12 answers

Normal 4 Year Old Behavior?

My 4 year old son has really been testing his limits lately - talking back, major attitude, and most recently sticking his tongue out. I'm not the type of person to tolerate disrespect from my kids so I feel like I'm constantly talking to him about this, putting him in time out, and telling him "we don't talk like this", etc. etc. It's very stressful some days. Please tell me this is normal 4 year old behavior!!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

It's totally normal. My son is going through the same stage...back talk, sending his sister into time out, lack of respect....

This is the time when they are emerging from dependence to independence and back again...and it doesn't end until their late teens!

I feel for you but just hang in there!

More Answers

T.,
Does your son attend; Pre-K, daycare, etc. If so, he may be picking this behavior up from other children or even another child/peer that he admires and thinks that this is acceptable because maybe this child or children haven't been challenged by their caretakers/parents/elders to STOP the behavior. Ask his teacher or the adult that cares for him how his behavior is during their watch. You are going to have to crack down on him concerning this..It is NOT CUTE, FUNNY or something to IGNORE!He is 4! He knows what he is doing! He is highly intelligent! I am "Old School" some children need a little more than "stop sweetheart, that's not nice!" and sitting in the time-out corner...

YES! My 4 year old is testing me CONSTANTLY! it's exhausting!!!!!!!!!!!!

I just requested the books Amy L mentioned, from the library! :-) thank you!

Hi T.,

This is not normal behavior. Try working with a teen ager with type of behavior!

You son is angry for some reason.

Tell your son:

When you.............describe the behavior,

I feel.............describe how you feel about his behavior.

In the future, when you.......describe the behavior,

give him a consequence........whatever he enjoys..

or you can ask him about what happened that he is angry about.
What does he need to do to clean things up with you.

You the Restorative Practice philosophy.

Good luck. D.

It is totally normal. There is a wonderful set of books on child development by Louise Bates Ames (available on Amazon). In her book on four year olds she describes this behavior. Learn not to negotiate, tell him this is not acceptable and give consequences immediately.

The difficult part is to realize that children go through these developmental phases such as the "terrible 2's & 3's about every 2 to 3 years, so they repeat testing their limits. However, if you are prepared for it and know it is coming AND leaving life is much easier!

It's totally normal. My son is going through the same stage...back talk, sending his sister into time out, lack of respect....

This is the time when they are emerging from dependence to independence and back again...and it doesn't end until their late teens!

I feel for you but just hang in there!

Welcome to the F*ing 4's!! Seriously, it is completely normal. My daughter started doing that at about 3 1/2 and continued till about 4 1/2. All I can say is, 'Make sure you are consistent with disipline.' This is a time that they are testing their boundries, but this too shall pass. My daughter was, and still is, a pretty good kid, but there were times that I didn't thik she was going to live till her 5th birthday.

Kids that age can seem like they are two different people....one day all sweetness and light, and the next you're looking for the horn nubs on top of the head! LOL
He's testing limits and boundaries. Totally normal for the age. Make sure you're being completely clear about what IS and what IS NOT acceptable and allowed in your home. Follow through with the consequences you've decided on (ahead of time) for the infractions to the rules. Post rules if that will help him to remember. You might want to read them over every morning.
Make sure that his care providers are on the same page and talk to them about new behaviors he is displaying. Compare notes with them. Lots of people tend to think that kids "pick up" bad behavior from other kids, but a lot of kids will only be bold enough to display this "new attitude" at home, so you'll bear the brunt of the discipline.
Good luck!

Yep--totally normal! My 4 yr old twins are doing the same thing. I thought they'd just gotten an attitude off their older sister since she's developed a horrible one since starting school, but other parents tell me it's normal. I feel your pain!

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