Rude 4 Year Old - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 08-30-2012, 01:41 PM - Thread Starter
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We're having a few issues with our four year old daughter. Lately, she has just been plain RUDE and it's driving me up a wall. There have been numerous situations at home and at school where she's just willfully rude to the people around her. And what's worse is that she doesn't seem to care.


For example, today I was picking her up from preschool. I come into the room and she's busy washing her hands. One of her classmates helpfully calls over to her, "[name], your Mommy is here!" My daughter looks over at me and continues washing her hands. When she doesn't respond to me or her friend, her classmate repeated helpfully, "[name], your Mommy is here!" At which point, my daughter turns around and says to her in a rude tone, "Can you stop saying that? I know that already." Her poor classmate looked crushed!  I told my daughter that wasn't very nice and said to her classmate, "Thank you for helping tell her. That was very nice of you." 


When I tried to get my daughter to say sorry, she shrugged and tried to divert my attention to something else. I talked to her about it as we walked back to the car. I explained that her friend was just trying to be helpful but DD was having none of it. "Well, I was washing my hands and drying my hands. I knew you were there." I asked her if there was a nicer way she could have said it. She said yes but reiterated that she was washing her hands and that she knew I was there. So I asked her if she would have felt bad if her classmate had been rude to her in the same situation. She said yes. I asked if she would still want to be friends with someone who was rude to her and she said no. Then when I asked if she would feel bad if her classmate didn't want to be friends with her because she was rude, she simply shrugged.


This is pretty typical of how she's been acting lately. She's been rude and while she hates it if other people are rude to her, she doesn't seem to care if she's rude to others. She has also been acting like this lately to our roommate whom she has been rude to lately. In response, our roomie is not interacting with her as much in hopes that our daughter will understand that if you're rude, people won't like you. The problem is that she seems to understand the not liking you part -- the problem is that she doesn't change her rudeness!


It's driving me up a wall because I have no idea where she's modeling this from. :( Our family is NOT rude to other people and we don't tolerate rudeness. But even though we talk about it and the reprecussions of being rude, it keeps happening. Any advice would be appreciated :(

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#2 of 11 Old 08-30-2012, 02:19 PM
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Ok, my first thought was to wonder if maybe she had someone in her life modeling this type of behavior. Then I see that this is not the case. At that point my mind went immediately to the thought that maybe this is one of the more powerful ways for her to get an interesting reaction from people, especially mama. I think she's found a way to learn some powerful lessons about human reactions by acting this way. 


I think your response is fine...but it may not work to get her to stop. 


If you want her to stop -- I think I may try to see if I can make the rudeness far less interesting for her. In the washing hands incident, I think I would probably have gone over to her friend and led her away and apologized for my DC in private. While driving off in the car I would have made a short comment about her rudeness and then stopped there. Something like, "I apologized to (friend) on your behalf. You spoke to her with a mean tone in your voice."  


Ok, that's kind of a behaviorist approach, isn't it?  




Is she tired or cranky when she is acting this way? Another idea is that maybe she's needing to vent, feeling moody or etc. If that's the case, maybe there's a lot in the way of avoidance/prevention you could do. Maybe knowing she's cranky at the end of the day - maybe she needs to be whisked out of school and given some space? Maybe she needs a snack between lunch and pick-up? 

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#3 of 11 Old 08-30-2012, 09:38 PM
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just so you know her behaviour is spot on. 


v. v. v. normal and age appropriate. has she been miss sassy too yet? if not that might be coming up soon too.


i would not sweat it. i would repeat it but dont expect her to get it quite yet. 


she is still discovering the world around her and trying out societal rules of how to behave. no one likes being pointed out that they did something bad and rude.


instead of asking for responses i would remind her what a kind way to express is. and leave it at that.


dont insist. dont push. she will figure it and one day suddenly with the snap of her fingers she will be the well mannered kind child you want her to be...


... till she hits something else and you have to repeat the same process again but with some other issue.


dont be too hard on her. 


read louis ames bates' your F year old and perhaps it will help you see what she is going through.


honestly children have the right to be 'brats' now while being conditioned so that they are well behaved later and no longer 'brats'.


for me 4 year old was all about my dd becoming the EXACT person i didnt want her to be. 

