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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am so very upset.

My 4yo dd is acting like a monster! She does thing on purpose, and she acts out. There are certain times that I can trace it back to her being hungry or tired. But, other times, I can't find the source. She is our second daughter of three daughters. I try to make sure that she has one on one attention frequently. Which I think I do a pretty good job of. She doesn't really say anything about that.

Dh just can't take it anymore. He threatens to hit her daily. Mostly to me, telling me what I am doing is not working because she is bad/a brat, etc.

For instance, I will ask her to pick up the train table pieces that she just took out and finished playing with. She will say ok(not a sincere okay, and start to pick them up...but an okay like leave me alone, I'm saying this to get you off my back...kind of okay) Then she proceeds to take out something else/get into something else...I try to explain to her that we need to clean up our first activity so that it doesn't get too messy and she will start ignoring me and just going about her business.

I have tried saying that I will do it but, I expect her to do it next time...and that doesn't work. I have tried to make it a game...this rarely works past the forst 10 seconds of the song or the first few attempts to make the pieces into the drawer(like basketball).

Then, I usually end up getting angry and raising my voice because lately I have hit my limit in terms of how messy the hosue is. It is just ridiculous. This soesn't help my argument with dh about spanking. She will start saying that she doesn't want me to be her mommy/she's not going to be my daughter anymore/not my little girl. I have tried saying mommy would be very sad by that/I have also tried ignoring it because I know why she is saying it. She is angry/upset that I am trying to get her to do something that she doesn't want to do.

She is just really strongwilled and I don't have any tools in my box to deal with this...I really feel like the more structure I give...the worse it gets. But, the more freedom I give the worse it gets. I just can't wim either way. is there any thing you mamas can tell me in terms of concrete things I can do when this happens to make things change?

: I'm desperate.
 

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It sounds like it may be a phase she's going through. I recently "got tough on toys" and when no one would help me clean stuff up - away they'd go. (It was a mysterious away, I didn't specify where or for how long). It is tougher to do this with other kids (why shouldn't they have access to the toys) but I was getting to the end of my rope too! I'm now doing it with clothing, because I'm pregnant, and bending down to pick up the relics of my daughter's "costume changes" is getting to be difficult. So, if it's on the floor it's fair game for me.

I also recently got some comments that surprised me, like when I asked "why don't you pick up some of those dolls so you'll have room to dance?" She asked me "why don't you just go finish the laundry??" OMG where did THAT come from??? It was really hard to walk away from that. I would ignore the comments about being your daughter, etc. She wouldn't say that if she wasn't secure in your love.

It's hard to convince your dh that hitting her won't do anything. I always compare my children to children who are spanked (for my dh), our kids are probably better behaved. Also, we're currently living in Sweden, where hitting children is illegal, and it's not a zoo here - kids are kids. (In fact, we have a really low crime rate!) Hitting may make him feel better, but it won't solve the problem.

Actions for her will speak louder than words, so follow up with taking toys away for a day/week/good excuse to get rid of annoying toys. And make it a "rule" so it's not like you're asking her to do something. "It's the rule that...we pick up toys before bed." "It's the rule that..." using that language takes you out of the picture.

I find with my stronger-willed child I also get better cooperation if we spend more time together (even if I'm not feeling like it). Good luck, like I said before, this sounds like a phase!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for responding.


I do ignore her comments now. It's just that I had tried the other things and they didn't work. So, I ignore.

I tried the rule thing. She just says that she doesn't have to follow my rules.
: It seems like whatever I say, she has a response to it. It it so tiring.

On the toy issue, we have a lot of that. However, I do have to say that they used to have mountains of toys! I went though(after the 3rd or 4th time of cleaning their nasty room myself because the cat would use it as a litter box it was so dirty and cluttered) and got rid of most of the toys. They have a doll house with few pieces, some big lego blocks, some play food, and that's about it. So, it's really not a lot of stuff...she just refuses to pick anything up. It would seriously get down to having nothing in the room.

