Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Frightening fours

I am proud to say that we survived the “terrible twos” without incident – we were warned about it, and frankly, it wasn’t that bad.  G made it through that milestone with ease.  I really wasn’t sure what people were talking about – G was a wonderful toddler.  Oft times I thought it should be called the "terrific twos," as she was such a delight.  Three came and went as well without any notable behavior issues.  My head swelled – I was sure I was the perfect mother to the best behaved child ever. 


But then something happened:  she turned four.  And all hell broke loose.


Almost over night, my sweet, perfect angel has become a defiant, moody, jealous, back-talking little girl that barely resembles the sweetie I once knew.  I miss my little girl – and I want her back.


Some days I feel like she’s always in trouble.  I don’t like yelling, but lately, I yell.  A lot.  Really loud.  And I don’t like myself for it, but I don’t know what else to do.  I’ve tried reasoning with her, restricting privileges, offering positive reinforcement, and even sending her to the “dreaded naughty bench”.  Nothing fazes her – the naughty behavior continues as she proclaims that I’m the worst mommy ever.  And I certainly cannot love her.


I can handle when she says mean things to me, but it breaks my heart when she is mean to others.  Lately, she has been horrible to her little sister – a sister who idolizes her, and offers hugs and kisses even as G is treating her badly.  Last night, G asked for a bedtime story about a little girl named Bryn who fell into the ocean and died.  Does she really want her sister to die?  I almost cried.


I do love her, and I want her to feel loved.  But I also need to teach her to behave and to be kind.  Obviously I’m doing something wrong, because we’re having serious issues and I don’t know what to do.  April is a long time to wait for the "fabulous fives".


Kristina said...

You know I don't think your doing anything wrong... I think kids go through stages where they start to test you. You may miss some - but you're not going to miss them all!!

I suspect G is just doing normal stuff... but that doesn't mean you don't teach about it. I also think that conequences lose their effectiveness as kids get older so you need to change things up in order to get her attention.

So the next time she wants a story about Bryn drowning, tell her that's not a story that you know and since that's her best idea you suppose she doesn't really want a story tonight and you'll try again tomorrow. Then leave her room, don't engage her anymore and read Bryn her story.

Obviously the time outs aren't working anymore, you need to find something that she values and use THAT as a consequence for her behaviour.

Good luck!! Oh - and here's a book recommendation "Love and Logic Parenting for young children" I read it when I was yelling at Lochlan all the time and it helped me out quite a bit.

Good luck!!

Chelsea said...

That's why this parenting thing is so hard - as soon as we figure out how to discipline/teach/entertain them, they get a little bit older and everything changes! Sawyer is so much harder at 3 than he was at 2 - Mr. Defiance now lives at our house. It is hard. I don't have any great advice, but I can commiserate. (((hugs)))

Jen said...

I'm right there with you. This morning if gypsy's had shown up at my door I would have gladly sent Emily away with them. Everything she says lately is either whining/complaining or sassy, to the point that I cringe when I hear "Mommy..." That can't be good right?! Only 4 more months until she turns 5 but it had better not last that long. She's been spending a lot of time in her room for sassing back. Ugh. My husband says she acts more like a 16 year old than a 4 year old.

Mindi said...

ummmmm......welcome to my life!

there is an overabundance of female hormones raging thru her little body already, and there will be lots of moodiness for approx......i dunno......15 YEARS!!!!

but guess what? they still have moments of lovliness that reminds you of why you love them soooooo!

Ruhiyyih Rose said...

That is no fun! When I was four, I was sooo shy. Afraid to act out, I watched my brothers get in enough trouble to know where to draw a line... I think this will pass. I hope you survive in the meantime and things normalize soon...

Anonymous said...

My daughter was the same way. She was a wonderful toddler, but then 4 hit and all heck broke loose! She's 6 now and has turned a corner for the better.

Good luck!

Julia said...

I don't seem to remember Ellie being horrible when she was four, but since we only have her three days a week, she was probably horrible to her mom a lot. I know that she and her mom would have raging battles at age 3, so maybe she just jumped ahead.

And although she is a very sweet kid, there are times I want to smack her for talking back CONSTANTLY. And she's seven. She is right about everything, argues about everything and totally sasses. The hard thing for me is to not be a jerk back to her or argue with her when obviously I've had a few more years of experience in this life. Right now I've just resorted to telling her that if she's going to talk to me that way, I'm not going to respond. THat usually does the trick until her next arguing point.

I know this isn't helping since four is miles away from seven. I hope that landon is doing the terrible twos because I don't know how many times a day I can put him in a time out for hitting.

Do you think G understands what she is doing? Does the action > consequence make sense to her? Cause I guess if she does, then I agree with other posters that you'll have to find something she cares about losing or missing out on and make that the discipline for poor behavior.

Good luck! You are a great mom so I know it isn't YOU! :)

janae said...

I can relate. And it's nice to hear that we are not alone in this. I just never know what to do with my Frightening Four year old. It's hard when nothing works. And I have one just entering into the terrible two's. I'm glad you posted this. I appreciate the advice through the comments.

Gina said...

OH I'm with you however mine has been this way for almost a year...I was so hoping when she turned 4 she would magicaly change over night. That didn't happen!! So I still have 10 more months till she turns 5!! Luckily she's my youngest and I can sick her on her older sister Ali who seems to get her (because she was the same way)!! Good luck with her!!

The Monsen Fam said...

Oh man. Im sorry. I often think about the things I did to my parents, and wish I could kick my own butt sometimes. Growing up is hard. I think 4 is when they realize what they can get away with. I hope it gets better for you!

Steph N. said...

I so did not want to hear this. I have been telling myself that 4 will be better than 3!

Good luck, girls can be tricky.

Lynita said...

So I hate saying this but welcome to "the" club. This is the club that no one is proud to be a part of but still once you're in it you are amazed at how many members there are! Kaitlyn had some terrible twos and tremendous threes, but they are nothing to her freakin fours! I am so excited that she gets to start Kindergarten this year! Every once in a while I see the girl I used to know as my daughter. But all too often there is a little demon disguised as my daughter!

My heart is with you, I don't think you are doing anything wrong either! I find myself cycling through different techniques over and over again depending on what works that day or even in that moment. Granted it kind of shoots the whole consistency thing to pieces, but I guess in another way Kaitlyn is learning consistently, that certain behaviors are unacceptable. More importantly she is learning that she has a choice in how she behaves, but that all major decisions rest firmly in her parents hands. When all else fails pray, and let G hear your prayers and concerns, and let her here you tell the Lord how much you love her and want her to be happy. I think that more than anything this helps me as much as Kaitlyn. I know it sounds a little churchy, but it works for me. I know you will find a way to get through, everyone does, it just won't be easy!

Omgirl said...

UGH. Well, hopefully the fact that Daphne started her terrible twos at 18 months and is now going through her terrible threes, with only a brief respite of sweetness between 26-32 months old, means that she'll be a good 4 year old? I doubt it. Anyway, I'm so sorry. I know what you mean, it's breaking my heart too. I told K the other day that I feel like all I do is fight with Daphne all day. But she is so defiant and stubborn! I can't imagine how much harder it will be when she can tell me I'm a horrible mommy. I'm so sorry!!! Hopefully it'll be a short phase. Just be strong, is the only advice I've heard, because when they do this, they're testing you. And the more wishy-washy you are, the longer it takes for them to get their boundaries established.