So my Fiance's daughter is almost 4, and is an absolute angel when im with her alone, ive noticed and read alot about how whiny kids can be at this age and she is the same, if I say something she doesn't like the bottom lip starts to wobble, but as soon as i tell her to calm down and its not so bad etc etc she is fine. BUT when her mom arrives home then things just get crazy, she constantly screams and the "I WANT I WANT" starts, Im not sure if this is an attention thing or a jealousy thing or weather she just thinks she can get away with it. EVERYDAY for a long time now its the same routine with her, she screams the house down so i put her in her room until she calms down, Im in the military and discipline has been hammered into me since i joined at 16, so its quite difficult for me to adjust. This is causing abit of friction between her mum and me because she often gives in when i say no which is really affecting the consistency of things, and the little one knows this and loves to rub it in my face, Basically what i want to know is how do people deal with this constant crying, discipline wise, and when is something too strict. I'm relatively new to this parenting thing so its a big learning curve for me.
Thanks in advance!!
I personally subscribe to gentle discipline methods as I truly believe that a strong relationship will garner the best, most consistent positive behaviour through the years. I believe this because I had a good relationship with my mom and that was the sole reason I kept on track through the years. as a kid and as a teen I never wanted to do anything that would make my mom feel *gulp!* DISAPPOINTED in me!
Even with such a powerful role model, I still struggle to put it into practice sometimes and am still working out the best ways to handle many situations. I have actually posted a few times on the Gentle Discipline forum here for other mommy's advice on specific scenarios as it can be tough sometimes to think through those hot button issues that get you from 0 to 60 in no time flat!
I try to look at each situation and first ask, "Does this really matter?" Maybe she is spreading her toys throughout the house and it is making me feel batty with the mess. Does it really matter? Maybe not. If she is playing happily, leave it alone... she is just being a creative free spirited four yr old. You can always encourage a clean up together later before a snack etc. But maybe you have JUST cleaned the house from top to bottom before having guests over, then I would say it matters more... Then maybe you try to redirect her into a quiet task like colouring that keeps her happy but limits the "toy spread."
Coming from a military background you can probably appreciate the idea that respect is tantamount to making things run smoothly. Gentle parenting runs on the philosophy that children deserve our respect too so we should treat them as if their wants and needs matter too. (Not to be confused with giving in to their every want though!) If you can show them that they are heard and are loved no matter what they do, the respect and compliance you seek will come willingly.
Anyway, big topic for one post. Maybe you can share some scenarios that really bother you and the mamas on here can provide their suggestions for handling?
Consistency is really important in setting limits. You definitely need to be on the same page. You'll have to decide (together) as a team what's not a big deal, and what you will not tolerate, and stick to it like glue. Not all battles are worth fighting, but if you have consistent expectations at home, you should see improvement in the behavior that's driving you nuts.
Hi thanks for your replies!
In answer to your question my partner said she thinks I am too strict sometimes when i put the little one in her bedroom when she starts to scream uncontrolably over the smallest things, But in my opinion she needs to calm down alone in her room until its even worth trying to explain to her why she was naughty etc etc..I guess that she is just alot more sympathetic to her crying, I understand what you mean about thinking to yourself "Does it really matter?" and that made me think alot so thankyou,\ other examples are if she wants her teddybear and its slighty out of reach of her hands instead of move to just pick it up she will scream and expect us to do it for her, which I am completely against, I just think it promotes the idea that we are there to wait on her hand and foot.. but my partner sometimes will just give it her to save the crying, These are the small sorts of things that break up the consistency..
Wife to wonderful DH (8/04) and SAHM to DD1 (4/08) and DD2 (7/13)
She is definitely testing limits and with every test she is analyzing your response and integrating that into information about herself... I find that a playful response at first is a good method. Ie: "C'mon sweetie, the bear is riiiiiiight there if you just reeeeeeeach... " or if she is still resisting I find that I can talk my daughter into getting it "together"... "I am just wiping the counters right now, I can help you get the bear when I am done. Or you can get it yourself right now. Your choice." That way she isn't necessarily bossing me around, she is still participating in the retrieval. (Note that this is something that we still deal with and I am often doing things TOGETHER but the bonding and showing her that I am there for her will pay off... maybe not next week but I am assured by other parents of Gentle Discipline that it produces lovely 5 and 6 year olds!)
