How to parent a defiant 4-year-old?

My son will be 4 in august. His behaviour has been getting worse for about 6 months now. He has been yelling - as in - you ask him to do something and he will scream NO! He throws tantrums anytime it’s time to leave somewhere (beach, park , a friend house , an amusement park , time to go inside from playing , getting off the ATVs ,etc ) it’s to the point we don’t even want to take him anywhere anymore. Which sucks. We love doing things. Best way to describe it is “he has a serious attitude problem” it’s his way or everyone is miserable ! And it’s not just a 3 year old occasionally throwing a tantrum. We have tried everything. And I mean everything. From trying to talk through it , breathe through it , hug it out , ask him if something is bothering him or if he has big emotions he can’t express , time outs , taking his atv away , no iPad , etc etc etc. but he just won’t stop ! I need helpppp! I feel like I’m failing as a mom and I want to curb this before it gets any worse.

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Help a mama out and respond anonymously on our forum. How to parent a defiant 4-year-old?

How about an old fashioned ass smacking?

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It’s developmentally normal at this age! He is testing his and your boundaries! Stick firm to them and he will learn!

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Come on now he’s 4!!

It is completely normal! Suck it up and stick it out is my only advice. Boys are as sweet as they are naughty lol

Have you had him evaluated by a professional?

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So you’re telling me he’s a normal 4 yr old

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Every 4 year old right now :rofl:

Try having a daughter who’s a mini version of yourself ahahaha not much is pleasant when we go out anymore :sweat_smile:

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Little fucker fours :rofl::rofl:

Won’t get better until around 7 ish lol

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My 4 yr old has been the same way since his bday. I told him happy Birthday and he yelled back “It’s not my birthday, I’m not 4”

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Who has he learned this behaviour from?

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Watch his diet, no artificial colors, cut out red dye 40.
Work on connection and work with him through his tantrum. He’s learning how to handle his anger.
You got this momma. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, he’ll see that to.

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So he’s acting like a normal four year old???

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Try having a 3 yr old with speech delay and does that…ugh. It’s exhausting but this too shall pass.

This is my daughter. She’s 4 also and I’m seriously on the edge of insanity because I also have a 3 yr old daughter that copies everything her sister does :woman_facepalming:

My 2 year old does this and is now had his referral to paediatrics for an ASD diagnosis. See if your health visitor can put a referral in for you sweet xx

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Why does everyone go straight too autism or adhd etc? It dumbfounds me alright!! No one can make that assumption, they don’t know the entirety of the situation - sounds too me like a typical 4year old. My son went through the same faze, he’s 5 in September and is only just understanding how too control and express his emotions now

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Have you tired the warning. in 10 mins we are leaving - in 4 more mins and we are leaving in 2 more mins we are leaving ok- it’s time to leave. It might help.

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Welcome to F U fours. It’s like terrible 2s but worse

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Test him for Autism and other issues. Professionally.

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Well, one way I always avoided my kids or grandkids doing that was…. They knew if they did anything like that their a$$ was mine!

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Corner it’s 1 minute per year. Send to his bed until he wants to listen

Needs professional evaluation. Check out diet etc cause the ear out bursts.

You are not failing he has figured out how to control you both also have him ckd for bipolar and vitamins

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Girl my 3yr old is the same way! He gets kicked out of every daycare I put him in, it sucks.

Sounds like over stimulation is causing meltdowns I would reach out mental health

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My son was the same way and is 10 now he was recently diagnosed a year or so ago ADHD and ODD with impulse control issues

How do you parent? Do you yell “no?” When my daughter did this I realized she was mimicking my own behavior. I had to check myself and then adjust how I reprimanded.

Developmentally, transition is really hard for that age, my 5 year old still has a hard time transitioning from one activity to another. This all sounds like a developmental process. You sound like a great parent, because obviously you care. This isn’t your fault, unfortunately the only advice I have is, he’ll grow out of it.

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YOU ARE NOT FAILING as a mom. Kids go through this. My kids went through this. I thought my kids were going to grow up being some thugs. Thank God all of the finish college & have great jobs. My oldest is married w 2 kids & they have lived on their own. Thank God!

