Parents regain control of their household from their 4-year-old daughter

Four-year-old Taylor used to run her household. She refused to listen to her parents at home, and she still slept in the bed with her parents. She didn’t behave well outside the house either. Whenever she didn’t get her way—like when her parents asked her to leave the playground but she wanted to keep playing—Taylor would kick and scream and cause a scene.

Taylor’s mother didn’t know what to do. She was seeing a therapist and was out of energy and options to parent Taylor differently. The therapist told Taylor’s mother to consider Thornwell’s Building Families program, and she agreed.

From the beginning, Taylor was always sweet and well-behaved during the Building Families sessions. The Family Specialist reminded the parents that she believed what they said about the extreme behaviors Taylor exhibited when she wasn’t there. During the visits, the Family Specialist focused more on the parents than on Taylor. The specialist noticed that Taylor’s parents focused so much of their energy on reacting to and keeping track of their daughter’s outbursts that they’d forgotten to teach her how to listen and learn.

To help them with this, the Family Specialist introduced board games, puzzles, and crafts. Taylor’s mother thought her daughter would be too young for the activities, but Taylor completed the puzzle on her first try! She even used scissors correctly when she made a birthday card for a family member.

As it turned out, using games, crafts, and activities worked wonders for Taylor. And that was just the beginning. Her mother developed a strong, effective teaching voice using tools the Family Specialist implemented during the sessions. It took Taylor three months to begin sleeping in her own bed, but her mother didn’t give up. She modeled the social skills that she wanted Taylor to use and let her daughter know how she expected her to act.

Since Taylor loved karaoke night so much, her mother learned to use it as a reward for positive choices rather than an automatic weekly event. Family members began to enjoy fun outings together because they were the result of good listening and getting along at home.

Taylor is doing well at school too. Her teachers brag to her mother about how well Taylor follows instructions and listens to others. When Taylor gets into disagreements with her friends at school,

she talks with her mother about what she should do and they try to solve the problem together. Taylor’s mother’s instinct is the same as most parents’: She wants to swoop in and protect Taylor from difficult situations. But she is working hard to empower her daughter to stand up for herself.

Because of the Building Families program, Taylor is having a successful first year at school, and she no longer rules the household. The parents do, once again!

Learn More

Margaret’s story is only one story that shows how the Building Families program is helping families across Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Please visit the Give Now page to donate to the program. You can use the Building Families Program Referral Form to refer a family to the program or complete the form below if you have questions.

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