Before this, there was that mentioned plus a toybox filled with noisy, plastic toys. Also, a huge dress-up bin. That has been upstairs for about a month and a half. They used to play with it all the time. I really don't even think they notice that it is gone. They haven't said anything about it. They just don't care about their toys. I know this is a direct relation to having too many. I tried to remedy that but, it still seems like they don't care. I don't buy anything else.

The train table is in the living room, so a common area, and I have taken the trains away but, they just play with the table. I don't have anywhere I can put that.

What would I do for the 2yo? Should she have to suffer because her sister is being obnoxious? How do I decide when she should get them back, if there is nothing there for her to pick up and show me that she is willing now?

There has been a lot of the 8yo picking up the slack, unwillingly, for her sisters. She is very tired of it. Also, I am tired of picking up everyones messes with NO help. It's like pulling teeth!

I'm soooo frustrated right now. Thank you for responding.
 

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Regarding the toy issue: I have found that with young ones like your dd, cleaning up is something that we have to do together and it has to be part of a regular routine. It helps to keep it upbeat, and it helps to make it fun. It also helps a lot for me to stop nagging-there is no more sure way to get my kids to resist me than to start going on "pick up the toys now. I said pick them up now. DD! It's time to clean up the toys" and so on.

Also, family meetings help. Ours tend to be very informal (meaning, often it's just we're already sitting together and I'll bring something up-calling it a "family meeting" gets groans). I usually just say "you know, I've been having a hard time keeping the house clean. I really need some help. I've also noticed that lately your toys have been left all over the floor, and I'm worried they're going to get lost or broken. So I'd like for us to make a plan so that I'm not the only one cleaning up and so that your toys stay safe so you can enjoy them. Do you have any ideas?" And this can get silly at times with kids saying things like "let's get a robot to clean it up for us!" And that's fun. But also we've been able to come up with some very good solutions. And this goes not only for things like cleaning, but for things like listening (we had an issue where one child just didn't look at us, or answer, and so we talked about that and how important it is to us to at least hear him say something to acknowledge that he heard us) and for loud sibling fighting.

Also, you might pick up Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, which is a great book. Also, by the same author, Kids, Parents and Power Struggles. I think this is very normal 4 year old stuff. It's important to remember that growing up is a process, it takes time for kids to learn. Discipline is a process. Another good book, speaking of normal 4 year old behavior, is Your Four Year Old by Ames and Ilg, which is just full of good information on development at that age. There's a whole series of these and I find that it helps to read these because often it gives me some insights, and always reassures me that my child is normal and I'm not completely screwing up. I have even reread them as my younger kids reach certain ages.
 

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Another quick technique I've found helpful w/this: ask, and stand (I think that's from Playful Parenting, but can't remember). Ask her to pick up a particular toy now, and then stand right next to her silently, looking at her, until it's done. Don't move, don't talk, but put your focus on her.

Weird, but it's worked for me.
 

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That would most likely be from The Secret of Parenting by Anthony Wolf, which might in fact be an excellent book for the OP to share with her dh. Many people have found the techniques in this book to be very effective, while reducing the tension/conflict in their home. It's very much a "parents in charge without corporal punishment, without yelling, and without punishments" book.
 

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We do "ten second tidies" throughout the day here. I have three sand timers - 20 seconds, 1 minute, 3 minutes. I reach in the basket, pull out one and we race to the finish. They're a bit more concrete than kitchen timers because they let the kids see exactly how much time is left.

In the mornings we have a chore list. Basic stuff, like making beds, quick room tidy, etc. and the rule is our day goes on when the chores are done. I put a schedule up on the board and just go by and cross out stuff if we've passed the time. 10am park day? Nope, sorry, it's 10:15. No time for that today. We need to finish the first thing on the list first. There's usually at least one fun thing up there to look forward to and it does make a difference in the attitudes for the boring stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by chicagomom View Post
Another quick technique I've found helpful w/this: ask, and stand (I think that's from Playful Parenting, but can't remember). Ask her to pick up a particular toy now, and then stand right next to her silently, looking at her, until it's done. Don't move, don't talk, but put your focus on her.

