any suggestion on discipline. we have a very defiant 4yr girl and we have tried everything

Brandi - posted on 02/14/2011 ( 12 moms have responded )




she lies b/c she doesn't want to get into trouble and 2nite at dinner she hit me b/c she didnt want to be discipline for already not listening


Jennifer - posted on 02/16/2011




I'm sorry if other moms don't agree, but I think the whole "redirection" thing is a heap of useless garbage. I see more parents walked on by their kids who use this technique than anything else b/c their kids don't LEARN anything about why their behavior is wrong.

That being said, I have a 4-year-old who also sometimes tests his boundaries, like any kid. He is perfectly capable of talking about what he's feeling. When she needs dicipline, give her one warning to straighten up, or she goes in time out or the corner if timeout no longer is an option. If she doesn't listen, put your child in timeout or the corner for 4 minutes (1 min. for every year of age) when she's had her ONE warning. By giving continual warnings, she will know you don't mean what you say. If she screams, hits, runs out of the corner, be firm, and pick her up, put her back in the corner, or time out, and start the clock over until she finally understands that what mom and dad says goes. Hitting an adult is an automatic time out/nose in the corner. The first few hours, and maybe days, she will definately test your boundaries and see if you give in. Do not give up. Be patient and it will happen. If my 4-year-old argues about going into the corner, I usually have to threaten w/a spanking. If he still argues and fights w/me, he gets a spanking on top of going in the corner, but it's usually only a couple of swats to catch his attention. If he talks while in the corner, the timer starts over. Most of the time I don't have to spank him.

You don't have to abuse your children or yell and scream at them to get your point across. You can be firm, and still get the message to her. When done, get down to her level and explain to her why she was in the corner and why she got a spanking, then explain that you don't enjoy having to spank her or put her in the corner, but she needs to understand that YOU are in charge, not her and that she will be punished for bad behavior. Then, let her know that you love her, but you don't love her behavior and give her a hug if she's willing.

A lady at my church tried to get me to give my son a sucker, when I put him in the corner for not listening to me when I said it was time to go home. I whipped around and told her that I would NOT reward my son with a sucker for his bad behavior. Then she says, "Well, maybe you could make it a race to the car," again attempting the re-direction technique. So now I'm thinking, "So great, now you're going to teach my child to run in traffic?" I ended up giving her a look that said, "Let me discipline my child" and she backed off.

Your daughter also needs to understand that lying gets her into MORE trouble than if she would just be honest and up front in the first place. Let her know that she will be punished for what she did wrong, but she will be more severely punished (no movie, no toy, whatever) when she lies. Depending on where age 4 she is (beginning or closer to age 5), she may not fully understand what an actual "lie" is. She knows how to do it, but may not really understand the definition. I had to explain it to my son, who just turned 4. I asked him, "Am I a boy, or a girl?" "A girl." I then said, "Well, if I told you I were a boy, that would be a lie. If I told you I were a girl, that would be the truth" and used other simple examples.

By redirecting your child, you're teaching her that her behavior is acceptable, and she will continue that behavior later on. She won't learn that it's wrong to continue her bad behavior, if all you're doing is distracting her towards another item or activity.

Anastasia - posted on 02/15/2011




I love my twins with all my heart, and they get everything they want EVEN DISCIPLINE!
Shocking as it may be to you (and onlookers), aggressive behavior is a normal part of your toddler's development. Still-emerging language skills, a fierce desire to become independent, and undeveloped impulse control make children this age prime candidates for getting physical. "Some degree of hitting and biting is completely normal for a toddler.
That doesn't mean you should ignore it, of course. Let your toddler know that aggressive behavior is unacceptable and show her other ways to express her feelings.
I know it gets too much sometimes but try not to give your toddler a spanking, spanking is still a way of communication. And the only they she can express herself now is by using her hands. She is a living mirror of her world around her. Children need adults to communicate and model the behavior adults expect.

