My 4 1/2 year old DD has been terrible lately! In the past few weeks she has become a different child literally overnight! She has always been so sweet, loving, kind, empathetic, eager to please type of kid. Lately she has the attitude of a teenager! She thinks it is the funniest thing to say swear words, her favorites being sh*t and f***en and a**hole. Now,we dont generally swear at home but we are human and these words have slipped from time to time. I asked her where she heard a**hole and she pointed to me! I said who did i ever say that to and she laughed and said daddy I know I have been giving her the reaction and attention for saying these words, getting mad, taking away a marble(reward system) and I know this is not the way to get her to stop, but at the same time I have an awful hard time just ignoring it, which is what my husband thinks i should do, when i hear such ugly things come out of my sweet little girls mouth, kwim? I got so upset with her yesterday that i actually threatened to put hot sauce on her tongue the next time she swears! Of course i would never actually do this, but shows you how desperate i am. She also has just been really saucy with lots of attitude lately doing things like not answering me when i ask her a question, saying mean things just to get a rise out of me,etc...
So I guess my question is, have any of you dealt with this type of behavior? Have you found anything that works? Any advice would be much appreciated!
It happens to the best of 'em! At some point they start pushing the boundaries. And they always copy the biggest influence. Probably you. I know that's the case for us. I remind myself that anything she's doing that I don't like (attitude, etc.) is simply a reflection of her interpretation of me. (We don't have a tv, so I can eliminate that). I swear, I'm pretty irreverent, react quickly with attitude. And that's what my lil dd is doing sometimes.
As for the swearing, I simply remain "unfazed" and ask her " not to be vulgar." If I accidentally curse in front of her, I immediately apologize to her for being vulgar and tell her that I had no right to speak that way to her. She kind of likes me giving her that respect, even at age 5!
Not a lot of advice to offer, sorry. I am just relieved to read that I am not the only one in this situation. I actually came on here tonight to browse for discussions on exactly this topic. I have ds who will be turning 4 in a couple of weeks and literally for the past 3-4 weeks he has been acting like an entirely different kid, out of the blue. The attitude is unbelievable. I am just trying to stay as calm as I can through it all and hope that it is a phase that will pass (the quicker the better).
Like you said, he has always been a sweet, fun, joy to be with, of course rowdy at times but generally easy to get along with until this past month when suddenly he is incredibly defiant and well, down right nasty at times. And not only that sometimes it seems to not end all day. He has always been an angel at his grandparents house, he's been there so many times since he was a baby and has even spent the night there without us which he loves doing and always asks to stay more nights, then 2 weeks ago when we went to visit he was so rude the entire time, saying, I don't like this, I don't like that, yelling: this is a boring house! Just being crazy. and that is just one example of how things have been going.
I have been attributing some of his recent behavior to cabin fever too, which I kind of hope it is. It has been a long winter and we had some fun out in the snow for the first couple months, but then it just got sooo cold here that the kids don't even like to go outside and then they were sick for a while, we are still recovering so have been laying low, and I know he just has tons of energy to burn. In fact he seems to be much more pleasant when we are out and about doing things and mostly just grumpy and mean when we are at home. But we can't be out all the time.
Anyway, sorry I don't have much advice, but I can relate. Hopefully this is somewhat normal.
Four was a really hard year for me, with my ds. I truly didn't know that it was the year they start pushing the boundaries (as opposed to years 0-3 simply being all lovey and following every simple thing you directed), and that caused me a lot of frustration for ...oh, most of last year. ;)
We got through it and my ds is now 5.5, which is much smoother. However, my dd is now 4 -- and I'm going into it knowing that it is going to be one heck of a year. Knowing that, and not having completely different, unrealistic expectations of the awesomeness of four somehow relieved a lot of the stress of this stage.
Four was/is the year of finding out what happens when Mom says no and I do it anyway .... of finding out what happens when I say whatever's on my mind ("You are STINKY!") to Dad .... of determining exactly what the boundaries are and how far I can push them. This was my experience, anyway. It was a tough year with ds and is already challenging with dd --- and like a pp, cabin fever only intensifies it for our family (upper midwest = 6 months of winter).
Consistency and mutual respect were my lessons from four. Good luck and hang in there. :)
In my experience, 2 year olds test mostly physical boundaries; 3 year olds test control boundaries (just what can I tell mommy to do); 4-5 year olds test social boundaries. I think a lot of us find it easier to deal with a child testing physical boundaries, but we forget that young children are just as ignorant of the social boundaries. Can you bring yourself to see this not through the lens of an adult hearing another adults saying these words, but as an adult who needs to teach a child when these words are (and are not) appropriate? That might help you calm down a bit. Try really hard NOT to see this as 'attitude' in the same way you would from an adult.