Weird, but it's worked for me.
Thanks for the advice, I feel like it would take all day to pick up one room if I did that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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Originally Posted by sledg View Post
Regarding the toy issue: I have found that with young ones like your dd, cleaning up is something that we have to do together and it has to be part of a regular routine. It helps to keep it upbeat, and it helps to make it fun. It also helps a lot for me to stop nagging-there is no more sure way to get my kids to resist me than to start going on "pick up the toys now. I said pick them up now. DD! It's time to clean up the toys" and so on.
We've tried this. The only thing I have found is that I end up doing it. They will start, pick up maybe 2 small blocks a piece and then start fighting, or run off and do something else. I can ask them to come back but, half the time they don't even hear me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by sledg View Post
That would most likely be from The Secret of Parenting by Anthony Wolf, which might in fact be an excellent book for the OP to share with her dh. Many people have found the techniques in this book to be very effective, while reducing the tension/conflict in their home. It's very much a "parents in charge without corporal punishment, without yelling, and without punishments" book.
I had that book a while back. I tried some of the things in it..I can't rememember exactly what right now though. I had the distinct feeling that nothing was changing. The dc were still fighting, not helping...same as now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I am in such a bad place right now. I feel like crying and locking myself in a closet. I feel like I am a failing maid. I get no help...unless I cry and scream, and beg. This include dh. No wonder the dc act like this. I jut don't know how to fix it. DH raises his voice and they all move. I know they only do it out of fear. I don't want them to fear me...but, some help would be nice once in a while.

It feels totally hopeless, only it can't because these are my children.

I need something concrete. Something I can do as soon as the dc start fighting, to get it to stop. I can do it a hundred time if I had to, but please...tell me something. Their fighting is driving me nuts.

ETA: I'm sorry, I know this post wasn't very helpful...now I have moved onto another area...not so much the 4yo. But, this is also an area of much stress...the fighting and bickering.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
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Originally Posted by LilyGrace View Post

In the mornings we have a chore list. Basic stuff, like making beds, quick room tidy, etc. and the rule is our day goes on when the chores are done. I put a schedule up on the board and just go by and cross out stuff if we've passed the time. 10am park day? Nope, sorry, it's 10:15. No time for that today. We need to finish the first thing on the list first. There's usually at least one fun thing up there to look forward to and it does make a difference in the attitudes for the boring stuff.
We tried something similar to this also. Problem is, they just don't care. They tell me so. They make no issue when we don't get to go where we were supposed to because things didn't get done. I do because I can't stand when the house is a a total mess. I can handle a little bit.
 

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Not only do you have me stumped, you have me scared
, my 3yo becomes not only totally deaf when asked to do something, but also immune to any consequences. I did take away ALL their toys at one point, and never heard a word about it - for like 2 weeks, when I needed my storage closet back and gave them back some toys. So who knows what she'll be like at 4. For the record, since she hardly shows any reaction to consequences, I doubt a spanking would make any difference in her behavior. The ONLY thing that has worked with my spirited 3yo is to take away something she wants to do. the other day we were going to Ikea - she likes the playroom there, she was excited to go, then she picked a dandelion that had turned to seed.

Me: blow the dandylion here, quick, and get into the car.

Her: walks over to car - disperses seeds all over the back.

Me: hmm, well I guess we're not going to Ikea now.

Her: major scream about wanting to go to Ikea.

