Have I already lost the battle with my 4-year-old?

Nikki - posted on 05/04/2011 ( 48 moms have responded )

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I have a VERY headstrong daughter. We fight over everything. Time out doesn't work on her. Spanking doesn't work on her. Taking her things away doesn't work on her. She battles me over everything...picking up toys, brushing her teeth, not eating snacks before dinner, talking sassy to me. I don't want to have to "beat" my child into submission, and I feel that maybe not being more stern with her in the past has created a monster now. Anybody else going through this???

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Margaret - posted on 05/19/2011

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My 4YO daughter does some of those things, and luckily, Time-Outs work for her. When U do time-out, does she keep getting out of her "spot"? Do U just keep putting her back into it? If so, just keep putting her in it...don't say anything, no eye contact, and if it takes an hour or more, don't give up, she'll get it.

I've also used reverse psychology on my daughter...if she fights me on things that I KNOW she can do on her own, I just start doing it for her (i.e., brushing her teeth), and she'll shout back, "NO! I do it, I'm a BIG GIRL!" So, I tell her, "ok, then DO it!".

If she EVER talks back to me, challenges me, or is NOT cooperative, I tell her that her behavior's NOT acceptable, that I'm her Mother, that I'm in charge, and HER job is to listen to me. I have threatened to throw out toys, not take her places, etc....and, I have had to follow through and mean what I say...it hasn't been easy, but I stuck to my guns, and she got the message!

Tell your daughter that her behavior's unacceptable, and tell her calmly, but LOOK her in the eye so that she understands. If you haven't followed through w/ anything as far as punishments/threats, then maybe now's the time to start doing that. It's ALL developmental - but WE have to show them that we're here for them no matter what! Command respect from her by letting her know that U will NOT accept her lack of cooperation. Stick to your guns, don't let HER get the best of YOU! My daughter and I have come a LONG way w/ our issues, and things are getting better...not easy, but well worth it :)

Bottom line, kids need boundaries and expectations, and they're NOT going to come up to us and say, "Gee, Mom, could you give me boundaries?" - they say it more w/ their behavior and how THEY think that they can push our buttons. They need to KNOW that we're in charge 24/7.

Your daughter knows that U love her, and loving our kids means setting limits and expectations so that they know what's acceptable and what is unacceptable. Believe in your abilities as HER mother - assert yourself, take back your power, and before U know it, she'll turn around so fast, it'll make your head spin ;)

Also, catch up w/ "Supernanny" episodes for help/resources - she's AWESOME! Hope I was helpful - not trying 2 b judgmental, just supportive, Mama :) If she's not at ALL moved by your taking away her currencies (the things she values - toys, games, etc.), then there's probably something else going on w/ her, maybe even you, too. Hang in there, U will both get through this!

Tamsin - posted on 09/15/2011

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Hi! I have three children, my Jan. '07 is the middle child, and she is much more defiant than my older daughter, when my son was born we realized we needed to have total control because we were out numbered! So we TOOK control, we took everything...toy are organized in tubs in the garage, art supplies in a box in the kitchen, and, aside from water, the snacks and drinks are put away. If they want something, they use polite, respectful 'big girl words' (ma'am, sir, may I please, etc.), if they don't ask properly, we simply ignore them. Some toys and books are now in their playroom, available to them anytime, we explain to them that mommy works hard for the money to buy them things and if they don't take care of them, we will not replace them, and we don't! When it comes to tantrums, we simply tell them we love them but they're annoying us and they can either stop, or go to their room, usually they choose to stop, but if they have to go to their room, they have to apologize before they can come out. No negotiating, you are in charge! Time consuming, YES! But it works for us. :-)

Shy - posted on 06/26/2011

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Oh thank goodness! I thought I was the only one!! My son is always fighting with me. I've had people say it's because I "spoil" him, but I don't agree. Sure I'm "soft" on him sometimes ... but my gosh is he defiant! Right now my husband and I have agreed to try a more strict daily schedule (I'm a housewife with 2 boys and one on the way) because his attitude seems to be disrupting the day most of the time. But regardless, he's not a bad kid. My opinion is that maybe more structure will help .... might work for you too.

