At first, I kept blaming our busy schedule. We had the holidays, which included lots of traveling, houseguests and sugar. Then, it was simply us trying to get back into our routine.
But now? Well, I’m out of excuses and starting to face an ugly truth — our daughter is turning into a brat.
OK, that’s harsh. But suddenly, our sweet, sweet girl who used to listen and was always up for anything (you know, the random three-Disney park day with her dad) is gone. And in her place is a sulking, whining, crying, dramatic and defiant almost 4-year-old. Who knew that 4 was the new 14?
Every single thing lately seems to send her into a crying fit. And if my husband and I dare to tell her no, the tantrums ensue.
This weekend, we had friends in town, which included their adorable 3-year-old. At first, E. did a really good job sharing her toys. She was even excited to have her very first sleepover.
But it didn’t last. We gave the girls about 90 minutes and they still wouldn’t calm down. If we didn’t have plans the following morning, we might have let them keep being silly as long as it took them to pass out, but we were taking our friends to Disney for their very first time. That’s a BIG day. Plus, they’d been traveling all day to get to our house. Our littlest houseguest was clearly ready to sleep. But E. kept talking and talking and talking (gee, wonder where she gets it?). And yelling and yelling and yelling. Between the four of us parents, we went in to give them warnings at least 7 times.
Finally, at about 10:30 we pulled E. Oh, the meltdown. One solid hour of her screaming and me having to lock myself in my bedroom with her ensued. It was not fun. There was hitting, slamming her body on the ground and just general hysterics.
Saturday morning wasn’t much better. Given her late-night dramatics, she was not a happy camper when we arrived bright and early at Magic Kingdom. For the first three hours or so, this was pretty much her general demeanor.
Look at how desperate poor DadJovi is as he tries to negotiate her behavior. E. is a master stonewaller already, though. (Is this your homework, Larry?)
I know it seemed worse to DadJovi and I than it did to our friends, but it was very frustrating. She’s apparently just gotten to used to having her own way, particularly at Disney. I know it’s a product of her being an only child — she’s used to going where she wants, when she wants (within reason, obviously) at Disney. The concept of allowing other kids to pick the rides is completely foreign to her, and, as we learned the hard way, infuriating for her.
By lunchtime, she started turning her attitude around and the second half of the day was much better than the first half. By dinner time, our shiny, happy girl seemed to be back.
But the damage was done. DadJovi is done with the attitude. In fact, he was ready to cancel this weekend’s birthday trip to the Blue Devil’s House, aka Duke. When E. said that’s what she wanted instead of a birthday party, that’s what her dad planned (hmmm, maybe I see where some of that spoiling is coming from). But I had to convince him that she’s not a teenager who has broken curfew over and over again — she IS still a 3-year-old trying to flex her independence muscles.
It’s been very frustrating though. This wasn’t just one weekend; it’s an ongoing, chronic problem. Every little no from us results in waterworks and fits from her. I’m terrified that this weekend is going to consist of bribes and threats for her to be good, tantrums, an angry dad and a stressed out mom stuck in the middle.
Listen, I don’t want her to be an obedient robot. I love her spirit and yes, independence. Someday those will be amazing character traits. Someday. For now, they exist simply to torture me.
Thankfully, this is the last major thing on the agenda for the coming months. Then, it’s time for Attitude Boot Camp! Is this normal? Are 4-year-olds just whiny in general? What helps you distract your kids when they act like this? Or have we just created a monster? I keep telling DadJovi the only solution is to force her to not be the center of attention by having a second child. So far, he’s not buying it. At this rate, boarding school is starting to look like a good option.
I’m sorry you’re going through this with E. I’m afraid I don’t have a lot of wisdom to offer – although I have three boys, we didn’t go through any major temper tantrums – perhaps because we had three (and fairly close together).
All I will say is, eventually we all run into something we don’t know how to handle, and we question if our parenting may be the cause. We’re going through that right now with our youngest, and it’s NOT easy.
Good luck sorting out the attitude issues!
Kerry Ann (aka Vinobaby) says
Four was rough. Well, late three, early four. Whining, testing, and more TESTING. Hang in there. It will pass.
Thank you for providing me with a glimmer of hope that this may be just a phase and not a permanent personality trait!
Cat @Breakfast to Bed says
my son turns 4 in under a month. He’s turned into quite the challenge. holy cow. if you figure out a solution, please.tell.me.
I’m sorry for you but can I also tell you how happy your comment makes me? Misery loves company! We’ve got to be smarter than some almost 4-year-olds right? RIGHT?!?
This too shall pass? 🙂
Age 3 was really hard for us with Braeden – but over the course of year 4 things really turned around. I’m not going to say that Brae doesn’t feel entitled. He does, but it’s getting better. He understands more on how he’s not the center of our universe and how he has to earn his rewards. It’s hard to do that at E’s age. Even a year makes a HUGE difference. Although, maybe we just need to get together more – with the kids!
Tara@Going Small Town says
Please tell me NO! Braeden (ha first person I have ever seen spell it like us is above me) hit the terrible twos at 16 months! I swear he is 1 going on 12 he is even showing signs of wanting to potty train. It is so insane! I thought him having fits and getting rid of his pacifier was a passing thing NOPE they are growing up faster than ever. Good luck with it all sometimes I truly think I should hurry up and pop out a sibling so they can duke it out and I can kick back and watch LOL
I hear that 4 is the new 3 which was the new 2! I have seen you and DadJovi with E and you are great parents. A good friend gave me good advice that these phases of rough behavior will pass and you have to try and stand your ground and try to be consistent. Easier said than done for sure. And remember as Michelle always says, “take it one day at a time.”
I read this article in the Wall Street Journal the other day about how the French raise well behaved children and how their style is different from American parents. Though there may not be a “right” way, I thought it was good food for thought.
Paula @ Eat: Watch: Run says
Do you want to have another baby? Because I don’t think the only solution is having another baby. That just seems crazy to me. If you want one, then that’s a totally different story. I have 2 (much) older brothers so I was basically raised as an only child and my mom did not fear the word No. And if I had a tantrum, I went to my room until I stopped and still didn’t get what I wanted once I stopped crying. It taught me very early that I needed to behave and share the spotlight, so to speak.