Hello. This is my first real post, so please excuse any snafus on my part.
My 4yo daughter never seems satisfied at home. She complains and whines about everything.
Our biggest struggle, however, is the morning routine. My husband and I are both full-time teachers, so our day starts a little earlier than many families'. We need to leave the house at 7:00am. 6:50 would actually be better. We never leave on time. DH and I wake up at 5:20. We each have a few chores to do and then we eat. One of us jumps in the shower and the other tries to rouse DD1 - the 4yo - at about 6:15. We let DD2 keep sleeping. She's easy to dress at the last minute (16 mo.) DD1 hates to wake up. She only needs to use the bathroom, get dressed and brush her teeth and hair before we leave. Breakfast is served at daycare, and she can have a snack in the car if she wants one. She won't get up. She cries and whines. She won't choose when given choices (bathroom first or clothes?), but gets angry if she can't control the situation. We can't make deals with her (we'll read a book and then you have to get dressed) because she breaks them, and then we're running even later. We've tried to move her bedtime back, but she just doesn't seem tired. Lights out is at 8:15, but sometimes she's still awake long after 9:00. They nap at daycare from 1-3, and I think she sleeps most days.
She's great at daycare, and I've heard of no chronic problems. She's also great when she's with my parents. With us, however, the complaining seems constant. It feels as if that's all she does with us. She doesn't want us to do what we're doing the way we're doing it. She rarely throws full-on tantrums; she doesn't throw herself on the floor. Instead she whines and cries. We feel like no strategies are successful, and that we'll just need to ride this out.
Somehow none of this seems to sound as bad in this description as it feels in real life. Any thoughts?
Put her to bed in comfortable clothes so you can skip the getting dressed part of the morning? My ds hated having to do things fast in the morning. When he was in preschool, I needed to have him up an hour before we left so he could slooowwlly eat a few bites of food. He slept in clothes and I don't think we brushed his hair (or teeth) because it was short. Our only goal was getting him to eat breakfast and he never felt like eating until he was awake a while.
Oh yes, for sure dress her in her "tomorrow clothes" the night before. Make everything as smooooth as possible. Heck, you can even brush her hair out before bed, and put it in a pony tail... sometimes it stays in well enough for the next day. Or consider a cute short hair-do??? Maybe you could even lift her out of bed straight onto the toilet for the "morning pee"? I guess what I'm saying is just make everything as easy as possible for her.
Mornings suck, we all deserve to be babied in the morning (can you tell I'm the grumpy one usually, lol?).
Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010
My DD started doing this at 7 yrs old, now 8. Nothing was right int he morning. Here is what I did and things have improved 100%.
1. Gave her the power to make choices, but ahead of time. We made a list of what she would eat for breakfast and the shoes she would wear for each day of the week. She wears a uniform to school, so that part was a no brainer. She complains about the uniform, but oh well. If you child wears regular school clothes, buy a closet organizer with the days of the week, or hang them up with day of the week tags and decide on Sunday for the week. Explain to her that she gets to choose on Sunday, but nothing can be changed for the rest of the week. She may fight that at first, but she should eventually settle in. If there are any changes made, it should only be between the days and nothing added or subtracted, and changes should be very rare.
2. As someone else suggested, wake her up earlier for more "lag" time. I had my daughter on an egg timer, and she hated it. I kept saying, if you don't want the timer, then you have to get up earlier. Eventually, she made her own decision and now gets up 30 minutes earlier. No more timer, and she moves pretty good on her own. She also likes to get to school earlier to have time to talk before school starts and is upset if we leave 5 minutes later than normal.
We shake hands on the lists each week and agree that we will work together and keep our word to each other to follow the lists. Any changes to the list can be made the next week, and she knows that, so she is more agreeable to follow the list knowing that we can change what doesn't work the next week.
Now I understand that your daughter is only 4, so some of this might not work as well or may take longer, but hopefully some of this will help you or give you ideas.
