what to do with defiant 4 1/2 year old? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 07-21-2004, 01:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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in the last 2 weeks when dd had gotten frustrated and I've tried to redirect her she has hit/kicked/screamed/spat at me.
she is usually lovely and this is the exact opposite. She's also just started name calling. Like if she goes in the room where her brother is sleeping and I say "please be quiet and close the door so he doesn't wake up" she'll look at me with an angry expression and say "Stinky" (but it's more of an "up yours" tone) She also did this yesterday when I asked her to clean up the cup of water she threw across the kitchen.

I've got the discipline book and we've been doing gd since she was a baby. The most effective way of disciplining her has been to make sure she never got too hungry/tired/cranky. Then if she did we'd refuel and maybe do a breathing exercise and it would handle it.

I need a gd way to handle this new behavior. I don't want to do punishment, so the last few weeks we did a thing that if she could talk about being angry/frustrated instead of acting out there would be a reward/treat. I don't know how to handle it if she's monstrous in the morning, then stays together the rest of the day. Should I split up the days and the rewards? Last night she was on such a tear nothing worked, she just screamed on and off for almost an hour.

the screaming and the spitting really push my buttons. I've tried to give her a time out, but she won't stay in one place and will follow me around shrieking. I did not grow up with gd, and if I had even thought of acting this way I'd have a hand print on my face. I know that will not work and would do more damage than good, but it still comes to mind as she's trying to spit in my face.

When she hits, I remind her we only touch gently, act kindly. I try to keep it in the positive.

I need more suggestions/book recommendations.
tia!
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#2 of 5 Old 07-21-2004, 01:18 PM
 
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I'm not one for the whole treat/reward thing personally.

I would suggest trying to take a look at what is triggering the behavior. Take a look back to see if there is a pattern to what's going on (usually there is) It may not just be a matter of tired, hungry, overstimulated. It might be something she's eating/drinking. My oldest started having some major outbreaks around this stage and we found that he had a dairy allergy. Once we did an elimination diet with him (as hard as it was) things shifted greatly. We also found that he would have problems when we used certain cleaners or when certain things were blooming, etc. Some of the allergies were pretty mild and then what would happen is it would all build up. So maybe he could seemingly handle dairy at certain times but then during x time of the year when y pollen was everywhere it was way too much for him.

Have there been any changes in life in the past few weeks that may have triggered this?

Could it be a need for attention too? Sometimes little ones are great with the younger siblings until they hit a certain stage/age and then it's much harder.

As far as the acting out itself....maybe try some things that she could do that would be constructive rather than destructive. Acknowledge her feelings and ask that maybe she draw a picture to show you, make something out of clay, or something along those lines. Give her some other options for releasing her frustrations that would be acceptable. Talking is great but it may not be something she can do (yet) in the moment. So maybe give her some other options to release the feelings and then you could help her to talk about it after.
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#3 of 5 Old 07-21-2004, 07:09 PM
 
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I like ClothCrazyMom's advice!

Just wanted to let you know that you are not alone. My dd1 is a few months older than your daughter, and we occasionally get some of the behaviour you are describing.

When dd1 talks disrespectfully, we tell her that she may tell us that she is angry/upset/etc, but that she needs to tell us in a nice way, and then we can talk about whatever the problem is (then model a polite way to express disagreement).

This never seems to do much at the time, but then she will express disagreement nicely at other times (sometimes!), so I do think it is slowly sinking in.

The following us screaming - that doesn't happen too often, but if she does that, I ask her (or carry her, if she refuses to go) to go to her room, explaining that I know she's upset, but that it isn't fair to everyone else to have to listen to the screaming. That as soon as she's able to tell us without screaming what is wrong, she may come back down.

She will sometimes come back down still screaming! In which case, I just take her back upstairs again and explain that we really do miss her and would like her company, but only when she can stop screaming, as that hurts everyone's ears.

Haven't had to do that in awhile, but back when we were doing that, we sometimes had to carry her back to her room 4-5 times.

I think the trick is to stay calm and give them appropriate ways to express their frustrations/upset/etc. Sometimes dd1 can't process all of that when she is upset - so we revisit things later, talking about better ways to express our feelings/etc.

Hang in there - it will get better!
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#4 of 5 Old 07-22-2004, 01:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks for the responses clothcrazymom and mommiska!
today she was great and we talked about what we could do when she was frustrated instead of acting out, she really liked the idea of making an angry drawing. It's so much easier on the days that go well.

we haven't made any dietary changes-we're all organic and whole foods.
and as for anything going on lately, just a few weeks ago dh commented that it seemed like dd had made a developmental jump--and I think this is the flip side of that. like she's mastering more of her abilities, including her physical and verbal power. she's always been very equal and opposite.
I'm sure I need to hold her more also.

thanks again.
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#5 of 5 Old 07-22-2004, 01:23 PM
 
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Developmental changes can definitely throw everything off. I remember long ago reading Your (whatever applicable age) Year Old series...they were really good for me to remind me of ages and stages and to help key in to some of the developmental changes going on. I can't recommend them for any parenting/discipline advice because I honestly don't even remember any of that part of the books. Just the age and stage stuff. And if I remember right there was a whole thing about developmental changes and behavioral stuff.

Very cool that you two were able to talk. She might be able to come up with some other ideas too for things that she can do that are good ways to release emotions. I know there were times when my kids would draw things (sometimes very angerily) or pound clay or make bread (knead dough), work with beeswax, pound nails, run around and play basketball...lots of different things. Then they would be able to get it out and come back and talk.

Personally....I think it's awesome if children can be given tools to express all their emotions in ways that are workable. I know it took me until I was well into my 30's to gather good tools for dealing with anger and sadness in a way that really worked for me. Sometimes talking just isn't enough too...even when we are older.
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