Help with 4 Year Old Behavior

I have a 4 year old granddaughter that seems as sweet as pie, until she get angry. She hits, bites, and just yesterday, scratched and pinched me in the arms. When she is in a bad mood - watch out. One minute she is cute and the next minute - terrible. When I babysit for her alone she is wonderful. The minute her parents walk in, she starts acting up. If I visit her at her house, she sometimes won't look at me until she is ready. Her preschool said that sometimes she interacts with the kids, and sometimes she does not. Sometimes she will just watch and stare. I find her personality very bizarre. One time she said that she was going to zip off my head. Is there anything to worry about at this age?

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Joan from Springfield, MA

July 19, 20080 found this helpful

Your grand-daughter is having serious mood swings, and her parents should have her neurologically tested to see if she might be bi-polar.

http://www.bpkids.org/site/PageServer?pagename=lrn_about

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July 19, 20080 found this helpful

I currently have a four yr old, and have been through the age with my older daughters. My son's behavior can be extremely variable also. I tend to think your granddaughter is just passing through this age of strong-minded independence. We give my son discipline when he misbehaves, but I think at four they are pushing the limits of all the adults and of our tolerance!

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July 19, 20080 found this helpful

The fact that you say she's fine when the parents are away tells me something. Wish you could be a fly on the wall when they're alone and you might see how she manipulates them and how they dance to her tune.

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July 19, 20080 found this helpful

I don't have kids, but I did go through that phase with my 2 nieces, & the younger of the 2, I think it is a manipulating/controlling factor, but I agree that she may need to be checked for metal disorder also.

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July 20, 20080 found this helpful

As a bipolar patient, myself, I agree that this could be a manifestation of bipolar disorder. I wish I'd been diagnosed sooner, as I'd have been spared a lot of misery with untreated and inexplicable mood swings. The earlier a problem is detected, the earlier it can be treated. Good luck!

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July 20, 20080 found this helpful

I agree with these 2 post

Post by Glenn'sMom (231) | (07/19/2008)

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The fact that you say she's fine when the parents are away tells me something. Wish you could be a fly on the wall when they're alone and you might see how she manipulates them and how they dance to her tune.

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RE: Help with 4 Year Old Behavior

Post By dk (Guest Post) (07/19/2008)

I currently have a four yr old, and have been through the age with my older daughters. My son's behavior can be extremely variable also. I tend to think your granddaughter is just passing through this age of strong-minded independence. We give my son discipline when he misbehaves, but I think at four they are pushing the limits of all the adults and of our tolerance!

Having raised my grown children and now caring daily for my grandson who is 4yrs they will test your limits at that age. and if she is in preschool or day car you don't know if some other child or grownup is treating her the same way and she just repeating what shes seen and heard especially the phrase I'll zip your head off". They will do what they have been shown. to many times kids are put on medicines because of diagnoses doctors say they have and the medicines cause them further health problems. Be sure before she is given medicines she may not even need. maybe she is lacking the hugs and kisses and attention she needs as a kid. I'm not saying to spoil her but these days kids are rushed off to daycare and if parents are divorced or having marital issues the kids get lost in the shuffle and they, at that age, do not know how to show or deal with there emotions because of it.

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July 20, 20080 found this helpful

I do think it sounds like it warrants a checking out--with specific discussion of the behavioral issues. Hopefully it is nothing but a phase.

I, too, read the part about her being fine till her parents come; and that is really indicative of plain, old behavioral issues. I thought, "we know who runs that house", until I read further.

If her behavior at school is odd enough to have gained their attention, I think the roots of it need to be explored more carefully. The sooner the better, as intervention can really help.

I would ask her pediatrician for a recommendation and referral to a psychiatrist or neuropsychologist who specializes in children and childhood issues. It won't hurt to have her checked--because if it turns out to be "nothing" but behavior, it will be a relief to all. If there is a deeper issue, it, too can be dealt with and can help make your granddaughter a happier and more comfortable kiddo. Rest assured that there are many avenues of intervention if there are real issues going on with her--and they don't have to mean medications. The parents always have the right to say no.

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July 21, 20080 found this helpful

Hi, I would have her checked by a childrlen's psychologist. We have an adopted child that had behavior problems like you described. By 4 yrs. old we knew we had a serious problem. She was eventually diagnosed as Bipolar. Her initial diagnoses was ADHD. Most Bipolar children are incorrectly diagnosed as ADHD. The ADHD medicine will make their behavior worse if they have Bipolar. Loretta

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July 21, 20080 found this helpful

Well, when people refer to "the terrible twos", I think the age of four is twice as difficult, because kids verbal & fine motor skills are more developed. They think that they have the world by the tail at this age! I worked in a daycare full-time for ten years, and I saw kids who were completely angelic for me turn into the spawn of Satan as soon as the parents came to get them. My own kids went through this phase, and my daughter was especially challenging.

Four year old kids can get very manipulative, and since the parents are the first line of defense as far as setting boundaries and rules, of course she is going to do all she can to KICK the boundaries down! As grandmother, YOU are the boundary setter once removed, so she accepts the boundaries YOU set. When the parents walk in or you go to her house, she is acting out to get THEIR attention! This phase may pass, but her parents should take her to the pediatrician to make sure she doesn't have an underlying issue, like ADHD, etc.

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July 21, 20080 found this helpful

Has this child had a head injury?