Thanks for the suggestions. I think that the situation really is more frustrating than I make it sound. We really feel stuck. I said that she doesn't throw full-on tantrums, but to say that she's whining doesn't really capture it either. If I pick her up and take her to the toilet, she will flail and kick and yell. Her first word when I walk in in the morning is, "Nooooooooooooo!" She always wants the opposite of what's happening. If I pick her up and take her into the bathroom, she wanted to walk. "Put me down! I'll do it myself!" If I don't pick her up when she wants to be picked up she wails. She'll tell me to go away, and as I start walking away, she cries, "Mommy! Come back! I want to be with you!" One morning, she told me to give her space on the potty, "Back up!" Then she immediately called me back, "Mommy! Come closer! I want you!" Then she immediately told me to back up again, and when I did, told me to get closer AGAIN!
Mamazee - She's totally the type that needs to thaw in the morning. I've tried opening her door while I pack lunches and eat breakfast to see if the noise will rouse her slowly. Usually she sleeps right through it. If I give her some warnings while I do those chores, it doesn't seem to help. She just really doesn't want to be awake before 7, but there's nothing I can do about that. My hands are tied.
4evermom and pianojazzgirl - I'd consider dressing her before bed if I thought she'd still be wearing clothes when she woke up! She puts on PJ's before bed and wakes up in her underwear most mornings. Often the PJ's are off as soon as the light is. As for her hair, I don't know why I bother to comb it in the first place. It won't hold any kind of shape. If she moves her head to the side, her part falls out. She has very fine hair, and it always looks like I don't brush it. Maybe I should just stop bothering.
sunshine01 - I could try laying out the week's clothes. Things do tend to go a little bit better if the clothes are already picked out. It would simply require that my husband and I stay organized enough to remember to do that. A timer might work too. I pointed out to her that reading books was supposed to start at 7:30 by showing her the big hand nearing the 6 the other night. When she came back into the room a few minutes later and looked at the clock, she turned to her dad and said, "We're supposed to be reading now!" She actually had a sense of urgency in her voice, for once.
Thanks for the suggestions and the sympathy!
Honestly, she must be exhausted in the morning. If she's going to bed so late then getting up that early must be horrible for her. I would talk to daycare and get them to drop the nap. A nap for that long, that late in the afternoon must completely mess up bedtime.
I second giving her time to wake up and do nothing in the morning. What would happen if you woke her up and left the room so she could come to slowly? Or even if you picked her up and carried her to the couch and put on a programme for her to watch?
I don't know if this is feasible, but I've been known to prewarm ds's clothes (we have a space heater that I set them on for a few minutes). He's quick to get dressed because he enjoys getting them on while they are still warm.
4 is just a really hard age for some kids... If her hair's not actually getting tangled, I'd not bother brushing it for now. You can bring a brush in the car and let her decide.
My dd went through about 6 weeks at exactly 4.5 when she was impossible about everything. Then she suddenly snapped out of it. I don't know how long this has been going on, but maybe it's a phase or period of disequilibrium?
Also, that nap seems really long for a 4 year old. Maybe she's not tired enough at night to go to sleep, but that means she isn't getting enough deep sleep during the night?
Finally, my dd isn't exactly a morning person either. What's worked best for me is to refuse to fight about it. The age-old: "I'm not going to fight about it. We're leaving in 30 minutes and if you're not dressed I guess you'll go in your pajamas." I haven't had to take her in her pajamas yet, but I wouldn't hesitate to do it. She also likes to pack her lunch, so sometimes it works to say "If you want to pack your lunch, you need to get dressed super fast!" So maybe in your example of trading a book for getting dressed, you could try flipping it around to "if you get dressed super fast, we'll have time to read a book!"