Here are a few tips that I use with my 2yr and 9mnths twins:
Try "yes touch" for safe things; "no touch" for objects off-limits; and "soft touch" for faces and animals. To tame the impulsive grabber, try encouraging "the one finger touch

Your toddler has a jar of olives, and you have visions that there will soon be a mess to clean up. You hastily snatch the jar from her clutches, and within a millisecond you have set off a protest tantrum. You've saved yourself a mess to clean up on the floor, but now you have an emotional mess to care for.
There is a better way. For a young toddler, make eye contact and divert her attention to something else she'd like. This is simply an exercise in politeness and respect, an "adult-in- charge" approach.
Kids do annoying things – not maliciously, but because they don't think like adults. Remember that what she is doing is developmentally appropriate. She's exploring and learning. Also realize that because two-year-olds get so engrossed in their activity, she is likely to throw a tantrum if you try to remove her. If you wait a few minutes, she'll go on to something else; and,

Get her attention by calling her name or some other cue word that you have learned will stop her in her tracks long enough to distract her. Try not to raise your voice.
A baby's mind is filled with hundreds of word associations. Teach her words of action.

Much of your discipline depends upon your ability to set limits. Boundaries provide security.
Limit-setting teaches a valuable lesson for life. Setting limits helps the whole family. The toddler needs to learn how to share the house with the whole family and parents need to be realistic about their tolerances. Some parents fail to set limits because they can't stand to see their baby frustrated. If you know how to deal with your limits, you'll know how to provide limits for your baby.
Toddlers want someone to set limits. Without limits the world is too scary for them. They intuitively know they need the security that limits bring. When they test the limits they are asking you to show them how dependable you and your limits are.
We wanted to clearly be in charge of our toddlers so that they would feel safe and secure with someone standing between them and the dangers of the big world, with a place to go for help. A child NEEDS to learn control. We helped them in two ways. First, by letting them know by our tone of voice and our actions that we are mature adults. Secondly, by being available as a safe and secure homebase they can leave and return to at will for comfort and reassurance. In this way, we could help them develop their own inner controls.
Structure protects and redirects. You free the child to be a child and provide the opportunity to grow and mature. Structure creates a positive environment for the child.
Structure sets the stage for desirable behaviors to override undesirable ones.

Schyla - posted on 02/14/2011




I have one of those! the best course of action is to pick one type of discipline and stick to it. We have implemented the timeout spot and she has to stay put for 1 minute per age AND she has to be quite for at the last minute (so this means if she is still screaming when her 5 minutes is up she stays put till she's been quite for an entire minute) then we ask her what she did to get put in time out (when we asked her why she's there she says because you put me here) and if she doesn't know then you tell her and make her repeat it back to you. then you ask her what she should do next time and if she doesn't know then you tell her and maker her repeat it We started this with her at 4 and at 5 she is learning that we will not tolerate that behavior.

Now she will get mad just ignore her if she gets up don't say a word just put her back in the spot make it a boring spot (ours is in the hall way) if she throws herself on the floor don't say a word as long as she's still in the spot just let her be. it's hard but leave her there till she's been quite for a minute and then talk her through why she's there and what she needs to do next time and THEN when she dose what you want her to do you have to make a big deal out of it lavish on the praise.

JuLeah - posted on 02/19/2011




Remember that discipline is to teach. Of course she lies to avoide trouble, many kids will. At age four, they don't really understand what 'lie' means. And, four year olds also don't listen well. Caution about negitive words like defiant when talking about your kid ... you might come to see them in a negitive light, when really they are babies attempting to make sence of this world ... language, words and their many different meanings, body lauguage, feelings, rules, her own wants and needs ....
So, ask yourself, when you move in to correct her behavior, "What do I want her to learn here? Will my actions/words teach her that lesson?"
Every behhavior has a function, meaning that every behavior has a reason. We don't do anything without a reason. If she is doing a behavior you don't like, figure out why she is doing it (and it goes without saying that "she's doing it to be a brat or she's doing it to piss me off "is not a reason)
So, when you figure out why she is doing it .... and with kids this age, it is most always about not understanding or wanting attention.
If she lies, it might be to tell you what she thinks you wanna hear to please you/make you happy.

Sylvia - posted on 02/19/2011




@Elizabeth -- with respect, are you suggesting that there are parents out there who *don't* teach their kids the difference between truth and untruth? That seems like a stretch ... "Words are magic" is a developmental stage that all kids go through, and then grow out of. Learning that saying you didn't do it doesn't make it unhappen is like learning object permanence or learning to read. Your 4-year-old may already understand the difference, but my 8-year-old definitely didn't at that age (she does now!), and many other kids don't either.

Also, I never said that inappropriate behaviours shouldn't be addressed! I just said it can be helpful for parents to remind themselves that their kids aren't *trying* to piss them off.


