How can I discipline my 4 year old?

4 year olds aren't babies anymore, but they're also not big kids yet. What is the best approach to disciplining a four year old when he or she starts acting up?

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14  Answers

30 13

My mom ( a preschool teacher) gave me one of the best tools for my little ones. When you see a behavior that is less than desirable tell the child to "stop" (put your hand up like a crossing guard) and "think" (put your finger on your temple). "Are you doing the right thing? (smile and give a thumbs up!) or the wrong thing? (frown and give a thumbs down!) My kids like the hand motions and it really gets their attention. They would much rather give you a thumbs up! My 5 year old will still do it :) Time out does work, but also just reminding them that what they are doing is NOT OKAY. Consistency is very important. Make a list of the major offenses and the consequence that goes with it, that way they know what to expect every time. We messed up with our older kids by not being consistent. Sometimes they'd get a time out, sometimes they'd lose a privilege, sometimes we'd do nothing. It didn't work as well as it does when it's the same every time :)

7
7 7

You can't all of a sudden start disciplining a 4 year old. The best thing to do is start right away. As babies tell them no and move them away from things they shouldn't have. Don't let your toddler misbehave simply because it's cute. Have clear and consistent expectations as well as consequences.

TV time, video game time, treats, etc are not a given, they are earned throughout the day with good behavior. Good behavior is rewarded with fun and poor behavior is punished with time outs, loss of privileges, and no fun.

Also, don't just blindly punish for poor behavior. Kids need to be told WHY it's wrong and given other options. My 4 1/2 year old is a hitter. She gets mad at her siblings (11 and 3 year old sisters and 8 year old brother) and her first reaction is to hit. We've been working on teaching her better ways to deal with her anger. It's OK to get mad, it's not OK to hurt people because you're mad. So, she gets busted for hitting (looses whatever they were playing with and gets her little butt in time out) but we also talk to her about what she can do differently next time.

Clear consistent expectations. Things that are unacceptable today should have been unacceptable yesterday and remain unacceptable tomorrow.

6
4 8

The best way to discipline child is a time out. I have been doing time outs with my daughter who is 3 since she was just 2. Rules of a time out to remember, the timer doesn't start until the crying stops, and then you set the timer for how many years old they r. This works on my daughter and all of her cousins, who are 2,3,4, and 5 years old.

6
18 36

We use recovery time for my 4 year old. When she acts up, I simply say "Uh-oh looks like you need some time to think, let's go!" I swiftly place her on the thinking spot (a square near the kitchen table facing away from the rest of us so she can think). After a few minutes when she is calm and sweet again, she comes back and I ask her what she should next time she thinks about doing X behavior. She's only had to be in recovery time once this entire month. This also works for a long time, my 8 year old step son has had his fair share of recovery time experiences recently, but it works and it works EVERYWHERE. If your child is misbehaving in the store, simply "create" a thinking spot on the floor, stay close or hold their hand until they can be sweet again, usually around 5 minutes or so, and give them a little control about it, let them decide after they are calm when they are ready to come out. Some kids take longer than others.
There are some really good books called Parenting with Love and Logic by Jim Fay and/or Charles Fay, I think Foster Cline is included in one as well. They can be bought from amazon and give a lot of practical advice for how to discipline any child.

3
3 12

The three biggest ones for my 4 year old are tv, video games, and internet (youtube cat videos). When she starts throwing a fit, I tell her she can't do one of those things if she continues. If the behavior doesn't stop, she can't do the next thing either, ect.

3
130 1

You have to find your kid's "currency". For my 4-year old, "TV time" is holy, so "no TV time today or tomorrow" is the biggest punishment for him. And that one really works!

2
2 0

I totally agree..... my son loves to play with his model cars more than anything so when he gets naughty , I simply take them away . It is also important that you let them know the importance of taking responsibilty for their actions and that their actions have consequences. Also , before you execute the punishment , give them a chance to explain the reason for their actions and also consider if the punishment fits the " offence ." Another thing is to be firm ! If you say that play will be suspended for 2 days ....... stick to it . If you break the punishment, you will be teaching them to break rules , showing them a weakness in you as a parent defeating the purpose of the punishment. Children easily and quickly learn their parents' weaknesses and then try to work to " play " on them ....... They may only be toddlers but they are vvvverrryyyy smart ........ NEVER underestimate them !

