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I am at my wits end with my almost 4 year old! I have tried every different method I know to try and get her to help out and do certain things (ie, pick up her toys, clean her room, listen while in shopping centres, etc) and nothing seems to work. She seems to completely ignore me, as if I haven’t spoken a word. In some cases she even does the opposite! This ends in a lot of frustration on my part and often her screaming because she hasn’t done what she wants to do. She also seems to be having a lot of screaming sessions over small things (her sister being put in her seat first, if I get to a spot or finish something before her or if she doesn’t get something she wants). It took over an hour the other day to get her to pick up 3 pieces of paper off the floor. We have had hearing tests done to make sure that’s all fine and they came back perfect. Her lack of helping and messy actions is causing trouble too, as my husband can’t understand how the house is so messy if I spend all day cleaning (which I do, and then is quickly undone) and he will have a go at me about it and saying that maybe he should spend all day at work and then come home to clean. He also seems to think that I should keep going every night so that it is clean in the morning. All I want to do by then is sit for a few minutes and maybe watch some tv after the kids are in bed. Is there anything else I should be worrying about? Or is this just the typical actions of a 4 year old? And what methods have you tried that have worked. I’ll try anything! (almost) Sorry for the long winded question and thanks for your help!


Posted anonymously, 30th December 2013


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  • Firstly, you are doing a great job Mum! It’s hard to please everyone. Overnight pack away lots of your kids toys, pop them in the Garage in black garbage bags and control how many toys they can play with and manage to clean them up at the end of the day. Rotate them with what you have in the garage. When she does not clean them up in a given time say 5 minutes. Put them in a garbage bag and put her in time out. When you have a tantrum put her on her bed and say sit there until you are happy. She must not put her feet on the floor. She can call you to say sorry for been sad. She is only four. Pick your arguments for instance, put her in the car first if your other child is not complaining that will fix that problem. If she behaves badly before you are going out pack everything back inside and pop her back on her bed. Wait until she calls you to tell you she is happy. Kids are quick learners she will get with the program. If the messy house is due to toys everywhere having them packed away in plastic tubs in the garage will help that. Your husband must have a taste of what you do all day so do go out and leave him to it. Leave a list of what you do in a day. From getting the kids up, dressed, breakfast, teeth cleaned outing to the shops for essentials milk etc and home for lunch and play, washing, ironing, vacuuming, putting bin’s out, clean the bathroom and so on till bedtime. You can come home feeling like you had a break. Do this often, he will appreciate you more when he has a taste of what you do all day long.


  • Keep being firm, calm and consistant, don’t give in to her, make sure she gets no treats until she does what she is told and take her out of places if she throws tantrums,when she does do something right make a big fuss of her last of all deal with hubbie, tell him you are going out for the day or evening and leave him in charge! he also needs to be firm with her and you need to agree not to play one against the other.


  • I grab a garbage bag and tell my daughter that unless they’re picked up in 5 min they’re going in the bin and she moves quick smart


  • First off don’t clean until 10minutes before hubby gets home and put the children in the backyard while you do this. Also make plans for the weekend with a girl friend and leave hubby home with the children and tell him you expect the house spotless when YOU get home. Also it is normal for kids to ignore you when you want them to do something (try reward charts, stickers, lollies, favorite whatever as a reward for being good) Try not to scream (it isn’t easy) and don’t be so hard on yourself. Set boundries and keep trying but pick your fights.


  • Unfortunately she’s a typical 4 year old. Pushing boundaries and not listening. All you can do in that case is persist and maybe try reward systems. As for your partner. He needs to spend some times in your shoes. If he’s carrying on and expecting you to keep everything perfect your daughter will most certainly mimic that behavior. Men don’t understand sometimes until there the ones taking on the load. I know how you feel when they come home and you’re exhausted and unappreciated. They think it’s an easy job being at home with the kids but I bet if you traded places for a bit and acted like he did he wouldn’t like it and it probably wouldn’t last.


  • OMG!! First thing – tell your husband he is quite welcome to spend an entire day with a four year old, as well as do the washing, cleaning, ironing, and cook meals. See how he copes!!
    My daughter was exactly the same. I ended up having to pack every single toy away, and only let her play with one thing at a time. Once playtime was over, she had to pack those toys away in their box. I had to give her a time limit – I used the timer on the oven. If it wasn’t done in time, she didn’t get any dessert or snacks with the next meal. If she did clean up before the timer went off, she got a star on her reward chart. Once she got 5 stars, she was able to choose 2 different toys to play with next time. It takes a while, but you have to be consistent.


  • Hang in there! This too shall pass! :-)

    Maybe try to remove stuff eg excess toys
    I am still finding out with my son that i have to be 2 steps ahead of him. As for hubby- wow somedays i would so prefer to go to work. Remain calm, do let it worry you, he simply doesnt understand. Maybe on the weekend give him some alone time with them and he will learn for himself. It sounds like you need a little break to get the energy and motivation back. Is there anyone who can babysit your kids for a day or night. Spent the time resting, doing something you enjoy. NOT CLEANING! Then you will be ready to tackle your daughters testing behaviour.

    Remember, you are a fantastic mum and before you know it your daughter will be onto something new.


  • Good luck,if I find the answer I will let you know


  • I recall my boys being a bit like that at 4 year old (although not necessarily great now either) but a reward chart worded wonders us.


  • I wonder if you have tried a behaviour chart. When she is good and helps out she gets to put a star on the board. Then when she has accumulated a set amount she will be rewarded with a special treat. Also maybe try giving her pocket money for positive encouragement. It doesn’t have to be a lot of money, but enough to make her feel good about what she is doing. Also if you can find the time, maybe try some one on one time with her. I find that when my 3 year old is acting up like your daughter seems to I give her some quality one on one time and then she seems to be more behaved and a happier child all round. I hope you find something that works to make your household a happier one to live in.


  • i hope you ended up having success


  • This absolutely sounds as though I could have written this myself. To be honest I think this is just typical 3-4 year old behaviour. Everything is just very overwhelming and stimulating for them. Getting cranky generally won’t help. You have to participate with them. Don’t just ask them to pick the toys up… Do it together.


  • Gosh – wish I had the answer. You poor thing :( I find Miss 3 doesn’t listen to us…and haven’t sorted this as yet. As for your husband – take him up on his offer and get him to take charge of the home for a day or two whilst you busy yourself elsewhere so he can experience the reality of youngsters and mess in the home. GOOD LUCK! :)


  • I think the messiness and not wanting to help is pretty normal, and tell your hubby to watch the kids when you go out, so he can see it’s not always easy


  • Make it into a game “can you pick up more paper than mummy? Oh! I bet you can’t! Im Going to win” etc?


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