Me: Sorry, I don't have time anymore, we've got to go vacuum out the car.

and we did. She didn't stop asking all day to go to Ikea. And to all her "I want to go to Ikea" I'd say, "I know" (this is a Love and Logic technique). Love and Logic is somewhat controversial on this board because they used to advocate spanking (not anymore as far as I can find) and some timeouts (but usually the child controls the length of time) but it has given me some good tools. Like, I know you want to go over to Amanda's house today, but picking up those toys drained me of all energy. I am just too tired. Love and Logic is also "mainstream" enough to probably appeal to your dh. The website is www.loveandlogic.com. See what you think.
 

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I know this isn't really a GD answer, but it sounds like you're just really overwhelmed at life in general right now. And you mentioned that the cleanliness of the house has been an issue, and that your dh isn't a lot of help. Can you afford any help, like a housecleaner? I found that during a season when life was overwhelming for me, paying someone to come and clean for 2 hrs, once every week or two was a huge help. I had more time and energy and mental facilities and will power to "deal with" (I hate that phrase, but you KWIM) the kids. And the money was well spent...even if you have to cut it out of groceries, entertainment, whatever you can think of. Your sanity is worth more than that.
 

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OK, so my DD is younger... so it may not apply - plus many may think this is mean

but buy her play-doh - just a few tubs of her fav colors.

let her play and mention cleaning it up ONCE, just ONCE. She'll ignore you.. leave it out ALL NIGHT.

When the next morning comes and she has rock hard bricks where her beloved play-doh was - "hmm.. that's what happens to toys when they aren't picked up"
 

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It sounds like you need a BREAK. When do YOU get time for yourself? To relax, exercise, take a bath, read a stupid novel or whatever you need to do to recharge. I am a LOUSY parent when I am overwhelmed. I yell, I threaten to hit my kids, I throw things
:. In other words, I descend into the level of about a 3 year old, right along with my kids.

Ideally, you'd take a break EVERY DAY (like for 45 minutes after dinner while your dh deals with the kids). If every day doesn't work, then every other day. Go for a walk. Get out of the house. Or, if you'd rather stay home, tell dh to take them to the park. Ditto for an hour or so on the weekends. Your dh should get some time to himself on the weekends, and you should do some family things.

As for the cleaning up. In our house, it doesn't work if I just tell them. Been there, done that, nothing was cleaner. Things that help for cleaning:
1. Be very, very, very specific about what you want picked up. "Pick up the trains" was too vague! Pick up 5 trains got the job done. So, they'd pick up 5, I'd pick up 5 and we'd be done.

2. Be there with them. I do some, you do some. If they run away, go get them and start again. I routinely track dd (just turned 3) down and put things in her hand to clean. She's come up with some lovely reasons why she shouldn't clean ("I'm a puppy, and I have paws. Puppies can't clean." is my favorite.)

3. Set the timer. I love the idea of sand timers for intermittent cleaning.

4. Make it part of the routine. So, just after lunch (I nearly wrote just 'before' lunch and realized that was a LOUSY time because you're all hungry and cranky!). At 4 pm. whenever. Choose 2 times and make it then.

5. Have something they look forward to AFTER the clean up time. We do book reading after clean up time. No cleaning = no books. Is it punitive? Yes. Is it destroying my relationship with them? No. Or at least, not any more than a screaming maniac of a mother would be. It's a simple, direct consequence "If I have to spend my time cleaning your stuff, I won't have time to read you stories." Has it lead to some major tantrums when enforced? Yep. Have we survived? Yep. Do they accept cleaning as part of the routine now? Yep. If you don't feel like being punitive, you can just do it as a "as soon as we get this done, we'll be able to.." statement.

6. The absolutely, hands down, most effective thing we do is: Make it part of the bedtime routine. EVERYONE (me, dh, the kids) cleans for 15 minutes. The benefits of this are:
1. They see me and dad cleaning, so it's not seen as some sort of random punishment meted out by a parent.
2. Because we're doing it too, we're there to enforce it. Do I clean for 15 minutes, heck no! I spend about half my time directing my kids. (Being very specific, 'helping' them comply, etc.) On days when I've had it, I will ask dh to monitor them.
3. They get to do 'real' cleaning. They hate picking up stuff. But, they LOVE to mop. Clean the toilets. Wash the windows. Dust the blinds. As long as it isn't picking up their own toys.
But, if they do these things, then I can spend that time picking up their stuff, and I consider it a fair deal.