Laura - posted on 05/11/2011

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Wow, you just described my 4 year old son. I really think he plays "the opposite game" with me all the time. I love him dearly. He is so smart, and social, but he destroys his room, be talks back, and repeatedly does what he has been told not to. I often feel as if I have no control over him. Then, when he does something wrong, he smiles at me and says spank my butt Mama. Lets pray it is just their age. I am actively seeking a parenting class or maybe a support group for this because I am at my wits end.

Maha - posted on 10/14/2011

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Firstly, my 4 year olg girl is the same, but i think that it'l pass whe she turns 5 alot of mum's have told me this. Another thing i've noticed is that whe i'm calm and in control she behaves much better but when she senses that i have my own issues or i am unsure of my self she becomes a bitt nervy, should i say and stubburn! I hope this helps u guys..

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April - posted on 10/23/2011

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Holly I have no idea how to do this... i can be reached on facebook.com/aprilkayleighwatson =)

Yadira - posted on 10/23/2011

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My daughter is 5 and everything you describe is just what my lil girl enjoys doing everyday my daughter was diagnosed with ADHD at age 4 there are many solutions for your problem seek medical advice that should totally work

April - posted on 10/21/2011

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Amazingly I have the same exact problem with my 4 year old. The only difference is that her father passed away a few years ago, and I am the mom and the dad, so somedays I feel like punishing and others I don't. This has definitely affected the way she reacts to others. She has had a few teachers within her pre-k class, they switch off between the schedules as to who will be the teacher of that class each day. She listened to one teacher, and doesn't listen to any of the other teachers. Sadly the teacher she listened to doesn't work there anymore, so I have a huge problem with her listening to her teachers right now. She keeps coming home with "red" days because she doesn't listen to the teacher. By the time I get to her, the day's over with so it feels as though I have to punish her for not doing something that happened at 9:00 this morning. I googled and found this website and saw that the parent punishing for something that didn't happen when the parent around isn't going to do anything. My problem is this has been occuring for 2 weeks now, and I am not sure what to do??

Jennifer - posted on 10/20/2011

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Its never too late, your the one who sets the mood. keep it consistent, and soon she will realize you arent going to waiver. sometimes its hard, but if you feel bad and give exceptions all the time, she will never take you serious. Time and consistency will solve this problem.. also keeping your own emotions in check in front of her.... that a big factor that many of us overlook in the heat of the moment... you shouldnt "fight" with your daughter. your the boss... good luck. i recommend the supe nanny as well. many of her techniques have worke great for me.... make sure to follow them exactly though....

Janine - posted on 10/19/2011

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I dont always use it but "timeouts" do work. As per the supernanny a show i have seldom watch. She puts a child in the corner for every minute of their age. If they get off the time starts all over again. I used this with my son and it does work. When they get off the naughty chair, you make them understand and accountable for their actions that led them to the naughty chair. When they finally apologise etc, you simply accept this in loving words and move on. A child will always learn with a loving disciplinary guiding hand. You just have to stick with it and make the punishments of her behaviour the same, especially when you find one that works for you. I did smack many years ago and will admit to the odd smack now, but I really dont advocate it as there are better ways if you know your child well enough to get into his or her psyche and utilise it on their level. This is still a testing time, I really dont think they get out of it until adults. I have 6 children from 2 to 13. Although I am very blessed with 3 older kids, it is my twins that are almost 4 that have tested me the most. Not because there are two of them, but because of the behaviour that I have never encountered with my first 3. My youngest is a dream child. You havent lost the battle, you only need to hold onto your convictions and not once give in. You are the parent, you are in control. I know it is frustrating but if you implicate certain steps she will eventually come around. Try rewarding good behaviour with stickers, stamps, a treat or just an extra dose of love. Hope it helps and best of luck xx

Stephanie - posted on 10/18/2011

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absolutely!! I have a 4 yr old son who is exactly as you described ,we have tried naughty step for 4 mins,sending him to his room ,taking toys away etc and they all seem to work once but not all the time I have even broken down in front of him to try show him how upset he makes me but he just says "sorry Mummy" and then starts again I wouldn't mind but his behaviour at school is exemplary and every day he comes home with a good behaviour sticker..I too am at a loss! All we can keep doing is working at it Nikki ,just remember your not alone xxx

