How to parent a defiant 4-year-old?

What is his diet like? Eliminate junk, sugar, fast food, Or anything processed. Whole foods only


Stop everything fun for a week and ease back into it. If he is defiant then he doesn’t get to do something the next day and has to earn it back for the day after.


I have a son like this, he is now 15. At age 5 he was diagnosed with Oppositional Defiance Disorder. About 5 years later after a neuro psych evaluation he was diagnosed with Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder. He was exactly like that. I couldn’t take him anywhere and as he got older he got kicked out of school, became increasingly violent, cops involved and in and out of psych hospitals.
So for anyone saying spank him, whoop can f#ck right off imo cuz they have no damn clue what its like dealing with this day in and day out.

Sounds like he needs to have an assessment done he may have something like adhd or odd and could even be on spectrum…and so many people are quick to say spank a kid and let me be the first to say it doesn’t work for every kid especially if that kids is special needs…so maybe think outside the old-school box a little


I would say an assume is in order

Tell him No you are the parent!


Deepening your tone and follow through on punishment. It sucks cause grounding my kids is like grounding myself. You have to mean what you say and say what you mean. Once the punishment is over then sit them down and make sure they know why. Ask them why they think they got put on punishment.


Unpopular opinion:
I whoop a**. sorry not sorry🤷‍♀️

My son started doing this out of control, terrible behavior at 4 years old… I tried everything and he still tried to push every limit with me so after enough of his episodes I finally spanked him.
He started to think twice about falling out and acting a fool once he realized I was not the one…That lasted about 6 months. He became the best behaved child ever. Never had any issues after. :woman_shrugging:


Change his diet and you will see a huge difference. I feed my kids only organic food and drinks. No pop or juice boxes. We avoid red 40 which is known to cause add/adhd problems in children. I have four kids with absolutely no problems at all.


Have assessed by Dr. Also eliminate red dye from diet and eat whole foods as much as possible. It really does help. Also try to limit electronic devices.

Just his butt.Taken stuff away and talking is a waste of time.If you spake him he will stop.

I spanked my kids and they didn’t do it again!


Perhaps he needs to be assessed by a psychologist ADHD or perhaps high functioning autistic 

Welcome to parenthood😅 This to shall past…

Bust his ass. Easy peasy🥰

You have to deal with the situation more often than when they do it example he asks you for something say no because he refuses to ever be polite or do anything for you no matter what it is a drink of water say no because xyz and then when you ask him to do something for you and he screams say ok next time you want something I’ll do the same back to you while actively putting him in his room with the door closed and say this is happening because xyz when you decide to do ask asked you can come out it’s more constant reminded and also it’s a taste of their own medicine much more effective and it takes away the need for smacking if that’s not your preference kids don’t like passive aggressive they don’t know how to handle it so they usually fall in line pretty wuick

You can look into qualifying for behavior services. It sounds like transitions are challenging which is a big red flag for ASD.

My son did it when he was hungry, my great nephew had this problem and his sugar was out of whack. They found out he was diabetic.

Sounds like you have normal toddler my boys were exactly the same it will pass sounds to me your doing a great job

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One swift swat to his behind will curb that behavior quickly. I’m not talking a beating just your open palm on his butt. Don’t do it in anger or frustration and be consistent.

Give him time out. They hate this. Everything if he refuses add more time to his sitting in a corner with looking at the wall. Don’t give in.

This was happening with my son and he was diagnosed with adhd. We have him on fish oil supplements as a different approach instead of medication.


Why does a 4 yr old have an iPad & am ATV ??? Don’t you think that’s a bit extravagant for a 4 year old ?
Sounds like a very spoiled child.


I had this going on with mine from a very young age. I had him evaluated and he has ODD so there are a lot of strategies we’re trying. Small children don’t know how to explain strong emotions. Try reading “You Have Feelings All The Time” and see if that can help too.

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If he happens watch cocomelon taking that away could help. My 3 yr old was throwing fits to the point we thought he might be autistic he broke his TV so no more screen time and I thought my life was gonna be hell but the complete opposite now I’m able to work all day from home on phones with him here BEST ACCIDENT EVER!!!

Well…I am glad it isn’t just MY 4 year old!


Pay attention to over stimulation cues. If it gets to the point of a meltdown there are often many missed cues, which is common.

