30 answers

Advice on Dealing with Strong Personality 4 Yr Old Boy

I am looking for some advice on disciplining my 4 year old son. He has what I consider a very strong personality. We have tried time-outs and he laughs at them. We have tried earning and losing marbles based on behavior and then redeeming them for computer time, tv time, a special treat, etc. that works a bit. But he throws terrible fits, screams no at me and is just defiant and sometimes mean. He is a sweet boy too and can be a good listener but only when he wants to. Has anyone dealt with a very strong personality in a child? Does anyone know any books that might help me? I don't have these problems with his older brother. Please share. Thanks!

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Featured Answers

James Dobson has a book called "The New Strong Willed Child" and it has been so helpful!! My now 5.5 year old has MUCH better days because of the way this book has changed me :o)

2 moms found this helpful

Have you ever read The Explosive Child? My middle son was like that. It could be that he is dealing a little bit with the jealousy of having a new sister, but In my experience, even if he is having a hard time with a new sister, the intensity of the behavior is something to look at. With my son, I later realized that he was anxious and would get obsessed with something, and could not work his way out of it. Once he's in the anger, it's hard for them to come out of it. There's also a book called the CPS (Collaborative Problem Solving) method, by Ross Greene. Don't get nervous, it is geared toward kids with more severe problems, but it's a behavioral modification program that is good for every kid. It's aimed at intervening before the situation has gone too far, before he's lost in the anger. I wish I had it when my kids were younger.
Hope that helps,
L. Gross
Education Advocate/Consultant

1 mom found this helpful

If I am right I think there is a book that is called How to have a better child by Friday it was really good for this type of head strong boy.

More Answers

I've soooo been there! I really liked the book, "10 Days To A Less Defiant Child". You can get it at Amazon or any bookstore. It gave me a whole new insight to my child, as well as some great techniques to improve his behavior and our relationship. I hope you check it out. Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful

There is a website called www.raisinggodlytomatoes.com that i think has some good tips.

Since your older boy isn't like this I wonder if your 4 year old has a bit of the "middle child" syndrome.

Are you really consistent with him? Or do you let him get away with stuff sometimes, and then try to discipline at others?

I think with strong-personality kids they need a lot of consistency and firm boundaries otherwise they are like wild horses and will take whatever reign you give them and wreck havoc.

2 moms found this helpful

I have an almost 4 year old like this! The 2 books that I use are The New Strong-Willed Child by James Dobson and Recipes of Parenting by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniels. The second is a great one. She also has a webpage: parentingsos.com. Her minute drill has worked for me with my son when nothing else did and it keeps me from getting angry and frustrated.
Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

James Dobson has a book called "The New Strong Willed Child" and it has been so helpful!! My now 5.5 year old has MUCH better days because of the way this book has changed me :o)

2 moms found this helpful

You sound just like my friend Courtney. Oddly enough she ended up trying an ayurvedic nutritionist after nothing else worked and her son is like a new person. He is happy and no more tantrums. Jack was having all kinds of problems acting out in preschool and they have also resolved themselves. It was all food allergies.

2 moms found this helpful

Sounds like you have a little leader on your hands! Some kids are just wired to be leaders and have a more difficult time when they have to obey or conform.

I HIGHLY recommend the book, "You Can't Make Me (but I can be persuaded)" by Cynthia Tobias. She is a genius when it comes to dealing with strong willed kids. This book completely changed my relationship with my then 2 1/2 year old. Now instead of battling constantly, we agree, we work together and she is a delight to be with. She is now 4.

What I like about this book is that it gives concrete ways to positively interact with your child so that you both get what you want. No yelling, certainly no physical aggression of any kind is necessary and no nagging.

I noticed that several people suggested James Dobson's book "The Strong Willed Child." I read his book, too, and found that Tobias' book was WAY more helpful. Dobson's book was too heavily religiously slanted for my tastes, with not many concrete suggestions, just a lot of religious anecdotes. Not terribly helpful.

Best of luck to you and your precious son!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi S.,

I am a mother of five children from college to a 4 and a half year old VERY strong willed and exuberant little girl.
When you described how your son laughs at time outs and throws terrible fits you could have been describing my little one.
With this one it is very different than the other 4 I have raised. She is definitely with out a doubt my challenge.
She is extremely creative and can be sweeter than all of the others combined, but I really don't think strong willed is a strong enough word to describe her.
I have found that spending one on one time with her is helpful, healthy food with little to no sugar, but most importantly follow through. I know that when you are tired and emotionally at the end after a long day it is much easier said than done. However it has been my best tool.
I would highly recommend the book "back in control" written by Gregory Bodenhamer. It really isn't a very good name and gives the wrong impression, but I have found it to be extremely helpful in giving me tools to disciplining with love and effective wording that works. It is short, simple and it truly changed my life as a mother. I only wish I would have known about this years ago.
I hope this is helpful to you.


1 mom found this helpful

My 11 year old son was very strong willed and stubborn at 4. Time outs did not work with him. A few things did work. When he became out of control and in a rage, I would send him to his room for a "cool down". He needed to stay there until he calmed down on his own. It could last 5 minutes or 45 minutes. Another thing my son needed was alone time with me. This is hard when you have 3 kids and are working full time, but it really helped us. See if you can find 1-2 times a week that you can go somewhere with just him. You can go for a walk, to the library, park. It doesn't have to be long, even for just 30-60 minutes where he gets all of your attention. It might be nice to do this with your 6 year old too. Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

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