Nomsa - posted on 10/14/2011

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Please I thought God doesnt love me, i go through the same thing with my 4year boy, his just out of hand and very adorable at the same time and believe me spanking will not help it just unleashes the animal in them lollll I hope my praying will help i feel like i could rent him out on the days i am really tired lollllllll,well no one said it would be an easy job since our kids fullfill our lives we will love them till eternety

Melissa - posted on 10/13/2011

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Carful hunny about the beating thing to manny moms here might get all spastic on that one ...lol JKJK . I do understand trust me , girls are harder then boy I know I have a pair each . Have you tryied maby behavier theropy , for both you and her I know its hard to get out side help but if you dont stop her now your in a world of hert later . You both need some TLC . I have 4 children now my girls have grown up and LORD knows there were times I honestly thought I have lost my mind!!!! not kidding either , my first was all quiet and reserved till she turn 12 then all hell broak out my second daughter was a helian from the get go and just now at 19 figuring she needs to slow down ha ha although so far she is doing great . My boys well let me say , my son that is 15 has bipolar has ADHD and trechatelinimia (hair pull) all in the past year diagnosed so its like a teen ager on staroids ... and my younger son at 5 in 4 days has Apraxia , behaveral , and sensory issues . So when I say behaveral theropy for both its just to help you get on the same page and an out side look on things . Go with your gut feeling . If your feeling like your loosing a battle now what will you be like 10 years from now ? Its not easy , but there are people to help support you and help you be that parent you want to be . I did not have that with my girls but boy looking back wish i did . It helps me when Dylan dont want to goto bed or get his PJs on or brush his teeth , I can now deal with these daily issies and work threw them with out wondering were I went wrong and all that guilt that lingers with it . Just make sure that they have goals for you along with your daughter . They will help maby ease you into a better routine that is do able If all elts gives you youer sanity back for at lease awhile ...LOL let me know if it was helpful . Good luck and if all elts your not alone and talking to other moms here helps . But dont get to cought up in what some say here just take the stuff that you can handle ...Take care

Christina - posted on 10/13/2011

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I had alot of these same issues with my four year old daughter, Rain. She has been diagnosed with adhd\odd. I did not want to put her on medicine at such a young age, so she sees a cognitive behavioral therapist and does play therapy. It has helped tremendously. Last week her pre-k teacher said she is one of the most respectful kids. We are still working on her anger issues but has shown excellent progress.

Deloria - posted on 10/10/2011

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i have a little boy who is doing the same thing... at first i thought it was the divorce driving it but now im not so sure. he doesn't listen and ignores me when i tell him to do something. he won't go to bed when he's told, as soon as i am not looking at him he does what ever he wants to do. and now he's started picking on his 2 yr old sister. help!

Sonya - posted on 10/10/2011

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My daughter just turned 4, but has had a smart mouth for as long as she's known it's there to make sounds. What I do, and it seems to work, is choose my battles. I give her choices, and if she chooses "D - None of the above" she gets nothing. If I'm really stern about something, she still has an option. Do it my way, or be forced to do it my way. Sometimes that means picking her up and putting her kicking and screaming into the long pants because she is not going to wear dirty shorts, no matter how loud she screams. (I haven't had to do this in a long time.) She has learned that if she has a valid argument as to why NOT to do something, I will appreciate that. I am not always right. However, if she is just being mean, or doesn't want to do whatever it is, simply because she doesn't want to, than she is wrong and will acknowledge it.

Another fabulous thing she has discovered is that if she is quiet, I will leave her alone. If I leave her alone long enough, she will apologize for her bad behavior. Sometimes is just a matter of investing the time, even when it doesn't feel like you have it.

Good luck!

Angie - posted on 10/09/2011

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Wow I thought I was the one in this problem my son is 4 going to be 5 this month but he has his days that he out. Of it but I have a good time out that he don't like my grandma did it to me when I was Little put me on my knees by the wall until I was in pain and it help but now that I stop dong it he start to act up!!! But I honk all 4 yrs old are acting out now a days

Kathleen - posted on 10/09/2011

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Wow Nikki! My kids are headstrong and have had to use different techniques at different times to illicit the response I've needed..haven't ever been in the position that nothing works. Please...don't feel that it's to late or that you've lost the battle. The #1 thing that has helped me has been consistency. I've also never hesitated getting advice whether it's from a doctor, counselor, teachers or other parents (parents that I look up to and admire the way their children are turning out). A few things I've found are that I need to remember to breathe, choose my battles and sometimes silliness / sense of humor go a long way. You know your child like no one else, in the end it's up to you to pick and choose which advice to listen to and things to try with your punkin head. I think it's great that you're open to asking for help! Best of luck & hang in there!!

