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Thread: Advise for a 4 yo

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    Apprentice of Doom Shahaku's Avatar
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    Advise for a 4 yo

    My daughter is whining on the couch while I'm trying to study... I really wish I could find a way to stop the whining...

    We're at a difficult point in the parenting journey. Our daughter is four and half and getting old enough that we really do expect her to be able to listen and follow directions. She apparently does really well at school, but at home it's terrible.

    I talked to her doctor about maybe getting her evaluated for ADHD or sensory issues, but the doc said they don't evaluate for anything until 6 and her teacher says she great in class, especially compared to some of the other kids. Nova says I hurt her ears any time I talk to her with a slightly raised voice. She melts down any time she's told no. The tantrums don't seem to be slowing down or getting better to me, and may be getting worse since I put her in school. We've tried time outs. I've tried time-ins. For a brief period we tried spanking.

    We're looking into a parenting classes, but I'm soooo iffy. I prefer the outlook of attachment parenting (though I feel like they go overboard a lot of the time) but their advice is typically more for babies and toddlers and I don't know what to do with a preschoolers.

    Bedtime is a nightmare. She doesn't go to sleep until 11 some nights. For a long time (from the time she was 2 until about 6mo ago) we had a rule that she had to be in her room after 7:30 and she could play or watch TV (which I know is bad) until she fell asleep, but that almost always led to screaming/panicky kid. A couple times she would cry so hard that she would throw up. And a lot of the time I would go sit with her until she calmed down or fell asleep, but then I would be exhausted and lose out on adult time. Now, I just stay up until she goes to sleep. On nights when I need to go to sleep earlier, and when she wakes up in the middle of the night, she has a pallet in our room she can move to.

    We've gotten into some pretty huge parenting arguments because there's three of us each wanting to take a different approach. I've read tons of books, and am part of several groups on Facebook, but it's not easy and nothing we try seems to work.
    We are what we are. Nothing more, nothing less. There is good and evil among every kind of people. It's the evil among us who rule now. -Anne Bishop, Daughter of the Blood

    I wondered if he could ever understand that it was a blessing, not a sin, to be graced with more than one love.
    It could be complicated; of course it could be complicated. And it opened one up to the possibility of more pain and loss.
    Still, it was a blessing I would never relinquish. Love, genuine love, was always a cause for joy.
    -Jacqueline Carey, Naamah's Curse

    Service to your fellows is the root of peace.

  2. #2

    Re: Advise for a 4 yo

    I will offer thoughts and advice, but take it with the biggest grain of salt you wish. I can hardly claim perfection, and parenting a long, challenging marathon.

    I always insisted that anytime there was a tantrum, the answer was always no. No exceptions, even if a polite ask would have been an easy yes. It feels brutal, but I think it worked. Also we made an ironclad vow not to let the kids triangulate us. It was always a united front (the exception would have been if the other parent had been abusive). I am also exceptionally good at "grey rock" for bad behavior. A tantruming child will be safe, but it is not a rewarding experience.

    Also, if she is very well behaved while out in the world, she might be melting down at home because she is finally in a safe place. At 4, emotions are still very big, and controlling them is a mighty task. Sometimes it helped me to be proactive by planning a socially acceptable way of decompressing before there was a tantrum, and also just tending ahead of time to late afternoon hunger or dehydration or exhaustion. One time I had to do all of my holiday shopping after work in one evening, and I had to take my 3-4 year old. She threw the mother of all tantrums in Target. I knew it was because that was just too much to ask of her after a whole busy day. I still didn't give her the treat I promised for being good, which felt terrible. It was a learning experience for both of us. It was the last big tantrum.

    That said, every child is different, every family is different, and what worked for me may not work for you. Also, if it is developmental whining, it will pass surprisingly quickly. If the whining is somehow reinforced, it may linger. If it is a personality trait forming, well good luck. There are lots of advantages to multiple parents, more loving adults, more skill sets, more time for attention. But as soon as there are two or more parents, you are going to have to deal with conflicting parenting styles. Most of the time it is wonderful having someone(s) else who loves your child and puts their needs first, but every once in a while I have honestly thought it might be easier if I could make and enforce all the rules. Pros and cons and compromises. Feel free to vent here. In the end I think more love is the winning hand.