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July 21, 20080 found this helpful

Please, please don't be so quick to jump to the conclusion that this child has bipolar disorder; four is a very young age to be diagnosed with a mood disorder of that magnitude. Your granddaughter's behavior could be due to developmental reasons (the strong-minded independence mentioned by another poster) or a lack of structure or routine in her life. Perhaps she is used to getting her way through moodiness and has not had consistent discipline. Her failure to interact with kids at preschool could also be due to not having the social skills to join in others' play, share appropriately, or take turns. I agree with the poster who suggested having the pediatrician make a referral to a therapist or psychiatrist -- let the professionals do the diagnosing!

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July 21, 20080 found this helpful

Could be any of the above, but sounds mostly like an attention getting behavior with you. I would get up and walk away every time she says or does something unacceptable. On a day when she is with you, in as unemotional manner as possible I would say something to her like "it makes me sad when you don't talk to me at your house when I come to see you. Why is that?" It is possible she doesn't have awareness that her behavior affects others. Most kids by 4 are beginning to develop empathy and you could be teaching her a needed skill.

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July 21, 20080 found this helpful

Hopefully a full evaluation will be done and a proper diagnosis made by a qualified Pediatrician or Pediatric Psychiatrist. Whatever they find, NEVER let her hit you, scratch you, bite you or hurt you at all. You are bigger and stronger than she is and you restrain her in whatever way you have to but don't allow her to treat you this way!

If she is normal and just strong willed, you and her parents had better take control NOW.

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July 21, 20080 found this helpful

Whatever labels she will earn when evaluated by the professionals, it is clear she has no respect for her parents and has full respect for you. Kids have anger that they don't know how to handle, so they need external limits lovingly imposed by parents so they have a chance to develop that nano-second of choice that they need to govern their impulses. That's the definition of adult maturity.

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July 22, 20080 found this helpful

Because she behaves for you, I agree that it probably is a discipline problem at home. She sounds strong willed which means she wants to control and if allowed will do so. Dr. James Dobson has a good book called The Strong Willed Child that might help her parents learn to handle her. You may want to get it and read it yourself and see if you think it would help and if so give it to them. (You may be able to borrow it from the library for your reading)

My middle son was like that that and I had to learn to handle him. He didn't like to color and would refuse at school. He would hit me and I would put him in a "basket hold" and tell him he was not allowed to behave that way. When he told me he could act appropriately I would let him go. If he repeated it, I would send him to his bedroom until he could behave. He a wonderful young man now:)

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July 22, 20080 found this helpful

Please encourage the parents to have the child checked by professional for possible abuse. I had the same behavior going on with my four year old grandson. Great with me but not when mom showed up, got defiant, aggressive at times at home, preschool, showed social problems, sleep problems, regressed in speech and other areas. We found out he was molested several times by a family friend his parents had known and trusted for ten years. This child was also diagnosed as adhd, bipolar and sent to counseling. Better to be sure and I pray I'm wrong.

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July 22, 20080 found this helpful

She should be checked by a pediatric psychiatrist. I have raised 29 other people's children. Her behavior parallels that of some of my children. Put yourself in her position. At four she is not old enough to evaluate it. If someone is doing something to her that is painful and/or wrong, how would you draw attention to it?

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September 25, 20080 found this helpful

My mom had a Daycare for about 12 years, which held 16 children. She is very very educated in childrens behavior; what is "normal" and what is not so "normal." As my son has grown up she has helped me along the way realize that most of the child's behavior, when having a "fit", is typical for their age.

My son is 4 now. When my mom was visiting us last she noticed some changes in my son's behavior. She said, "4 is usually the age where most parents, if you asked them if they liked age 4 or not, would cringe and say 'yuck, no'."

4 year olds have this attitude that can drive you up the wall. First, you have to learn how to control your own behavior. If you can do that then the child will also learn to control their own.

Remember. They are a clean slate. Don't expect too much from a 4 year old.

Be consistent. Teach and parent with LOVE!

I personally do not agree with restraining the child until they stop hitting. Would you like to be restrained when you are frustrated? Probably not! The only time I would agree with the restraining technique is if they were using threats. I think you know when the right time is and when it's abusive and mean.

Instead. FIRMLY tell them 'YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO HIT" then send them to a room so that they can calm down. Stay near their room, children dont like to be left alone. If they come out put them back in. Only give them attention when they have quieted down. When they have quieted down say, "Are you done?" If they are still frustrated they need to stay in their room until they have calmed down and say "yes" to the question, "are you done" EVERYONE needs and deserves their time to breathe, no matter the age.

After the child has calmed down tell them thank-you for calming down. Tell them again that hitting is not allowed and if they hit again they will go to their room again. Tell them again that you love them and hug them and kiss them.

Catch your grand-daughter saying something nice. Say something like, "(insert her name here) That is a very nice way to talk. Thank you! Good job!"

If she said something mean, say, "now, do you think that that is a very nice way to talk?" they may or may not answer, but their facial expression will give you the yes or no answer.

It is also "normal" for a child to behave better for the babysitter, or grandma or someone other than mom and dad.

My son was an angel for the lady at his old daycare, but then when I showed up he wasn't so cooperative. THIS IS NORMAL!

Don't let these people put into your head that there is something serious going on at home. If you seriously suspect something is going on at home then cautiously deal with it. That is a very serious accusation!

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