Angry 4 Year Old

Updated on May 30, 2015
N.M. asks from Durham, NC
12 answers

Aiden gets angry. Like really mad over really minuscule things. And it's something we have been working on for over a year. Does anyone have any tips on how to get him to react without so much anger?

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answers from Portland on

I would recommend some professional interventions. A child psychologist will be able to help you know what is going on and how to help. I would also have an evaluation from an Occupational Therapist who specializes in Sensory Processing Disorder. Generally kids who are so dysregulated so often have something else going on.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Chicago on

This is COMMON. Most kids go through a stage where they are struggling to learn how to regulate frustration and anger. There are lots of great books out there that will help you, but FYI, 4.5-5.5 is a wild age with lots of loud, ridiculous crying. I haven't met a kid that age that doesn't lose control. Emotions are BIG, and all you can do is do calm emotional coaching.

I recommend "raising an emotionally intelligent child," by Gottman. There are tons of books for kids, just look at Amazon.

Also, check out Ah Ha Tons of great advice there.

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answers from Chicago on

This is a program that I am going to start learning, called The Nurtured Heart approach. After observing my kindergarten son's class and how lovingly his teacher works with them and how sweet they are in class I realized she's doing many of the things that this method recommends. My son is a beast at home, so I am going to learn it too to see if I can help him.

There's also a book called "The Explosive Child" that I'm going to be getting to help guide me through.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Please take note of what Marla S suggested.
My son had similar issues and a developmental neuropsychologist told us about sensory processing disorder. My son is in his 3rd month of occupational therapy with this diagnosis. During the last 3 mos I have seen a complete change in my son. Yes, we still have episodes but NOTHING like before.
Good Luck

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answers from Los Angeles on

I concur w/what Suz T. said.
It gives your child's voice a chance on being heard & gives a choice in the future.
Choices are good for children. Just keep it simple. A coice between two
things. Do you want to wear the blue dress or the green dress? Do you
want to play with dolls or blocks?
Also, when they are getting into something you don't want them to, redirect
their attention away from the unwanted item to something else. For
instance, she's playing w/your knick knacks "oh look over here honey, you
see this bin of blocks" taking her over to the bin pulling out some blocks &
start stacking them.
At this age, she may just be trying to assert some independence & does not
like always being told. Since we are the parents & have to set boundaries,
redirection to a safter thing to play with or do is an excellent way to stop
current unwanted behavior!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

hard to say with so little info. 4 year olds have very little control over their environments so frustration is a constant. so the first thing is to have realistic expectations over a very small person's coping skills, and to be very very patient. there are no magic tricks. often the best tack is to make sure they feel heard and understood (wow, you are very angry that it's time to stop playing and get ready for bed! i know you want to keep playing. but now it's bedtime. do you want the blue or green pjs?)
sometimes a little person needs to howl it out, and should be given the space to do so. sometimes howling is completely inappropriate and the little person needs to be removed from the scenario and allowed to howl into a vacuum. sometimes the anger is justifiable and the little person needs to be comforted. but the main thing is to make sure he's heard, allowed to express himself, but given clear firm boundaries as to how that expression takes place.

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answers from Fort Myers on

Is it something he sees from other people? I try to be calm and keep cool. I think my son feeds off that. If he spills his cup, its ok, we clean it up. My niece on the other hand is completely different. Shes 4 and if something small goes wrong - its the end of the world. Thats how my sister in law acts though with the stupidest things.

Not trying to point fingers. I think a lot of it has to do with their environment.

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answers from Williamsport on

If they are normal angry tantrums, and you a have a loving, stable, supportive, positive home, he is old enough to control himself if you enforce with discipline. I recommend "Back to Basics Discipline" by Janet Campbell Matson. Most kids will spin off in a rage at that age if they're prone to it and they're allowed to. If you ignore this or let him go freak out in his room etc, he will continue it of course.

If there are other factors at play like learning disabilities or disorders or trauma at home, maybe look into professional help.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

You might consider play therapy to work on behavior modification. When you say "we" who do you mean? The family? Or do you have professional help?



answers from Miami on

I would talk to your pediatrician about it, to be honest. Ask for a referral to a play therapist. She will come to your home and observe him. You act the same way with him as you always do in front of her so that she sees what his triggers are and how he acts. (You can also film what's happening without him realizing it.)

The play therapist will make recommendations. They can be very helpful.



answers from Washington DC on

I agree with those below: Please get him evaluated as soon as possible and see what kind of professional intervention he may need -- occupational therapy, behavioral therapy, etc. This may or may not be sensory, it may or may not be something else, but you have made a real effort for over a year and it's not changing, so it's time to turn to the professionals.

Four-year-olds do get easily frustrated all the time, and I generally don't embrace the idea that all kids' behavioral issues mean a diagnosable condition, but if his anger seems really too intense for a young child it's worth getting him checked to see if this is normal four-year-old need for control, or something more.

Remember one key thing if your son does start counseling: Therapy or counseling are for you and your spouse as much as for your son. You need to talk in detail to the doctors and ask them to give you specific ideas on how to explain things to him; how to react to him when HE is over-reacting; how to work on his environment; how to spot the things that will trigger his anger (anger is often a sign a child is actually scared, more than angry, and that's something a therapist can explore). Until you get him (and you) to a therapist, meanwhile, sit down and think hard about when and where he seems to get most angry, and try to reduce or eliminate whatever sets him off. But don't go it all alone; get him evaluated.

Is he in preschool? If so, I would talk with the teachers (without him present) and get details of how he acts and reacts to things there. The teachers may be a very good gauge of whether his anger seems like normal frustration for a young child, or whether they think his anger is beyond what they usually see in kids this age. That's good information to have if you go to a doctor.



answers from Buffalo on

My dd did that when she was 3, the only thing I can suggest is removing him from the situation. If we were away from home, I would leave wherever we were when she threw a fit. At home I would do a time out. There's no easy fix because sometimes I think they need to scream or cry it out. If I knew she was in a bad mood, I would put on a video just to change the atmosphere until she got calmed down.

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