Question : “My 4 year old girl has been very defiant. She has been doing things on purpose, especially things we do not like her to do. When her baby sister is sleeping, she will make loud noises or shout. Sometimes, she would choose to do the opposite of what we tel her to do. I am getting impatient! What should I do?”
Answer: Your little girl is trying to send you a clear message: “Mommy – I don’t feel like I am important to you.“ This is why she is misbehaving and trying to frustrate you.
When you get impatient or react to her, most of the time, you will not be able to pay attention to other things around you e.g. your youngest child. For that split second, your 4 year old has mommy’s undivided attention – even if it is obtained in a negative way.
It is important for you not to “lose your cool” so that you can calmly let her know how you would like her to express her needs and desires more appropriately.
In addition, you can give your daughter extra time once a week. During this time, she gets to spend time with you or dad without any other distractions. This time does not have to be long in duration but should consist of quality interactions or activities that she enjoys.
Dr Vanessa von Auer
MA (Counseling), B.A. Psychology (hons.), EMDR
Vanessa von Auer is the Clinic Director/Psychologist of Von Auer Psychology Centre VAPC. She has spent her career helping parents learn effective parenting strategies, has helped children process their emotional difficulties in healthy ways and has helped families grower closer in their dynamics with one another. For more information, visit www.vapc.sg