I am at a loss at what my exact question is, because pretty much all of my just-turned-four-year-old's behavior is confusing me. Suddenly in the past several months, every I say is wrong; if I say red, it's green. She literally invents arguments over silly things, and when I don't engage, she gets even more upset. She's had a problem with another little girl physically bullying her at school, so her teachers have coached her on standing up for herself; and yet, she herself will sometimes pinch or bop other kids for seemingly no reason (her teachers say this is how children attempt to ask other children how to engage in play, even though it is inappropriate, which makes NO sense to me). She gets so frustrated . . . with everything. She knows she's going to get a consequence (including spanking) if she pinches or kicks at me, and yet she does it again just the same. It's like the poor kid is in a blender or a tornado and literally cannot calm down no matter how calm, firm, and affectionate I am. I don't think she enjoys her stressed grouchy frustration, but I don't think she knows how to articulate it either. I thought perhaps it was preschool, because it is a zoo of noise (which I don't deal well with either), but she is like this on the weekends as well. Is this an ages/stages thing for 4 year olds, or likely something specific to her? Because we've had no changes in life recently, and I'm baffled by this little "changeling" I have in my house. I have John's books and use many of his methods with success but right now I'm so overwhelmed by behaviors that I don't know which to address first and how strongly. Any light on the picture is much appreciated.
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