It can drive most parents up the wall if your 4 Year Old Won t Listen. You’ve tried every single way possible to get through to them and it’s to no avail.
A child who is defiant, stubborn and does not want to corporate no matter what can make your day to day routine extremely difficult.
My 4 Year Old Won t Listen – How Should I Approach Them?
Your 4-year-old may be going through a tough milestone. Developmental, 4 year olds can understand complex behavioural triggers, so this way of acting could just be a plea for extra attention.
You need to ask yourself a set of questions to correctly identify the root cause of the issue; Ask yourself:
1. Are you listening to your child adequately?
It’s important to ask yourself this question first as many children will respond to not receiving attention by acting out or being disruptive themselves.
2. Are your parenting rules too strict?
Many parents that discourage play, in particular, outdoor play, could be contributing to behavioural problems. By constantly watching their every move, (helicopter parenting) and restricting playful activities could be stifling growth and independance.
3. Have there been any big changing events?
Kids react differently to experiencing traumatic events. Events like a divorce, moving to a new city or a death in the family can have deep reverberating effects .
You child may be under immense pressure trying to cope with big emotions, like fear, anger and betrayal. A 4 year old not listening and talking back could be a way to vent bigger emotions that they have tried to suppress.
It’s important you carefully document any recent stressors your child has faced and see if this behaviour isn’t a direct link to it.
My 4 Year Old Won t Listen! (5 Powerful Solutions)
1. Give Your FULL Attention
Learning how to get a 4 year old to listen without yelling requires stopping what you are doing and trying to give them your full attention
When your child is talking with you try not to be too distracted. Your child will know instantly if they have your undivided attention and reacy accordingly. If it’s split between them, the phone and trying to wash the dishers they may act out.
Of course, It’s not always possible to give them your absolute attention as you have 101 things to do. If you can’t then just ask them to be patience and when you are finished come back and give them your time.
Remember, you should always acknowledge their feelings when responding to them. This will show you have been listening and teach empathy.
“Sweetie, I can see you are upset because we have to leave the party early”
Try not to deny your child feelings. The better you get at expressing them, the better they will be at giving you their full attention.
2. The Power of Positive Words
You shouldn’t handle a 4 year old not listening and talking back with extreme aggression and frustration.
Instead, get down on their level and talk with them on their terms. Your body language, tone and choice of words are very important, especially if your child is showing signs of defiant behaviour.
Your child will tune out if they feel that you are not talking to them on their level and this could be a major reason a 4 Year Old who Wont Listen.
Use Positive Words That Highlight Encouragement
For example: “Sweetie, Please pick up your toys so we can play together. I know you are a tidy person and I love that about you”
If you need to be more authoritative use a more stern but polite tone. Your aim here is to have your child respond and react to your request on the first or second time of asking.
If you are repeating yourself over and over again then your child is learning to ignore your requests.
You can also try to get them to feel empathic, for example:
“Sweetie, mummy is very tired and hungry and the longer you take the more my stomach will hurt. Please hurry up and pick up your toys so we can both have dinner together”
A common reason why a 4 Year Old Won t Listen is that they don’t see the reason behind the request.
This is very true mainly true for 4 year old not listening at school as well.
By giving them a more deliberate reason you are appealing to their empathic side and teaching them that there are other things that influence this decision.
3. Body Language
Learning how to get a 4 year old to listen without yelling involves consider your body language. Keep your body language open and try to remain eye contact.
You should be showing your child, through your body language, that you aren’t annoyed or frustrated by their behaviour. (Even if you are!)
If they see their nonstop pestering does aggregate you, they may continue to do it as a game. Instead, be calm and show patience without stamping your feet or crossing your arms.
Ultimately, this demonstrates to your child that you are prepared to wait for as long as necessary until they do as they are told.
What Words To Use?
Keep your words short and to the point, for example:
After Dinner, We Wash Our Hands
Remember 8.30 pm is Bedtime
Teeth Brush first, Then We Read Books
Also, try to avoid criticising, accusing or threatening your child to do what they are told.
For example, “If you don’t brush your teeth right now then you’ll go to bed without storytime“
This is adding fuel to a fire and may not help if your 4 Year Old doesn’t Listen already.
4. Promote Co-operation
A 4 year old not listening and talking back needs to learn how to co-operate. Try to find triggers in their behaviour that lead to more defiant behaviour and behaviour that continually pushes boundaries.
