accomplishments · OBSERVATIONS · slice of life

4 year-old antics

Nearly ever one I know has told me four years-old is easier than three.  I’d like to hope they’re right since three was a downright challenging year. However, Isabelle’s been four for a little over a week and, so far, she still seems like my feisty three year-old.

Case in Point: Preschool Pickup. Unless I’m working in a school, I pick Isabelle up from preschool a little earlier than her peers since she still naps. Today was one of those days where I arrived before the class’s rest time.  As soon as her teacher saw me, she began recounting a story about Isabelle finding the courage to speak in front of her peers (to tell the story of why she’s nicknamed herself the “Cheese Machine”). It was a delightful tale that made my heart happy since she was able to hold her friends’ attention and was able to be understood by her teacher.

As her teacher and I chatted, I noticed a curly-haired girl run out of the room.  Yep, you know who it was: my child!  She likes to do this to me (i.e., run out of the room for my benefit since she knows it agitates me). I didn’t give chase. But after a minute, she didn’t come back, so I went in search of her. I found her driving towards me in a Little Tykes Cozy Coupes, which operates like the cars on “The Flintstones.” Apparently she decided it would not only be okay to leave her classroom, but she’d join another class who were using indoor bikes and cars in the preschool hallway.  Um, no, that was NOT okay.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Driving!” she grinned.

“You’re not supposed to leave the classroom. You don’t run out of the classroom. You didn’t ask your teacher permission.”

No response.

“Get up,” I commanded.

“No, I’m driving,” she replied.

I didn’t mince words. “I need you to get up and get out of the car.”

She started to whine. And cry. And yell.

I swiveled the car around and pointed it in the direction where the cars and bikes are stored.

“Go and park your car now.”


“Yes. Drive back, park your car, and come back to your classroom or I will have to pick you up out of your car and carry you out of school.”

“Fine Mommy!” she said with disdain in her voice.

I turned on my heel and walked back to her classroom.  30 seconds later she returned.  Good, I thought.


You’d think it’d end there.  You’d think she’d be compliant and stay by my side.  You’d think these things if you were raising one of those compliant four year-olds my friends talk about all of the time.  But, no, right after she put on her coat and hugged her friends good-bye she bolted from the room again.  But before I could exit the room, one of her little friends took off after her. “Isabelle! You can’t leave the room!”

But then he left the room.  Ugh!

And then, to make matters worse, one of other little girls follows both of them out of the room in an effort to lay down the law. At this point, her teacher and I are out the classroom door, ready to collect all three of them.  When we arrive in the hallway, the boy who ran after her says, “Isabelle took my truck.”

“Give it back to him,” I said. And she did.

Her teacher retrieved Isabelle’s friends and brought them back to the classroom. I admonished Isabelle for leaving the classroom and told her that she could get her friends into trouble by leaving since they followed her.  I told her she had to ask permission before departing the classroom.  While she nodded, I knew, in my heart of hearts, that she’d be doing this to me again sometime soon since she knew it didn’t bother me.  I sighed.  Enough. Let it be for today, I told myself.

Just as I was about to take her hand to lead her out of school, a girl from one of the other classes pedaled by on a tricycle with a passenger seat (or what reminds me of a preschool rickshaw).  Isabelle attempted to jump into the passenger seat.

“Oh no!” I cried. “You are not going for a bike ride! We’re going home.”

“But I want to!” she whined.

“It’s not happening. Not now. Put on your mittens. We’re going home.”

* * * * *

I recently polled my Facebook friends asking:

I have a question for anyone who’s ever told me parenting a four year-old is much easier than a three year-old. (And there are quite a few of you out there!) We’re a week and a half into age four and no one has flipped the proverbial switch. I’m wondering… when did your three year-old morph into a more compliant, more mellow person?
NOTE: If you don’t have a happy tale to tell (i.e., four was just as hard, if not harder than three), then please don’t tell me that today. I need some uplifting four year-old stories… please!