We had a lovely scenario a few days ago where they said "we want to skip cleaning tonight" (every once in a while we do skip it if we've been out and tempers are short). I replied "Oh, that's too bad, I guess I'll have to clean the toilets myself." They fell all over themselves racing to clean the toilets. And then they did the sinks. They even got into the shower (unbidden!) and began cleaning the floor in there! Meanwhile, I was picking up their stuff. Was it a perfect cleaning of the bathroom? No, but I gave things a quick swish after they were in bed and things looked darn good. They got most of the dirt. We were all happy.
 

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Random thoughts.

I wonder if you should shift your focus from trying to manage your daughter, to instead try turning inward to care for yourself, and perhaps nurturing your marriage somewhat.

I know that I start to get freaky about the house and messess, whenever I feel out of control or over-stimulated. Maybe its time to pull back a little and regroup.

You really are dealing with much broader problems than simply a 4 yo. who won't pick up. You have a DH who is resistant to your ideas about discipline, some level of insecurity about your own ideas of discipline, children who are bickering a lot, feelings of helplessness -- your dd's refusal to pick up toys is just one aspect of larger frustrations. I recommend stepping back, taking care of yourself, and then when you can face it -- start looking at some ways to restructure your family life in a way that meets everyone's needs.

The start of the summer is always hard here, with transitions between school and summer, and activity changes. The kids bicker a lot for the first 2 weeks or so, and then settle into a groove.

I agree that Anthony Wolf's books are a good idea for your DH -- good compromise, I think, for fairly strict parenting without spanking.
 

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Oh the sibling stuff:

Stay out as much as you can. Unless it's physical violence I don't intervene much (sometimes if it's a blatant sometime I will, but very often, I don't know the 'back story').

Suggestions for reading:
Mom, Jason's Breathing on Me. - Your kids might be a bit young to implement this, but it will give you a frame work.
Siblings without Rivalry - which is a companion book to
"How to talk so your children will listen" - read that one first if you haven't. It's got simple, direct stuff that should work with your 4 year old.

For day to day stuff:
Kids, Parents & Power Struggles by Mary Sheedy Kurckinka
Parenting Your Spirited Child (by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka)

More 'mainstream' GD books include:
Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen
Love & Logic by the Fays

I've taken a Love and Logic course, and while I wasn't thrilled with the use of time outs (very often they are unrelated to the child's action - we limit them to antisocial behavior, i.e. hitting), they do have some good ideas. And if your dh is coming from a more mainstream view (i.e. hitting), this is a good jumping off point. I believe they have DVDs as well as books, so maybe you can get those and watch them together. I'm more of a Kids, Parents & Power Struggles afficiando at this time or Positive Discipline.

Would he take a parenting class with you? that's the most effective way I've found to get a chance to talk to dh about parenting 'ideals' in a more neutral way. One or the other of us always becomes defensive in the heat of the moment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
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Originally Posted by mammatomyboys View Post
I know this isn't really a GD answer, but it sounds like you're just really overwhelmed at life in general right now. And you mentioned that the cleanliness of the house has been an issue, and that your dh isn't a lot of help. Can you afford any help, like a housecleaner? I found that during a season when life was overwhelming for me, paying someone to come and clean for 2 hrs, once every week or two was a huge help. I had more time and energy and mental facilities and will power to "deal with" (I hate that phrase, but you KWIM) the kids. And the money was well spent...even if you have to cut it out of groceries, entertainment, whatever you can think of. Your sanity is worth more than that.
I would if I could. Don't cleaning people generally clean and not pick up clutter? That is what I really need. I will look into it, you can bet on that. Thanks!
 
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