View replies by

Carolyn - posted on 02/19/2011




I totally agree with Schyla Crown, that is the method I used for my daughter. Believe me she was a handful, but never raised my hand to her or hers to me. Respect demanding it and respecting each other is a good key. Best of luck.

Elizabeth - posted on 02/17/2011




Sylvia, I have to disagree with you on some of what you said. I do think children who have been taught to know the difference between lying and telling the truth know exactly what they are doing when they're lying. My daughter is four and trust me, she KNOWS when she's lying and it's not that she wishes she hadn't done it (although I'm sure any kid will wish they hadn't done something if they get into trouble after doing it, so is the same for adults even), it's just that she did it because she felt like it would keep her out of trouble; don't underestimate children....I'll say this over and over again, at a certain age, some behaviors become purposeful and when a child has been taught the difference between lying, fibbing, story telling.........whatever you call it, when they do it, it's purposeful. Yes, four year old children are at the"words are magic" stage, but they still know what's right and what's wrong when they've been taught and I don't care how you spin it, a lie is just a lie. I do agree that they are not doing things to simply piss you off, but when they know right from wrong and choose to do wrong, then they are just plain wrong and they need to be told that there behavior is inappropriate (even if it's normal for a child at that age to behave that way).

Angie - posted on 02/17/2011




I think redirection is a great solution as long as you are very consistent and never, ever stray from it. This may seem like a lot of work now but it's easier to change this behavior in and 4 year old than in a 14 year old... Hitting should never be accepted. When she begins this behavior grab her hands and hold them so she is unable to hit you.

Sylvia - posted on 02/17/2011




A four-year-old is probably still in the "words are magic" stage of cognitive development. She may still think that by telling you she didn't do such-and-such naughty thing, she can actually make it not have happened -- she *wishes* she hadn't done it. She's still saying something untrue, but at this age that doesn't necessarily mean she's *lying*, that is, deliberately trying to deceive you.

Both telling stories that aren't true and hitting, etc., are developmentally normal behaviours for almost all kids at some point in the under-five age range. That doesn't mean they're *acceptable* behaviours, but sometimes when you're dealing with crazy-making behaviour from your kids it helps to remind yourself that they're not doing it on purpose to piss you off :)

Elizabeth - posted on 02/17/2011




In defense of the mom who says that she uses the redirection technique, I think it works if it is done properly. I don't think it involves bribing the child, but rather teaching the child how to appropriately "meet their needs" (without the temper tantrums and the whining and the need to punish). The purpose of redirecting is to redirect and not distract. It works for example, if you have a child who is running through the house, perhaps instead of simply telling them "don't run in the house because I said so" with redirection, you might try telling them to walk through the house and giving them reasons why they should walk instead of run (i.e. you may run into something, you may knock something over and break it). I think redirection is good if the parent uses it right and it really does teach the child to make appropriate decisions; in a sense it lets them know they have options.

Some people argue that spankings do not rid the behavior, it only offers a temporary solution. In fact, some argue that spankings only teach them how to hit if something does not work the way they want it to or if someone doesn't do what they want them to do (violence begets violence). Now, this is not my personal opinion, but my point is this, what works for some does not work for all, but it does not mean it is useless garbage; perhaps it just doesn't work for you, or you are not familiar with how to appropriately use that technique.

Elizabeth - posted on 02/15/2011




I think most kids go through the stage of lying. Some how they get in their little heads that lying will either get them what they want, or keep them out of trouble. My daughter does it and I always let her know that I know she's not telling the truth and I explain to her why she shouldn't lie. I explain to her that I don't like it when she lies and it's not something she should be proud of. She attends a Christian academy so she learns about God everyday and I make it my business to tell her that God does not like it when she lies. Make it personal for her, put it on a level that she can understand. For example, ask her how she would feel if you told her that she was going to get ice cream or candy and you never gave it to her and pretended like you didn't say it. I even tell her the story of the boy who cried wolf. You wouldn't think they would understand it, but they do.

