More Difficult than the Terrible Twos: Picking Weeds with a Four-Year-Old

30 Jun

My middle daughter is nearly five years old, and I find myself praying that the Ferocious Fours will end with her upcoming birthday. I know from experience that this is unlikely, so I’m constantly looking for new ways to reconnect with her after some really trying days. Here’s a great excerpt from a Dr. Sears article, “Disciplining Bothersome Behavior: General Tips”. From this description, I would say we are in a full-blown weedy patch right now. For the full article, follow this link.

  • Feed flowers, pick weeds. The conduct of a growing child is full of undesirable and desirable behaviors — weeds and flowers. Given good nurturing, flowers grow so well you hardly notice the weeds… Sometimes the weeds grow more quickly than the flowers, and you have to pull them out before they take over. So go the behaviors of a growing child. Part of disciplining a child is to weed out those undesirables that make a child unpleasant to live with so that the desirables flourish and make the child a joy to be around.

It’s hard to explain just what is so difficult about mothering a four year old, but most parents will agree that this phase is much harder than the infamous Terrible Twos. Maybe it seems more difficult this time around with my second child simply because she has always been the easy child. She was a simple baby, a quiet and adorable toddler and has adapted well to all new phases of our lives; including preschool, a new baby and a new home. She is still quiet, but is now trying out her independence. She gets frustrated easily and does not want help from anyone. She will often do something forbidden, get caught and then claim it was an accident. Last week, when I caught her “pruning” an evergreen with my new (and very sharp… and previously well-hidden) pruning shears, she angrily exclaimed, “Well, I didn’t know you were there!” No remorse for her actions, just really angry that she got caught.

Last night at bedtime, I laid down beside her to sing one of our songs. We talked about her favorite parts of her day, but as usual, her answers were brief. In the silence that followed, I thought about all the really frustrating moments we had with each other. Suddenly, she looked right at me and stared. I could tell she was sizing me up; her face expressionless but searching. I smiled and looked into her enormous brown eyes, praying that we would connect. She finally reached a verdict and lifted her small hands to stroke my face. She tucked my hair behind my ear and smiled, then opened her arms wide to silently ask for a hug. My eyes filled with tears as I gathered her in a fierce hug. “You are so special,” I whispered. “And I am so lucky to have you.” She whispered back, “I love you, Mom, to the moon and back a million times and start all over again.”

I know she will test my patience a thousand more times (in the next year.) I’ll struggle through each day mentally chanting, “Don’t yell at her… don’t raise your voice.” But even when I do lose my cool, I know for sure that tomorrow and every day, I will make the time and effort to reconnect with the best parts of my little girl. And perhaps in doing so, she will rediscover the better parts of me.

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Posted by on June 30, 2009 in From Toddlers to Teens


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