How do I help my four-year-old learn to not be an asshole?
March 1, 2013 1:47 PM Subscribe
My wife and I are wrestling mightily with parenting our four-year-old daughter, who is an asshole. I use the word "asshole" because we are taken aback by how mean and insulting and nasty she can be. I know we are supposed to love her unconditionally but we are struggling to deal with who she is
rather than how she acts
posted by mindsound to Human Relations (51 answers total) 68 users marked this as a favorite
We expected tantrums and we expected to correct spoiled and selfish behavior, but we didn't expect a four-year-old who scowls, and spits, and refuses to speak, and sometimes says she hates us. The pattern we are trying to break is a pattern of brinksmanship where she either gets what she wants or ruins the whole family's day, including her own, by being truculent. And while we try to take everything in stride, it just doesn't seem like other children her age are nearly this ... assholey.
We try to use positive discipline. We try to give dispassionate, constructive consequences in response to her bad behavior. We try really really hard not to spank. We forgive a lot. We try to wipe the disciplinary slate clean and continue to give her rewards and enriching experiences. But I feel like we're just sliding downhill as our daily life becomes less and less pleasant and more and more antagonistic. She is especially good at pushing my wife's buttons and she pushes them every chance she gets. It hurts to be hurt by her. It hurts to watch her sit around and be unhappy. This sucks.
She's brilliant and funny and perceptive and unusually literate and articulate for her age and all this gets shadowed behind her growling and slamming herself in her room and saying hateful things and sobbing and it sucks.
The other big stressor in our situation is her baby sister, who is a wonderful easy baby during the day and who wrestles with serious sleep problems at night. We're operating on 14 months and counting of interrupted sleep and ... at the end of the day we have two kids' worth of parenting to do. Sometimes we feel like we're direly ignoring our older daughter's increasing needs just to try and get some rest.
We have discussed family therapy but we're on a tight monthly budget and our insurance covers nothing worth mentioning. :(
What would you all do? Do you have suggestions for correcting her behavior? Do you have suggestions to prevent her meltdowns from affecting us so badly? I need a strategy and I just don't have one.