Should I just let her run away and live at the store?? (4 yo issues) - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-20-2012, 02:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I can laugh now, because I'm sitting alone, in the quiet, by myself...but seriously you guys, my four year old is breaking me down so hard.

The lying. The sneakiness. The manipulative behavior. The emotional volatility!! AAHHH!

Today she was so rude and mean to me all morning and in the grocery store that I had to tell her that no she would NOT be getting a cookie when we went through the bakery...I was calm, explained that she knows the drill, rude children do not get cookies at the bakery! She lost it. Wouldn't follow me, stopped right there and started yelling at me that she was running away to live at the grocery store. "Where on earth will you sleep!" I said. "RIGHT THERE!" she answered, pointing to a display of budweiser 30 packs. "Oh, okay, well who is going to cook food for you!?"  She glared at me "I know how to cook, I will make eggs and bacon and eat juice, because I know where they keep it!!" I tried not to laugh. "Won't you be lonely without your mama and dada to read to you and tuck you in." I asked her. She shook her head "I will make friends with the store people. I don't want you as a mama anymore." - this is a regular thing at the grocery store lately. I spend ENORMOUS amounts of time, during our weekly trip, talking her down, being yelled at by her...asking her to "please come back here and stop running away" or listening to her cry and tell me how terrible I am because I've strapped her into the cart for being naughty. Our 1-1.5 hour trip is lasting about 30 minutes longer on average due to the constant issues with her. My helper is gone...my lead weight with extreme emotional issues has replaced her!

 

Kicking and screaming, doing things she KNOWS are BIG no-no's and then lying and blaming her brother. Making huge messes. Saying hurtful things or doing things that are very naughty and then laughing in my face...melting down over really crazy things...I think it's all really typical behavior for her age, but it's making everything SO hard right now.

 

I have a newborn girl and a 2.5 year old son and my four year old daughter. My four year old is currently my most difficult child...by a LONG shot. Up until very recently she has been an enormous help, constant buddy and a pleasure to be around at just about all times. So, yeah, I get that I'm taking my lumps now and that this will pass...but I wonder:

What are some tips for a mom who is trying to get through this phase and get out on the other side in the best possible shape?

So far my tactics have been:

- keep as calm as possible, even in the face of extremely annoying shit.

- take her feelings seriously and try to help her flush them out and make sense of them ("You don't love me at all" - "What makes you think that!" "You won't even give me a yogurt snack" - "Well honey, that doesn't mean I don't love you, that means I want you to finish the yummy lunch I just made for you that is still on your plate before I feed you something else" - that type of stuff).

- Giving her space and a lone time when she says she needs it (this is a new thing with her "I need space and peace right now" - I ALWAYS respect that, I hope that respect pays off, because sometimes she asks for "Space and peace" when it's not at all convenient for me to stop what I'm doing and "make" that for her!)

 

 

So yeah. I'm really struggling with not getting angry when she lies. I know, I know...it's normal....it's also getting REALLY old at this point. She lies about things that are sneaky, but also about things that are CLEARLY not true. Like I watched her hit her brother...then she looked at me, held her face and was like "ben hit me" as her brother comes running to me with a big red mark on him that she knows I just watched her put on him. Its crazy.

 

What are some tricks and tips you mamas who have BTDT care to pass on?
 


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Old 06-20-2012, 03:15 PM
 
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Yes! twins.gif


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Old 06-20-2012, 04:57 PM
 
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are you getting any one on one time with her?

 

also know that alone time she wants? she might want YOU to guess when it is too much alone time and she wants mama there. not her come to you but you go to her. 

 

havent BTDT but... with a newborn i'd say this is the reactionary time that you have to allow her to figure out her way. 

 

try to look at it through her eyes. how much of her time with you is gone - due to a baby. perhaps it will help you understand her perspective.

 

involve her with baby - even making her choose baby's clothes or help with diaper or bath or whatever way you can involve her.

 

when she goes through this i'd say do more inclusion - intensify your expressions of love.


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Old 06-21-2012, 09:22 AM
 
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I can relate to much of what you've said here, Brodywoodsgal!  I also have a four year old and a young infant.  I admire your ability to laugh-- your daughter sounds creative, innovative and like she's probably lots of fun when she isn't a terror.  I find that I take much of my daughters antics to heart.  

