4 Year Old Won't Behave

I am a desperate mom wanting to know if I'm alone out there. I have a 4yr old son who will not mind or listen to me or his sister at all. He knows he will get in trouble, but just doesn't seem to care. It is getting to where everyday is a struggle with him. I love him more then anything, but I just don't know how much more I can take. Please does anyone out there know anything I can do?


By starmidnite710 from Mobile, AL

June 18, 20100 found this helpful

I don't have children myself, but I suggest watching Supernanny. Getting down to eye level with children and following through on discipline and a reward system seem to work. She makes a lot of sense. Never reward bad behavior. Never bargain with a child. A child will get negative attention if they can't get any other kind of attention. Try whispering to him when he acts up. Get down on eye level and speak with him. Has something of an upheaval happened in your family? Can you try talking to your pastor or spiritual/religious advisor?

Not my business, but why should he be listening to his sister? It's not her responsibility to raise him or discipline him. Maybe that's part of the problem. It's not fair to her either. No child should have that responsibility of having another child mind a sibling. She's probably very resentful towards you and probably feels totally helpless, like you do, poor thing.

Please, please, please, if you find yourself getting to the edge, get yourself away from the child. Find a neighbor or relative who will take him till you cool off. People think they won't 'snap' but they will if a problem goes on long enough. I don't know your religious/spiritual beliefs, but pray, pray, and pray and then ask everyone you know to put you on their prayer list and their church's prayer list. You need Divine Guidance I think.

God bless you Dearie. Will pray for you and your family.

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June 18, 20100 found this helpful

I would talk to your pediatrician. My son was always like that, we just thought he was strong willed until he got to school. Then he was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD. A therapist has been very helpful, both for my son and for parenting suggestions. Your doctor should be able to do some behavioral testing or, at least, give you some guidance.

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June 19, 20100 found this helpful

I would agree that a talk with the pediatrician is a good idea. As for praying, well, that's kind of silly, because (as the old saying goes) God helps those who help themselves. Meaning, you need to take action yourself, or God can't help you. ;-)

Shows like Supernanny are okay to some degree, but a lot of advice on them are rather bad, too. For instance, if you could keep a child in time out, you could make him behave, and time outs wouldn't be necessary in the first place, LOL.

So definitely start with the pediatrician. Maybe he/she can recommend a psychologist or psychiatrist who could help. Even if your child doesn't have a mood disorder or whatever, they could still give you advice.

Good luck!

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June 19, 20100 found this helpful

Get this handled now or your life will be hell when he becomes a teenager.

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June 19, 20100 found this helpful

If you have tried to take away any incentives for behavior as a punishment and you have been diligent with discipline he should be better controlled. If not check with your Dr. for a referral to a psychologist for testing. Is the school having similar problems? If so, the school will do free testing for diagnosis. Good luck.

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June 19, 20100 found this helpful

I agree with the poster who suggested techniques as used on Supernanny. But you have to do them the way she models them, and teach the behavior. You can see that on some of the shows it takes a couple of hours to get a kid to stay in timeout for 4 minutes. Most moms wouldn't be able to do that without the support of Supernanny, but it could be done.

I would also like to suggest books by Barbara Coloroso such as Winning at Parenting as well as the book by Adel Faber and Elaine Mazlish, How to Talk so Kid will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk. You can probably find those books at the library or at a good second hand book store, and certainly at any good bookstore. They are classics. You can google them online to get an idea of what they are about.

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June 19, 20100 found this helpful

Boys are just a different animal than girls. I am a mother of all boys. Try not to get too frustrated. It sounds like you are a really good mom or you wouldn't be asking for advice. You don't mention how old your daughter is. Maybe they could find some teamwork type of activities to do together. Even a board game or playing a more active game outside. This would build their relationship and he would grow to respect her more. Also, if he sees her behaving for you, he is more likely to model that behavior. He may be doing it for attention or it may just be that hes a boy! Lol I wish you the best! I love my boys too and wouldn't trade them for the world! I'll be able to repaint the walls and buy new furniture after they go to college!

