4 Years Old Behaviour Problems and Discipline Strategies

4 Years Old Behaviour Problems and Discipline Strategies

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Rashmi Prakash (Psychologist/Psychotherapist)
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Your 4 year old may have crossed the phase of the “terrible twos” and have entered the period of “ferocious fours” but most likely, if your life feels challenging by the minute as each day goes by, rest assured that it’s nothing out of the ordinary. As your child grows older and nears the kindergarten age, he may start listening to you a little more. Here’s everything you need to know to be prepared and stay on track with respect to his physical and mental growth. For more information on a 4-year-old’s behaviour, read this article.

What Are the Behaviour Problems Commonly Seen in 4 Year Old Kids?

The behaviour issues in 4-year-old kids range from (but are not limited to)-

  • Not doing their homework.
  • Not listening to parents/peers and unwilling to cooperate.
  • Throwing temper tantrums.
  • Causing distress to their peers and bullying other kids.

What Is Considered Normal Behaviour in 4 Year Old Kids?

Some common signs of normal behaviour in 4-year-old children are:

  • Interest in entertaining and pleasing companions.
  • Sometimes being demanding and other times, a bit cooperative.
  • Signs of increasing independence and individuality.
  • Being able to differentiate between what’s imaginary and what’s reality.

What Should be The Normal Sexual Behaviour in 4 Year Old Kids?

Normal sexual behaviour in four-year-old kids typically looks like-

  • Observing a sibling’s genitals.
  • Exploring his/her own genitals.

If your child, however, causes distress to other children with persistent sexual behaviour, then that is a red flag and is the cause for concern should be addressed immediately.

The behavioural issues in 4-year-old kids need to be addressed immediately to discipline the kids. Some strategies can help you do just that.

A 4 year old girl angry and crying

Tips to Manage the Behavior of 4 Year Old

Here are some tips to help you manage the behavior of a 4 year old. 

  • always keep a positive and emotional tone
  • maintain a positive behavior cycle 
  • give choices whenever appropriate
  • establish consistent discipline strategies among caregivers
  • keep a regular schedule 

8 Best Discipline Strategies for 4 Year Old Kids

Discipline decides the character of a child, and you certainly want your child to grow up emotionally and mentally healthy.

Here are 8 discipline strategies for dealing with the behaviour problems in 4-year-old kids:

1. Prevent Behavioural Problems

The first step to preventing behavioural problems is staying calm and composed when your child misbehaves. Once his raging phase gets over, explain what he did wrong and why that was unacceptable. Create a model for positive and negative behaviours through actions and reinforce him to prevent behavioural problems down the line.

2. Create Rules

Creating ground rules sets the tone for every relationship, including one with your child. By creating rules, you define what’s acceptable and what’s unacceptable. Don’t make your house rules too restrictive; keep it organic in nature. For example, going to bed on time will help him wake up early. Waking up a little early may translate to a bit of playtime before school and so on.

3. Praise Good Things

Did you spot your child do something good? Praise him – right now! Praising good things reinforces positive behaviours and shows him that he is on track. Whether your child is watching TV quietly without disturbing others or playing with his peers without fighting or fussing, then those actions warrant praises.

A mom playing with her 4 year old son

4. Ignore Minor Misbehaviour

Sometimes your child may not intend to do something but does it anyway out of an impulse which he has no control over. In such a case, if the misbehaviour is minor, it’s best to forget about it and move on.

5. Motivate & Reward

A ‘motivate and reward system’ is pivotal to the success and growth of a child. Motivate your child with rewards for behaving well and performing good in school. Rewards such as a little extra TV time for doing their homework or a new toy for the summer for getting good grades are just as effective. Keep materialistic rewards to a minimum and add emotional rewards for the best benefits since you don’t want your child to be too obsessed with them. Stickers and badges at home are excellent ways to create a reward system. Create a mix of mini-rewards and big rewards, thus creating a level-up system for your kids to keep things entertaining and observe their behaviours and learning patterns.

6. Use Time-Out System

Time-outs are pretty effective in dealing with stubborn children. Keep in mind to remove yourself from the picture during a time-out and give your child some self-reflection time. After the time-out, explain in a kind and gentle way what aspect of the behaviour was unacceptable and you’ll be good to go. At first, your child may cause tantrums during a time-out, but that’s just his way of testing the boundaries, and there is nothing to worry about.

7. Remove Privileges

Is your child misbehaving too much? Remove his privileges one step at a time. When your child realises what he has just lost, he will mend his behaviour accordingly. At first, he may throw outbursts but maintain your ground, be calm and firm, and you’ll notice him slowly changing his pattern of negative behaviour for the better.

8. Redirect Bad Behavior

Sometimes children misbehave because they are bored or because they do not know any better. In these cases, it is best to redirect your child to something else. Discipline for 4 year olds can be a hard thing to enforce but it must be done. However, redirecting your little one is a less harsh way of disciplining them. 

When to Consult a Paediatrician for Your Child’s Behaviour?

You should consult a paediatrician for your child’s behaviour if:

  • You notice any signs of developmental delays and cognitive disorders.
  • Your 4-year-old’s behaviour is getting worse despite using the above disciplining strategies over an extended period of time.
  • Your child stays alone or isolates himself from you and his peers.
  • Your child shows a general lack of interest in everything in his life.

Dealing with a child is a herculean task. Every kid is different, and with every new personality comes a new set of challenges. If you feel that things are getting out of control, hopefully, this article will shed some light on the subject and give you a new perspective. Always follow-up with a paediatrician or a therapist if you’re having a tough time changing certain behavioral problems in 4 year olds. Remember, it takes time, patience, and a lot of positive reinforcement to change toxic behaviours for the better, so be gentle and consistent if you want positive results in the long-run.

Also Read: Attention Seeking Behavior in Kids

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