I got a variety of answers, links to articles, and promises of hope. Most people reassured me that the change came later-on in the fours.  So for now, I’m going to try to stay calm and firm like I did today.  And when something ridiculous happens, I will write the stories down so my daughter will know exactly what she was like at this point in her life as she grows up into the amazing, strong-willed adult I know she will be.

Head over to on Tuesday for more slices of life.
Head over to on Tuesday for more slices of life.

20 thoughts on “4 year-old antics

  1. Stacey, this is an amazing tale of a four year old who is pushing your button for the time being. Isabelle is finding her way in life as you are finding your way by asking for guidance, uplifting stories, and hope. By the last lines of your post I knew that you had found peace in knowing that your daughter would grow into a wonderful young adult. It is amazing that you have written so may stories chronicling the life of Isabelle. She will be so thankful for a mommy writer who courageously recounted her life journey.

    1. And if nothing else, Carol, these stories will serve as a reminder to her about her own behavior when she has children of her own. (Hopefully my grandkids will be compliant little beings like my husband and I were when we were small.)

      1. I was just telling my colleague this morning that I like to hear stories from my mom about my behavior as a kid because it helps me understand my own kids better! LOL

  2. Yes. I’ve been encouraged with the idea that when they are faced with tough decisions, they have the traits to stand on their own. My Strong Willed one is 6 now. We are making it! It got better. As more language comes, we can work through a lot now in the spirit of calmness and learning. And because we were firm and consistent, he often chooses to snuggle up and talk to us now, instead of flop on the floor and grunt a lot. 🙂 There are some snippets of his recent life I should really write down. Thanks for the inspiration. 🙂 Keep it up Mama!

  3. I think Isabelle will keep challenging you. If I were you, I’d be in therapy just to have someone offer strategies just for you. I loved Simona’s couch.

  4. Sounds like Isabelle really does have a mind of her own. Challenging to you now, but I’m sure will be a great asset to her when she is older. Stay sane!

  5. Stacey, what can I say? I have no wise advice, which is why I was silent during your plea for help. All I can say is this: I admire Isabelle’s tenacity, and it will serve her well in the future. As for you… hang in there. 🙂

  6. I really love your last paragraph Stacey. It was just what I needed to hear for where I am at right now with my 8 (almost 9) year old. She is so strong willed and tests my patience a lot. Yet, I also love her high energy and spunky personality that seem closely linked to her strong will. I like your convictions to document now.

  7. I had three kids who did not know compliant – yes, it was not easy, but I so treasure the fact that I have spirited young adults who have convictions and are not fearful of pursuing them. Go, Isabelle! Sorry, Stacey!

  8. My daughter (now 18) was feisty and bossy. Her favorite expression at 2 years of age was – “Me do it myself.” She now channels this energy into helping others. She still is feisty and bossy but it is much more appropriate. Your daughter will find a way to channel her passion. In the meantime keep smiling 🙂

  9. Remember that sweet baby you held in your arms? She’s still there, just working out how to make her own way in the world. Hang in there Stacey, you are guiding her down the right path.

  10. It may sound good sometimes, but you don’t want compliant, Stacey, really. It sounds like she’s growing up, just like you want her to be. It is just hard on the day to day mom! Best wishes!

  11. I know this scene well…living on that landscape just now. My girl has been 4 since November and is as strong-willed as ever. However, our morning routines have greatly improved. I am not sure why but when her character friends speak with her, she’s much more willing to listen and do what they suggest…which makes me laugh at times. I hate the battle so whatever it takes to get it done fair and right, that’s how we roll…good luck with this-I feel your pain. I also note that when tired, the battle is more intense.

  12. I smiled through this entire post! Isabelle is a girl after my heart. That was and is my girl. I won’t lie, we had and still have tough moments. She’s 16 and I’m still waiting for that compliance. (Not really in her nature I’m afraid.) But I love the spirit and there is love at the core. I try to keep focusing on what really matters (safety) and our relationship.
    Hang in there and keep writing. 🙂

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