Posted by: Frustrated mum | 2012-12-12

Defiant 4 year old

Hello Cyber Shrink,

Please can you assist me with ways on how I can change my 4 year olds behaviour towards me. She is completely defiant and either questions everything I ask her to do or she will ignore me completely. If I decline a request she imediately seeks approval from her father which causes tension between my spouse and I. I understand that he feels compelled to indulge her evy request as he works very erratic hours and does not get to spend much time with her.

Could this also be part of sibling revalry as her 2 year old is beginning to display this behaviour.

Both of them don''t display this behaviour when their dad is travelling for work purposes. What is causing this and how can i fix it?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

One first point - discuss this with your husband and make sure you both remain in agreement on every such occasion - she must never find something to gain by appealing from one of you to the other. A united front is essential for the child's benefit. Maybe he does feel guilty that his work hours limit the time he can spend with her, but he should not damage her by over-indulging her, spoiling her and encouraging bad behaviour, to make up for that.
It is very highly significant that NEITHER of the kids behave like this when DAD is away.
He has to learn that giving in to the child every time is a form of abuse and neglect. Sertting consistent boundaries within which they can enjoy freedom, is a parental responsibility and something every child needs.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Jenna | 2012-12-13

She has learnt the art of manipulation, and your husband is falling into her trap, makign you the enemy.

You need to speak to him, yes he may feel guilty for not being there but my father was the same, away for months on business trips but that never stopped him from putting his foot down when he was home.

Giving into their demands doesn''t make up for him not being there, good parenting (which includes discipline) does.

Reply to Jenna
Posted by: Purple | 2012-12-12

I agree with Maria.

At the moment they may act defiantly towards you because you don''t give in to their every whim, but with time they will lose all respect for your husband if he is a pushover and doesn''t have any boundaries in place.

Consistency and knowing what the boundaries are is very important in raising children. It doesn''t mean it will be without challenges, but it helps.

Reply to Purple
Posted by: Maria | 2012-12-12

You already know what is causing the behaviour: Both of them don''''t display this behaviour when their dad is travelling for work purposes.

Explain to your husband that children need boundaries and consistent, loving enforcement of those boundaries in order to feel safe and secure. If you and he do not present a united front the kids ARE going to act out. He must spoil them with extra love and attention, not by giving in to their every whim.

Reply to Maria

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