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Do you give him a prior warning ?
Like a ten minute warning when it’s time to leave and then a five minute
One minute he is happy doing what he is doing then suddenly right let’s go
X

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Have you tried popping him on his butt? It worked wonders for my mom when us kids got sassy! I’m 56 and I never once thought of it as being abused and didn’t grow up to hurt anyone. I grew up respectful and learned my boundaries!

Y’all ain’t ever heard of busting a kids ass? No? I can tell… :eyes::roll_eyes:

Have you thought about having him evaluated

The terrible 2’s I have nowhere where the hell that came from it’s the 3’s you need to brace yourself for! Your child is just getting prepared to reek more havac! My 3 year old is on one for real! :joy: all you can do is roll with it and it will get better! Good luck momma!

You need to talk to his dr about your concerns

Do you set expectations? “ in 20 minutes we are leaving … because we have to do….” Then in 15 mins reiterate, 10 mins 5 mins, etc.

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My now 19 year old did this at 4…I would just walk off and let him tantrum and when he realized I wasn’t buying into it, he and his little toddler snot filled face would get up and be fine…until the next melt down. He’s literally the most chill 19 year old I’ve ever met. Thinking about it, I haven’t even witnessed him mad in probably the last 6 years.

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Sometimes if we had a tantrum(no matter where😳) my Mom would have one too, if we cried she cried and when we had been bad but then came to ask a question she would ignore us

We were so embarrassed

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Tear there butt up .Not abuse.We all got spanking and it worked. Teach them no means no and respect

Tell him if he needs throws a fit he Will get a spanking whenyou get an home he will get a spanking.

Stick to it…
He will learn fast

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Contact your childs pediatrician asap. I found out my son is ADHD and a few other mental disorders. Since I have gotten his pediatrician to help me he has been in therapy which is a huge help. You’re doing an amazing job. Don’t forget to give yourself a time out to recuperate.

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The parts of the brain in a baby arent formed at all. That is why there is the terrible two’s and such, the brain is trying to.make the area of self control but the child has to.go thru it to learn to.control it. They brain throws the child into a predicaments and waits for the child to learn to calm down. Dont beat yourself up, this is all part of maturing and growing.

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As a nanny and a teacher myself - four year old children are a challenging EXTRA frustrating age group to manage. Go gentle on yourself mama and be weary of anyone slapping a diagnosis on him especially online. None of this sounds like atypical behavior. It’s always good to check in with the doctor however don’t force therapies or evaluations unless recommended directly from your pediatrician! I was a little shocked to see people saying autism or bipolar in comments as none of this presents to me as either. Check in with the pediatrician as well to confirm if your mama gut is telling you something bigger is up, but again this all sounds fairly hard to manage and yet normal of the age group!

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My son had a rough year at age four in pre k. He would do things like not want to take his nap and throw his shoes at his teachers etc. We found out around age 5/6 that he had adhd. He is now 11 and the best behaved boy and his teachers tell me how good he is all the time. Hang in there.

I have sat my children down once we are home and they have calmed down that because of their behavior we will not be returning for a little bit. We go to have fun but We cannot go back if they keep acting like that. Also, I have learned we don’t abruptly leave. Let them know at the beginning we are leaving by this time because we have to (example) cook dinner. And then say if they leave without have a meltdown they can help you cook. Mine helped clean produce and combine ingredients before it went to the oven or stove. And then keep them in the loop. If you aim for 2 hours once the hour mark has passed say wow thy hour went by so fast. We have one more hour to go. Then 30 minutes, then 15, then 5, then final laps then go. I found this has helped so much. Let’s them feel in control

He sounds just fine to me

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Give a 5 minute warning before doing anything and keep him on a consistent schedule. Maybe think of making a calendar with pictures where he’s able to visualize what his day consists of and keep it the same so he knows what to expect. If after trying those things it is still an issue, I’d ask his pediatrician for a referral to get an evaluation.

Ditto. Lol. They really rest authority at this age

You better figure out something soon. Just imagine when he is 16 years old and acting like this. By that time he will be able to whip you and his dad’s ass. Just a thought.