 

I think meemee makes some good point that maybe your daughter actually wants more of you rather than less.  And, that she'd probably benefit from some one-on-one time.  But, I also think that you are right, it's the age.  Lots of my friends with four year olds have found themselves facing some new challenges including lots of disagreements, tantrums, etc...  It's been helpful to me to know that my daughters volatility is not ONLY due to the new babe. 

 

A few things I've found that work that may be useful to you: humor.  I often can diffuse a fit with some joke.  Like "OK, if you live in the grocery store can I come visit you in the ice cream aisle for a treat?"  or "Then I think I'm going to move into the bookstore.   I'm going to sleep on top of the shelves."  Of course then we end up pretending for 3 hours that we DO live in a bookstore or the grocery store but at least we're then cooperating mentally.  The other thing I find works is counting or using timers.  After repeatedly interupting me on the phone last weekend, I got angry at DD and explained (again) why her behavior was unacceptable.  She had a total meltdown at being corrected.  I told her I was angry and needed to walk away for 5 minutes and then when I got back we'd work things out.  I then gave used the 5 minute sand timer and walked away.  When I returned she was still upset but I was able to hug and comfort her.  We then were able to work out a deal that from now on she'd give me 5 minutes to try and finish up my phone call but if I was longer than 5 minutes she could interupt me to get the help or attention she needed.  Thirdly, my DD is starving these days.  I'm trying to get better at making sure she has regular snacks.  She much be going through a major growth spurt!

 

I do also want to mention that it's common to get advice to include older siblings in the care of the new baby.  My DD has no interest in helping with the baby.  She is occasionally interested for a few minutes but she doesn't want to change diapers or pick out outfits.  She finds babies boring.  I think this will change when the baby is more fun but for now... she sees watching her sister or entertaining her sister as a chore.  So, I am careful to thank her for her help but not let that help replace fun things. 

 

HTH.


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Old 06-21-2012, 01:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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See I'm actually really lucky for the fact that my DD absolutely craves "mothering things". She is such a good leader and big sister with her brother...he loves her so much and she loves fussing over him and taking care of him. She is NUTS about the new baby girl. The most disappointed I've ever seen her was the day she was told she wouldn't be able to breastfeed our new baby! She actually thought she was going to grow "milks" and help me by breastfeeding her. :( It was so sweet, she totally broke my heart.

So, incorporating her into that kind of activity is already in effect...we spend ALL. day. long. together. She feels a great deal of pride over her sistering responsibilities. She prides herself on her helpfulness all the time. She doesn't crave more time with me...she gets a ton of time alone with me and I make sure it's doing what she wants (which is almost ALWAYS reading from her myths/legends/fairytales collection of books or cooking).

I really see it as trying to be a grown up. She seems to really be testing limits and control in pretty classic ways. She wants to be a grown-up. I remember being that kind of kid. I spent my whole childhood CRAVING responsibility and adulthood. I wanted to be a mother, drive a car, plan meals, get a job....all of that kind of stuff. She talks about the same things (it's downright spooky for my mom!)

 

She is pushing the envelop to see what she can get away with...but more than that, I think she realizes she is a real live "big girl" and she wants to know what the hell kind of perks come with that! hahah...like, really, I think she's trying to figure out how much control and say she has now that she's "for sure" the "big one".

 

 

So here is what I'm thinking I'm going to do:

 

I'm going to get a mason jar. I'm going to past to it some words (in a cute sort of design, whatever)...the words:

Honesty Respect Responsibility Kindness Helpfulness Appreciation

 

These are the words I'm going to use because these are the words we came up with as a family (well, me DH and DD1 did DS "helped" in his own way!) that we decided are the most important things to remember to be/do/strive for every day.

 

Then I'll get some glass blobs or poker chips or something colorful...and every time someone in the family (but especially the kids) does something that is a really Honest, or Helpful or Kind, etc....we'll put a glass blob in the jar....and when we fill the jar we get to:

 

What?

I don't know what the "prize" should be...I feel like it shouldn't be something like ice cream or candy...I don't want to get in a "being good for a prize" mentality...what prize would be good for our family?

 

I don't want to do like an achievement chart, where getting a "star" or whatever is really awesome...but then it becomes all about the chart or "winning" or whatever and if we're having a bad week, it makes the kid feel like they are "losing" or whatever.