    I have to admit that bedtime pretty much broke me. My husband has horrible sleeping habits; most of his family has bipolar or hypomanic traits, and there was no such thing as sleeping rules in his family. He just doesn't get it.Plus, of course, there is also the likelihood that some of my children's sleep problems are genetic. If it helps, they do sleep in their own spaces now, although things were pretty creative for a number of years. I was worried that co-sleeping would last forever.My kids didn't throw tantrums, they just wouldn't or couldn't sleep. And neither of us wanted them up all night alone, afraid of whatever haunted their imaginations. We sacrificed a lot of adult time to this, and sleep as well. Truth be told, my sleeping habits used to be good, but are terrible now. Other married into the family members have told me the same. But, nevertheless, the kids grow up no matter where or when they sleep. From my experience, I would advise doing whatever it takes to keep it consistent, so good habits develop. But be consistent at what actually works for your family, not necessarily some idea of what it should be. If she sleeps better with a parent in the room for 30 minutes, and that works, go ahead. She can learn how to fall asleep with someone safe beside her, and those habits will work later when she has to do it alone. Emphasize darkish room, quiet time, regular breathing, maybe a bedtime visualization that you do every night. Maybe rotate shifts if you can, so that none of you is exhausted or missing out on personal time every day. One day in the near future, she will decide she is too grown up for this, and you will miss it. Honest.

  3. #3
    Sr. Member faye_cat's Avatar
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    Re: Advise for a 4 yo

    Are you giving her a period to decompress between being out and being home? Like, 30 minutes to an hour after school to sit, have a snack, and do what she wants/a list of allowed playthings/activities.

    It could be a cylindrical thing: She's not getting sleep, she's stressed and tired, she then allows herself to melt down at home, everyone is stressed, she doesn't sleep, etc.

    Have her give input. Yes, she's only four, but it'll make her feel included and might give you insight to why she is upset or what triggers her. Once you have a routine fleshed out, try it for a few weeks. Adjust as needed, but only one tweak at a time. Stick to it, otherwise it's still just guessing. If you haven't already, give her a special place she can go to calm down. It's not a "time out", it's a "work out your emotions and tell me when you're done what you need" or a "have a think seat". There are some great ways to get her to relate to her emotions and figure out if she's actually angry or if she's tired, etc. Books or using inside out characters, or pictures, so on.

    For bedtime, definitely take away the tv and maybe give her a cd she can listen to only when she's in her bed, ready to sleep. Or you could read one chapter each night and ask her to finish the rest of the story in her dreams, and write about it when she wakes up.
    “I am Cat and I walk alone and all ways are the same to me.” ~Rudyard Kipling, The Cat Who Walks By Himself

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    Re: Advise for a 4 yo

    Prickly Pear:

    I do try to have things ready, like a snack in the car when she gets out of school and a toy or something that makes her want to get back to the car. And I don't give in to tantrums. Conflicting parenting styles is probably the hardest part of being poly. And yes, bedtime is killing me. I would be totally find with completely cosleeping, but we have three adults in a bed already, and my daughter is a wiggle worm when falling asleep.



    FayeCat:

    First, she's not writing yet (not even a few letter independently), so journaling about her dreams is definitely not a thing.

    We do have a routine, I have to to get anything done, and we really don't expect anything of her other than to get from the school to car and car to house after school. I do talk to her, but it doesn't really get us anywhere. We also do Mindful Games and things like that semi-regularly.

    I've tried taking the TV away, but if I'm not in her room with her she cries until she makes herself sick, and I'm just not doing that anymore. Period. She does get enough sleep, because I don't have to wake her up in the morning, but that can be a viscous cycle because she wakes up a bit later each day and stays up a bit later each night. She usually settles with falling asleep somewhere around 11 and getting up somewhere around 8. I honestly think she may have a delayed sleep cycle or something like that, both myself and her father show signs of it. (I typically settle into a 1 am-9 am cycle if I don't have any reason to get up earlier.)