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Lock him in his bedroom

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My daughter did this but soon discovered she has autism not saying your child does but you might want to look into his behavioral habits with a councler see if they can refer you to an occupational therapist too as they can help

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Set boundaries. It’s difficult when they are head strong and as hard as It may be to put your foot down now it will only get worse if you don’t address the behavior now. We discuss what it means to be entitled, act entitled and how the behavior isn’t acceptable and won’t be tolerated. I usually break it down into terms my kids understand and then to test them after they have had their time out or lost their privilege. Then, we review why it happened. Just yelling and screaming/taking things away won’t help them because they are at the point of learning independence without completely understanding how to communicate well. Might be good to go a moms group for ideas on what others have done that has helped. The fact that you care and are asking for ideas is great because it means you care and recognize the issue with the behavior. Hugs to you. Keep going. You got this ! :heart::heart::heart:


My son is 3 he has everything you mentioned & then some he can be A LOT & does things you mentioned… I find ignoring his behavior BEST… he actually must reflect on his own because he knows that’s not how I taught him to act so once he settles he says “Sorry mommie” it’s really hard to do but I address what should be & ignore the rest. You GOT IT!!! :heavy_heart_exclamation:

That is my three year old to a T.
Now we have bedtime issues too.
She’s my 4th child and this is new to me. I feel like I’m walking on eggshells :weary:
Even my five year old says Emma ruins everything :cry:.
Im just on the ride now hoping it will end


Time out for number of age. They have 2 choices…listen or sit.

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How about this 1. a 4 year old doesn’t need an atv or I pad if he’s acting up be the parent and blister his butt a few times he will learn what is except able and what isnt

Dammm. I feel for you.

My cousins daughter was like this problem is they gave in to her and she grew up to be a very shy child as no kids wanted to play with her as she always wanted her way. It couldn’t hurt to talk to a child specialist, not like there is anything wrong as my own child had to because we suspected he was depresed at age 7 snd we were right. My separated husband has bipolar and it was possible he got it through the genes but it didn’t matter the specialist was a great help until he was old enough for medication which changed his life :slightly_smiling_face: Talk to someone it can’t hurt to get some idea’s …

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I would log when it happens, the build up to it, and how he got through it, how he was when it ended. Don’t give in, and give him time to process, so give a 20 minute warning, ‘name we will be leaving in 20 minutes’ then a 10 minute warning, then 5 minutes, then ok thats our time up, let’s go home. You can also let him know what your doing at home so he has something to look forward to. Or make it fun, I bet I will spot our car before you can, if out walking I can get to that tree first (of course they win, they find the car) holding hands I’d ask my son can you keep mummy safe and hold my hand, he loved it. I have 4 autistic children and its finding their triggers, how they get through it and what helps them. If you make a diary you can go to doctors and ask for a referral to community paediatrician. As he’s under 5 you can also ask your health visitor too. Having a now and next visual aid is good, a daily schedule can help so they know what is happening. Mood cards…Happy face, sad face etc… can make it a keyring he can use to help express his feeling before it builds up. We have the traffic lights system here too, name on green, start misbehaving and don’t calm down when asked, they move to yellow which is a warning of a tech ban, they continue and its on to red which is the ban. They then work their way straight back to green with good behaviour.


The Don’ts
When its time for you to get your child to do something, it’s NOT a good idea for you to pose this demand as a [question]. By presenting your request in the form of a question, you’re giving your child the option to refuse, in their mind, they have no reason to accept your request at all.

Ask your child something like “are you ready to get into bed?” for them, the obvious answer is going to be NO. Why should they do what YOU want when you’ve clearly just given them a [choice] in the matter?

Not to say that you should never give your child the option of choice, when it comes to things like getting your child to go to bed on time or having them get ready for school, you can’t afford to give them much leeway.

It’s not a good idea to tell your child what you DON’T want them to do. A defiant child sees restrictions as [challenges], so if you tell your child NOT to do something, there’s a pretty good chance that they’re going to immediately DO it.

You also can’t let yourself become disheartened if you’re doing everything right, and your child is still acting defiant. Emotional growth is not linear, and your child will have some days where they behave in a very mature manner and some days where they’re a terror.

