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Is this normal for a 4 year old?

My son will be 4 VERY soon. Right after he turned 3 (literally, two days after his bday..) he hit 'the terrible 2s'. Up until that point he never had an issue with hissy fits. For several months it was a daily issue. Anything would set him off and he would go on an hour and a half long screaming bloody murder temper tantrums. He'd bawl and SCREAM and throw himself all over the place. When asked why, it would send him further over the edge or make him start up again. It got slightly better over time, but he is now going back to the same behavior for the last several weeks. I've seen 2 year olds act like this. NEVER a child my son's age. Besides this and blatantly refusing to use the potty still, he is doing GREAT developmentally. He's very mature and independent. I just don't get why he does this. Is it normal? If so, how should we handle it? Everybody has told us to ignore it but honestly, NOTHING has helped so far.

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Asked by Anonymous at 7:47 AM on Jan. 21, 2010 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Answers (9)
  • What you are seeing is a child who is determined to have his own way about everything and who thinks he is in control of the universe. It is not a phase and it will not go away unless you take control and teach him that he is not in authority, that his parents are his authority. It is up to you to teach him that he is to obey instantly and that he is to respect his parents. The only way to successfully teach him these things is to explain to him how you expect him to behave, what your rules are. You then explain to him that every time he does not instantly obey, he will be spanked on bare skin. You want to spank him just hard enough that it stings. Pain is the consequence of disobedience. You tell him once, you don't count, threaten or do anything else. If you will consistently spank him every time he doesn't obey, you will have a changed boy in a matter of a few weeks. If you don't, he will consistently get worse.

    Answer by NannyB. at 8:15 AM on Jan. 21, 2010

  • It sounds normal. IT IS SO frustrating...but try to ignore the behavior. When he sees he isn't going to get a rise out of you with such unacceptable behavior, he probably won't keep doing it. Negative attention is still attention.

    Answer by WatermelonNerd at 8:29 AM on Jan. 21, 2010

  • An hour and a half is NOT normal for a terrible two or three. 20 minutes is normal. I agree, you are going to have to spank this child. Some of them respond to reasoning and time out and taking away toys. Have you tried those? If you have tried those with no success and you have tried ignoring him. Then spank! anothert hing that works is rewarding him for good days.

    Answer by Anonymous at 8:30 AM on Jan. 21, 2010

  • I think its normal. My son is 5 and just thru a fit like this on sunday. Screaming as loud as he can, waving his arms all around like he wants to hit something. He doesn't due this all the time thank god, but he will have his outbursts and every now and then. I think I've seen him do this 3-5 times since he was 3 or maybe a little older. Best to just ignore it. We just take our son to his room and wait til he calms down to let him out or til we will go talk to him about his behavior.

    Answer by Tiffany237 at 8:33 AM on Jan. 21, 2010

  • just be thankful you don't have a girl lol my DD is almost 5 since she turned 4 she doesn't throw tatrums, but she does cry over everything every little thing. Also you can't play with her joke with her anything she takes everything seriously and she will get mad and go to her room pouting. Also she has a mouth on her. She trys to be bossy and mouthy.

    Answer by mommy5409 at 8:54 AM on Jan. 21, 2010

  • He sounds like he has a temper.Thats all I here.I have a few kids, and I'm not a professional but thats what it sounds like to me.' He may need boundaries kids actually do need them or they kinda get, lost.'Dicipline is a good thing.So setting boundries young sets the stage.I've learned that to acheive balance at some level at the home front we all need a time out acassionally.'Self included.My kids started going to time-outs at 3 yrs old.It's worked for them.'IDK, just trying to think of somethin'., good luck.'

    Answer by Stefono at 9:03 AM on Jan. 21, 2010

  • i have one child that has a very hard time controlling his temper. this started when he was 1 1/2, and still goes on today, he is 4 1/2. he is much much better now. the hardest thing for me is staying calm myself! i find best results if i remain calm, ask him to use his words, or go into his room until he is ready to talk about it.
    good luck!

    Answer by happy2bmom25 at 9:55 AM on Jan. 21, 2010

  • The three year old child is much more apt to act this way than a two year old because when he was two, you could distract him and redirect him to keep a tantrum from starting. At age three, he is more aware of his ability to CONTROL a situation. He knows that he can make things happen or keep them from happening. Your son is testing you to see if you will be consistent or give in to his fits. He is maybe somewhat more headstrong than is typical, but not that much. If the fits get him what he wants even one or two times, he learns to use that behavior to get what he wants. He can even tell who in his family is the quickest to give in(who is the softy). The toileting sounds like a way to control. You cannot make him go and he knows that. If you want his bad behavior to stop, then you have to ignore the bad behavior(unless he is hurting himself or others) and praise and reward the good behavior so that it continues.

    Answer by lovetoteach1988 at 12:58 PM on Jan. 21, 2010

  • (continued) You have to decide along with everyone else in the family what you will ignore(behavior that you want to get rid of) and what you will reward(good behavior that you want to see more of). Everyone has to be consistent and stick with the plan or it will not change the behavior. Be specific when you praise and reward to tell him exactly what you liked that he did. If you just say, "You were a good boy." , he might not know what "being good" really means. Set up a reward chart using stickers or ink stampers of his favorite characters and catch him being good, and give him a sticker. Once he gets a sticker, you NEVER take one away! He earned it! Once he gets a certain number of stickers, then maybe he gets a bigger prize. Do not be surprised if the bad behavior gets worse when you first start ignoring it. This happens. Just stick to your plan and be CONSISTENT! Good Luck!

    Answer by lovetoteach1988 at 1:17 PM on Jan. 21, 2010

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