    The whole calming corner thing doesn't work either. We've tried it. She sees it as a punitive thing no matter how I approach it. And I've tried the sit down with me and we'll work it out approach. If we send her to her room until she can collect herself sometimes she'll be tantruming for half an hour. When we tried time outs she was throwing herself around enough to bruise herself. It's a mess. I really have tried several different approaches from several different parenting styles and tried them each for at least a couple months. None of it has helped her regulate her emotions at all. And I know she's just four, but it does seem more exaggerated than other kids her age.
    We are what we are. Nothing more, nothing less. There is good and evil among every kind of people. It's the evil among us who rule now. -Anne Bishop, Daughter of the Blood

    I wondered if he could ever understand that it was a blessing, not a sin, to be graced with more than one love.
    It could be complicated; of course it could be complicated. And it opened one up to the possibility of more pain and loss.
    Still, it was a blessing I would never relinquish. Love, genuine love, was always a cause for joy.
    -Jacqueline Carey, Naamah's Curse

    Service to your fellows is the root of peace.

  5. #5
    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Re: Advise for a 4 yo

    I'm going to break this up into a couple different areas, because it is probably better addressed that way...


    The tantrums:
    This is so spot on--
    Also, if she is very well behaved while out in the world, she might be melting down at home because she is finally in a safe place. At 4, emotions are still very big, and controlling them is a mighty task. Sometimes it helped me to be proactive by planning a socially acceptable way of decompressing before there was a tantrum, and also just tending ahead of time to late afternoon hunger or dehydration or exhaustion.
    ESPECIALLY if she does have ADHD. Of course, sleep disorders can also LOOK like ADHD.

    With this being said, sometimes tantrums are genuine frustration and that frustration isn't about what the tantrum is over. Collin had a meltdown over wanting juice when he was in pre-k, but the tantrum was actually about missing daddy (who was on a job out of state for 6 months) who always brought him a juice box on the days he picked him up from school...When it isn't about attention or getting something specific, and is out of frustration, then figuring out what the tantrum is really about and problem solving WITH them is more important (IMO) than not giving in. A kid has a tantrum over a cookie because they are hungry, they might not get the cookie, but they can have raisins, some crackers, etc. I was watching my brother once when he had a tantrum over not wearing a pair of pants...the tag was super irritating to him, but I didn't know that because he didn't know how to explain it to me, and my mom didn't tell me that tags bothered him..


    ADHD:
    So, doctors have officially been cleared to evaluate ADHD at 4 since 2011. I know this because that is the year that my son turned 4. We had to go to a neurodevelopmental pediatrician that specialized in ADHD and autism, but the idea that ADHD can't be diagnosed before 6 is wrong (but general pediatricians are often hesitant to do so and for all the "doctors are just trying to get your money"/"big pharma is the evil" propaganda out there, in reality, many pediatricians are still anti-ADHD as a diagnosis, period). What they aren't recommended to do is prescribe stimulants until 6, though they can prescribe non-stimulants before then. I have a lot more to say about this whole process and possibility, and the different ways it can be managed and the efficacy of most of them, but I really recommend you read this: https://www.additudemag.com/symptoms...n-sensitivity/ --forget all the BS checklists they make you do (well, don't because you will have to do them), these three criteria aren't on a lot of checklists, but are generally super strong in people with ADHD.

    Also, girls often present differently than boys with ADHD--girls are generally more socially aware at a younger age and more likely to try to please someone like a teacher in class. ...meaning, she's expending all of her energy being good in school and has nothing left when she gets home--not unlike adults when they get home from work.


    The Sleep Issue:

    Have you tried melatonin? It was the first thing recommended by the doctor for Collin, but its available OTC, to help with his sleep. He had HUGE sleep issues...still does. They make liquid, chewable, swallowable, gummies...you name it. Collin takes an adult dosage of melatonin as a 10 yo, and has since he was 8. When he was 4, he started on 1 mg, but we didn't get sleep relief until he was talking 3 mg. Melatonin basically starts the nighttime routine (at 8pm)--shower, put on jammies, brush teeth, lay out clothes for tomorrow, make sure backpacks are ready, read a book. No electronics starts 1-2 hours before that, depending on whether or not its a weekend or weekday. On weekends, bedtime routine starts at 8:30/9, unless there's a special occasion.