Also, give her a minor punishment when she lies and thank her when she tells you the truth, tell her how proud you are of her and how much you appreciate her telling the truth. For example, if she lies about playing with a toy that she wasn't suppose to be playing with, take it away from her and explain to her why you are taking it. If she lies about picking up her toy from the floor, make her pick it up and hand it to you; put it away and explain to her why you are doing it. I always give my child the opportunity to tell the truth and I let her know that I already know the truth, but I just want her to tell me the truth and if she does, I tell her thank you and explain to her why whatever she did was wrong without making her feel extremely bad about it. For example, if I see her throw a toy, I call her over to me and tell her to listen to what I have to say before she says anything. I tell her that I saw what she did and I just want her to tell me what she did. I then ask her did she throw the toy and if she says yes, I calmly explain to her why that is not acceptable behavior. If she says no, I ask her again and tell her that I saw her and it is her last time to tell me the truth; usually this works because she knows she's busted. If she doesn't tell the truth, then a punishment follows (i.e. time out, take away a toy). Can I also add that a punishment is NOT always necessary (sometimes I just talk to my daughter), but if you are trying to break the habit because it is really bad, then a minor punishment might be in order (depending on what she did), such as taking a toy, time out, etc.

I have never had a problem with the hitting, I think you have to be stern about that. Don't laugh and joke about it and don't act like you are in so much shock and you don't know how to handle it. This just encourages her and makes her feel like she is in control or has the upper hand. If that happens, make her apologize and explain to her why that is not acceptable and follow up with a punishment. Remember at all times to stay calm, use a stern voice, make eye contact and be consistent (don't turn your head the other way because you don't feel like dealing with the issue at the time).

I don't think that the same punishment for everything is good because she will eventually get to a point where she will know what to expect and at some point determine that if the punishment is not so bad, then it's worth taking a chance so that she can get what she wants (instant gratification). Make sure that the punishments match the actions. Hitting mom because she is upset warrants more than a simple "I'm sorry." Set rules and make sure she is aware of the rules; if you have to post them up, then do that so that she is reminded of the rules. I also make it a point to explain to my children that they have choices, they have the right to choose how they want to behave and if they choose to behave badly, then they must suffer the consequences. Don't be afraid to be the "bad guy" or the "uncool parent." If correction is in order, correct her. Let her know that you still love her, but certain behaviors are just not appropriate and they are not acceptable. If you are afraid that she won't understand what that means, explain it to her in a way that she does understand it.

I think that a lot of times discipline doesn't work because parents are not consistent (it's easier to just let the child do what they want so that they don't have to hear crying) and children know this. My nephew (he's older now) use to always say that he knows his mom will not do anything, so he did what he did because he could; he could do wrong and she would only get mad, but that's about it. She would threaten him, but never actually go through with any of her punishments and he caught on to it.

Also, remember that she is still a child, lying does get frustrating, but that's apart of growing up; I have never met a person that can say they have never told a lie in their entire lives. She is only four and it's the one thing that she actually has control over; she can use it to get what she wants, to her, it's her only option. If you are consistent with correcting her and explaining to her why she should not lie, she will eventually grow out of it.

Medic - posted on 02/15/2011




I know this is really lame because I am so not one of those moms who reads all these books and listens to dr so and so tell me how to raise my kids but a mom on here told me about the book Parenting with Love and Logic. I actually got a lot out of it...granted it is not my bible and I do not follow it to a T but doing a few simple things has dramatically helped with our son who is 4. Everything is about choices, good and bad. We talk to him about choices all the I did not put him in time out, he CHOSE time out by his actions. I do not make him behave he CHOOSES to behave. With everything he has two choices.....Would you like to wear this jacket or this sweater today because its cold? either way I am happy and he feels in control so he is happy. Now when he is talking back I calmly (most of the time, I am working on the calm) tell him, Now Daemyan you have two choices, you can CHOOSE to rephrase that in a polite way or you can CHOOSE to go sit in the corner until you are ready to speak nicely. Either way I don't care, yes I would LOVE for him to always make good choices but he's 4 and sometimes he chooses the corner and he sits there until he is ready to come out which can be from a few min to an hour. I think he needs time to calm himself sometimes and since the corner is not punishment it is his choice sometimes its what he wants. He has a behavior chart for school and it is his choice how he acts and by acting that way he chooses what he does with the rest of the day. None of it is bad it just may not be his most favorite thing to do. For green he gets to watch a show, play on his computer, play with the legos and all of the other toys. For a yellow he only gets the toys no legos, tv, or computer. For a red he can only read his books and color. It really has worked so far and it has helped me calm down because I don't feel bad about any of the punishments. Rules are rules and the choices are already lined up.

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms