Many parents constantly debate “Why Is My 4 Year Old Defiant?” and it can be a very frustrating dilemma.
4 Year olds are innately there own person. They have already gained greater independence, self-control and creativity.
They are able to play independently and in groups.
They can also play for long periods without much adult intervention.
At this age, your child is very routine-based and sometimes has started daycare, playscheme and other activities that keep them active during the days.
Defiant 4 Year Old Symptoms
All this independence can be a great way for your 4-year-olds to explore the world.
The problem is, self-discovering and independence is an uphill battle for a 4-year-old, as they still need continuous observation and supervision.
4-year-old anger issues arise when they see on the one hand they are allowed to be creative and unique but then on the other hand are still being heavily restricted.
All of this confusion can lead to a 4 year old being so angry and aggressive towards you.
Why Is My 4 Year Old Defiant? 7 Practical Solutions
1. Set a Positive Example
Keep your temper in check.
The worst thing you can do is respond to your child’s aggressive and disruptive behaviour with more aggression.
This will only confirm to your child that this is the acceptable behaviour and is the correct way to display their emotions.
2. Act Fast
This is crucial and a smart way to defuse a tantrum before it goes too far.
Once you see the disruptive behaviour emerging act fast and swiftly stamp it out.
For example, “If you don’t put that down right now the TV is coming off and staying off all day”.
Backup what you say and be firm in your approach. Your child is old enough to understand that your threats are not empty.
3. Be Repetitive
If you have reprimanded your child for a minor offence once and then you don’t do the exact same thing again he’ll soon learn this is an empty threat and just keep pushing your buttons until you give in.
Eventually, all this repetition will pay off and your threat will be good enough to limit defiant behaviour.
4. Feedback Loop
A feedback loop is the best way to constantly adapt your parenting to manage your child’s behaviour.
(I’m gonna get a bit technical here, but stay with me)
Email Service Providers (like Gmail, Yahoo etc) have this constant stream of feedback loops that their customers provide them when they are receiving emails.
Good emails go in the inbox, Spammy ones go in the spam folder. Simple enough, right?
Well if it’s good enough for Google it’s good enough for you!
Talk to your child after each outburst (not directly, give it at least 20 mins and less then 1 hour)
Find out what started the outburst, why he decided to act out in that way and if you can what caused him to stop (or what would have caused him to stop faster!)
This can seem a little unnecessary but based on what he tells you, you’ll be able to better understand what and why he got into a rage and better yet fine-tune your parenting for the next outburst.
Try it, you’ll be shocked at some of the responses you get.
5. Reward Good Behaviour
As parents, we tend to focus on bad behaviour and our response to it more than good behaviour.
When he asks for a “piece of fruit” and doesn’t stick his hand in your plate, he asks politely if he can have some, reward him with praise and appreciate.
Positive re-enforcement is the best way to filter out disruptive behaviour before it gets to that stage.
Keep a reward chart and add stickers to it for any good behaviour, small or big.
6. Monitor TV Time
TV cartoons and commercials are full of disruptive and negative influencers.
This doesn’t help anger and aggression in 4-year-old boy.
Even small doses of this can cause long term behaviour issues if your child is exposed to it enough times.
Digital Games can be just as bad so you’ll need to restrict those games that promote shouting, fighting and disruptive behaviour in general.
You’ll be surprised what children pick up when they watch the TV and it doesn’t always show itself straight away.
They can go weeks without ever knowing they have been influenced!
Try to stick to a routine and monitor your child progress.
Most children ‘act out’ at different developmental stages so be sure to understand which milestone they are at and if the behaviour is a normal part of it.
4 Year Old Suddenly Defiant – Causes
If your 4-year-old has become suddenly defiant then it’s important you look for any underlying causes.
Aggression usually has an underlying emotion beneath it, which is primarily one of fear.
This fear can be a result of many factors with some factors being easier to discover than others.
For example, the fear created through a lack of attention can quickly be resolved.
However, if your child has suffered a traumatic event (family death or divorce) this can be an extremely difficult emotion to handle and will require more time.
In this instance, normal disciple procedures may not work.
If your experience extreme 4 year old anger issues due to a big life change, using a time-out as a punishment may just make things worse.
Other punishment techniques may still not be as effective either like taking away toys.
This may not be enough of an incentive to stop the behaviour from occurring again.
You will need to get to the route cause of the issue and this may take time.
Keep Behaviour Journals
1 smart strategy is to keep behaviour journals of your child’s behaviour based on time and location.
By doing this you will start to notice patterns.
- Is this behaviour only aimed at a particular individual?
- Does it re-occur at a specific time of day?
- Does it start and then stop quickly or does it last for the entire day?
By answering these questions you’ll have a more complete picture of your 4 Year Old Defiant problem
Has your child witnessed aggression first hand?
Could it be something they have watched on TV?
Either way, their environment will need an immediate change.
All children need structure and those that are angry and aggressive need it even more so.
most parents who debate “defiant 4 year old symptoms” fail to realise that having a good routined and a structured day is the route cause for oppositional behaviour.
Importantly, you will need to set out fundamental rules and appropriate punishments for breaking of each rules.
Remeber time outs and taking toys away may not work as well with your 4-year-old so you may need to resort to cancelling playtime trips, limiting TV time and early bedtimes.
Remember you are trying to limit disruption at home and 4-year old aggressive behavior at school.
Here’s a quick video on Oppositional defiant disorder
Related Post: How Can a Father Walk Out on His Child?
Iesha is a loving mother of 2 beautiful children. She’s an active parent who enjoys indoor and outdoor adventures with her family. Her mission is to share practical and realistic parenting advice to help the parenting community becoming stronger.