 

I feel like a jar is good, because it doesn't keep any tally of the "bad days"....only the times we were GOOD to each other..I want a bunch of positive reinforcement behind the GOOD stuff!

 

What do you guys think about that? She responds really well to things like this..she loves process, planning...and she loves doing stuff as a family.

 

At first, I thought the jar could just be for them....but the truth is, I've been losing my temper the last few days and I think if we're going to get through this phase peacefully it's going to be crucial that I have something to keep ME being respectful, loving, etc etc. So maybe it would be awesome if everyone was trying to remember to be those things?

 

I think it will end up being really effective for HER to have the power to say "Mama, you really respected me today when you "whatever"" - or will she abuse her ability to put blobs in the jar so she can get us to the prize faster???

Maybe we need to use a HUGE jar (or even, like, one of those GIANT poland springs water cooler jugs?)....and everyone gets one stone/blob/marble/whatever every day to "appreciate" someone elses good behavior? Then it could be more a ritual, at the end of every day we come together to talk about the day and each person gets to talk about one thing they saw someone else do that was Helpful Kind etcetc...like "I want to throw in a blob for Benjamin, who was so helpful when Avery got stuck in the fence" and then Avery could be like "I want to throw in my blob for Dada, because when I was mad he respected me a lot and listened to my words for a long time".....I don't know, just thoughts...

 

 

Does this sound stupid? Or cool? We are really desperate to form some kind of more involved ritual around being aware of and talking about these things. She will like having some cool "thing" that we do, because she's into that...but I don't want it to be cheesy. I feel like as the jar/jug filled we could say things like "wow, look at how full it's getting! Our family must be really loving and awesome!" You know?

I think it will be helpful for keeping good behavior on everyones mind.

What are your thoughts?


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Old 06-21-2012, 02:07 PM
 
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LOL... the "I'll sleep with Beer" idea is pretty amusing.  I'd have asked her "Shall I get your carseat out of the car for you?"

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Old 06-21-2012, 02:18 PM
 
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I only have a two year old, but five friends of mine have four year olds.  They keep telling me, "If you think the terrible twos are bad, wait for the f*cking fours". twins.gif


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Old 06-21-2012, 02:40 PM
 
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OP - DS is too young for me to have any real advice, but for what it's worth - I think it sounds cool!  Especially if you get her involved in brainstorming/planning it with you (and maybe picking out the jar or blobs or whatever).  Then she'd feel like she's on team grown-up for sure. thumb.gif (Of course, you can involve DS, too)

 

I like the hands on and visual aspects of this idea alot - it's colorful, it's kinetic, it's cumulative - it just seems like the kids would get a kick out of it (it's almost like a wishing well - but it's a gratitude/appreciation well instead).  Even the littlest one!  We had a gratitude journal growing up and that was really nice, too (especially now, looking back on what we all said each night at dinner) - but that format may work better with older kids, I'm not sure.  Someone could always play secretary and write down some of the more awesome ones for posterity. winky.gif


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Old 06-21-2012, 02:47 PM
 
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Also, your kid is hilarious. ROTFLMAO.gif

 

I used to BEG my family (from the time I was in kindergarten) to let me buy a shed and live in it in the backyard.  The grocery store sounds way cooler.  


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Old 06-21-2012, 03:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pickle18 View Post

OP - DS is too young for me to have any real advice, but for what it's worth - I think it sounds cool!  Especially if you get her involved in brainstorming/planning it with you (and maybe picking out the jar or blobs or whatever).  Then she'd feel like she's on team grown-up for sure. thumb.gif (Of course, you can involve DS, too)

 

I like the hands on and visual aspects of this idea alot - it's colorful, it's kinetic, it's cumulative - it just seems like the kids would get a kick out of it (it's almost like a wishing well - but it's a gratitude/appreciation well instead).  Even the littlest one!  We had a gratitude journal growing up and that was really nice, too (especially now, looking back on what we all said each night at dinner) - but that format may work better with older kids, I'm not sure.  Someone could always play secretary and write down some of the more awesome ones for posterity. winky.gif


This is exactly what I'm going for with this idea...I'm trying for this exact thing. "Are you filling our well today?" - that sort of thing.

Who crying baby have to go will be back to finish thoughts


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Old 06-21-2012, 08:44 PM
 
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First of all, hi from your DDC!