Kids do what you allow. Nip that in the bud (or butt if you know what I mean).
Try everything. Don’t ask for advice if you aren’t willing to try everything. A swat on the butt works well … he will remember the shock / sting of it alot longer then four minutes in a time out …

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You need to find a good therapist and get him there as soon as possible. They know how to help him…

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Look into red dye 40. Eliminate it from his diet. He will still have fits it’s the age but they may not be as extreme!

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Why do you keep taking him places that he has a “melt down”? When he asks to go the park tell him “nope, because you won’t behave”. I’ve literally walked out of the grocery store in the middle of shopping when my kids didn’t behave. If you don’t get him under control, expect daily calls from school. He doesn’t need medicated he needs parents.

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Have you tried spanking him

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Girl me too I have no advice accept that your not alone

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Spanking comes to mind and I think he has too many material things. Can we say spoiled? I have a 4 year old grand daughter and she mind’s really well!!

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Look into changing his diet. If you don’t know about sea moss look into it!

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Kids 4 years old lol

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Sounds like a typical 4 year old

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A good ol backhand should do the trick might take a few times if he is really stubborn

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Use the reward system and discipline accordingly.

My grandson is two and I sort of co-parent with my son’s ex-girlfriend. Don’t ask.
But his two is HORRIBLE!! He is also verbally delayed a bit so sometimes I attribute that to his behavior. (Frustration). But if this is not improving by 4-5 I will be recommending speaking with a medical/mental health professional. I (out of old school beliefs and ignorance) ignored my oldest son’s issues of major hyperactivity and behavior problems. It cost everyone in the long run including my grandson. When you’ve done all you can do, seek help!

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My son does this too and he’s 6!
Not when going out it’s when coming back from outside or going anywhere! Mostly coming outside or if he has to leave for school in the morning

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Solve it 70’s style :100:

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One thing I’ve noticed is how we react to a tantrum plays a huge part in them. Ours were usually over going to bed. If I gave her 20 million chances to explain herself and gave her attention, or was anything other than super calm, they were way worse. If I told her it was fine if she needed to cry and yell but she was welcome to come chat with me when she was calm and ready she stopped much more quickly. Also as others have said, warnings of departure times help too. A snack ready in the car helps as well since they are often a result of unrealized hunger while distracted by the fun activity.

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Tell him No and no reaction

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Have you looked into red dye 40? My 3 year old daughter started acting like this and we looked into some things and cut red dye out of her diet and we also cut cocomelon and just those 2 things improved her behavior alot. I know it seems meaningless but that red dye makes your kids act completely different

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Do you have a childhood development center near you that you could take him to? It could be something as simple as something in his diet

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Try using visual timers or audible cues for easier transitions. Let them know what the plans will be and what times you will be leaving/arriving. This works for any transition, really. It takes a few weeks to make it a routine, but you’ll notice things get easier on all of you. Tantrums are also a way of saying, “I have issues with this feeling.” It’s okay to feel whatever emotion you’re feeling at any age; it’s how you express it that matters. Don’t punish them by taking away things because they’re having a basic reaction to stress. I like to ask what they’re feeling (if they are able to listen) to determine what they would like to express. Kids like to be heard too. Other times - zero reaction to the tantrum (sever circumstances) or to them, until they are willing to listen. I like to use “listening ears” (IE: Do we have listening ears?). It’s helpful to use this cue in a positive way (IE: great listening ears when you ____) They will stop to listen 8/10. If all else fails - visual aids of feelings. Let them point to the feeling they’re having on the chart when they’re in a mindset to do so. I have children with Autism and I find these methods quite effective. Sometimes it’s straight sensory issues or difficulty with their emotional regulation. Not all kids are the same - the paediatrician would know more on the issue if things do not improve.

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Just here for the comments to see how many people say take him to a therapist Lmao :rofl: when really all he needs is a good boot up the arse :joy:

First off good for you for reaching out! Maybe try to Make the time outs and consequences longer. Pray for guidance . You’ve got this and so does he. :pray:

Be stern! Mama! He needs to understand and respect you as Momma… Tell him no. Don’t be his friend, be his parent. If he can ride an atv at 3 years old 10 months, then surely he can learn to not throw fits.

