4 Year Old Discipline and Abnormal Behavior - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 07-14-2014, 02:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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4 Year Old Discipline and Abnormal Behavior

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#2 of 14 Old 07-14-2014, 03:14 PM
 
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Wow. I admire you for not having quit yet.

I have bipolar; I'm almost 30 and I've only been violent like that a few times in my life (not enough to count on one hand), not every day, but it is different for different people and it usually starts in teens, I've heard - for me it started when I was 17. I am guessing what she has is more serious, though I am not a therapist or doctor and I am not qualified to diagnose her.

Does her mother understand that her safety is at risk when she runs away from you, and your safety appears to be at risk when she attacks you repeatedly?

Have you talked with her mother about her daughter's diet? I don't know much about this but I've read a little about positive behavior changes when certain foods are eliminated. Reducing screen time could also help.

I will pray for you and that girl and her family and I hope improvements happen soon somehow.

May God bless you and His Blessed Mother Mary keep you!  :-)

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#3 of 14 Old 07-14-2014, 05:57 PM
 
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Get this book and use the methods in it:

http://alankazdin.com/the-kazdin-met...test-of-wills/

Recommend that the parents do the same. But you might be able to improve her conduct around you even the the parents don't adopt the methods and continue to have problems.

Very good news that she acts like an angel around some people.
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#4 of 14 Old 07-14-2014, 06:11 PM
 
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That sounds like a child who either feels very out of control in her own life (instability, lack of boundaries, lack of respect given to her autonomy/desires, lack of sincere connection), and/or a child with food intolerances. Sensitivities to gluten, dairy, food dyes, etc, can cause extreme behavior.



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#5 of 14 Old 07-14-2014, 09:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That sounds like a child who either feels very out of control in her own life (instability, lack of boundaries, lack of respect given to her autonomy/desires, lack of sincere connection), and/or a child with food intolerances. Sensitivities to gluten, dairy, food dyes, etc, can cause extreme behavior.
She does have some issues at home. Her parents are divorced and she moves around a lot so she doesn't have very much stability.
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#6 of 14 Old 07-14-2014, 09:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by tadamsmar View Post
Get this book and use the methods in it:

http://alankazdin.com/the-kazdin-met...test-of-wills/

Recommend that the parents do the same. But you might be able to improve her conduct around you even the the parents don't adopt the methods and continue to have problems.

Very good news that she acts like an angel around some people.
Do you know why she might be well behaved around some people but not so much around others? It seems like the longer she knows someone and the closer she is to them, the worse her behavior becomes. I just don't understand why.
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#7 of 14 Old 07-14-2014, 09:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow. I admire you for not having quit yet.

I have bipolar; I'm almost 30 and I've only been violent like that a few times in my life (not enough to count on one hand), not every day, but it is different for different people and it usually starts in teens, I've heard - for me it started when I was 17. I am guessing what she has is more serious, though I am not a therapist or doctor and I am not qualified to diagnose her.

Does her mother understand that her safety is at risk when she runs away from you, and your safety appears to be at risk when she attacks you repeatedly?

Have you talked with her mother about her daughter's diet? I don't know much about this but I've read a little about positive behavior changes when certain foods are eliminated. Reducing screen time could also help.

I will pray for you and that girl and her family and I hope improvements happen soon somehow.
Her mother is aware of everything (she acts the same way at home.) I shall ask about her diet-- I haven't even thought of this as a factor yet. I think she is acting out to gain attention, but she does it in a very extreme way that worries me.
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#8 of 14 Old 07-14-2014, 10:09 PM
 
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First and foremost, you want to "catch her being good" and reinforce that. Mainly use social reinforcement, positive attention: get close, touch, be enthusiastic almost to the point of bowling her over (the limit varies per kid), do this as a immediate reaction to wanted behavior, do it often for specific good behaviors at first (lots of reinforced practice at first), don't caboose criticism on the end (no "but..."), be specific, not "Good job", say specifically what you saw to let her know you noticed, ask questions about what she did to show interest. Don't wait for perfection, reinforce mere acceptable behavior, reinforce the smallest step in the right direction. Reinforce the positive opposite of common unwanted behaviors. Use social reinforcement in reaction to wanted behavior even if you induced the wanted behavior by some means like an offer of a tangible reward.

