4-Year-Old Behaviour Getting Worse
Child Discipline Techniques

4-Year-Old Behaviour Getting Worse

4-Year-Old Behaviour Getting Worse? People are often shocked when they notice a sudden shift in their usually obedient and helpful child. It’s almost like it’s come out of nowhere and can feel like your starting back at square one.

If you thought that the terrible 2’s was over and that the ‘Threenager’s was your worse parenting years, I’m sure you didn’t plan for the 4-Year-Old Woes!

Is your 4-year-old behavior not listening? It’s not uncommon for older children to take a turn for the worst even after many months of improved behaviour and a boost in social skills.

4-year-olds can have a hard time figuring out themselves and the world around them. Having so many factors taking influence on their behaviour (educational, developmental, physical, emotional etc) they can often get very wound up and this leads to worsening behaviour, temper tantrums, angry fits or worse.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), normal behavior in a 4-year-old should include some of the following signs:

Your 4-year-old should:

  • want to please and be like friends
  • show increased independence
  • be able to distinguish fantasy from reality
  • be demanding at times and cooperative at times

In this article I’ll share the industry’s best tips on 4-year-old behaviours getting worse and what you can do right now to have a major impact.

Related: Why Is My 4 Year Old So Angry And Aggressive?

4 Year Old Behaviour Getting Worse? Here’s What To Do

First of all most 4-year-olds have built up a full picture of their current world. They are mature and able enough to tell you what they want and how they want it. That is the great part for us as parents as the attention to detail is key. However, this increased maturity comes at a cost.

Now if they don’t get what they want, in the way they want it you run the risk of having a more Mature ‘terrible two’s type of temper tantrum. (wow that was a mouthful!)

Although most 4-year-olds can communicate effectively they still have barriers to language and can sometimes find it harder to explain the complexity of their situation. This can, in turn, lead to temper tantrums and your 4-year-old behaviour getting worse.

Here’s what we suggest:

See the world through his eyes.

It’s easy to understand why your 4-year-old should be listening through your eyes, but less so if you take that same argument down to their level.

Logically it makes perfect sense. For example ‘Go put your toys away, it’s dinner time’, is a simple and logical way to tell your child what is expected of them. But your 4-year-old doesn’t always respond to logic, but they do respond to love. Try framing your commands with more context like ‘It’s time for dinner and I’m really hungry, let’s put the toys away now and we can play with them as soon as we finish’

Both statements are asking to do the same thing but contextually they are worlds apart. By framing the command in this way we can provide better clarity on what and why you want something done and also be more acute with your parenting style. (i.e If your child wanted to play for longer, then you would have explained that they can play for longer once dinner has finished)

Allow Choice.

4 Year olds crave independence and there is no other way to become independent than to be given the magical element of choice.

‘Would you like Mash or Peads today with dinner’

“Do you want to go to the park or shipping first’

‘Would you rather wear RED or BLUE today’

Your 4-year-old will respond better if they believe that the choices they are making are entirely there own. Remember we are trying to limit bad behaviour and temper tantrums from ever happening in the first place. This will help to manage your 4-Year-Old Behaviour Getting Worse and hopefully eradicate the problem from happening again.

Be Patient and Give Your Child Space.

If push comes to shove and you are unable to calm your child down then the best single piece of advice you will get is to give your child some space.

Communicate what you are doing it and why you are doing it. ‘I’m going to go into the kitchen now to give you time to think about why you’ve hurt my feelings, When I come back we will discuss it’

Your child is developing empathy and by showing empathy to him he’ll understand what it is and find it easier to display back.

Validate before Raging

This one is a bit harder to do but is a very smart way to approach a 4-year-old who is misbehaving. Instead of vocalising the reason why your child shouldn’t hit other children, try to validate the behaviour with a direct statement.  For example, ‘Why did you just hit your brother, you know that’s wrong to do’’. Try instead ‘You must really be upset with your brother to hit him like that’.

In this way, you are validating the reason behind the rage and providing a framework to understand what the reason was behind it. This is a very institutive way to allow your child to learn from their mistakes and at the same time provide a safe framework for them to better understand themselves.

4-Year-Old Behaviour Getting Worse’ Reflection Task

If you want to change the behaviour of your child you must look at the consequences of your parenting style. Children react differently to different parenting techniques. Try to avoid the ‘one size fits all approach’ and tailor-make your style to each child.

Every child has a unique way they interpret the world and it’s surroundings so being more sensitive to this uniqueness is a smart way to control your child’s behaviour.

Ava Miller

Mom of 2 who enjoys blogging, travelling, cooking and spending time with Taylor & Olivia

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