to "stop whining" or "stop yelling," but you need to tell her what TO DO, instead of what not to do. In her state of mind, she knows you're saying to stop whining, but she can't think of what else to do instead. So try telling her the positive thing you want her to do. Speak kindly. Use a nice voice. Talk like a big girl. Whatever works for you

In the future, could you always have on hand several snacks that she could get herself? A fruit bowl or pantry items that she can reach? It seems at her age, you should be able to say, "I know you must be hungry, I need to nurse the baby, would you like to go pick out a snack?"

I know it must be so hard. The beginning of 4 was really difficult for my older son. One thing that really helped his attitude overall was when I started giving him "big kid" jobs. Tackling and mastering a new chore gives them such pride and confidence, it just changed my son incredibly. So, if you haven't already, maybe try letting her make her own sandwich or pour her own milk, something that she hasn't yet been "allowed" to do. She'd probably enjoy showing off for you!
post #11 of 25
Thread Starter 
Snack is so important. Unfortunately, today, no snack was in the fridge. Also I wanted to fix dinner right after nursing. If she snacks right before dinner, she often won't eat dinner. But I would've given her an apple at least.
Would you say with the highly difficulty child, that I should pick a battle, instead of fighting over every issue, which is so exhausting. For example, should I have stopped nursing and putting down the crying baby and got her pants or closed the window because she is tired and cranky? I try to be consistent but it's not easy.
post #12 of 25
There are two issues going on here, the snack thing - you already know the solution and I am sure you'll make sure to have a few healthy things on hand if this happens again.

And the insisting on doing things - the pants or trousers for me - lol, really is it that important that she has her trousers on? I'm sure that could wait until baby is fed and dd has her snack - IMO its not a pressing issue. Trusting our kids to know their own bodies is a hard one for many parents, insisting that they wear clothes when really they don't need to or want to is not 'that' important really - or not in our household - tell me if I am wrong here for you. If the open window wasn't a potentially dangerous situation, I would have left that too until the hunger issue was out of the way, then when you think that her hunger has been quelled mention the trousers and window, ask her if she would like to close the window - generally they'll say yes because its a responsibility and often seen as a job for an adult so I'm sure she'd just get up and do it.

When it comes to hunger etc no one can be rational - or that's my experience, I remember a LLL Leader saying to me once that she never discussed anything with her dh until she knew that he had eaten well and therefore would be more inclined to her conversation - I have never forgotten that - made me laugh at the time but boy is it true.

Please try to get a sling or a wrap - it'll make your life so much easier, you can nurse the baby while getting dinner prepared, seeing to your three year old, closing window etc!! - it is such a liberating piece of equipment!!!

Grace & Granola discussed the screaming and shouting stuff really well - I'm not even going to add to her wonderful advice!!

Give yourself a break about the pushing - all of us have done things that we are not proud of - but to know that it is wrong and want to change it is so much better than not even realising that we have over stepped the mark. I would like to suggest Gael Lindenfield's book Confident Children - its a wonderful wonderful book which makes us work on ourselves as well as our children.

goodness it seems as if I am really criticising you - but i'm trying to do it in a helpful way!! Anyway be very careful not to label your dd, she's just 4 and adjusting to something that is very difficult for her to deal with, you don't want her to live her life thinking that she is difficult, my dd is very very stubborn, but I try to see it more as determined so that I don't give her that negative label that can continue throughout her life - do you see what I mean?

One thing that worked for us too was starting again from the beginning, when the tantrum has calmed down you can say ' you know what, let's start this all over again, I don't either of us did that very well', literally go out the door and come back in, start it all over again and both of you can work out the way that works for you, she knows if she whines you can't understand her, you know that if she is hungry that nearly all is lost, re-work the situation and show the difference - it just clears the mood completely - and there will be a sense of achievement for both of you.

Finally, at every instance reassure you dd that she is not being replaced by your baby - she seems so insecure at the moment and is trying everything to get your attention - ok not in the best of ways but to keep telling her that you know how she is feeling and that she mustn't worry, that you still love her is important at the moment - I wouldn't ask her if she loves you, just keep reinforcing that you love her she'll come back and say i love you too, it is so more rewarding when they do it off their own back than being asked if they do, give spontaneous little kisses when you pass her, or when she's playing or reading a book - these little things can make all the difference to her.

Good luck and keep posting lots and lots of hugs to you and also know that this won't last forever .....
post #13 of 25
You want to set yourself and her up to succeed, not for an inevitable clash. And you do not want to engage in a power struggle with a little kid.

