4 Year Old Always Says "I'm a Good Boy"

Updated on January 29, 2011
C.P. asks from Beverly Hills, CA
15 answers

Hi there... this is totally new to me... so please be patient. I have recently started babysitting my 4 year old godson. My issue is that he is CONSTANTLY saying things like "I'm a good boy" when I am punishing my 4 year old as well as other kids I babysit. He has done this type of thing for as long as I can remember. Even when he was just 2. He is always repeating himself, like for example... for fighting this morning I took the boys fav teddy bears away for a set amount of time. My son got mad... but my godson says (about every 5 mins or so) "I get Teddy back when my mom comes to pick me up" and then repeats it 2 or 3 more times. Its like he is bragging that one got in trouble while he didn't. The whole "I'm a good boy" really bothers me the most.

Is this "normal"? I am finding it extremely irritating and my son keeps saying that his feelings are hurt. He cries not because he is in trouble but because his "best friend is being mean".

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So What Happened?

WOW! Thanks! He has been "Reassuring himself" since he could talk. He is an only child... praise is given at home but not disipline. No my son doesn't get in trouble alot... but he is 4... so yes he does things that need to be punished. His parents are aware that this behaviour is irritating... they find it irritating as well... I do reassure him that "yes you are a good boy, but right now we need to disipline ..."

I also know that they ARE old enough to Brag... and they DO Brag to eachother ALL the time... they also know that it is not nice.

Thanks for all the tips

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answers from Charlotte on


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answers from Los Angeles on

I’m going to agree with the others that he is not bragging, but likely reassuring you that he IS being good. I’m sorry your son is hurt, but sounds to me like he is mimicking what he hears constantly at home and it sounds like his parents are doing a good job building his self-esteem.

As far as the teddy bears, are they HIS bears? If so then at 4 years of age to confirm that Mommy will make sure he gets his bears back is very normal. He is again reassuring himself and letting you know his Mom will give him his toy back even though you took them away.

If my child was being cared by another adult, and that adult was constantly irritated by him, I would want to know so I can find him a sitter that would be better suited for him. Just a thought.

Best of luck!

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answers from San Francisco on

He is not bragging. He is 4. Chill out...

I agree he is simply reassuring himself. He is talking note of the situation vocally and finding an understanding for his surroundings.

Does your son get in trouble A LOT?

Edit: I also agree with some of the other posters that this is probably not the best situation for your godson if you find him "extremely irritating." You should also tell his parents how you feel. If I were in their shoes I would not find you a suitable caregiver for my son and I would look elsewhere. Perhaps you should take a child development class to better understand and cope with 4 year olds.

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answers from New York on

Too young to "brag", so I would let this one go. He's a preschooler, so they play around with language and repeat new phrases (especially those that get a reaction) until they move on to something else.

Here's my issue... you say this happens when you are "punishing" the children you babysit for. I would suggest that you consider using a more positive approach involving reinforcing the children who are engaging in the expected behaviors and trying to avoid "punishments". As a parent with a child in daycare, I would be very upset to hear that someone was punishing my child. If you are not a licensed childcare provider, I would suggest that you take some courses in how to manage the behaviors of children this age- it may cut down on the need to punish the kids.

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answers from Glens Falls on

It sounds to me as though he is self-soothing. He may be insecure about being punished at your house and his parents' discipline techniques may be totally different than yours causing him to be anxious about the possibility of being punished. Do the kids know the rules and the consequences? Do you give a warning telling them the behavior that is not acceptable and what the consequences will be? I also would say that I think my reaction to a 4 year old who repetitively said "I'm a good boy" would be a feeling of compassion, not irritation so like a lot of other posters, I'm thinking this is not a good day care arrangement for any one. He's anxious, you're irritated and your son has hurt feelings. Maybe it would be better to talk to his mom about making other arrangements.

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answers from Chicago on

It sounds like self-soothing, to me. Just reassuring himself that things will go back to normal for him. He's 4, so normal routine and comfort figures are still VERY big parts of his daily life. He's not trying to irritate you or mock your son. He's trying to cope.
Try to be a little patient with him.

