My four-year-old was the perfect toddler. When people talk about the terrible two’s, they never met this girl. She was an absolute angel. However, since she’s turned four, it seems like she’s flipped a switch and let her worst side loose. There’s screaming, backtalk, and generally a whiny attitude anytime I ask her to do anything that she doesn’t feel like doing. I set firm boundaries, limit TV time to only a short period during the time that I’m making dinner, and try my best to be patient and understanding. But the sass and whining are really tiresome. I usually try to stay neutral, tell her that she needs to try again using kind words and a kind voice, but it’s the same story every day. I’m not sure if I’m getting through. Should I be doing something different?
When it comes to toddlers, tantrums are the norm. They start their bad behavior for all kinds of reasons. They are learning how to express themselves and see what buttons to push to get their way. I’ll go thru a few scenarios here that may be possible reasons why she is acting this way.
If there are changes in the family dynamic, then that could cause tantrums. Maybe sit down with her and ask her what is wrong. Ask her if something is bothering her. You would be surprised what they say.
If she is around other kids that portray these types of behaviors, then she is mimicking them. I suggest observing these kids and see who the culprits are. Then see what the parents do when these kids misbehave. If the parents just give in to the kids to keep them quiet, then you know why she is behaving this way.
Kids are very good manipulators. When they want something, they know exactly what to do to get it. Temper tantrums and a whiny attitude is a great way for them to get whatever they want. They will do it until you give in. My daughter tried that and it didn’t work. You must stand your ground!
If you’re in a public place and they throw a tantrum, leave them where they are. Don’t go too far! But let her know you’re not putting up with it and you will leave her right where she is. I did that with my daughter once and that was the last time she did it.
Another idea to think about when she misbehaves, take her most precious toy or toys away from her. If she wants them back, then she needs to think about her behavior and understand that type of behavior is not appropriate. She can get her toys back as a reward for good behavior only. Watch how quickly that sassiness disappears!
Last but not least, it could also be that your daughter is wanting attention for some reason. She may be acting out this way because it’s the only way she can get your attention. Kids can be needy for various reasons. Maybe take some time out of your day and play with her a little more or take her to the park. See if that helps.
At the end of the day, being a parent isn’t easy. There is no manual. There’s no foolproof method to parenting. You just have to test out different ideas and see which one works for your kids.