    The whining:

    In my experience from my kids, my brothers (who are 19 and 20 years younger than I am), babysitting, teaching swimming lessons to prek kids, etc...this is pretty common around this age. For my daughter, I ignored her. If her whining sounded like a valid concern, I told the air that I heard some funny noise squeaking, but couldn't understand it because it wasn't using a big girl voice. Given enough time and consistency, she either figured it out or grew out of it. The son, on the other hand, still whines sometimes... We still do the same thing, he apologizes and rephrases, we move on. I will say that the biggest thing is to act like it doesn't bother you and ignore it. Whining is generally about attention, making a big deal out of it will just make more whining because attention is attention, good or bad (which I'm sure you are well aware of).
    “You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?" ~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

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    Re: Advise for a 4 yo

    Quote Originally Posted by thalassa View Post
    I'm going to break this up into a couple different areas, because it is probably better addressed that way...


    The tantrums:
    This is so spot on--


    ESPECIALLY if she does have ADHD. Of course, sleep disorders can also LOOK like ADHD.

    With this being said, sometimes tantrums are genuine frustration and that frustration isn't about what the tantrum is over. Collin had a meltdown over wanting juice when he was in pre-k, but the tantrum was actually about missing daddy (who was on a job out of state for 6 months) who always brought him a juice box on the days he picked him up from school...When it isn't about attention or getting something specific, and is out of frustration, then figuring out what the tantrum is really about and problem solving WITH them is more important (IMO) than not giving in. A kid has a tantrum over a cookie because they are hungry, they might not get the cookie, but they can have raisins, some crackers, etc. I was watching my brother once when he had a tantrum over not wearing a pair of pants...the tag was super irritating to him, but I didn't know that because he didn't know how to explain it to me, and my mom didn't tell me that tags bothered him..


    ADHD:
    So, doctors have officially been cleared to evaluate ADHD at 4 since 2011. I know this because that is the year that my son turned 4. We had to go to a neurodevelopmental pediatrician that specialized in ADHD and autism, but the idea that ADHD can't be diagnosed before 6 is wrong (but general pediatricians are often hesitant to do so and for all the "doctors are just trying to get your money"/"big pharma is the evil" propaganda out there, in reality, many pediatricians are still anti-ADHD as a diagnosis, period). What they aren't recommended to do is prescribe stimulants until 6, though they can prescribe non-stimulants before then. I have a lot more to say about this whole process and possibility, and the different ways it can be managed and the efficacy of most of them, but I really recommend you read this: https://www.additudemag.com/symptoms...n-sensitivity/ --forget all the BS checklists they make you do (well, don't because you will have to do them), these three criteria aren't on a lot of checklists, but are generally super strong in people with ADHD.

    Also, girls often present differently than boys with ADHD--girls are generally more socially aware at a younger age and more likely to try to please someone like a teacher in class. ...meaning, she's expending all of her energy being good in school and has nothing left when she gets home--not unlike adults when they get home from work.


    The Sleep Issue:

    Have you tried melatonin? It was the first thing recommended by the doctor for Collin, but its available OTC, to help with his sleep. He had HUGE sleep issues...still does. They make liquid, chewable, swallowable, gummies...you name it. Collin takes an adult dosage of melatonin as a 10 yo, and has since he was 8. When he was 4, he started on 1 mg, but we didn't get sleep relief until he was talking 3 mg. Melatonin basically starts the nighttime routine (at 8pm)--shower, put on jammies, brush teeth, lay out clothes for tomorrow, make sure backpacks are ready, read a book. No electronics starts 1-2 hours before that, depending on whether or not its a weekend or weekday. On weekends, bedtime routine starts at 8:30/9, unless there's a special occasion.


