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Sunday, 25 March 2001

Aggressive Four-Year-Old Daughter

Written by  Toby Klein Greenwald

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QDear WholeMom,

My daughter is four. She will turn five in August. Lately she has become very short tempered. Our next door neighbor is already five. When she visits our home, my child loses control over not getting her way and automatically starts hitting, pushing and kicking. She also screams and loses control all around. Yet, in just a matter of moments she is calmed down and expects everything to be forgiven.

I have approached the situation every way possible, talking to her about other people's feelings, about showing respect for other people's bodies, explaining that it is not acceptable behavior in anyone's eyes, telling her that people won't want to be her friend.

We have separated the girls (sent one home), I have put her in time out, taken away privileges, tried to get her to tell me what she is feeling when she does these things...I'm at the end of my rope.

I thought that I was dealing with it rather well until the other day when I had a really good talk with her and I thought she got the point, but the next day when our neighbor came over it all happened again. She hit her six times in one hour.

I don't know what to do. She is the only child my daughter has to play with on a regular basis, besides her 20 month old brother. I don't want to keep her from her. She won't have anyone, but I'm also afraid that if she keeps it up, the little girl's parents are going to get fed up and will never let them play together again. Every time they play I end up apologizing on her behalf.

I am at the point of tears in frustration. She starts kindergarten in the fall. Is it possible to have the problem under control by August 13th? Please help!


- A mom in desperate need!

ADear desperate mom,

Your daughter is obviously experiencing some kind of internal or external stress that causes this erratic behavior. There is some important information missing from your letter. Does she go to a preschool class in which she interacts with other children? If so, has her teacher there noticed anything strange in her behavior?

Even though she is so young, I suggest you see a professional family therapist. She/he may succeed in discovering what is bothering your daughter. There is no reason for her (and you, and her friends) to continue to suffer. Why not take advantage of the excellent help that is out there? They are trained to get inside the heads of children and help them feel better about themselves.

In any case, it is imperative that you remain calm, no matter what happens. You are her anchor and if you "lose it" it will only be more difficult for her.

Good luck and keep in touch,


Last modified on Tuesday, 09 April 2013 15:12
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Toby Klein Greenwald

Toby Klein Greenwald

Toby Klein Greenwald, Executive V.P. Creative Development, is a founding partner and the editor-in-chief of WholeFamily. Toby is an educator, journalist, photographer, scriptwriter, poet, playwright, lyricist, and theater director, including for populations that have experienced trauma or are at risk. She is a Playback Theater conductor and is the recipient of Israel's Ministry of Education's Egerest Award for Culture, for her work in educational and community theater. She has more than 30 years of teaching experience and has served on numerous educational think tanks. Her specialties include the creation of innovative educational programs, and teaching Creative Writing and Film to AD(H)D and LD high school students, and to senior citizens. Toby is married to Yaakov and they have six children, most of whom have made her a proud mother-in-law and grandmother.

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