How to discipline a 4 year old

We are traveling in Paris with kate, my 4 year old daughter, I need some advice.

1) She likes to ask ‘why’ endlessly I can’t get a moment of peace. And she would either ask the same ‘why’ question to something I’ve already answer or she would follow an answer with another ‘why’
2) She always craves attention.  When the adults are talking she always interrupts
3) When she is walking on the street and she is walking too close, if we yank her in, she yanks back
     and creates a dangerous situation
4) She asks a question and doesn’t listen for the answer
5) When I ask her to do something, she ignores the question until I threaten to take away a toy or
     when I actually take away something.

I find myself being one of those dads that I don’t want to be.. Constantly telling her no or constantly
threatening or taking away toys.

Help.  I think I’m going crazy.. Other people look at her and think she is an angel.  I think she is an angel when I’m putting her down for bedtime :-)

11 Comments

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commented
05/27/2005 02:02 pm
I found this book:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0836228111
(“Making the Terrible Twos Terrific” by John Rosemond) to be absoutely *fantastic*. Perhaps he also has
a book covering your area?

From reading the one book, I’d guess he’d suggest setting hard and fast limits (e.g. about trying to get attention) and sticking to your guns on them. At first, it’s quite difficult because until now, she knows that if she pushes enough you’ll cave in. She has to learn that when you set limits, you mean them. She’ll learn this only by testing them over and over. The key, as he says, is to be consistant so that they won’t keep testing *the same* limit over and over.

And, of course, as Craig points out, showing unconditional love (even when not giving them what they want) is important. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that they’re not doing this with the specific intent to drive you crazy. But as the old saying goes, insanity is hereditary…. you get it from your kids!

Some have responded to your post along the lines of “you should be embracing this”. Of course, you can embrace it at the same time as teaching/encouraging her age-appropriate self-restraint and respect for others’ attention. That’s the key.

In any case, you can rest self-assured that her urges are 100% normal. It’s work to teach/train her proper behavior — work that many parents don’t do (and hence raise brats). But if you can potty train her at 3 months, you can do this. But a Rosemond book can help….
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commented
05/27/2005 12:17 pm
4 year old needs a sibling not another toy.. So start thinking about it!
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commented
05/26/2005 11:32 pm
You guys have lots of good advice!
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commented
05/26/2005 02:36 pm
Tony, my only thoughts are patience. And unconditional love. This is both easier and harder than the points system. By the time Kate is a well-traveled teenager, you may be wishing she were asking you “why?” more often…
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commented
05/26/2005 05:10 am
So she just told you what she is going for. She wants zero points? She gets 25 points per day.

If she wants anything answered, this will take time and therefore cost her a point. When she gets to zero, nothing is answered anymore for that day.

Will make her more clever in asking, seperating questions she already got answered. For her to get used to it, she could start of at 50 points the first two days. Positiv things you want from here increase her points.

If she is what I would suspect from her answer, she will soon find a sneaky way to cheat the system. Do you know about the obfuscated c contest? I think it has a ‘best bending of the rule not allowed next contest’.

Make sure your system is clever enought to increase her awareness and her curiousity. :)

(Oh and if she tears apart the puzzles and solving them by putting them back together, she is like me. I can give you a deeper inside on what is working and what not then ;)))
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commented
05/26/2005 03:21 am
Thanks for the suggestion with the points. That’s rings true and I like the positive message. I tried it this morning with Kate, she says she wants zero points !! hee, I’ll figure out something she really wants .. Funny girl
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commented
05/25/2005 10:53 pm
Duhh!
I used to be worse as a kid! I was a real pain!
So whenever I was being an especially big pain, my parents would give me a jigsaw, or a rubix cube, or a puzzle or whatever … And I used to sit and break my head on them till I cracked it.(My head usually, not the problem :() During which my parents got a lot of peace and quiet.

Of course this may not work on other kids. The only reason it worked on me, was cause I was Dyslexic/ Autistic and also suffer from OCD and ADD.
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05/25/2005 08:12 pm
Disclaimer: I’m not a dad yet. To the first question, all I can say is embrace it! My Aunt told me that ‘why’ was the only word I said from age 3-4. I give her all the credit for my booksmarts and curiosity today, because she took time to answer, or to encourage me to figure things out on my own. I would consume books like they were going out of style. Coffee table photography, atlases(?), encyclopedias, instruction manuals, whatever. When the patience runs low, break out the books or art supplies. Also, if your child takes apart all of her toys to see how they work, celebrate; young hacker in the making.
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05/25/2005 05:42 pm
ha. my parents used that “points” thing with me and my brother. he was good. he got lots of points. i had trouble accumulating them. so when we’d goto toys’r’us for him to claim his 4-6 gifts and i had none, i’d usually convince him his toy wouldn’t be as much fun if i didn’t have one too – cause then we couldn’t play together.

so he learned both how to behave and how to share.

i suppose with only one kid, the sharing aspect might be lost with this approach, but the behaving has a good chance.
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05/25/2005 05:19 pm
Michelle and I have started something new our 4-year son and 6-year daughter. We let them earn points! If the kids are nice to each other, if they eat their dinner, if they clean their rooms, etc — they accumulate points that can be traded in for watching movies, playing video games, etc.

Put a point price on something that you know she wants and let her earn it by behaving. I like this approach because it’s positive (versus taking away toys, sending them to their room, spanking their bottoms) and once a child (or an adult) has to work hard to earn things — they start to respect the things they have.