I find that a little bit of parental disapproval actually is quite potent with my DD (she is 5). In your situation, if I had asked her to go get clean pants and she didn't, I'd have said one more time "DD, I would really appreciate it if you would go get clean pants. It would help me. I don't want you to go without pants because it's kind of cold in here. I don't want to have to put down the baby until she falls asleep, but if you won't go get pants, I'll need to do that." Then if she still wouldn't, I would put down the baby, calmly go get her clean pants, put them on, tell her you are disappointed that she didn't get the pants, which was a reasonable request, and then resume nursing the baby. Being disapproved of by mom has a big impact on a lot of kids' behavior (not every kid's, I understand).

But the main thing is that is seems like she needs reassurance and cuddling. Sometimes you have a choice between a quick hug and loving moment up front, or 30 minutes of unhappiness and struggle. Why go through the latter? Every time your DD sees the baby getting care and snuggles, and her being told to do something, she is going to feel left out. I would anticipate that and whenever possible, show her that you are prioritizing her needs and care, even just for a moment.

Good luck!
post #14 of 25
Oh Sora.... I have SO been in your shoes. It's NOT easy! I have a few suggestions, maybe there will be something that will work for your family. All the other posters have had such GREAT idea's! A few that I may have to borrow...lol.

First off- You need to give You, DD and DH time. This is a MAJOR adjustment, and all parties involved need to Breathe! After the birth of a new one we have always had a rule to slow down and tune down. Meaning we slow down all the "outside" activities ie. park, school, store, life and spend some much needed time loving each other. This may only take a day or two, or a weekend. Spend the time SLEEPING and Focusing on ALL of you. You sound like you need some time for YOU, but you also need to spend some Fun and Quality time with DD1 Sometimes a simple Mommy & Big Sister spa day (in your bathroom/bedroom) can work wonders for little girls, and mommy's! Your DD has gone from only child/baby role to Big Sister and sccared. You need to switch gears and allow her the time to proccess that, but to also fill her head with ideas of what Big Sisters get to do! Like Spa Days, and Helping with Baby, Cook Assistant....and make a Big Deal out of it. I would also suggest that you tone down your voice. Yelling will only make YOU more upset. Doesn't do any good for DD either, but I have found the more I yell, the more upset I am, and the more I'm "on edge" and waiting for the next "episode" with one of the kids. It's like the yelling bews more yelling in my brain. And, having a newly Mommie-ed brain it will be MORE so. TRY as best as you can to just "Let Go" and not get so worked up to yell. It's not easy, and I'm not trying to imply that that's an easy thing!

Second thing- After a new baby is born we have always "Expected" our kids to regress. We EXPECT them to want to nurse, to want to be fed at the table, to want to be dressed...you get the point. I found after my 2nd was born that if I expceted my DS to totally regress then I was pleased when he behaved better than I thought. Like if he got dressed when I asked him to (and am thinking that he won't) then I'm HAPPY that he did as I asked. Make sure that you Compliment her when she behaves the way you WANT her to! That's a big thing with kids- if you are constantly catching the "negative" they will be more magnatized to the negative...try to catch her being Positive, and make note of it! Maybe it will help you both to loosen some of the rules for a while- IMHO it's easier to deal with Whining later than dealing with Whining, Tantrum, Screaming, Hysterical ALL at once.

Third thing- TALK. Talk to her about what you KNOW. "DD I know it's HARD to tell mom that your tired. I KNOW. I HEAR YOU. I Do, I HEAR YOU" you would be surprised at how often THAT sentance can help. When she's freaking out and crying "SAD" Start talking! Take that opportunity to hold/hug her and say "I know you are SAD. I hear you. You are SAD that we are arguing. Let's stop. Let's calm down and talk. OK? Let Mommy hold you and let's calm down." After she's calm, then you talk about what's going on. Tell her that YOU are scared when she's out of controll, ask if she's scared too. You will be surprised at her answers She's trying to communicate with you, but she isn't sure how to yet. Take that oppertunity to talk to her. Once the "moment" is over and she's calm and has had a cuddle and a snack- then talk again. Talk the next day- "Do you know how upset you got yesterday? Do you remember what you were feeling? I know you were SAD that mommy couldn't understand you. I know that you were hungry. I know that Baby needed to nurse, and you were upset. Next time let's talk before you get upset. Next time you feel SAD say "Mommy I feel SAD." and then mommy will try to help you, before you have a melt down and get scared." I know it's a lot of talking, but it Honestly worked WONDERS for my 2yr old.

