Hi all. I wanted to get your thoughts on this topic as its recently become a part of my daily life. I'm currently living with, and not for much longer, a friend of mine who has a 4 year old daughter. I've decided the poor behavior and lack of discipline in this child is too much for me to handle any longer, and although my efforts at first seemed to be helping, she has completely given up on time-outs and resorted to 100% negotiation and appeasement method. To my eyes, it is a vicious cycle of screaming, tantrum, soothing, calm moments, followed by another tirade later. She frequently runs off or creates scenes in public places that I find wildly embarrassing to be involved with. The mornings are usually a major battle with a bunch of screaming just to get her dressed and out the door. Evenings involve a lot of negotiation and talk of threats "you can have this later" or "you're going to bed if you keep this up." Basically exactly everything that Super Nanny and the books I've read said not to do. I even exposed the mother to these books and the show, and for a few days, she was trying out the methods, but seems to have completely given up on them now. I've had a few talks with her encouraging the time out method and that it would help to be more cut and dry about this, but I haven't told her how I really feel 100% because its a touchy subject and its not my kid or decision to make. My personal opinion is that she either 1) is afraid of her child not liking her if she disciplines her properly/too strongly, and/or 2) she's just too lazy to do proper timeouts, and/or 3) she is lacking excitement in her life and these dramatic outbursts provide something to add excitement to her day. Also, the child has been labeled as "obese" by her doctor and recently went off the chart. Although the mother can be witty and fun-loving at times, I frequently feel her disappearing into a fog of depression and extreme laziness, where she spends the day playing games on her phone or moping about while the kid watches tv and movies. She always asks the kid what she wants to eat for meals and generally goes with that, which is usually just a lot of carbs. The other day I'm pretty sure she just had noodles and Lucky Charms (sans milk) for dinner. On occasion some vegetables and healthy meals are involved, but its not consistent at all. It's all a lot worse than I envisioned before I moved in, and all the plans I've had of helping each other attack our problem areas together have gone completely down the drain as I see her making no effort in any areas- I want to help her gain confidence and get in shape which she expressed interest in, but every time I attempt to have her join me for the gym or a run, even when the kid is off for a weekend with the father (who the kid sees every other weekend, he's also a total douche, and every time she comes back from his house she's a complete wild animal even more than usual), she finds an excuse. I feel all of this is a recipe for disaster which is why I've decided I have to move out. Anyway, this is just all background info and stuff I'm getting off my chest here.
My main question is- does the "relaxed" method of parenting ever work out ok? I see the mother shrugging off a lot of this as "normal 4 year old behavior" that we just have to get used to. I see the kid generally completely ignoring me- she doesn't ever answer anything I ask her, and only comes to me when she wants some kind of treat. I put her in time outs on occasion but her mom always manages to offer her other options after about 20 seconds, as soon as the kid pipes up. I really only have yelled at the kid if she is abusing the cat, at which point she suddenly realizes I mean business and stops (the semi-loud voice doesn't do a thing). I am worried that this behavior is only going to keep getting worse and I foresee this child having huge problems with behavior in school, weight, and emotional maturity. It scares the crap out of me that my roommate can't see any of this for herself, and has decided to go this route even after all the problems its caused, and despite the fact that nowhere is this a recommended style of parenting, that I've heard of anyway. Obviously, the best thing for me is to get away. But I am still concerned for my friend. Am I justified to be worried or might this all turn out ok and I'm just being a nervous nellie? I've seen my sister's daughter the same age recently, and she is MUCH better behaved and healthier, of course, because they are doing basically all the right things IMO. I am so thankful for that.
Thanks in advances for your responses, my FSU friends.