My 4 year old is so difficult, he throw tantrims, refuse to eat his dinner and is completely out of control, he never used to like this. How do I deal with this situation without loosing my temper?


Jenni - posted on 06/02/2011




Two things stand out in your post; the first is his age and the second is you said this behaviour is out of character for him.

A little known fact is between the ages of 4-5 boys experience a boost in testosterone. They will experience a similar boost again around the age of puberty. During this time, boys will become abnormally aggressive and defiant. It is most likely just a phase and will pass. Just stay consistant with discipline and try to keep your wits about you. ;) Remember to breath and keep your own emotions in check, reminding yourself it will pass and this is all part of his normal development. :)

Christy - posted on 06/02/2011




Marika, When your son is doing well, have a discussion with him about what behavior is appropriate and what is not. Help him understand it's normal to get frustrated, but it's not okay to act out. Provide him some options for what to do when he's frustrated, such as beating on his pillow, or going outside for a minute to run and then come back. Obviously you'll discuss things that are okay with you.

Pay attention to his signs. Before you throws a tantrum, he probably shows some frustration. At that point tell him, "I see that you're getting frustrated, how can I help you work on that? We don't want a tantrum." The tantrum happens in hopes he will get his way. When he does throw a tantrum, just walk away. He will look up and notice he's not getting the attention he was hoping for. This can even be done in public. For example, in a grocery store, he throws a tantrum, you disappear to the next aisle. Stay close and pay attention to when he's done, but he can't see you. Suddenly he's very self conscious because you're not giving him attention and he stops and wonders where you are. Then you reappear and tell him that was not appropriate behavior. After he has a couple minutes to cool his emotions, you can discuss what might have been a better option in that situation, then practice it! He will learn quickly.

I recommend the book, "Parenting with Love and Logic." It helps us learn to discipline our children with punishments that fit the crime. It gives great examples even for his age group! That book made all the difference for my husband and I in raising our children.

All in all, a child's behavior is a matter of training. It's up to you to teach him how to deal with life's situations, including how to deal with his anger and frustrations. The key point for us parents is to catch the behavior before it makes us mad so that we are able to keep our cool while we teach our children. It's very difficult, but possible! I used to be a yeller, but not anymore!


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Marika - posted on 06/03/2011




Thank you, for all the advice, nice to know my son is just a normal 4 year old, sometimes it just feels like I am the only mum dealing with this. He didn't go through much changes lately that is why I was so suprise with this behaviour.
Well , I just have to bite the bullet and deal with the situation as you said.

JuLeah - posted on 06/02/2011




He is 4. He is testing out his new power of speech. He sees he has an impact on the world around him.

It is normal 4 stuff. I assume you have thought about any big changes in his life, does he have the flu? Did he change schools? anything like that?

I assume he gets at least 11 hr of sleep a night, doesn't eat sugar or processed foods, gets many chances to run jump kick climb every day .... I assume he has times where he is calm, attentive, listening (if not you might have a bigger issue)

He refuses to eat? Okay. Take the power out of that. It is only a power play for him if it matters to you. He will eat when hungry.

Ignore tantrums.

Kids want attention and generally will do anything to get it. If the get a lot for tantrums, they will throw tantrums.

If he gets a lot of priase and attention for playing games, reading, talking with you, helping with chores .... he will do thoes things.

If you feel like losing your temper, take a time out. Walk out of the room (lock yourself in the bathroom for a few minutes) You never want to model behavior you don't want him to use.

I don't know what you mean by 'completely out of control' so this is all I can offer right now.

Gwen - posted on 06/02/2011




Don't say a word. Pick him up, take him to his room and shut the door. My daughter was having a huge tantrum phase until I started (calmly) putting her in a time-out telling her "When you are ready to be nice, you can come out." Or, when she yells about a snack/toy/etc. I say "Screaming will get you nothing." Sometimes the time-outs are beneficial for mommies too. They give me a few minutes to decompress before I blow my top! :)

Remember to reinforce good behavior!! My daughter glows when I tell her how proud I am of her. Try and "catch" him behaving well and make a huge deal about it.

Dorothea - posted on 06/02/2011




Has anything changed, to cause him to start acting like this? A new person entered his life, you get or loose a job? Even the smallest thing (to an adult) can throw our kids into tailspin.

At 4 he needs consistency, and to know what to expect. When Greg, my 4 yr. old acts out, he knows that there are consequences. He even gets to choose, between a time out, using a corner and a kitchen timer,or two spankings. (However minitues he is old, ie: he's 4 so it's 4 minutes. Unless he acts out then we tell him we're going to have to add another minute. Rarely do we actually have to add that extra minute.) He almost always picks the time out. I use the timer that way he understands that I'm not just picking on him. When the timer goes off the incident is discussed and then forgotten.

When Greg refuses to eat, we make him stay at the table until everyone else is done, then he can get up. He doesn't get anything to eat till he finishes his dinner. So we leave it on the table covered until he goes to bed. We don't limit his fluids, but restrict him to water. Again, that's the consequence.
We don't force him to eat. He'll eat when he's hungry. It's my job as his mom to make sure what he eats is healthy.

Loosing your temper is the normal response, because we feel that our kids are rebelling against us. In a way they are, but it's not personal. They want to know that what was enforced yesterday is still the same today. If you don't loose your cool, you'll be teaching him a valuable lesson is respect. We don't like being yelled at, and feel degraded when someone yells at us. They are children, but feel the same things, they just don't know how to express them.

If you feel your going to loose it, put yourself in time out till you calm down. I've sent myself to my room using the kitchen timer, for 5 minutes, and when I come out we talk about why I needed a time out. At 4 he is old enough to understand.

I've asked this same question, and am giving you almost the same response I got from a number of parents I really respect. There are also a number of GREAT books out there. my fav. is "Disciplining without screaming or shouting."

Good luck and remember this to shall pass :)


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