You’ve made it through the ‘terrible twos’, had a brief respite with the ‘easy threes’ and now your four-year-old is back to constantly pushing the envelope and testing your resolve to maintain rules.
Some common behavior problems at this age are roughness (pushing, hitting), loudness (shouting), attention-getting and selfishness. While the tantrums of the twos and threes are over, a four year old tends to be full of energy and a little bit full of himself. “I’m the king of the world!” might be his motto. While you want to encourage good self-esteem, your four-year-old needs to remember that the rules still apply to them.
If Emma refuses to share her toys with a friend, she’s at an age where she can understand the consequences of her behavior. Instead of commanding her to share, take her aside and quietly and firmly speak to her. “If you let Courtney play with your dolls, she’ll let you play with hers when you go to her house. Won’t that be fun?” If she still refuses, try changing your tack. Ask her what game or toy she’d rather play with Courtney. Make suggestions like, “How about playing a game?” or “Let’s go outside and play in the yard for awhile.” If that doesn’t work, a brief time out may do the trick, making sure she knows why she’s being punished. You might say, “I want you to sit here and think about how you’re going to play nicely with Courtney. Then you can get up and have some fun together.”
If your four-year-old exhibits aggressive behavior, consistent time outs are a good way for them to learn consequences. Let’s say Justin hit his friend and made him cry. Explain that he’s not allowed to hit and bring him calmly but firmly to the time-out space. After the time out (at this age, five to ten minutes is appropriate), discuss his behavior with him. He’s old enough to understand the rules about hitting. Keep it simple and don’t argue. “It’s not okay to hit. If you’re upset about something, you need to say it in words, not with hitting. If you hit, you’re going to have to sit in the time out chair.” This reinforces your commitment to acceptable behavior and ensures that Justin knows what he did wrong.
Boredom can be a problem with active four-year-olds, so make sure they have books, toys and games to occupy them. Don’t expect them to sit quietly with a book or in front of the TV for hours at a time – they need to work off all that energy bubbling up inside them! Vigorous play helps them burn off energy, so encourage outdoor activities for a good part of every day. Being cooped up inside with nothing to do is a recipe for four-year-old misbehavior!
Remember, positive reinforcement is the best form of discipline. “I’m so proud of you for finishing your dinner”, and “You were so good at the grocery store today that I’m going to buy you a treat,” work better than any punishment. Your four-year-old craves your approval, so give it generously when they behave well!

Author's Bio: 

If you'd like to learn more positive parenting tips, visit: for more free advice.