Carolyn - posted on 10/09/2011

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I have an an almost 4 yo daughter with an attitude plus. Very defiant at times, knows it all. She also always needs me to be there in the same room with her at all times, it is beginning to drive me crazy, who invented that "muuuuum" word!!! Grrrrrr. She is the perfect angel for daddy and as soon as i am present.... bang - mums here lets play up
!

Loreann - posted on 10/03/2011

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It is quite strange to hear such difficulty with a four year old.

I am a mother of three and for me the sooner they know u are serious the easier it becomes to deal with them.The youngest child is 4 but, afetr the second stern look she pulls herself in line.Just continue to be serious and they will come around.Kids test you to see how far they can go.

Megan - posted on 10/02/2011

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I have a similar situation. I don't know that answer. I have even tried the less is more approach.

Leah - posted on 10/01/2011

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I use the nose in the corner technique . There are no distractions when all they see is wall 1 minute for each year old they are .Reset time if they leave the area. After the time is up confront them about their melt down . Let them know the behavior was not nice and that they need to talk to you about it before they start reacting in that way. I also find calming the room down , turning off the tv / radio and removing any items that they had been arguing about with helps .

Also write up a rule chart and put it on the wall . Explain each rule so they understand and even let them make a few .

Its helped me set boundaries for my daughter and the other 4 yr old and 2 yr old I care for .

Don't give in and don't give up .

Kate - posted on 10/01/2011

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All this sounds just like my son!! He's 8 now but we had all of this when he was younger. He's been diagnosed with ADHD and is on medication now - it's helped with all the other stuff but not with his "never say die" attitude - he just never gives up! I find that explaining things to him mostly works - if I can find a way that he understands or if I relate it to things he cares about - like "would you like it if I broke your (favourite) toy?" or "how would you feel if, when you want lunch, I chose not to listen to you?". Also, found the SuperNanny technique of going down to his level, warning him, then if he does it again put him in time-out with a firm and quick explanation of why (making sure he stays there) and then getting him to acknowledge what he's done wrong and apologising for it works - but only if you mean it and follow through - consistency is the key there.
I think yes, it is a stage, but any stage that's not dealt with will become behaviours they keep and they will get worse! I kinda wish I'd been stronger when he was *only* 4!!!
But most especially he responds to being reasoned with - he likes to make his own decisions about things so almost treating him like a little adult with 'control' of his own choices - so I give him choices... with their consequences. I hope that this makes sense - I know how complicated and difficult it can be!
It's NEVER too late to enforce good behaviour - just gets a little harder maybe and more consistency needed. With mine anyway - getting him to understand that I am the boss does make him feel safe and the only person he needs to control is himself...

Christina - posted on 09/30/2011

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I share custody with my daughters dad and she's become a pro at manipulating us. sadly there are poor lines of communication on his part, he'd rather do his thing than to talk to me about anything. she's mouthy, defiant, loud, mean, and sometimes just plain hateful. I too have done time out, spankings, corner, taking things away, no snacks, and i've even gone as far as to literally throw toys away that she refuses to clean up. her dad suggested that we put her on ADHD meds, but i refuse. she's gonna be 4 in november. I'm hoping it's just a phase!!!!!

Pratibha - posted on 09/29/2011

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Yes I have seen that happening with one of my friends daughter too but then she tried playing the reverse part whenever her daughter something she said she would not listen to her because whenever she asked her to do something she did not listen so they finally worked a deal each other for a week to try asking nicely to do their things and it is still working...maybe you could try asking her nicely to do things

Elissa - posted on 09/29/2011

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This is hard for he has been doing this for a long time. I say call Super Nanny!! You need outside help! I am sorry I can't do any better then that. It sounds like you have tried it all. Just stay strong and stand your ground. Let him know you can be bull headed too. That usually changes my daughters mind.

Hannelore - posted on 09/29/2011

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You are not alone and I am glad to read I am not alone either!



