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4 year old son's behavior normal?

My son is 4 and I am wondering if his recent behavior is normal. He has always been high energy but smart and able focus if given one on one attention. He is an only child and up until now we have dropped everything for him. We recently starting asking him to play more on his own or kind of give him more responsibility for himself in a way. Lately he has been very defiant. If we say yes he says no, always opposite of what we are asking of him. He will not do what we ask him to do at all anymore, he runs away from us like it is a game when asking him to come to dinner table or time to go get ready for bed or any other item we may ask him to do. He will scream at us "No" and try to hit or run away from us now when we actually have heard enough "No's" and try to pick him up to take him where he needs to go. He won't stay in "time outs" anymore like he used to when 2 or 3 which worked for us. Any advice is much appreciated.


Asked by tlk4jrvl at 10:34 AM on Nov. 9, 2009 in Preschoolers (3-4)

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Answers (6)
  • Sounds normal to me:) kids are trying to become independent, yet lack the skills, become frustrated, test their boundaries, and test your boundaries!!!

    However, if you let this behavior continue or become acceptable, then it will only worsen. My kids are very well behavied, but they are kids, and they have tried to test me too.
    I babysit for a freind who works pt. Her three kids are this way for her at home, but they are not like this for me, and now she has been useing my methods because her kids are out of control for her, and it's working great for her. I am clear on what i expect, what the consequences are, and i always follow through. Yelling no at parents, running off, hitting, not listening (especially by age 4) is just not acceptable. When my kids, or the three i babysit do this, there are immediate and long tern consequences. Immediate is time out, no cartoons, toys taken away. Long term are earning those back

    Answer by Anonymous at 10:53 AM on Nov. 9, 2009

  • Sounds like ADHD, have you had him tested?

    Answer by Shyma at 10:37 AM on Nov. 9, 2009

  • Don't always jump straight to ADHD. Boys will be boys, seriously. I have 2 sons, and the oldest is 4 and he does the same thing. He doesn't misbehave all the time, but he can be defiant a few times a day. I honestly just think that it's a phase they go through to test the waters with parents. Maybe start taking away things that are near and dear to him so he can get the message of who's the boss.

    Answer by tabc531 at 10:46 AM on Nov. 9, 2009

  • i wouldn't jump to adhd yet either. All kids test their parents. Just nip it in the bud and don't let it keep going on. At 4, they are old enough to cognitively understand "if i do this, than this could happen", tell him, "if you yell or hit, you will get ? taken away for two days", and put the toy up where he can see it (visual reminder), but not reach it (reminder that he can't have it). If he runs off from you, tell him "i'm going to count to 3, if you do not come to me than, (consequence-toy taken away, bed early, not cartoons)". Just be sure to follow through on the discipline, or he'll learn he doesn't have to listen to you b/c you don't mean it. Be strict to start, then you can loosen the reings as he listens more. Good luck, we've all been there! It will get better with some work on your part:)

    Answer by citymama707 at 11:05 AM on Nov. 9, 2009

  • You said it yourself....up until now you always dropped everything for him. You've suddenly changed his world and how you expect him to act in it.

    You have to be consistent in your discipline and it's going to take a while because (based on what you've written) up until now there hasn't been much. (I didn't say there wasn't ANY, just not much)

    Consider this as well, if you ASK him to do something you are giving him the option to tell you "no". If you TELL him to do something, that option is taken away and he is expected to do what he has been told.

    Stick him in time out. Put him back, put him back, put him back. Don't let him out until he agrees to do what he was told to do. That could be 30 seconds or it could be 30 minutes. So be it. When HE decides to behave as expected, then he can come out of time out. Oh, making them stand tires them out much quicker and they give in sooner.

    Answer by Anonymous at 12:15 PM on Nov. 9, 2009

  • Sounda like a normal 4 year old to me, he is testing you, so show him who is boss!

    Answer by older at 1:28 PM on Nov. 9, 2009