A good example is if they continually say the word ‘NO’ or ‘It Wasn’t Me’
Now, what you can try to do is avoid using these words in your everyday sentences as you know they are a trigger for rebellion.
For example, don’t say:
No, don’t draw on the wall!
Why did you leave the water on?
You can’t have that cup, it’s mine!
But instead say:
“There are pencil marks on the wall”
“Leaving water on wastes water”
“Please use your special cup instead”
Try to frame your commands in ways that don’t trigger your child’s disruptive behaviour or engages in argument and power struggles.
Remember, Your child will better cooperate with you when they feel they are given some autonomy in everyday activities.
For example, ask your child to help sweep or take laundry out. You can do it together and then provide positive reinforcement for the behaviour.
5. Test New Methods
Every child is different and learning how to get a 4 year old to listen without yelling means finding a strategy that works for you.
Children tend to show defiance if they don’t feel that you are talking to them in ways that feel directly impacts them. You will need to try a few different strategies to see what methods of communication work and which ones doesn’t.
Your child will more likely respond to you if they can see that you understand their emotions, empathise with their situation and are fair with your requests.
The best way to do this is to show your child that you are a parent first but also there to support and help them with their everyday struggles.
Remember, younger children that are showing defiance and are not listening to parents are often times going through a phase or could be showing developmental tensions.
How To Get Your 4 Year Old To listen
There are many advanced 4 year old behaviour management techniques.
At 4 years old your child is developing a strong sense of independence, has grown both psychologically and mentally, and will understand the basic behavioural framework to express themselves
Sometimes, however, they start to seek more independence and have smarter ways of doing this they can come up against a brick wall.
They feel the urge to explore more and more but still have to be monitored closely to ensure that it’s safe to do so. This push and pull of independence, self-control and learning can cause friction that can spill over to disruptive behaviour.
Many 4 year olds have problems following simple commands as they are unwilling to cooperate. They can inflict harm to others, both verbally and physically as they are fighting to be heard over all the noise.
Other normal behaviours are:
- Interest in pleasing others
- Demanding and particular (“I want it this way”)
- More individuality and learning about themselves physically
- Knowing what is real and what is imaginary.
If your trying to figure out how to deal with a problem child here’s what you can do.
How To Deal With A Problem Child
1. Stay calm
Staying calm is your first line of defence.
Children copy their parents and they do so on verbal and non-verbal levels. By keeping calm you are showing your child first hand that throwing tantrums is not the appropriate way to deal with feelings and that being calm can help solve the problem in the first place.
2. Create Rules
A house with a good structure and flexible framework for rules will be an easy house to manage. Children crave structure and flourish when they are aware of what going to happen next. It promotes self-control as your child can identify what is the right time to do what and where.
3. Promote Positive Behaviour
Always reinforce the good things your children do and ignore (as best as possible) the disruptive acts. Children are very smart and will try to get your attention one way or another.
If they get more attention from negative behaviour they will seek to continue doing it. Go over the top for the times that they follow your instructions and give them more attention when they are good.
4. Motivation is Key
Your child is at a crucial developmental stage where they are piecing together what it means to be rewarded and punished. If you go too heavy on the punishment side of things you may stifle growth.
Conversely going too heavy on the rewards side of things can promote unrealistic entitlement. Instead, motivate your child when they complete a difficult task (learning new words) or reach a milestone (potty training). A great way to do this is through a rewards chart with stickers and stars to promote good behaviour.
5. Time Outs Work
Time outs are a very effective way to discipline children and work especially well in older children. Try to stick to the rule of thumb of 1 min per age.
So a 4-year-old would be sent to a 4-minute time out. Keep the time out zone away from other siblings or stimulating activities and ensure you explain to them why they had to go to the time out zone and what is expected of them next time.
6. Take Away Toys!
IF your child still is pushing your buttons and you feel that the other methods aren’t working then you can begin to remove privileges to encourage positive behaviour. Less TV time, Shorter Bath Times, taking away toys and cancelling playtime work well.
When to seek medical expert advice from a trained paediatrician:
- If you notice any developmental or cognitive disorders
- If you’ve tried another technique’s over several months and you still don’t see any signs of improvement
- If your child shows extreme isolation from you or his friends
Remember you know your child better than anyone else so try and work through the problems first before seeking additional help. You child is going through developmentally changes so make sure that this behaviour isn’t a normal phase of his learning cycle