Reading your post, the only time you mention her being good is that she acts like an angel around others. Perhaps you did not mention all the times she engages in wanted or merely acceptable behavior if even for a brief period. Anyway if that is all there is, then reinforce that wanted behavior when you catch it happening. Don't just say "you acted like an angel", too generic. Watch and notice specifically what she did and talk about that, show you noticed, ask questions.

If there is not enough good behavior just happening, you can try prompting to get it going. Get close, touch, give the prompt, don't use a question or a question inflection. "Please brush your teeth" for instance. If you prompt more than 3 times without results, stop and use a different strategy, too much prompting is nagging, no nagging. You can also use a form like "You can come back and play more after you brush your teeth" well before bedtime so there is time for her to play more.

You can also use tangible rewards like reward charts to get a behavior going, learn about this in the Kazdin Method book. If you use tangible reinforcement, also use social reinforcement, fade out the tangible reinforcement after the habit is established and fade out the social reinforcement from always to occasional.

Use reinforcement at least 10 times more than you use punishment.

Never use punishment or time-out for anything that is harmless in the short run and can be ignored. Just pretend to ignore, look away, get up and walk away. Pick up the cat and walk away. If you need to monitor then stay in the same room and watch out of the corner of your eye. Come back when she does something good or acceptable or after 4 or 5 minutes. Sometimes a kid will get worse at first when you start pretending to ignore, but will start improving after a few days. If the behavior regularly gets worse in a way that you can't ignore, then give up on this strategy for that particular behavior. Kazdin give instructions on pretend games you can use to turn harmful tantrums into "good" harmless tantrums that can be ignored.

Sometimes you can be subtle about planned ignoring, just look away, kind of shut down, watch out of the corner of your eye, don't re-engage till she does something wanted or at least acceptable

Give all those toys on the shelf back to her now. Never take a toy away for a long period. Keep all consequences short. End them the same day they start or the next morning, never longer than the next full day. Long restrictions work no better and they are counter-productive to boot because they just breed resentment.

Give up on the traditional time-out with relocation till you read Kazdin on how to get cooperation from a defiant kid. You can teach a kid to go to time-out and reinforce it with social and tangible rewards. Time-out works even if you reward each well-executed time-out.

Avoid the battles of will. Don't threaten time-out or consequences like taking away toys, just do it immediately when warranted. Let your actions do most of the talking when you have to react to unwanted behavior that can't be ignored. Don't get sucked into a debate about applying consequences, just proceed and pretend to ignore her reactions if they are harmless in the short run. Applying consequences immediately in response to unwanted behavior without threats is one way to make mild consequences more effective. As I pointed out, making consequences have a longer duration does not make them more effective.

Since the kid's behavior is kind of extreme, you might want to encourage her mom to talk to her pediatrician about it. Some professional guidance would be a good idea.

Last edited by tadamsmar; 07-15-2014 at 06:50 AM.
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#9 of 14 Old 07-14-2014, 10:27 PM
 