Last- sorry for the ramble...... You need to pick and choose your battles. No pants and open window? Not worth it. Putting something into the wall socket- Worth it! If she's doing something you don't LIKE- take a DEEP Breath and ask if it's 1-Dangerous? 2-REALLY that bad? 3-WORTH the fight RIGHT NOW? If the answer NO- then say something like "DD it would be nice if you could close the window. Mommy's Cold." "Can you help me?" and if she does- thank her- if not....it's not the end of the world. Talk about it later AFTER she's eaten something.
That's something else, I understand that you didn't want her to snack before dinner- but if she's Primed for a Meltdown- feed her. Put in a Movie (if you hardly ever watch them) Distract her from her current mode of explosion. Food and Sleep need to be Priority #1. Even if she doesn't eat a whole lot of dinner.

Having a new baby is so hard. Having a baby when you already have a little one can be so rewarding, but so trying and exhaustive. Take a step back and look at what's important. Make those things your priority and allow for mistakes. Try not to give DD1 or DD2 any lables- because they only make things worse. Look for the positive. Hang in there, and remember This Too Shall Pass (and keep telling yourself that in those moments)!
post #15 of 25
One other thing. Get the move/dvd collection called "Bounce" This movie has helped my kids TREMENDOUSLY! The DVD is geared for Austic kids- they sing about routines, emotions, let's talk- things like that. The songs REALLY help. My DD (4yrs) needed these and they have a song "Help Me" and we sing it Everytime she is stuck and it will gently remind her to ask for help. WAY worth the money- check it out! Spectrum Connections
post #16 of 25
Originally Posted by sora View Post
Snack is so important. Unfortunately, today, no snack was in the fridge. Also I wanted to fix dinner right after nursing. If she snacks right before dinner, she often won't eat dinner. But I would've given her an apple at least.
Would you say with the highly difficulty child, that I should pick a battle, instead of fighting over every issue, which is so exhausting. For example, should I have stopped nursing and putting down the crying baby and got her pants or closed the window because she is tired and cranky? I try to be consistent but it's not easy.
I wouldn't have worried about either of these things. She took her pants off like she was supposed to. She didn't feel like getting new points....no biggie. Suggest she can close the window IF SHE FEELS COLD. If not, her choice.
post #17 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the replies. How about this?
This morning, she feels cranky as usual. threw another fit. She had a glass of juice and wants to drink it with a spoon, but she insists that I get her one. I know she can and she has done it before. She often asks me to do everything for her. I used to do that for her to avoid conflicts but that seems to spoil her and also it makes my life much harder as I have to take care of two "babies".
Also, this morning, I asked her to pick up her clothes she took off and she wouldn't do it. I left the room saying if she does not want to do it then, she can do it later,but it should be done. If she does not do it, she won't go to a play group. But she keeps ignoring it. I am very tempted to pick them up myself, but I feel that that's not right. She needs to learn how to tidy up her room. How can I encourage her to do more things herself?

By the way, she was like this even before the baby. So I don't think it has to do so much with the baby. It was my parenting that was at fault I think. I did a lot of things for her to avoid tantrums.
post #18 of 25
Thread Starter 
I also did not think the closing the window or putting the clothes is the issue. It was her tone - whining. That whining really drives me insane.
post #19 of 25
Wow. I actually looked at your username to see if it was one of my posts that was bumped from several months ago!

We worked really hard on this and a few things helped:

* reading and implementing ideas from "Raising Your Spirited Child." When I say "implementing ideas," I mean both in terms of actual strategies, but also changing my own and DH's mindsets about DD's behavior and reactions
* cutting way way down on sugar and making sure she's eating regularly and getting lots of healthy fats and proteins (in other words, not replacing "sugar" with empty carbs)

Good luck with this. Babe's crying or I'd write more.
post #20 of 25
MY DD is 5 and she doesn't care about negative consequences...so, in that situation, she would not pick up her clothes and then we would both be stuck at home and I would just get angrier.

To be specific--I would have a longer deadline. DD and I give her room a quick tidying up before bedtime each night. That works pretty well.

I think you're both in a special situation with this new baby, and I wonder if you should look at your days and expectations and see if there is any way you can set things up so that you have fewer conflicts. Maybe lower your expectations some for now...focus on the three of you relaxing and finding a new routine?

Get organized so snacks and drinks are somewhere she can help herself, come up with a routine for cleaning, turn your nursing time into family snuggles on the couch time, come up with ways for her to help you with making dinner/setting the table, or special ways she can help with the baby since now she is a big 4 year old girl...
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