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June 19, 20100 found this helpful

I have heard Dr. Kevin Lehman on Dr. James Dobson's radio program "Focus on the Family". Dr. Lehman has written a book "Have a New Kid by Friday: How to Change Your Child's Attitude, Behavior, and Character in FIVE DAYS!" It offers good advice, common sense approach, but takes real commitment on the part of the parent/s. I hope you can find this book - maybe in your public library; or ask them to get it for you on inter-library loan. My prayers will be with you. Blessings!

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June 20, 20100 found this helpful

Like the other post here, my son was diagnosed with ADHD and then it was discovered that he had Asperger's Syndrome instead! It is high functioning autism and while they "know" they are different from other kids, they don't understand "why" which makes them very frustrated, aggressive, and contrary. With therapy, he has improved by leaps and bounds. I also had to have therapy to learn how to handle him and it is so much easier now. I'm not saying that is what is troubling your son, but its worth exploring other options. There is usually a reason why kids are acting unreasonably.

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June 20, 20100 found this helpful

Talk to your son's Dr. to get a referral to a specialist who can help you with a diagnosis and put you on track with how to deal with this. If you can't afford to see a specialist, talk to your county health dept., they have a mental health dept. with some great therapists. We had to do that with our son 20 years ago & got better treatment there than therapists who charged us an arm & leg.

Don't be embarrassed. You need to get help in dealing with this. It is not fair to you, your son or the reat of your family if you don't Don't be embarrassed to ask for help, the people who should be embarrassed are the ones who are to "proud" to ask for help & go through their life miserable & allowing it to ruin their life-you will be much happier & so will your son!

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June 21, 20100 found this helpful

You have already gotten suggestions from a to z. My suggestion is this. First, take a long slow breath, think over what happens when he even starts to act out. You probably get frustrated, with good reason, but this causes a reaction from him also. I am a mother of 7, all totally grown, and not one of them had ADHD, or any of the things that dr.S have come up with to explain what is sometimes just plain stubborn kids that outlasted the parents attempts to discipline them. My kids were never beaten, or treated in an unnatural way for a parent. I live in Theodore, Alabama, but we did live in TN.

For many of my kids growing up years, and they had chores that had to be done for the sake of the family, so they were all involved, and maybe you can give your son a sense of importance, and value, by giving him an "important" job. Then lots of praise for the job. Of course you do want to see a Dr. for the basic health needs, but please don't just let him be medicated to make him "calm" to suit your idea of "normal". We are all different, and contrary to the one persons kind of dismissive remark, prayer is always effective, if you know to whom you are praying. I do hope this has not confused you more, but i was rather troubled with all the flat answers that you got. Yes, kids need to be tested, but no, meds. Are not always the answer for everything. I have 25 grandchildren and about 10 greats, so i have seen a lot of personalities. Loretta from Theodore, AL.

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June 21, 20100 found this helpful

Talk with your pastor, social services therapist, sometimes a good adult friend. If you are single mom, you need to reach out for help on the 'male' side of things for him, like big brother type of person. Someone who can just do guy things with him, play ball, etc. You must make sure of safety, no matter what. My adult son teaches TKD and has plenty of single moms children coming to his class, many who have anger issues, ADHD, etc some recommended by child guide at school. They are taught many aspects of self respect and respect for others.

You need to reach out for help now. It will only get worse if you don't. Bless you for asking help from us all.

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June 24, 20100 found this helpful

Some children are just not easy. My suggestion is to shower the misbehaving one with attention when being good and calm. When not get a book and cuddle and read. Sometimes a little extra loving attention will stop the bad behaviour.

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June 30, 20100 found this helpful

Has the child had a check up in a while, this would rule out any infections you are not aware of.

Keep a detailed list of what the child eats, and then what behaviors come after it. This food diary will help determine if there is a diet connection. In my experience with my own child, food challenges or keeping a food diary has been extremely helpful.

Here are some things that could be triggering the behavior on a diet level

Preservatives, you will find these in boxed foods and prepared convenience foods

Food coloring, even not wearing or eating anything with then color red helped my child at that age.

These foods commonly cause bad reactions in children:

You will see it show up in the food/behavior diary:

Boxed Foods

high color foods

sweet foods

processed foods

The best way to do a food challenge is to use the caveman diet, as I call it, where the child will eat whole food, food that is as close to its original form as possible.

It is still possible for a child to be sensitive to even whole foods so keep the diary.

Behavior Trigger Notes:

When a behavior occurs that you find troublesome, look at what the child just did before that, this could be what is called a trigger, or an event that caused the behavior.

