Need help with hostile 4 year old

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-15-2003
Need help with hostile 4 year old
Thu, 07-03-2003 - 2:52pm
I have been feeling so sad and angry lately that I thought I'd look here for some help. HEre goes....

My son is 4 1/2 and has always been a very bright and VERY intense child. His behavior lately has been TERRIBLE! He is physically aggressive, mouthy, sassy, yells at us and has zero patience. I am at my whits end and I'm at the point that I don't look forward to the day with him, I almost dread it when he wakes up in the morning. He is an absolute angel when we are doing activities that he enjoys however.

He has a 14 month old sister who is now receiving a lot of attention because she is walking, talking, etc... He told me a few weeks ago that he feels left out and gets no attention. I talked with him about that and my husband and I have been making special efforts to take him by ourselves to do things with just him. Every Thursday, my mom takes my daughter for the day and I spend time with just Corey going to the pool, movies or something. This hasn't seemed to have made any difference.

I get sucked into the argument game with him and then I yell and then I feel guilty. I cry every time I think about it. I am so afraid that he will be like this forever that it has me scared to death. I feel like a terrible mom.

I just bought a book called 1-2-3 Magic, which is supposed to be an effective way to discipline children without getting involved in the emotion of it all. Has anyone used this or heard of it?

Thanks for time and any reassurance that I'm not alone would be appreciated.


Avatar for maddiekaysmom
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Thu, 07-03-2003 - 5:34pm
I understand you perfectly! My DD Maddie (11/98) is the same way. I think that they (your ds & my dd) are just growing into themselves. Learning how to interact, but they are still children and are emotional. I just try to tell Mad that she cannot cry over something that is not going her way. She is doing better, but is still really emotional. I just look at is as a phase and pray that it will be over before her very volatile sister hits it. LOL!

I don't have much advice, but it helps me to know that others are going through the same things and my children are (at least somewhat) normal.


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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Thu, 07-03-2003 - 9:13pm

Hi I use 123 magic for all 3 of my kids. It works pretty well as far as stopping behavior and discipling misbehaiviors. I think though that with all things you need to modify it for you own children/familly. Also I can't remember if they put emphasis on teaching the child why its wrong or right thing to do, but I think thats important to, along with teaching them to put themselves in the other person shoes.

Good luck with it,



I'll hold my head high
I'll never let this define
The light in my eyes
Love myself, give it Hell
I'll take on t

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Fri, 07-04-2003 - 12:06pm
Hi mom! It's great to see you! =)

Let me assure you that this, too, will pass. What I am impressed with your son about is that he came right out and told you that he feels left out! It takes a lot for a child at this age to explain themselves with words AND actions. You're doing a great job with him, obviously!

You're making changes in your household to help him feel more included. That is great. Things like helpgin to choose what is for dinner is a big deal at this age. Choosing the family movie, being the first to have some quiet time with mom and dad is great too. I read in your post that grandma takes the baby so you can have time alone with him. That is a great idea! Make sure to have her take HIM too, so it isn't one sided. To a child, anything that isn't 50/50 can be discomforting. Remember, too, that things take time. He needs time to see that this is a life altering decision, not just a mood swing, so to speak. =)

In dealing with him and his issues. Make sure you are clear in what you WANT him to do. Exclaiming "Don't run in the house," isn't as effective as "Please walk so you are safe." ALways tell him what you WANT him to do and give him the opportunity to do it. "Please go back and try again."

Come up with house rules, and post them. Pictures next to them will help him remember them. In our house our rules are 1.Our feet stay on the floors, and we walk inside. 2.When we are done using something, we put it away. 3.We use kind words with eachother, and speaking quietly inside. The latest one we added is 4. we work as a team and everyone has jobs to do. We have family meetings, too. Those are times that Tre can ask questions or make suggestions to us about changes he would like to see hapening. It sounds ridiculous but I promise you it works.

Make sure that once you have established the rules, that you establish the consequence to them. For example, If you yell in the house, you will need to sit and do a quiet activity until your body calms down. If you run in the house, mommy or daddy will chose an activity for you to do because you're showing you're not ready to make them on your own. Make sure you are addressing behavior it as it occurs. Don't wait until it is so out of control that it is driving you crazy. For example, if you see him starting to walk away from a pile of legoes to play with crayons, make sure you have him pick up the legoes FIRST. It may seem petty, but if it is a house rule, it should be consistant with all things. I have a Pooh house in my son's room. It is his "get into control area." When he is frustrated, angry or emotional, I remind him of his "peaceful place." It has a fuzzy carpet, books, a tape player, stuffed animals and a see and say. I explain to him that in our house, we are kind to one another. If he is not ready to be kind to other people, he can go have some time to himself and come out when he is ready to be around other people. We are very firm and consistent with this because it is very important to us. When you talk to him, use words that help him understand what you expect and observe. "My ears are hurting from your yelling. Can you please find another way to say that to me?" "You are showing me you are not ready to be around other people. Please go into your 'peaceful place' and come out when you are in control of what you do to other people." "I see you forgot to put these toys away. Please come and do that now so you aren't frustrated with cleaning up time later." You can decrease the resistance by saying phrases like "Let's clean this up....How about this.....etc..."

I hope this has helped you out a bit. Give the family some time. A new baby (even if it has been a year) takes time to get used to....for everyone, especially kids. It will happen, mommy!

Let us know how things go!


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