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10 12

NOTHING has worked with my almost 4 year old until about 3 weeks ago. She has this awesome little swivel wheel horse that she loves to zoom down our hallway on. With nothing to lose, in one of her fits of rage, I took her horse from her and put it in the spare bedroom and told her she had lost it for 3 days. You would have thought it was going to be the end of the world!!! She finally came out of her room from crying and we had a long talk about it. I told her that I know how much she loves her horse and that's why she lost it. But in 3 days, if she could be "a smart girl" she could have it back. Needless to say each day she ask for it but I was firm and thanked her for being good, but she still couldn't get it back. When she finally did get it back, it was like Christmas morning all over again!!! Even now she'll come home from daycare and say...Mommie, (Jaden or Layce or someone) was bad, he/she's going to lose their toys =) Mission accomplished.

1
1 0

My daughter who is now 11 could care a less about time out, so I decided to make the punishment fit the crime,if she acted out in the store I would warn her by getting on her eye leavel and say we do not act like this followed by what ever she was doing, then said if you keep it up we will leave,after 3 times she saw I was not joking she stoped. So till this day the punishment fits the crime if you act out I will take stuff away untill you act like you are your age. at 4 she refussed to clean her room so I said fine got a trash bag mad her put her toys in it I told her when she showed me she can clean up after her self she could slowly earn them back,she did well she got a toy back every friday no more problems with her room till this day!

0
99 6

we have a four year old here. Boy is he a firecracker!!!!! We use several forms of discipline with him. take away toys, no tv , corner, sit on his hands if he hits, time out, and he has even gotten a swat or two....always in a controlled manner with an adult who is not angry, and only when NOTHING else works.

0
7 6

With all 3 of my children and they are currently 15,14, and 7, I got down on their level, got their attention, and looked them in the eyes and told them no. Then I would explain what they did wrong. It didn't work every time but it was quite effective for our children.

0
6 1

1-2-3 magic worked for me.

0
13 12

The discipline should have started when they began crawling around or walking and getting into things. That's when you should begin letting them know their boundaries and what's acceptable or not. Depending on how undisciplined the child is, it can be done with a lot of patience and tolerance on your part. Good Luck and God Bless.

0
4 0

my son is 5.5 and i have to give him time out first i tell him im goin to count to 3 and if he hasnt done as his told his having time out if that doesnt work try taking there fav toy off the for so long explain why u do it an what they need to be doing to get it back, always remind the child they do have to say sorry i no some kids hate that word.

0
36 25

regarding her time outs...she was always taken there...we get down to her eye level...tell her why she is there and that she needs to think about why what she did/said/etc. is not okay....(our telling her at the timeout spot is definitely at least the second time she is hearing it..because she would have been immediately reprimanded to deserve timeout)...after her age appropriate time out...when she asks to get out...we ask her to tell us why she was in timeout...if she is able to tell us..and then we talk about the behavior...then she can get out....if she cant tell us why she was in there...we ask why she doesnt know or cant remember...(she usually says she was thinkinhg about something else)... we remind her...ask her to think about it again...and start the time again....

0
11 0

so often i see my friends not do anything at all with their kids to discipline them. i know im not the one with all the answers nor am i petfect but what is working for me is i have a 7 year old girl and 3 1/2 year old boy and a baby girl on the way. from years of counsling i have taken from growing up ive learned you act right away on the incident or naughty behavior . i give me kids 2 chances or less depending on how bad it was and either do 1 of 3 things. i firsy start with facing the wall they have to put yheir face to the wall for a few minutes then if they do that willingly i ask them to come here and adk why did you have to go in timeout. i let them tell me if they dont know i tell them and tell them ex: when you hit sister it hurts her and makes her feel bad. you dont want to make her fee bad so lets not do it again. then after addressing the behavior i hug him or her and tell them to say sorry to me or whomever they hurt. discipline with love afterwards. not reward but love. builds security. or with my 3 year old i sit him on my lap if he refuses facing the wall and he has to do same as facing wall. with my 7 year old she usually faces wall if not i take thingsvshe loves out of her room and she had to earn it back by good behavior and chores. if u dont discipline your kids will be in control over u and disrespect you and others. start while they are young. you cant easily teach an old dog new tricks! lisa

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