You might find some interesting connections in your diary.

It may sound crazy but a lot of kids have issues with ADHD and the like. The main thing to do is to look and see if the child is experiencing suffering with his behavior. You will see this in the form of constant crying and looking stressed.

You definitely will want to do some kind of intervention for the child if it is suffering or showing symptoms of pain or stress or depression etc.

There are times when the problem is physical, and I have found that giving a child a pain killer when it has really bad symptoms will sometimes do the trick.

If you feel it is food related and he ate something that he should not have,like red soft drinks etc, then try giving him the childs dose of an antihistamine. I use the knock off form of Benadryl, it is recalled less, but there is a childrens Benadryl. Sometimes Benadryl will cause a child to act hyper and not relax it, even it it was related to food allergies. I would tell the doctor what you are doing with Benadryl or antihistamines and mention any effects like hyperactivity after taking it.

Again, the main thing is to see the child doesn't suffer.

If he does and you have no where else to go, then take him to the ER and tell them you want to have him psychologically evaluated because he is suffering from a behavior problem and he is miserable. They will more than likely call someone to come and evaluate him and decide if he needs to spend a few days in inpatient and maybe get him started on something like meds etc.

If it is just ordinary, like a growth spurt, then I would treat the symptoms and redirect him into new activities you bring into the house, and try to make his day as structured as he feels comfortable with.

If he is really good one day, have a gift hidden under his pillow and tell him that he has a pillow present, it is jus a small present, a little trinket, they never forget this and they start to look forward to being told they have a pillow present.

I would start the morning with a preservative free breakfast of some sort of whole food, like eggs and maybe some fruit. I would see what his behavior is.

I hope this helps!

I am not really a big fan of time out, but for some people it works, I am more likely to redirect and make sure the environment around him is not stumbling him, such as too many no no areas, like glass trinkets etc around him.

Also vitamins for children vary widely,make sure you look at the amount of each vitamin on the label, the cheap ones are usually not acceptable.

Mercola.com is a great site for researching foods and such that are bad and other things of a health nature.

Earthclinic.com is a great place to learn things too,

Also googling positive reinforcement and reading online parenting magazines can be helpful too.

Last but not least, for sure, you need support. You need to be seeing a doctor for support of your own self, and eating a diet full of whole foods and also I am on an antidepressant. It is a wonderful thing for me.

I am not suggesting you should take one, but if the stress is constant it is a good idea. Lexapro is the one I take.

Don't forget to call the school and ask if he qualifies for early services and they will provide a free evaluation of his abilities to find out if he qualifies for any special services at his age.

Hope this helps!



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June 30, 20100 found this helpful

Here is a link that tells about early intervention:

It is great, it helps children modify behavior if they are at risk of developing or already developing behavior or other behavior related problems.


In my case I did it through the school.



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June 30, 20100 found this helpful

I just wanted to add, that you are doing such a great job, just being who you are. I know how it feels to be in your position, you are right where I was about 16 years back.

Here is a hint:

PAY YOU! Even if it is as little as 5 dollars a week to go and get a coke somewhere and something off the dollar menu, go and do it. if you cant find a babysitter which I never could, then go to McD's and let him play in the play land while you watch him from your table! Blessings to you!

Remember, you come first. You have to take care of you.

I take magnesium, B12, extra in addition to the regular vitamin I take. I used to take my little one, who was all over the place, and lay down and bring her in my room and have toys only for that time and she would play with those toys...it made it kind of more interesting.

This is kind of far out, but I read that if you let the sun shine through blue color, like on the window, with a blue sheer curtain or a blue plastic piece on the window, that it increases health.

I am now of the mind of changing my favorite color from blue to green.

Other things that might work, are:

Hats, some kids like to hide behind hats, some of them like to wear sunglasses to help modify the input from the outside world.

Get a surgical brush online, they are two dollars, and this is what to do when he is hyper..

Take his hand, tell him to relax and that this is going to feel reallly good. Slowly brush his hand with the surgical brush, feather light strokes and rubbing the palm. You can do any area of the body but the stomach. Also the hand does the best.

Try it, it feels so good. It is actually a therapy.

I like it myself. It feels so nice!

I do foot massages on my nine year old, it puts her right to sleep!



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