    The whining:

    In my experience from my kids, my brothers (who are 19 and 20 years younger than I am), babysitting, teaching swimming lessons to prek kids, etc...this is pretty common around this age. For my daughter, I ignored her. If her whining sounded like a valid concern, I told the air that I heard some funny noise squeaking, but couldn't understand it because it wasn't using a big girl voice. Given enough time and consistency, she either figured it out or grew out of it. The son, on the other hand, still whines sometimes... We still do the same thing, he apologizes and rephrases, we move on. I will say that the biggest thing is to act like it doesn't bother you and ignore it. Whining is generally about attention, making a big deal out of it will just make more whining because attention is attention, good or bad (which I'm sure you are well aware of).
    Thanks for the info. As far as melatonin, it was something we tried, and it barely had an effect, and that only for a couple days. It seemed to make her just a smidge more drowsy, if that, but that was about it. And we upped the dose a few times over the course of a month or two before giving up.
    We are what we are. Nothing more, nothing less. There is good and evil among every kind of people. It's the evil among us who rule now. -Anne Bishop, Daughter of the Blood

    I wondered if he could ever understand that it was a blessing, not a sin, to be graced with more than one love.
    It could be complicated; of course it could be complicated. And it opened one up to the possibility of more pain and loss.
    Still, it was a blessing I would never relinquish. Love, genuine love, was always a cause for joy.
    -Jacqueline Carey, Naamah's Curse

    Service to your fellows is the root of peace.

  7. #7
    bibliophibian volcaniclastic's Avatar
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    Re: Advise for a 4 yo

    Quote Originally Posted by Shahaku View Post
    Thanks for the info. As far as melatonin, it was something we tried, and it barely had an effect, and that only for a couple days. It seemed to make her just a smidge more drowsy, if that, but that was about it. And we upped the dose a few times over the course of a month or two before giving up.
    It tastes like socks, and I don't know if there are any contraindications for children, but have you looked into valerian? I have a really hard time sleeping most of the time, and I switch back and forth between a few different things - valerian, melatonin and sleepy time teas - with moderate success.

    Another suggestion: have you tried getting her into meditation? I'm a firm believer that there's no such thing as too young, and I'm sure there's a bunch of resources out there for teaching it to children.
    “The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” – John Muir

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    Apprentice of Doom Shahaku's Avatar
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    Re: Advise for a 4 yo

    Quote Originally Posted by volcaniclastic View Post
    It tastes like socks, and I don't know if there are any contraindications for children, but have you looked into valerian? I have a really hard time sleeping most of the time, and I switch back and forth between a few different things - valerian, melatonin and sleepy time teas - with moderate success.

    Another suggestion: have you tried getting her into meditation? I'm a firm believer that there's no such thing as too young, and I'm sure there's a bunch of resources out there for teaching it to children.
    I bought the Mindful Games book and card set and try to get it out on the regular basis. There is a teddy bear meditation that she likes, so yes, we've tried that. It has admittedly been awhile since I've done this (between us both being in school, and working two jobs now, it fell to the back) We've also tried dream easy and chamomile teas, but she'll only drink them with honey, which is counter-intuitive.

    I should add that we do know she reacts very poorly to sugar, but it's insanely difficult keeping it at the appropriate levels. When I started counting her sugar intake I was shocked, and it's not something I'm good at regulating for myself. But we can see a drastic difference in behavior when she's had a lot of candy compared to when we're keeping sugar to a minimum. It's like her behavior goes for just barely tolerable to us needing to take turns to cool off every half hour/hour.
    We are what we are. Nothing more, nothing less. There is good and evil among every kind of people. It's the evil among us who rule now. -Anne Bishop, Daughter of the Blood

    I wondered if he could ever understand that it was a blessing, not a sin, to be graced with more than one love.
    It could be complicated; of course it could be complicated. And it opened one up to the possibility of more pain and loss.
    Still, it was a blessing I would never relinquish. Love, genuine love, was always a cause for joy.
    -Jacqueline Carey, Naamah's Curse

    Service to your fellows is the root of peace.

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