stubborn 4 year old - parent needs advice

Stubborn 4 year old

by Aigul Aubanova on October 12, 2010

in Parenting Advice

Parenting advice to a mother of 4 year old son.

A mother says:

My 4 years old, son is smart and stubborn.

He is in daycare. He refused to go inside because he lost a toy, tried to trick me into taking him back home. I had to physically carry him in after two failed attempts of having him walk in himself. He ran to the car, yelled he hates me. Got him in, teacher had to restrain him, walked out. He was crying.

Q.How much time during a day do you communicate with your child?

A.1 hour

Q.How good is your child?

A.He is good with other people, but very incorrigible with me.

Q.How honest is your child?

A.He does not lie, he is very honest.

Q.How kind are you to your child?

A.I am very kind, I show him and tell him I love him. I tend to spoil him and give him whatever he wants.

Q.How fair are you to your child?

A.He always gets his way.


Here is our analysis of the situation.

Your son is at the age called “terrible twos,” which last from 2 to 4 years old. This is a time when children realize their individualities, their identities. Usually they try to do everything by themselves and often encounter parents’ forbidding will. Those with strong character are usually seen as stubborn, when in fact they desire to be independent. Parents must remember that this difficult time will soon be replaced with nicer attitues of oldre chidlren, and it isn’t worth it to spoil the relationship with toddlers.

By the age of 5 children form in their minds a very important image of themselves, and of the world. Especially important for them is mother’s attitude. If you want your son to have less conflicts with people in the future, in his adulthood, you need to make sure he gets enough security of heart and intelligence at the age he is now. What does this mean?

Heart security means that a child is loved. You may think you do everything he needs to learn about your love, but according to the situation you described he doesn’t get enough of your love. That is why he behaves so desperately, hoping you would protect him. When you bring him to daycare and he fights to keep from entering, his sense of security is shaken because the teacher holds him back as though he is a prisoner attempting to run away. As this is going on he watches as his main means of security turns her back and walks away from him.

Intelligence security means a child is trusted. It seems to us that you don’t trust him enough, as you describe him as stubborn and incorrigible. This is what you believe he is, and according to parenting science, he becomes what you believe he is. Not vice versa. This is what your son senses and what he is trying to fight with. Your son senses injustice in your faith in him, so he is upset because of that. You say that you are very kind to him, tell and show him that you love him, yes, it is how you see the situation. He might disagree, even though he can’t express his feelings. But his behavior with you tells us that something that you do is unfair to this boy. That is why you two often struggle for power.

Our advice is:

Gain your child’s trust: talk to him, tell him that you are upset too, and ask for forgiveness for not taking him home when he wanted.

Cheer your child up! (Before that cheer yourself up, be happy, try to be happy, find cause for humor etc.)

However, giving your child whatever he wants doesn’t mean love. Often children ask for material things because they feel not loved enough by parents. In fact what children really need from their parents is big heart, generosity, magnanimity, soul work, where you feel your child’s desires. By yielding to him you increase his dignity. But just giving “things” instead is a kind of “pay off” for not being able to feel his soul. This “pay off” children accept as a substitute for their need for love and justice, but they know it’s not the real thing.

This stuff may seem to you awkward, heavy, too philosophical. We tried to be as truthful as possible, rather than be nice. We apologize if the analysis seems to be wrong due to the lack of information given. In any case, thank you for trusting us. The work we suggest takes great patience, which is a sign of love too.

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