So I also, like a PP, have heard them called the "F**k you" fours. And for good reason! DS is going to be 5in 3 weeks. And the last few months have been fraught with this type of behavior. I feel like we've just now gotten a handle on it. Maybe it's because I'm full term pregnant, but I'm just done dealing with the "I'm getting new parents/ you aren't my mom anymore/ I'm leaving and never coming back" attitude. So here's what I did last time it was me and DS in the grocery store.

Something didn't go his way (can't remember what) and he (for the umpteenth time this week) said he was going to get himself new parents. And in the past I went through this whole rigmarole about how tht hurt my feelings and we all love each other and kindness and all that... But I was just done. So I picked him up and set him on his feet and said "okay. Go find some new parents."

Not my finest parenting moment, and in my non-pregnant mind I likely would not have done such a thing (people here might flame me as it is) but you know what - it worked. He looked down the aisle, looked back at me and said "I changed my mind. I'm not going to do that right now." I had gone half down the aisle but was still keeping an eye, you know. It was also fortuitous that at that moment, I ran in to a friends DH (those friends had recently been invoked as who DS would get to be the aforementioned "new parents") and was able to discuss with DS while the friend was standing there whether or not it would logically work and get him to picture it - if he went home with a "new parent" from the store. He hasn't asked for new parents since.

I think it's important to know why they do this - because they DO understand kindness and helpfulness, and also power. And they are experimenting with gaining power by withholding kindness/helpfulness, etc. when I finally realized that DS was just being his little scientist self, seeing what would happen when he did something deliberately unhelpful/rude - and when I was "hurt" (my major response when the behavior started - to show that behavior unnaceptable) then he learned tha if he was angry with whatever didn't go his way, he could show that by "hurting" my feelings. In this way he felt empowered. So I figured this out and obviously, it's dysfunctional - so now those things don't "hurt" me anymore. I try to use a logic and/or consequences approach. Like with the bakery cookie. She couldn't have one - but not as a punishment. As an exercise in logic - people don't give rude,, unhelpful children cookies. People don't give rude, unhelpful adults cookies either. I think of it as teaching a version of karma, or the golden rule. But I'm no longer emotionally invested or "hurt" to teach this. Not that you are, that's just the lesson I learned.

So, I DO like your jar idea to reward the pleasant behaviors you seek. But also, when the negative behaviors start, I wouldn't try any negotiating - and I'm a big negotiator mostly. I would just be no nonsense "hmm... When people are rude to me/aren't kind to me - I don't feel like being extra kind either." leave it at that, and then later, when dd1 wants a cookie, just explain why she's not getting one. No one gives me a cookie when I threaten to leave them behind.

I don't know... This is all my two cents and IMHO. And as DS has been and only child up to this point, I can't say anything about sibling issues. But you do seem to have that pretty well dialed in anyhow.

Best of luck!

K: high school teacher and mama to DS1 (7/07), loss (10/10) and DS2 (7/12). Married to my best friend and soon to be elementary school teacher!
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Old 06-21-2012, 09:08 PM
 
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Oh boy, my 4 year old has been testing the limits lately too.  A lot of what you said, but mostly just doing mean things, like pushing his sister down for no reason.  And we don't even have the newborn in the mix yet!  So I can definitely commiserate.  Let us know how the jar goes!  Sounds like a good plan.  Most recently I've been trying to instill the "treat others how you want to be treated" thing.  After I reminded him of that and not even 5 minutes later he pushed his sister down, I picked him up and set him on the floor and he started bawling.  I just said, "oh, I thought you wanted to be pushed down too, since that is how you are treating your sister".  He got the message...at least for the rest of the evening, we shall see what tomorrow brings.  I was really hoping he'd outgrow his current attitude before baby is born, but I'm guessing that won't happen.


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Old 06-22-2012, 12:55 AM
 
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If you're going to do the jar, I'd do it as the nightly ritual. It's a lot easier to keep up for the long term.

 

In terms of what you do when the jar is full, I would have a special family outing. You said your daughter loves family time. So, I'd do some family thing together. With your guidance, she might even be able to help you plan it. That's a very grown-up thing to do.