The only surefire way to avoid any defiance from your child is to give them exactly what they want, and as a parent, you CAN’T do that because it’s your job to teach your child about [boundaries and limits].

The Dos
When telling your child what you want of them, tell them in a simple and straightforward manner. Don’t threaten a child or say anything vague like “you’d better be good or else.”

For one, you’re assuming your child knows what your definition of “good” is, even though you’re demanding things out of them without any context. Not being clear about what you expect from your child will inevitably result in confusion and frustration.

So when asking your child to do something, ask them in a way that isn’t open to interpretation. Be CLEAR about what you WANT, not what you DON’T want.

When your child does something well, be sure to acknowledge it and offer them praise, don’t draw too much attention to it. Making too big of a deal about it can potentially put your child into counterwill mode and cause them to start doing the opposite next time.

If you want your child to act less defiant in general, it’s important that you MAKE time for them to do things that they WANT to do. Set aside at least an hour each day for one-on-one time with your child, and just get out there and have fun with them.

If your child can see that you’re enjoying your time together, that can help to establish a strong connection between the two of you.


My kiddo is only 2. We’ve started with “Hey buddy, we are leaving X in 5 minutes, it’s time to start wrapping things up.”

Then we let him know again at 3 and 1 minutes. For us it helps to prepare him for knowing what’s coming. If/when he fights leaving it’s “buddy we told you it was going to be time to leave and to do a few last things. You had plenty of time, It’s time to leave (go in whatever).”

There have been times that he says at the 3 minute warning “all done, go bye bye”

It just helps to prepare them for a transition that’s going to occur.

Take away electronics, get back to basics. Give your child the love attention and age appropriate stimulation.

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dont take him to these places and when asked why tell him its bc he cant behave

Good luck mommy​:rofl: its normal. There is nothing worse then the 4/5 year old phase. Im going through that too. Its when they are between discovering who they are and how much of an asshle they can be to us parents​:rofl::rofl::rofl: nothing works except patience and love.

Maybe just try ignoring the tantrums and wait for it to end then talk and ask what’s wrong, dont give into everything as a child has to learn

a good kick in the butt will solve it

She might have a defiant disorder it’s a real thing look it up

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Try setting a timer. 1 he can see. 15 mins before you want him to transition to something else, tell him you’re setting the timer and when it goes off, he’s done and it’s time to go. Then remind him every 5 mins how much time he has left. It may help, not an overnight fix. But when timer goes off, just make sure to stick to it regardless if he throws a fit…transitioning sucks for some kids


Get him evaluated it might be something they need help with. Not being able to express emotions properly or they feel not heard can be a big frustration for them.


The first time my first born did that by throwing himself on the floor and screaming, I turned around and walked off. You should have heard the deafening silence!


Do not get into power struggles with him let him know ahead of time what you expect

The Bible says, Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child


All normal mother of 5 here staying calm showing love and using a timer for transitions helped not always but some it’s a phase as long as you don’t feed fire with fire they are all now 33,32,30,29,28 and all are kind loving humans hang in there momma. We hear you love you and support you

I would discuss with your pediatrician.

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ir just means don’t beat ur child. but, don’t allow child to be disrespectful.

If you don’t get that under control by 5 you will never be able to just give that look and he gets it together


Possibly an unpopular opinion but my daughter now 6, once threw a tantrum in the store, as in threw herself on the floor, screaming kinda tantrum…well…I decided I wasn’t going to deal with that so I copied her tantrum and yes I also lay on the floor kicking and screaming…she was so embarrassed we’ve never had another tantrum in any store since…


My 3 children started that. At about 3 years old. I started the last 10 minutes of telling them look we have 10 minutes and we gotta go. Than 8 min. When we get to the last 4 minute it’s time to start putting away n getting our stuff together. If there’s a big big tantrum we will not be going back for X amount of time. They learned Farley quick that I meant it. It’ll get better just don’t ask him if he’s ready. U tell him we will be ready in X minutes and so on. It takes a little time but kids have emotional problems as well. We have to teach them

Just my opinion but works for me! It’s an attention thing! Even though your trying to do things with him or her😞What I do is place them in a corner like we had to do when we were younger and IGNORE him or her until they’re ready to listen and behave!If it’s 20min. So be it! It works! If it’s a kid in a height chair same rule applies! Of they’re old enough to know better NOT to talk back to you, I SWIPE their lip with my pointing finger! (WORKS)
To anyone saying this is mean(This is the PROBLEM now days,NO discipline)
Good Luck :crossed_fingers:


If you can’t control him now forget it when he goes to school this is the age is easy


Try positive parenting by Amy McCready. You have to pay for a subscription but it’s well worth it if you put in the time and effort. My kiddos had REALLY bad defiance issues and it helped a TON as long as you follow through and don’t cave in to your children and stick with it. Good luck mama!