As for the screaming, this is one area that I HAVE seen good immediate results... the reason for the screaming might seem trivial to you, but as a little girl it seems huge to her and she isn't yet equipped with the emotional maturity to express her feelings. This is where your modeling comes in. Try not to give in and scream back because it doesn't help her restrain herself in the future if she sees you are also close to the edge on these matters. (I know, I know... sounds idealistic. I am slowly improving on this one, perfection is not expected, just TRY to not yell when you can. :)
Get down eye level and gently take her by the shoulders and ask "Why are you so upset? What is it that is making you feel so sad/mad?" and keep repeating until she can mutter what it is she is upset about. And then repeat it... "You are mad because I won't let you have another cookie?" and she will say yes (if you are reading her right that is). Then you can calmly say "I know you like those cookies, they are my favourite too" (validating her feelings) "And we will have those cookies for snack again tomorrow. We already had two today." and redirect to a new activity that she enjoys.
I have seen it work, my daughter now USUALLY gives up the iPad without too much fuss because I have assured her another turn is coming in the future, I know she likes it, I am not just randomly taking it away never to be seen again!
Kids naturally do a lot of screaming, crying, and other annoying behaviors...unless you teach them better and more effective strategies for expressing themselves. I don't think there's anything wrong with a little time alone if she's totally out of control and needs some chill time to regroup, but for most things, the key is in prevention, not in how you react after the fact. Behavior is a major form of communication--so once you figure out what she's trying to accomplish, and teach her a better way of doing that, you'll get less of the screaming and crying.
A few typical causes of whiny/screamy behavior (in no particular order):
1. Child needs help with something she can't do for herself. (screams out of frustration)
2. Child is trying to communicate something and doesn't feel understood. (screams out of frustration)
3. Transitions (child is doing one thing but it's time to do something else) (screams out of frustration, anger)
4. Child wants something but can't have it.
Some ways to head off the screaming meltdowns:
1. Do you need some help (with that)?
1. Suggest another alternative
1. Do you need help or do you want to do it yourself?
1. When I'm finished with...I'll help you do that.
2. I'm sorry, I didn't understand that.
2. Are you asking me...?
2. Can you say that again? (Use your words)
3. Prepare child ahead of time (we're leaving the house in 5 minutes, it's time to get ready to go home..., reminders of what happens next...always add some extra time into major transitions so the stakes are lower if it takes longer than expected. Countdowns and timers work great for difficult transitions)
4. I'm sorry, but that's not yours... you can have this.
4. I'm sorry, but that's not safe. Let's do this instead...
4. I know you're mad, but you can't...
* All purpose: "I'll listen to you when you aren't screaming", "I can't understand you when you're screaming like that." If it gets a bit much, just walk away, that often stops the screaming real fast (no audience takes the fun out of it)
Basically the goal is to replace the screaming/crying with more socially acceptable methods of communication. So the more you encourage appropriate and effective means of communication, the less screaming and crying there will be.
It's always good to follow up with behavioral information when the child is calm:
I like it when you... (ask nicely, ask for help, use nice words, whatever the child did that was not screaming/crying)
When you...(ask nicely, ask for help, use nice words, whatever the child did that was not screaming/crying) it makes me happy.
Next time when you want to...try (asking nicely, asking for help, using nice words)
When you're debriefing after an incident, it's better to emphasize the behavior you DO want, rather than the behavior you DON'T want.
Oh, and don't reward the screaming/crying by giving in. Ever. That gives her NO incentive to change.
I have no experience with step children, but you should be aware that kids act differently around their parents (especially moms) than around other people. My dh used to be a SAHD and when I came home from work my kids went nuts, and I'm the disciplinarian in our family.
So don't pat yourself on the back yet, maybe she feels comfortable with her mom, that's why she can let it all out, and not because your discipline methods are so much better.
Do you have any children?
I ignore screaming so that it gets no attention, negative, positive or otherwise. When screaming stops, ask "did you say something?" or "Can I help with something?". The reward comes from not screaming. Let her yell til she's blue in the face, once she realizes it gets her nowhere - not even makes you agitated - she won't use that tactic anymore.
Also, it could be useful to create a special place she can go to if she's upset, where she's allowed to scream or cry or be alone. Just putting a pillow in the back of a closet could work, but letting her help create the space would be good.
Yes, to answer your question, I think you are too strict. Consistency isn't everything, and it is perfectly ok to pick something up for a four-year-old, just like it is nice to do a grownup a favour. Sometimes going the easy route can be fine. We are all humans, not machines, and kids are generally intelligent enough that they can learn good behaviour without 100 % consistent pedagogic methods.
As for screaming, have you tried to ask her if she wants to come and sit on your lap when she is crying? She is upset and needs comfort. You can sympathise and give comfort even if you are not going to give her what she wants. Being upset is not naughty, in my opinion. Also, I really think you should not use the word "naughty" about the girl or her actions, it can be harmful her self image.