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Originally Posted by hazelbear View Post
Do you know why she might be well behaved around some people but not so much around others? It seems like the longer she knows someone and the closer she is to them, the worse her behavior becomes. I just don't understand why.
Typically, it would be something about the pattern of interactions. She is getting some kind of positive feedback from some people. She has the Patterson coercion cycle going with others, I guess it takes some interaction time to get that vicious cycle going. Here's informaton on the Patterson coercion cycle and how to break the cycle:

http://www.pendletonpsych.com/doc/pa...cive-cycle.pdf

Anyway it's common, even universal, that kid's act differently around different adults. I think most adults don't notice it. My 5 yo grand-daughter whines all the time around her mom and never even attempts to whine around us. Her mother inadvertently reinforces it, so the kid gets lots of reinforced practice of whining. Her mom usually ends up hugging her after giving her face-time and attention and saying "no whining". We would just pretend to completely ignore it, but it never even happens. Other things, like spitting out food, she tries on us, but not whining. I think probably other adults in her life ignore whining, so she quickly put us in that category, or maybe she does not want us coming over and hugging her all the time like she does with her mom. She has to compete for attention with her younger brother.

Anyway it's good news that she can act like an angel. It's not so much something wrong with her brain that can't be addressed by a better pattern of interactions.
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#10 of 14 Old 07-15-2014, 05:43 AM
 
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Do you know why she might be well behaved around some people but not so much around others? It seems like the longer she knows someone and the closer she is to them, the worse her behavior becomes. I just don't understand why.
Strangers and people outside the family will tend to not comment on and pretend to ignore a misbehaving kid in front of their parents out of politeness. I know I am prone to do this. So misbehaving gets no attention from the stranger. Strangers will give a well-behaved kid attention in the same circumstance. Attention is typically rewarding to kids, so they typically seek it out by choosing behaviors that get attention. Acting like an angel serves the function of getting attention in this circumstance.
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#11 of 14 Old 07-15-2014, 02:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by tadamsmar View Post
First and foremost, you want to "catch her being good" and reinforce that. Mainly use social reinforcement, positive attention: get close, touch, be enthusiastic almost to the point of bowling her over (the limit varies per kid), do this as a immediate reaction to wanted behavior, do it often for specific good behaviors at first (lots of reinforced practice at first), don't caboose criticism on the end (no "but..."), be specific, not "Good job", say specifically what you saw to let her know you noticed, ask questions about what she did to show interest. Don't wait for perfection, reinforce mere acceptable behavior, reinforce the smallest step in the right direction. Reinforce the positive opposite of common unwanted behaviors. Use social reinforcement in reaction to wanted behavior even if you induced the wanted behavior by some means like an offer of a tangible reward.

Reading your post, the only time you mention her being good is that she acts like an angel around others. Perhaps you did not mention all the times she engages in wanted or merely acceptable behavior if even for a brief period. Anyway if that is all there is, then reinforce that wanted behavior when you catch it happening. Don't just say "you acted like an angel", too generic. Watch and notice specifically what she did and talk about that, show you noticed, ask questions.

If there is not enough good behavior just happening, you can try prompting to get it going. Get close, touch, give the prompt, don't use a question or a question inflection. "Please brush your teeth" for instance. If you prompt more than 3 times without results, stop and use a different strategy, too much prompting is nagging, no nagging. You can also use a form like "You can come back and play more after you brush your teeth" well before bedtime so there is time for her to play more.

You can also use tangible rewards like reward charts to get a behavior going, learn about this in the Kazdin Method book. If you use tangible reinforcement, also use social reinforcement, fade out the tangible reinforcement after the habit is established and fade out the social reinforcement from always to occasional.

Use reinforcement at least 10 times more than you use punishment.

Never use punishment or time-out for anything that is harmless in the short run and can be ignored. Just pretend to ignore, look away, get up and walk away. Pick up the cat and walk away. If you need to monitor then stay in the same room and watch out of the corner of your eye. Come back when she does something good or acceptable or after 4 or 5 minutes. Sometimes a kid will get worse at first when you start pretending to ignore, but will start improving after a few days. If the behavior regularly gets worse in a way that you can't ignore, then give up on this strategy for that particular behavior. Kazdin give instructions on pretend games you can use to turn harmful tantrums into "good" harmless tantrums that can be ignored.