(Sad smile!) I was just getting ready to post a new conversation



about my endless frustrations with my three and a half year old



son.

I am so frustrated, so tired of our endless power struggles, so



tired -literally from lack of adequate sleep because I am still



nursing a 8 month old who wakes up several times a night.

My son fights tooth and nails over every single little thing, and



starts the day by being cranky and fussy as can be (and was a



fussy, needy and crying baby!). His favorite phrase is "I don't



want to do that!" and I hear it every day over and over when I



ask him to do a simple thing, from dressing up, to going out or



to preschool twice a week, from eating dinner, to going to nap,



to coming inside from playtime, when asked to be nice with his



brother, use good manners, turn off the TV, you name it!

He screams, he yells, he throws books on the floor on time out



and becomes extremely demanding and even aggressive right



when I am in the middle of something- nursing, cooking,



eating..of course he wants attention and I try to give it to him as



much as I can. I haven't had a quiet dinner in..I can't even



remember, as he fusses and the little one start screaming right



when I sit down to eat!!!

I have tried to talk to him, to understand that the new baby



changed a lot in his life, that it is normal to challenge my



authority and assert his independence, but it has become



impossible to have a quiet day, with no screaming and fighting



and I can't take it anymore!

He is now manipulating my husband- who works most days until



late, and disobeys my requests by turning to daddy, who is more



relaxed regarding discipline and also wants to please him to



make up for the days when he is not here. He gives him what I



refuse to do and that creates the feeling that I am just mean and



daddy is cool. Last night it was the second time when my son



told me "I don't want you" (brought me to tears!) after daddy



gave him the late snack I refused to give, for good reasons.

He is so stubborn he will rather stay in his room than to say he is



sorry for something he did wrong, and time out just makes him



more angry. To get him to do something I have to be really



forceful, not physically but use my most authoritative voice, and



give ultimatums and threaten ...and I am tired of this! Tired,



burned out, ready to run away! As a stay home mom my secret



dream has become to leave my kids and my husband for one



night, sleep at the hotel all alone, turn off my phone, watch TV



until I fall asleep, sleep in and come home the next



morning/closer to lunch! One night, just me, alone!! This makes



me feel like I am not a good mom, makes me feel so guilty!



I have this horrible feeling my son thinks I am his enemy and he



needs, he has to fight me, to won battles over me. But all I am



trying to do is to protect him from getting into troubles, to feed



him healthy foods, to teach him valuable lesson he can use in his



future, to help him grow strong and responsible.

I am reading books about raising boys, their particular needs and



wants...still I can't find the magic way to make peace with my



son.

Any ideas????

Elissa - posted on 09/29/2011

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I find when my 4 year old daughter acts like that I use reverse physcology. It works wonders if you do it were they don't know it yet. I also make sure I stay in a stricked ruteen. That way knows what is to happen and gets in the habit of doing it without protest.

Morgan - posted on 09/29/2011

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Yes I have that problem with my daughter also,however, she is 3. And a very smart 3 at that that. I have no more ideas on how to help her become a better child. She talks back, says NO all the time, gets into things she should not. I have had to call posin controll for her 2 times because she can unscrew the "child saftey" caps.... I cant even use the bathroom without her doing something...HELP!!!

Shannon - posted on 09/29/2011

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I have. We've tried earning coins and when she gets so many, she could get a toy from the store. BUT, she is a clever one and will say "Oh, I'll just earn more tomorrow." Way too smart for us! ha!

Shannon - posted on 09/28/2011

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MEEEE MEEE MEEE! I am thinking man, if we are doing this now, I don't want to even THINK about what it will be like when she's a teenager..HELP (me too)

Tawnya - posted on 09/26/2011

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My daughter did that and was diagnosed with ADHD/ODD and since we started individual and family therapy and medicine she is now such a great child. Yes, she still acts up but its more manageable now. She used to have an out of control temper too.

Jennifer - posted on 09/26/2011

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have you heard or read the 1-2-3 magic? my son was 3 and i thought i was at a breaking point and i came accross that book. changed our days drastically...took time but now hes 5 and i have a 1 yr old now and life is so much easier and we get alot MUCH better.

