Accidental Parental Sabotage

Dear Sara,

My beautiful little four-year-old has become an absolute terror. She is very demanding and kicks and screams when she doesn’t get her way. I try to set limits for her but she has figured out that she can run to her Dad and he will give in and get her what she wants. He said that he doesn’t like the way she acts but continues to give in to her. How can I make her behave if he won’t cooperate?

Dear Lanie,

Even really young kids have a way of figuring out how to get what they want. They will usually do what works best for them. In your daughter’s case she has found out that having a temper tantrum works really well and that if all else fails, Dad is a soft touch.

This behavior didn’t happen overnight and it won’t go away overnight. Your little four year old needs to know that her temper tantrums will be ignored and that Dad will back you up. You two need to be on the same page. Is he really softhearted or just taking the way of least resistance? Sit down (away from your daughter’s hearing) and have a talk with him and find out why his daughter can manipulate him like this. Let him know that it is in her best interest that he cooperate with you on some kind of discipline approach. If he is still uncooperative then try to get him to go to counseling with you to sort this out. Your discipline efforts will continue to be sabotaged if you can’t get him in your corner and your daughter will grow up to expect everyone to do as she wishes.