 

One recommendation I have would be first to talk less, especially when she's in the middle of the meltdown/tantrum stage. In the grocery store, I would have said, "It sounds like you're really mad at me right now" and moved on. Taking things said in anger too seriously can actually make a child nervous. "You mean mom might let me do this?" She didn't really want to run away, she wanted to tell you how angry she was. Once you've gotten the point, why belabor it? If you keep talking about it, she's going to assume it's still up for negotiation.

 

The second thing I'd say might be counterintuitive, but when my kids are in phases like this, I find it easier to have really clear boundaries and set them earlier. Sometimes having fewer choices also helps. For example, we tried having our daughter choose when she was going to practice piano. She never could get around to it until just before bed. That resulted in whining, tears and frustration because she was tired and because she didn't want to interrupt what she was doing. So, I removed that choice. She had to do it right after dinner. Period. We saved a lot of drama that way. For your grocery shopping, is there any way you can do it without the kids? If there isn't, then I'd start out with her in the cart and she can earn her way out, not the other way around. Her behavior is saying she can't handle the situation right now, so you need to put things in place that help her handle it.

 

If she needs space and peace and it's really inconvenient for you, I'd ask her to wait. No, I'm not cruel and heartless, but 4 is about the age when kids can start to really understand that sometimes other people have needs that need to be met first. She's part of a family, she's not the only person. Are you giving respect to her need for space over asking for her to respect your need to get something done? That's not a power balance that's healthy for kids, and it can make them nervous.

 

Finally, I don't think it's a bad thing to have her see you get angry. Obviously you don't want to go overboard, but you don't want to give her the impression that you don't get angry either. She needs to see that adults have this kind of emotion and how they deal with it.


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Old 06-23-2012, 02:14 PM
 
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Hi! I know how you feel, I have a 4.5 year old. I agree with LynnS6, name the feeling, but don't dwell on it or try to "explore" the feeling. Suggest, "it sounds like you are feeling very angry right now. Sometimes we feel angry even at people we love and it makes us not want to spend time with them. But, we can love people even when we are angry." So, trying not to ask, "why," because they really don't know. Just try to imagine what it is, and then help them make sense of it.

 

We started something with our 4 year old last week along the lines of the marble jar. In our case, I made out a bunch of "tickets." He wins a ticket when he does something extra helpful or kind, etc. We also take away tickets when he does something to hurt his little brother (age 20 months) or does not follow instructions. Actually, just the reminder that he might lose a ticket is enough to turn around his behavior. Then, on Saturdays, we are tallying them up and showing him the "prize" list. We have on there bowling with dad, ice cream with mom, movie (he didn't want that one LOL) as well as some other little things. I think for you the family outing is indeed the best option -- picnic in the park, bowling, going to a kids concert, etc. I plan to change the "prizes" a bit each week, to make them appropriate to what activities are available and how many tickets he has earned. It worked really well for us this week. Filling a jar takes a really long time -- they probably need the enforcement a bit sooner than that.

 

Anyway, just thought I would mention that we had started something similar and it is going really well so far (we'll see how long it lasts LOL!).
 

I would also focus as much as possible on "positive" power, getting her involved in helping you with all kinds of things (though, it sounds like you are doing this already, but maybe ramp it up?)

 

Good luck!!!


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Old 06-23-2012, 08:55 PM
 
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Yes, I think it is fine to say "I'm sorry you are angry. Catch up with me if you change your mind." Especially if you are in a small familiar store. If you think she is manipulating you then you need to look at why she is able to and change that. I don't personally like that term for kids. I think kids do what works for them because they are normal and enjoy getting their way just as much as we enjoy getting ours. With a new baby she could be attention seeking in this way and in that case I recommend cutting back on the attention you give her during negative times while increasing attention you are giving her the rest if the time. I think acknowledging her feelings is important but if she is learning to use her feelings to get her way I would switch to a quicker acknowledgment followed by the but this is the deal sentence.
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Old 06-24-2012, 06:04 AM
 
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We do a jar (mOre for responsibilities) with a family outing at the end when it's filled. The kids loooove it.

I have a 5 & 4 year old and I have to say I've heard it all. Illtalk them through their strOng feelings to a point...like in that moment I probably would have said: "wow. You have strong feelings right now. We can talk about them in the car. Right now we need to do our shopping job.". She needs
To know that behaving badly in stores is completely unacceptable and if shes going to talk like that, things aren't going to be pleasant. Praise respect and kindness and all of that, but deal swiftly with the disrespect. That's what has worked here.
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