At this age 3 years and 10 months, a child’s head is not fully developed & it’s highly unnecessary to try to get mental help or a diagnosis of any kid til after he’s started kindergarten.

I wish you blessings. :pray:. You’ve got this!

Raising 4 kids myself

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The secret is to ignore the tantrums it’s the attention they seek … Ignore and walk away tantrum stops almost instantly

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Watching Daniel the tiger helped me. When toddler was throwing tantrum.

I will tell him he has 10 minutes to play or whatever he wants and then it’s time go. It helped so much.

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Before you leave…give him notice on what you expect from him and if he acts out. It’s punishment. Early bedtime. No snacks…whatever fits the problem. You have to stand strong with him. No going back on your word. He’s gonna fight you until he sees he can’t win anymore. You might also take him to a behavioral therapist.

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You ARE NOT failing! You’ve hit a rough patch and it’s tough. Do not EVER give in to him. That is key. NEVER!! Life is going to suck for a while. Maybe more than suck for a while but it will be worth it. I’d suggest doing activities that you don’t have to pay a fee for because you’re definitely going to be leaving on some occasions. In a store and he throws a fit? Leave. Restaurant? Leave? Family function? Leave. Swimming? Leave. Amusement park? Leave. You get the gist. Negative behavior receives negative responses. As hard as it is to stay calm you must! Don’t raise your voice or give him any response that will reinforce this behavior. Just gather him up, make your apologies if necessary and calmly leave. Even at 4 years old actions have consequences. He has to learn that inappropriate behavior is not tolerated whether he wants to learn it or not. I’ve raised 4 to adulthood. 2 were VERY strong willed . This worked for me. I didn’t spank mine because it made me feel [email protected] Sometimes it took every ounce of strength I had not to go ballistic yelling. No response works best. By no response I mean just get up and take him out of wherever you are without making a huge deal. At home I put my kids in a spare bedroom. No toys and nothing to play with. Made them sit in a chair. For 4 years old he should have an age appropriate time out. No more than 5 minutes for his age. If he returns to the same behavior repeat it. Making strong willed children behave appropriately isn’t a sprint it’s a marathon. Tweak your solutions as needed. It’s time to dig in for the long haul because this will take time, effort and massive reserves of patience on your part. In the end it’s completely worth it. Don’t listen to the people that just say he’ll grow out of it. 4yo’s struggle with their emotions but without parents helping them through it and setting and ENFORCING boundaries and appropriate behavior he might not grow out of it. It could get worse. Now is the time to address it and help him. Good luck momma! Been where you are and mine (although not perfect) are well adjusted, happy productive adults! You’ll come out the other side of this. Don’t give up!!!:heart:

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I always tell my kids when your calm we will talk. I also set a kids visual timer that seems to help

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Take away everything

How about good old fashioned spanking. Geesh you parents that don’t spank your kids when needed are only hurting them and turning them into defiant spoiled brats, a little discipline teaches them consequences for their actions. Its not abuse to tap your kids on their butts when needed.

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Put him in the corner each time he acts up… works like a charm

Have you considerd medical assessments? My boys both had adhd and ODD (Oppositional defiant disorder) and on the spectrum. Just a thought.

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Maybe before you leave home… you sit him down and explain to him. He understands. Have eye to eye contact and let him know that when he goes out… it will be a time when he has to come home. B1 hour before…give him a gentle reminder that you will be leaving soon… then 30 MI utes then 15. It’s alot but he will get it.

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Well my mother would just best me with everything she touched :woman_shrugging:.

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Don’t let this 3 year hold you hostage!!! Chastise him for Pete’s sake! It only gets worse!