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answers from Chicago on

Maybe this is not a good arrangement for your godson or you. If you find it "extremely irritating", I think you are probably the one that needs some more information on child development. Maybe he's echoing what he hears at home or making sure you are not upset with him. Do his parents know that you find him so irritating? Maybe he should be in a daycare situation where his caregiver appreciates and understands the age and the innocence of it.

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answers from Dallas on

It's very possible his mom says these things to him repeatedly so he has picked up on the habit. So maybe she praises him with "you're a good boy" when he is good or does something well. So of course he would mimic that. And as far a repeating about getting Teddy back . . . well, is it his most favorite "comfort" item? If so, then the repetition could be he way of dealing with his anxiety while his comfort item is unavailable to him -- sort of his "mantra". My 4 year old daughter has a favorite comfort item and if for some reason it isn't available to her (such as if we're out and it is at home) she'll comfort herself with similar repetition.

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answers from Honolulu on

In a way.... (for a child), this type of verbalizing may be a child's way of 'assuring' or convincing THEMSELVES that 'they' are okay.
That they, are a 'good' boy.
Not bragging.
But a sort of self-comforting thing.
Or that he likes to 'please' adults.

To me, that is what this is.

How is this boy, handled by his parents?
At home?
Is he scolded a lot?
Told he is either 'good' or 'bad?'
Maybe he is scolded a lot at home?
*You said this boy has been doing this "even when he was just 2" years old. So it is not, at that age, consciously done to 'hurt' someone else, nor to insult another child.

When your Godson says these things, ALSO observe the intonation of it. Is it sassy and mocking? Or is it just being stated? Or in a way, that he is saying it to make himself... feel better.... longingly...

Try to explain to your son, to ignore it.
That it is not meant to hurt him.

all the best,

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answers from Salt Lake City on

okay this is normal, the little boy is simply reassuring himself that he will get his teddy back, or that he is a good boy.
He is not bragging or "rubbing it in" from the way it sounds it just self re-assurance that he is okay. All you have to do is acknowledge and he will be fine- When he says- " I'm a good boy" it is more of a question than a statement. All you have to do is say- Yes you are good boy but sometimes good boys get in trouble too.

My 8 year will affirm that he is not in trouble when the 14 yr old is just like this- I tell him the same thing- Yes your not in trouble right now but you do get in trouble just as often as your brother.

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answers from Allentown on

My initial reaction is that he is reassuring himself, not bragging. I am noticing that my four year old can ask or say the same thing over and over, again I think it's about seeking understanding, or comfort and reassurance.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Honestly to me..it sounds like the poor little guy is reassuring himself..you sound like you are very strict..i'm not for "punishing" i always hug then i talk it out and explain exactly why what they are doing is not acceptable..but just taking toys and punishing and then a little saying "i'm a good boy" b/c he doesn't want to believe that he is "bad" and you are basically telling him and your son and the others that they are bad..and you are taking their toys etc..what if...you tried a different way of handling them..what if you handled it in a kinder fashion? or explained to them what they are doing and why they shouldn't..i always say.."its my job to take care of you..and make sure everyone is happy and safe" then i explain what it is they are doing that does not coincide w/ that..
i honestly think he is telling himself and u ..that he's not a bad kid..that he's good..and he wants that validation..i don't think you should babysit him..i would talk to his mother and say its not working out..especially if you are saying he's irritating you. How does this response make u feel? that's how you make them feel.


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answers from Los Angeles on

There is a difference between punishment and discipline; one is punitive, the other is meant to teach.

We never used the term "good boy" with our kids. They are ALWAYS good kids, but sometime they do bad or wrong things. It is very important to make that distinction. Perhaps explaining that to your nephew (the difference between DOING bad things (and being disciplined for it) and BEING a bad person. Nobody wants their kids to feel as though they are, themselves, bad.


answers from New York on

My five yr old "brags" on himself all the time. I think it's cute.



answers from Reno on

It may be irritating, but it's absolutely normal. He doesn't see it as bragging, but as a statement of fact. The more important he thinks a fact is, the more often he'll say it. He's reassuring himself that things really are the way he thinks they are. He'll repeat things like when he gets his bear back every time he thinks about it, to reassure himself that it really WILL happen that way. (My oldest daughter used to do so about once every minute and a half, and it made me crazy! :P)

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