4 Year Old Attitude

Updated on June 13, 2009
T.J. asks from West Chester, OH
11 answers

My 4 year old boy is typically a good kid, very loving, in school he's quite and an observer, pays attention and is pretty good.
HOWEVER, there are times when he is with me...when he is so rude and this little attitude comes out that is so horrible. For example I will take him over to my friends house and they will say Hi to him and he won't respond or he will give this little bratty noise. How do I stop him from doing this....it's so frustrating and embarrassing...I love my kid with everything I have and have tried to raise him to be polite and mannerly and then this attitude appears. Any advice?

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answers from Indianapolis on

Easy enough......4 minutes in time out whenever he does anything innappropriate.
You explain why he is in time out and he says sorry to you and the offended person.

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answers from Terre Haute on

There's nothing you can do to stop it, but you can keep it from getting worse by calling him on it every time he does it. I've been dealing with attitude and back talk from my daughter since she was about that age (she's 6 now) and while I haven't completely broken her of it, I can say that she's never been obnoxious the same way twice. i just stop her immediately and tell her that the appropriate response is (insert your expectation here) and that anything else means a time out. Then I ask her to do it again the right way before we move on. You'd be surprised how much praise you'll get for your parenting skills behind your back, and it will eventually stick when he knows he's going to have to stop and do it again.

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answers from Indianapolis on

Welcome to the world of "I am trying my wings". Correct him, advise him he is not behaving appropriately immediately. All children test their parents. Each generation moves the time level by a couple of years. Send him to time out even at a friend's and tell him when he can apologize and be polite he can come out. If that doesn't have the desired effect and he does it again move to step 2.

I know it sounds heartless and it doesn't remove the immediate embarassment, but you can explain the idea to your friends and family members and see if they are willing to go along with it should you decide to try it out. Just remember not to explain it to them in front of the child or he will just get worse to see if you will do it or not. If you go to a friend's they say "Hi" and he doesn't answer or grunts at them they do not have to recognize his presence. When treats are offered he is left out, etc. If he starts whining you politely advise him since he chooses to be rude and ignore adults they have the right to treat him the same way and do not give in until he apologizes to that person and asks if he may please have some or be included in the game etc. Believe me once or twice will turn the tide.

I used this procedure on my neice, nephew and grandson. Several of my friend's and I have used it as well on each other's children. It worked.

Rudeness is inappropriate at any age and they may as well realize it from the start. When my grandson makes that noise at me instead of responding he is sent to a time out until he can come out, apoligize and be polite and he now has to write a note of apology as well.



answers from Cleveland on

Hi T.,
Well unfortunately I don't have any answers for you but I thought it might help to know you are not alone. I have the same situation with my 4 yr old. At school, when we are out at the store, everyone thinks he's wonderful and he is normaly a very good boy, I'm very proud of him. But like you; meeting or visiting people, he does not respond well and I've tried teaching him/showing him what he should do. Also, though I have never had any complaints from school with his friends, he is often very mean to his little brother, almost daily and it's frustrating to correct the same thing over and over again. Since I would "define" him as a good boy, he really gets into very little trouble, I guess I should be Thankful but I told him I don't feel I should not have to tell him to be nice to his brother. Everyone gets mad sometimes but geez this is ridiculous. I will anxiously be reading the other responses you get!



answers from Cleveland on

Prepare him before you leave the house and on how you expect him to behave and then tell him the consequences if he does not and follow through. Repetition is important here so the more you practice going to other peoples houses and go to people's houses he will learn and his attitude should get better. Practice makes perfect.



answers from Columbus on

My daughter is 4 and is the same way! The pediatrician suggested testing her for ADD and the results came back that she has a lot of social anxiety and severe shyness. If adults talk to her, she'll make a high-pitched squeaking noise or talk in a high-pitched voice and act really weird. I hate to take her to my friends' houses or do public things because she reacts inappropriately sometimes. She is very reserved in group situations and sits back and observes before participating. It takes her a long time to warm up to new situations so I have to prepare her ahead of time for what we're going to do. I read the book The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine Aron and it was so insightful! We also just started seeing a therapist (this week!) because I want to intervene early and help her be confident and successful. Good luck!!!



answers from Youngstown on

My son did the same thing, as did a co-worker's son who is about the same age. I'd come in venting about his behavior and she'd say her's was doing the same. I think it's perfectly normal, though not the greatest thing for us! Just remind him that good manners are important, and if he doesn't behave nicely he won't get invited again.



answers from Bloomington on

try talking about it over ice cream or some time when you're not in the embarrassing situation and he's ready and willing to think about his behavior. explain why you want him to say hi to his friends, and that little bratty noises are not polite. ask him to try it next time, and get him to commit. then praise like crazy when he does something good.



answers from Cincinnati on

My daughter is the same way sometimes!! It depends on her mood. She is shy and sometimes acts weird around people she dosen't know. I am sure it is something they will grow out of as they get older and mature. I think just trying to correct them when they do this behavior will help them understand and learn what is appropriate in social situations. The problem is I am a stay at home mom and she is at home with me and isn't in school yet. I think once she gets out of the home more she will get better. Hope yours will too!!



answers from Indianapolis on

Sounds like you need to have PLENTY of conversation about appropriate and inappropriate behavior. In addition, you MUST have consequences for inappropriate behavior. If you are someplace and remind him that a behavior is inappropriate, LEAVE. I don't care if you are shopping, he's at a birthday party or whatever.

Tell them that it is NOT fair to spoil the fun for everyone else because of his attitude and behavior. Talk about how he feels when others respond w/ poor attitude and behavior. REMIND THEM THAT IT IS A CHOICE! If he decides to pout or be upset, he's made the decision and it's no one else's fault.

I know it may be inconvenient at times, but you HAVE to make SURE he knows you're in charge, mean what you say and that there are consequences to bad attitudes and behavior. It won't take long to fix it and will happen less frequently IF you nip it NOW.



answers from Cleveland on

My oldest is now 11. When she was younger she was quiet with her teachers and often wouldn't talk to adults. We took her to a dr for something completely different but while there the dr diagnosed with selective mutism. Which is a extreme form of anxiety where she couldn't talk with adults. We did not realize we would always ordered for her at restaurants, and speak for her at a lot of places. We just thought she was shy. He could have some form of anxiety and doesn't know how to deal with it or express it to you. Definately preparing him for situations ahead of time will help. I know with my daughter if something unexpected happens, like an unknown dr or dr asst, could set her off. We did therapy and medicine and she has come along way. She loves to volunteer in class now, before it would take at least 1/2 school year to raise her hand and then it wasn't often. He may not have the extreme anxiety that my daughter had, but he may be experiencing some and doesn't know how to handle it.

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