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They next time he yells at you , slap him right in his mouth

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Set time frames use a timer lets say in 5 minutes we are leaving or whatever and use reward system like start with no tantrums for two days you get an extra bedtime story or etc when a tantrum happens sit behind him on floor and hug him and count with him till he is under control and breathe

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Google “whipped cream for tantrum” lol genius

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Man so many people asking what to do about the kids being bratty… again… bust that ass!!! My goodness and yes it hurts you to do it… yet what yall want hurts more to see ya child in prison or something

Adoption is always an option

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I had 3 of em and the 2nd one man…he did that. He would fall out and cry and scream. He bit me. I was told to ignore it…and I’m like how…he’s screaming…they said just leave him be. Don’t give him what he wants…so I did it. It broke my heart but it worked. He was 3. He was so nice around other people. Turned out I think he was jealous cause I had his sister. And he wanted a brother.

My youngest was terrible like that. When he started of us went to the car and sit with him. He de I did that wasn’t too fun :rofl:

Is he on the spectrum?

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If we are the park or family’s house etc& it’s nearly time to go I say we have 10 mins then we are going , they have enough time to sort themselves out

Honestly. My son ,who is now6, tried this on me a couple of times in the past. Pops up every now and again and I never alter this pattern.

“OK son time to go” but I want to stay" I know your having fun bud. But it’s time to go" " BUT I WANT TO STAY!" I understand but mom said it’s time to go. Now you can leave on your own or I can drag you out kicking and screaming and you will never come back." “…” " you have to the count of 5. Then I will remove you. You will be grounded off of (favorite toy) for a week and we will not come back" “mom no!” You know I will son. The choice is urs 1.) “But mom " 2,…3…” usually by then he complies. If not. For every number I hit I tell him another thing he will be grounded from. I only had to make good once. Usually by 3 he stomps his way to the car. I always thank him 9nce 9n the road tell him I live him and reward his compliance with a treat. Now I get to 2 he straightens up and moves along.

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I would talk to your pediatrician if you have tried all those things already. They could get you in touch with behavioral health, just to make sure there isn’t anything else going on. Wish you luck mama :heart:

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Be consistent, children no matter the age are learning and growing and will continue to test boundaries. Physical punishments do not work they make matters worse especially in the long run. Start going on shorter outings, give your child a heads up 10 minutes and 5 minutes before leaving places and make sure he is fed or has snacks, well rested, and knows you’re there for him. When he does have tantrums make sure he’s safe let it run its course and talk about it afterwards. Set the clear boundaries you need for your family and stick to them.

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I’ve noticed with my son that he talks to us how we talk to him I can get him to calm down way faster if I let him have a couple of minutes to let his emotions go because he isn’t at an age to have learned how to master his moods yet. I just sit infront of him and talk very quietly and tell him he is being mean which he always first tells me I’m the one being mean then I tell him I’m not yelling at you or telling you no right? He will say no and I tell him ok well can we please be happy? I know it sucks to leave when your having so much fun but we have to go do the other things we need to do so I can be a good mommy and make sure your safe and not hungry, clean and have clean clothes because if we don’t go do all the boring stuff then we won’t be able to come back and have fun because it will all build up and we will have so many boring things to do that we won’t be able to come have fun lile this again. So can you come and help me and dad do all the stuff we have to get done so we all can cone back and have more fun because I could really use your help. It works every single time. Because he feels that he is getting a choice in a way and that he is important because mommy is asking for help just like he does and mommy or daddy always help him with his stuff and it just works everytime if I yell at him he just escalates it to a point that is terrible for everyone around for kids when we say we are leaving they feel like they will never get to go back to the place they are at and have the same fun time as they are now because their little brains need to be reminded of all the other fun things we do because they are so focused on the time they have now because that’s how kids are. Just take a deep breathe and know it’s just because he is having fun and don’t want to leave its not because he is a bad kid or becoming one. He is just having fun

I use to change the tone of my voice so they knew I was serious and give them to the count of 3 and on occasion I would say I’m serious if you’re not ready I’m leaving without you… When you start to walk away it is no wait don’t leave then okay let’s get going then. And of course they are going to test you because they think you are joking when you start to walk away the reality sets in that you really might go without him… And before people start going crazy in no way am I saying to leave your child alone.

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Try not taking him any where. When he asks can we do this that or the other. Tell him how he acts takes the fun out of what ever it is. See how he thinks about it.

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