Melissa - posted on 09/22/2011

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I think it is a faze they are going through. My son is more headstrong than he used to be as well. I am able to make him mind, but it takes a lot of energy. I am a spanker, time outer, toy take awayer, and the last resort is Dad. If he won't mind after I have exhausted all resources I tell him his Dad is going to hear about it and he straightens up then. Dad is a lot more stern than I am and he knows it.

Stacey - posted on 09/20/2011

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wow i thought i was the only one going through this with my child i have a 5 yr old boy that is acting as if he is 15 he wont do anything i ask or tell him anything wil b a massive help because all i get off him at the moment is its ok nan and grandad wil get it me arrrgggghhhh rant over

Kristen - posted on 09/01/2011

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Thank you! I will definitely try the list with consequences,we tried the reward chart and it didnt really help. Two's and three's were a joke compared to fours! Im a pretty patient person but this year has tested every nerve in my body....being 10 days away from another baby doesnt help Im sure!

Katie - posted on 09/01/2011

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Must be the year they were born lol. My 4 yr old son is very similar to this. He is the most suborn child I have ever meet, I find that when we have a routine down we are able to cope with it all better as he knows what to expect and is better prepared to deal with it. we are also doing some play therapy and that also seems to be helping ever so slightly. You might also try developing a real set of rules actually write them out and list the consiquense by it for what will happen if that is broken (this one works a little better with my other son who is 6) it is starting to work with my 4 yr old though.

Kristen - posted on 08/30/2011

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You have accurately described my daughter....to a tea! Its driving me crazy and I have said and done everything you have as well. Im at a loss myself or I would help you, If you figure out the solution please post. I also am at my wits end,I feel like a bad mother because I get frustrated and have to take a timeout myself. I dont want to break her spirit but cant continue this way either...I have a 17 month old and another baby due in 13 days.

[deleted account]

I feel I know what's going on. You have to 'converse' respect out of her, instead of 'beating' it in her. I know u wouldn't do that...but what I mean is REMIND her, through words, that you demand respect from her. Say things like, "I'm your Mommy and I want you to treat me better!" That could be a starter. You have to talk to her like you would a friend that is treating you mean, but that you have to 'work with' or something. You can even say stuff like "How could you treat me so mean, I have done so much for you!?" Things like that. Remind them that you love them and stuff, cuz really they are growing up in a world where there is so much influence around them that 1.) they might not be as thankful to what's being given to them, and/or 2.) they see 'sassy' or 'negative attitude' ways all around that they think they have to be that way too. Remember you are her #1 teacher and she needs to know 'respect of other' skills through you. I hope this helps a bit! :) make it work, remember you know much more 'language' than her; I'm sure you can convince her! :)

Janet - posted on 06/26/2011

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Most children at four are like that but you need to be firm and let her know that you are her mother. Spanking does not really help, deprive her of what she loves the most. Good luck

Donna - posted on 06/13/2011

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My four year is exactly the same. He has just started answering back and has answer to everything. He tells me to stop shouting at him because he is just a kid. God help me when he is a teenager.

Heather - posted on 06/12/2011

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I hear that My 4 yr ( she has ADHD) is in pre K and at her last IEP her teachers told me she is the most stubern child they have ever had in there 30 + years of teaching and that it took 3 months to say hi to her speach teacher.

Pauline - posted on 06/11/2011

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I hear u my son is 4 and I think this age is way worse than 2. For me I have started paying attention to what he likes the most and when he does any of the behaviors u mentioned I take it away. Sometimes he laughs at me but later on when he wants the toy, game or movie, and I tell him no he will throw a fit but I ignore him. I did take a parenting class call Love and Logic and they had alot of helpful hints. When she gets mouthy with u do ur best to ignore it, amazingly enough it works. One of the this I say to my son when it starts to get to the point I know we r going to argue is "I love u too much to argue" and just walk away.



The best thing u can do is follow through on whatever u say and don't give up, really that is the best advice I can give u, it is hard but after awhile it works when ur kid knows u r not a bunch of empty threats. So Nikki u have not lost the battle, u r about to win it.

Shawna - posted on 05/18/2011

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yes i am having the same exact problem with my daughter right now....she was very good about a year and a half ago and then BOOM she doesn't want to do anything anymore and is VERY defiant....:( I have posted a question of my own as well on here about her temper...does your daughter have one as well??

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