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#4 of 11 Old 09-02-2012, 06:06 PM
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I agree that it's totally developmentally normal.  My daughter's 4-year-old class last year was a case study in 4 year olds discovering how rudeness and particularly bossiness could be a source of control.  It seemed like every kid was either at the strong personality extreme or the passiveness extreme.  Her teacher was very focused on (and successful at!) teaching the stronger kids to tone it down and the more passive kids to speak up for themselves.  Definitely reminded me that we have to meet our children where they are and not judge their strengths and weaknesses, but help them make the most of them.

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#5 of 11 Old 09-02-2012, 06:20 PM
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Try not to think of it as being rude, but as not having learned to be polite yet. At 4 they speak as clearly as grownups and it can be hard to remember how little experience with talking they have. Model politeness for her and teach her how to be polite, but remember it isn't that she knows how to be polite and is choosing to be rude. She just hasnt' learned how to speak nicely yet. She'll get it if you gently teach her and are consistent, and most of all if she sees you being polite. You were very polite at that time so keep that up and she should be fine.
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#6 of 11 Old 09-05-2012, 07:55 AM
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My daughter didn't start school till she was five but I was surprised by how quickly she fell into step with group dynamics - they are all SO caught up in someone thinking they don't know something, thinking they are better or worse at something, who is bragging (I have a muffin! is seen as "bragging" about having a muffin.  I'm a good dancer! is you saying you're a better dancer than I am.  It.  Is.  Exhausting.), who called someone a name, who followed or broke what rule, etc.  And OMG, the tattling. 


I just tell her what I want her to say and try not to get worked up about it.  In that situation, I would remind her that it's rude not to acknowledge someone when they speak to you.  Say thank you, even if you already know.  I wouldn't bother MAKING her say it, but reminder her, "DD, Classmate is speaking to you.  You need to answer her.  Hi, Classmate.  Thanks for letting her know," and keep moving.


I don't believe in letting them get away with being rude, but it seems to work best for us when we remind and model the behavior we want to see.


Another thing we find helpful is, "would you speak to your teacher that way?"  Because so far she has loved her teachers and she's always polite to them, which proves to me that she CAN be polite so it's good to remind her of that sometimes.

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#7 of 11 Old 09-05-2012, 11:58 AM
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All I can say is, yes, yes, and yes.  It's funny, I came here to see what is up with my four-year-old son and here you are too.  ;)


NiteNicole (and others) have some good advice - making them say it is just another continuation of the power struggle, I've learned, so constant reminders and modeling seem to work better sometimes.  Or sometimes, we'll talk about it later at bedtime when he's a little more settled and open to discussion.


I love the "would you speak to your teacher this way" line, I am *so* going to use that...

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#8 of 11 Old 09-05-2012, 05:16 PM
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Thank you for this post, I too am struggling with this, although it's pretty much all aimed at me.

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#9 of 11 Old 09-17-2012, 11:43 PM
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Yes!  I don't have a four year old, but I watch a four year old... and this is where she is right now.  Bossy, know-it-all, and a touch of down-right rude.  It really is exhausting!  For me, it is good practice, I have a three year old.  But since I have started watching the 4yo, my LO has started mimicking some of the 4yo's more dramatic performances.  Any advice on how to keep my LO from picking up these behaviors?  My LO doesn't seem to act like this when the older girl is here...

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#10 of 11 Old 09-18-2012, 11:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Mama505 View Post


  Any advice on how to keep my LO from picking up these behaviors?  My LO doesn't seem to act like this when the older girl is here...

unfortunately no advice except limit playdates.


i have been on both sides of this. first it was my dd picking it up and then seh was the unconscious leader trouble maker passing it on. 


no idea how you could stop it. in fact the more you try to push it, the worse it gets. 

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#11 of 11 Old 10-22-2012, 08:13 PM
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subbing becuase I am dealing with my 3 year old son being very rude now too. 

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