For some reason, my kids get up feeling better when they have an alarm clock. Not sure why, but if it works I'm not going to complain. I suspect it makes them feel more in control of getting up. They seem to like the snooze button lol. You also might want to check at night and see if she's snoring at all; it's not uncommon for kids to be out of synch with their tonsils and get some mild apnea going on. My eldest daughter is on nasonex to help with this, when she takes it her nightwaking, nightmares, insomnia and morning grumpiness are all dramatically reduced or non-existant. When my 6yo gets all defiant/whiny/uncooperative, we smile, nod, stop talking and start just doing it for her. She knows the routine; we've written it down and went over it with her. There is built in play time if she's fast, and she misses it if she's not. She gets to help make her lunch if she's fast, she takes what she gets if she's not.
I found 4yo to be a really difficult age for both my children, but I agree that the long naps and resulting late bedtime my be contributing to your difficulties. I would consider reducing the nap to an hour and putting her to bed at 7pm or eliminate it all together and move the bedtime up to 6pm. I have a Sunset Dimmer to help ds get to sleep and there are products that do the opposite, or both http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005LB9U04.
My sister did this with her children.
Thanks to everyone for the advice. Some things have improved over the past few weeks. We've been taking the suggestion about picking out the entire week's worth of clothing, and I think that helps. When I go into her room, I say good morning, ask for a kiss, put the clothes on the bed and say, "I'm getting in the shower. Daddy's here to help you get dressed. I'll be out in a few minutes to help." She's a major Daddy's girl, and there was a time when I would say to her, "Do you want me or Daddy to help you?" with the hope that she'd feel empowered by choices. Picking out the entire week's clothing and just deciding that Daddy's going to help is working better, however. Giving her choices just gives her opportunities to argue or complain. She chose the clothes when she was in a better mood on Sunday, so she can't complain. We all know that she wants Daddy, not me, so she can't complain! My original post focused on the morning issue, but there were a lot of other conflicts during the day at that time. She was saying no to everything. She wanted to whine about everything. "Nooooooo. Not riiiiiiice." I've just been recycling a few short and to the point lines. When she doesn't like what she's offered, I just remind her to say, "No thank you Mama." She's picked up on this and does it pretty willingly when I remind her. When she's not being cooperative, I say, "Do what I ask you to do." It doesn't always work, but I can tell she's making the connection between the current situation and past ones, so I think she's learning. She's more pleasant recently and the mornings are a bit better.
I don't really have any control over the nap at daycare. It's a daycare/preschool for 2-5 year olds, and that's just the schedule they're on.
Anyway, thanks for the advice and sympathy. If things backslide, my next step will be to try the alarm clock suggestion. I could see that working for her.
ITA with this. She's really not getting enough sleep, which accounts for the general whininess and irritability during the day, especially during the morning. (My kids are 6 and almost 4, and they're in bed by 7:30 (and dd4 is usually asleep soon thereafter) and don't wake up until sometime between 6 and 7am. If they're up even an hour late, it's hell to pay the next day!) It's unreasonable that the daycare makes 4 and 5yos take long naps in the afternoon. Can you talk to them about doing "quiet time" or something instead? I understand that it's easier for them if the kids all nap, but it really is messing things up for you and your dd (and, I'm sure, many other parents as well!). You're the paying customer--you get a say in what happens with your child!
Sarah ~ ds X 12/05 ~ dd E 3/08 ~ 7/12
Exactly. 4 and 5 year olds (pre-schoolers) should not be required to keep the schedule of 2 and 3 year olds (toddlers)--their needs are different. Lack of sleep can affect their attitude and behavior throughout the day. I'd probably say that her Dr.said that the nap is interfering with her nighttime sleep which is resulting in behavior problems--I don't think you'd have a problem getting your Dr. to agree if you want back-up.
I know many states require a preschool/daycare to offer a nap and then this lack of sleep issue is created. It is a huge issue at DD2's preschool, and has caused many headaches with the various families. All report similar issues to what you have, long nap time means the child isn't going to bed later and chronic over tiredness causes all sorts of lovely behaviors in what is already challenging age. Kids often will sleep longer at night without a nap then what they will with the nap and bedtime combined. The nap resets their body and they end up with less sleep in a 24 hour period. It may be that you just have to wait out this period until she is in K next year and then there is no nap issue. I have to say that for my family, K can not come soon enough!