Sometimes you can be subtle about planned ignoring, just look away, kind of shut down, watch out of the corner of your eye, don't re-engage till she does something wanted or at least acceptable

Give all those toys on the shelf back to her now. Never take a toy away for a long period. Keep all consequences short. End them the same day they start or the next morning, never longer than the next full day. Long restrictions work no better and they are counter-productive to boot because they just breed resentment.

Give up on the traditional time-out with relocation till you read Kazdin on how to get cooperation from a defiant kid. You can teach a kid to go to time-out and reinforce it with social and tangible rewards. Time-out works even if you reward each well-executed time-out.

Avoid the battles of will. Don't threaten time-out or consequences like taking away toys, just do it immediately when warranted. Let your actions do most of the talking when you have to react to unwanted behavior that can't be ignored. Don't get sucked into a debate about applying consequences, just proceed and pretend to ignore her reactions if they are harmless in the short run. Applying consequences immediately in response to unwanted behavior without threats is one way to make mild consequences more effective. As I pointed out, making consequences have a longer duration does not make them more effective.

Since the kid's behavior is kind of extreme, you might want to encourage her mom to talk to her pediatrician about it. Some professional guidance would be a good idea.
Thanks for all the tips! I shall start using some of these ideas and share them with her mother as well, especially the "catch her being good" idea.

The main problem with this is that she has very little stability. Because her parents are divorced, she is passed back and forth between two houses, which translates into two different sets of rules and expectations. I have no idea what her life is like at her father's house because I only babysit on the weekends for her mother. I do know that her father isn't exactly the best influence though...he drinks a lot. From the things her mother says about the father, I get the impression that she picks up a lot of her language and behavior from her father.
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#12 of 14 Old 07-15-2014, 04:46 PM
 
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Thanks for all the tips! I shall start using some of these ideas and share them with her mother as well, especially the "catch her being good" idea.

The main problem with this is that she has very little stability. Because her parents are divorced, she is passed back and forth between two houses, which translates into two different sets of rules and expectations. I have no idea what her life is like at her father's house because I only babysit on the weekends for her mother. I do know that her father isn't exactly the best influence though...he drinks a lot. From the things her mother says about the father, I get the impression that she picks up a lot of her language and behavior from her father.
Kids can handle two different sets of rules and expectations. And it's no that big a problem if she picked up some of the problem behaviors you described at her dad's, kids can learn to act differently in different environments.

But, nothing I have recommended is a solution if the kid that is depressed or emotionally disturbed due to a drunken abusive father. The only advice I have for that is that the mom should seek help from a professional
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#13 of 14 Old 07-16-2014, 03:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Kids can handle two different sets of rules and expectations. And it's no that big a problem if she picked up some of the problem behaviors you described at her dad's, kids can learn to act differently in different environments.

But, nothing I have recommended is a solution if the kid that is depressed or emotionally disturbed due to a drunken abusive father. The only advice I have for that is that the mom should seek help from a professional
You are awesome! I babysat again this morning for about two hours and I implemented a couple of your tips. I let more things slide than usual, gave her all the toys back, and tried to focus on her good behaviors. I noticed an improvement from her usual behavior. She still screamed and hit when I asked her to clean up, but it did not end in the usual drawn out fight.

I also informed her mother of some of the things you said (her poor mother is at the end of her rope) and she said she will start trying them out. Thanks to everyone who provided information!
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#14 of 14 Old 07-20-2014, 06:34 PM
 
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Do you know why she might be well behaved around some people but not so much around others? It seems like the longer she knows someone and the closer she is to them, the worse her behavior becomes. I just don't understand why.
I would say that this is true for a lot, if not most kids. Maybe you're seeing an extreme version of it in her, though. But a lot of parents say that their kid is an angel at daycare, then when they come home are absolutely awful. And in those situations it's likely that when they are with someone they trust and feel safe with, they are able to let it all out, vent the frustrations from the day, knowing that they are with someone safe who will love them even when they freak out. I'm not sure if that's what's happening here; the situation seems more complex, but just something to consider.



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