How to Deal With An Aggressive 4-Year-Old?

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"My son has been an angel up until now- this morning he woke me up with a packet of lollies, I said no son it’s too early and he threw them right at me and started screaming that he hates me, etc etc. This is just a little snippet of our life lately. He has to have his way or no way. For some reason, he always has to make a smart remark out of nowhere. I have been too gentle on him and now we are at a loss. How do I redeem myself and get my sweet little boy back? I’ve tried being gentle and I’ve tried being “mean”. Nothing is working so far. Help"

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The following top answers have been selected by a moderator from hundreds of responses to the original question.

"Hello, be consistent with setting boundaries. As you set new rules you will experience something called extinction bursts where his behavior will increase because you are setting new rules. Stick with your rules and be consistent and eventually, after a while your child will settle into the rules and expectations. They are just going to increase their behavior to try and get their way still. Don’t give in. Discuss boundaries. Even have them sign a parent-child contract of behavior. Good luck"

"Sit him down and ask him why he’s so angry lately. Let him know that it’s okay to be angry but it’s not okay to scream that he hates you. Explain that his words hurt. Sometimes they don’t even know why they’re feeling those big feelings and need help learning how to handle them."

"Consistency with boundaries and follow through with consequences. 100% of the time"

"He’s testing his boundaries and around that age hormones and growth spike. They get more attitude, smart assy, etc. Remind yourself that he doesn't understand what he’s saying and being told ‘no’ can be really difficult at a young age. Stick to your guns and try to guide him through it. Tell him the words he says are hurtful and mean. Give him verbal chances (example: I said to stop doing ____, if you can not listen, you’ll be in trouble), and after two of them put him in his room or take something away until he listens. Acting out, yelling, etc are ways they get their anger and frustration out. Placing him in his room to get it out may be the solution. Tell him you guys can speak through it when he calms down. Ask him why he gets so mad and mean. He won't be able to clearly formulate his feelings, so help him through it. It certainly will pass."

"At 4 they are fighting for control and independence. They also are having a hard time understanding all the emotions going on in their heads. With my daughter, I found what worked best was giving her the option of “Are you going to have a good day or bad day?” A good day means she will be happy and have fun. A bad day means she can sit by herself in her room and be miserable all on her own. She always picks the good day and tells me she will be a good girl and she is for the whole day"

"Our biggest line is it is okay to let yourself be angry and feel it but we don’t take it out on others with words or our bodies."

"Be consistent. No means no. Don’t change the rules be firm but gentle. Fit and tantrums get sent to his room until they are over. Then try again. 5 kids and 15 grandchildren, this works for me."

"This is developmentally normal."

"Try to also word stuff differently. Like, tell him let's eat breakfast first and then see if we want a lolli. Cause just saying no outright can cause them to feel overwhelmed"

"Consistency. If he knows what to expect from you. He will know what to expect if you consistently enforce your rules. Do not even once give in."

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