What purpose do a 4 years old have the need for an iPad?
Is it for you and your husband to not spend direct time talking , doing one on one up close personal interacting with him? Do the two of you read books with him that has no agenda except to encourage encouragement of wanting to read for pure enjoyment, learning the skill that will provide path to learning to write and and spelling.


A behavioral chart worked really good for us…all the things we were struggling with were things she could earn stars on…and is she threw a tantrum or fought me on it she wouldn’t get a star…for that day…once 25 stars were reached she got to go to the store and pick out her prize! Helped her understand her actions come with Consequences

Welcome to motherhood!!

My son did this and I gave timing warnings and we tried charts with Velcro. They did help some but time out helped more. He had to sit until he stopped crying then we would start the timer and he had to sit nicely while the timer was going and then apologize after. He hated sitting in that chair. At first I had to stand there and put him back a lot and pop his butt a time or two to get him to stay. Not crazy hard or anything. I put the chair at the end of the hall with all the doors closed. No toys or anything. We got a sand timer. One minute for every year. I could only find a five min kid one so when it was almost over he could get out. I also told him if he misbehaved in public we would leave. It sucked but we only had to do it once or twice for him to know we meant business. Everyone is right. The older they get the harder it is to get them to listen. He’s still little enough though. He also did pre k 3&4 and his teachers were great. That helped him a ton. My older son is definitely much more hyper then most kids his age & he had a very hard time transitioning from one thing to the next. He loved doing art activities and reading so if he was good all day or week we’d do something special. At first little things at the end of the day were he got to spend time with us doing something he liked and once he got that down it would be one thing at the end of the week. Like a trip to the dollar store and he could pick out any one thing he wanted. Good luck Mama and try to stay calm. I know it’s hard and follow through. I would give warnings but if he got to the third there was consequences. At three he’s big enough to understand that but you have to be consistent which is draining at first with a kid who is a hand full.


Take away the iPad for good, interact with him more, and give him options. Tell him “we are going to leave now, do you want to skip or hop to the car”… Maybe that’ll help idk. Good luck.I mean there are resources on Instagram if you follow the right people like Big Little Feelings

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check Janet Lansbury :slightly_smiling_face:

I’m old school…a swat on his behind will wake him up to realize he is the child and you are the adult.


Get him tested to see if he’s allergic to anything. Sounds off the wall but there could very well be something in his diet causing the behavior

I understand this is not going to be a popular reaction I was a single parent both my girls tried me like that I do not believe in beating your child I don’t believe in any of that but I’m sorry sometimes talking to them sending them to their room or taking things away don’t work sometimes a good old fashioned spanking will do the trick


Sounds like you have been bribing him with electronics. Try an old fashion spanking.

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A belt works nicely. All my kids got spanked and they a now respectful and responsible and loving adults.


Sounds like he has transition issues.

Kids have too many decisions to make. I hEAR mOMS IS STORES ASKING “do you want this cereal, or what youhad last time, which shoes do you like, do you want your hair to be longer or shorter”, they are too young to have to decide and it confuses them. Make the decision and let him be a kid.

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Whip that behind! Take it from experience. Time out doesn’t work. My son told me putting him to bed wasn’t punishment he needed a nap anyways.

He may be overstimulated if you guys are always going or always having electronics (be it games, videos, watching tv) in his face. He may just need a few days to unwind and be ‘bored’ - get back grounded.

As relaxing as it is for us as adults to just chill and watch TV or play a game, to a child’s brain that is too much vivid colors and movements constantly in his face, and it’s legitimately rewiring his brain to over process the world around him.

Overstimulation can be just as bad as a lack of. Reading, coloring, playing alone with toys all good alternatives. And on some days where you just don’t know what else to do - put him in the bath! Works everytime