I've told my kids that they can use those words, but only for the appropriate reasons. If you drop a rock on your foot, it's OK to say sh*t. If you drop your pencil, it's not. I do say, however, that it's never OK to call someone else these words. That's simply too hurtful.
Your husband is right, ignoring it will work. I would also recommend the book "Playful Parenting" by Larry Cohen. It's got a great section on this kind of thing. His recommendation is that you look at your child and say "Well, that's not my favorite word. But you'd REALLY better not say chartreuse (or any other funny word you can think of that's not offensive)." They will, of course, immediately say "chartreuse". You then can wildly overreact to that "Oh no! You said it! You said chartreuse! I can't believe my ears. That's completely and totally awful. That's the worst word you could possibly say. Do not ever say it again." (And of course they will. And you can ham it up again.) This technique has two advantages -- it gets the child attention for saying a "bad" word (which is what she's looking for), and it's really funny. You will both end up laughing. This laughing will help you bond, and make you both feel better, and reduce the need for her to get attention in a negative way.
P.S. Welcome to MDC!
I would also recommend the book "Playful Parenting" by Larry Cohen. It's got a great section on this kind of thing. His recommendation is that you look at your child and say "Well, that's not my favorite word. But you'd REALLY better not say chartreuse (or any other funny word you can think of that's not offensive)." They will, of course, immediately say "chartreuse". You then can wildly overreact to that "Oh no! You said it! You said chartreuse! I can't believe my ears. That's completely and totally awful. That's the worst word you could possibly say. Do not ever say it again." (And of course they will. And you can ham it up again.) This technique has two advantages -- it gets the child attention for saying a "bad" word (which is what she's looking for), and it's really funny. You will both end up laughing. This laughing will help you bond, and make you both feel better, and reduce the need for her to get attention in a negative way.
This! It totally works! We haven't had a swearing problem, but I've still used the technique. DS was just coming off of a super fun phase of tantrums. And was being a total grump. I just needed to change the mood over...give us both an excuse to hit reset on the atmosphere in the room. So after he was calmed down and we'd had out little chat about being grumpy...I said something like "if I'm being grumpy for no reason, you can tell me, but whatever you do...DON'T CALL ME PICKLE NOSE!!" Changed the whole mood! It's turned into a wierd game--pickle nose, lemon eyeballs, mashed potato teeth, watermelon toes...the wierder the visual, the better. I got an eyeball from my mom when she heard us, until she heard the rules that only DS and I can play that game because friends might think we were being mean.
But yeah on the attitude. I just came on this thread to look for advice on 4 year old 'tude + not listening. Here's hoping it's a short phase!!!
I agree with the Ignore It advice. I've found this is the best approach with DS and it really does resolve behavior. I also know that sometimes things annoy me to the point that even if I ignore it, DS knows with his supe-human preschooler senses, that he's totally p*ssing me off. But if I can keep it together, ignoring it works. Watch a few episodes of Super Nanny and you'll see how invested some of those kids are in getting their parents to display negative behavior, really pushing their buttons, because all people work for positive reasons and those relationships have gotten so twisted that getting your parent to yell/hurt you reinforces that they truly care. It's sad but true, which is why escalating the threats does nothing but damage. Deep breath, ignore, smile, ignore, ignore.
I need to revisit Playful Parenting. I'm just so tired all of the time that it's really hard for me to be playful, and DS exhausts me, but I love the response, "you'd better not calle me chartreuse!" Brilliant.
Queer Parenting since 2007
Love reading all of this because i am so not alone! I had a woman at the grocery store ask me about my sweet daughter and i said she just turned four and she looked at me and said " god help ya!' and kept on walking. i swear a day later i got what she meant!... lol.. I just keep reminding myself that it is just a phase and to remain calm as much as possible, which as we all know is easier said than done sometimes. I do find that ignoring is the best strategy some times but I will def try the whole silly parenting idea :)
Mom to a beautiful little girl ~age 4~ and adorable little boy ~age 3~ and wife to my main squeeze
Two babes in heaven MC 6/23/10 at 8 weeks, MC 2/24/11 at 8 weeks, MC 3/2012 at 8 weeks ~ Praying for a baby ~
Another suggestion for the swearing that I have good results from is just to very calmly say "that is potty language. Go swear in the bathroom." Every time. The first couple of times they will go into the bathroom and swear their hearts out thinking "woo hoo I'm getting away with this" but it gets boring fast when they are not getting a reaction from you. Just the calm response to go take your potty mouth to the bathroom. They may even send you if they catch you. Once they get over the reaction seeking you can talk later about when/if swearing is acceptable.
Good luck. Four is my least favourite age. It makes me wish that having children was like leasing a car - keep it for 4 years then trade it in on a brand new model They start getting human again around 6 or 7.