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How to Deal with My Stubborn 4-Year-Old Son?

05 November, 2020
Q My son is 4 years old. He remains irritated all the day long. His body language and his expressions are often irritated. He doesn’t listen to me.

I try my best to talk to him gently but he doesn’t listen to me until I shout or slap him. The wrong thing on my side is my anger.

Maybe I expect more from him and he is too young to fulfill my expectations, but I think it is the right age for him to tell him the manners and ethics.

Should I wait for all this and when he will reach a certain age he will be ok. May be I am too conscious because he is my first son.

I don’t have any kind of experience. I hope you understand my problem and reply soon. I’m really worried. JAZAK ALLAH KHAIR.

Answer

In this counseling answer:

• Take a step back from the situation and reflect on whether the behavior that you are modeling to your “stubborn son” is healthy.

• Slapping your child is abusive. It sends the child the message that they are an annoyance. This type of behavior will make the child feel guilty about asserting their needs.

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• Research further about the various stages of development that your child is approaching and research the stage that your child is currently in.

• Reflect on the message you received as a child. Reflect on the behaviors your parents modeled to you. 


Assalamu `alaikum dear sister,

Thank you for your question. It seems that you have some trouble understanding how to communicate with your 4-year-old. I can imagine how it may frustrate you.

To make sure that I understand you correctly, you stated that you have a 4-year-old who does not listen to you. You stated that you sometimes have problems with your anger. You feel he does not understand you unless you slap him and raise your voice.

Four years of age is a very critical stage for children. According to Erickson’s stages of development, this stage is referred to as Initiative vs. Guilt. You mentioned that you feel inexperienced as this is your first child.

Children are like sponges.

One thing that I’m sure you’ve already learned is that children are like sponges. They pick up information quickly and take in everything. This is the stage where children imitate their parents or whatever parental figure they have in their life. They often recreate what they have learned and express it in behavior and play.


How to Deal with My Stubborn 4-Year-Old Son? - About Islam

So, the message that you send them as a parent will determine how they will respond and develop. Modeling healthy emotional regulation will encourage them to reach the milestones of their development and have a sense of independence. Consistently exhibiting anger will hinder their progress in achieving these milestones, which will be a detriment to their self-esteem and their overall sense of self.

Keep in mind that our children are like mirrors and are essentially a reflection of us. You stated that your child is constantly irritable and does not listen to you. However, you also mentioned that you have problems with your anger. You are the first woman in your son’s life, and the way that you interact with him will impact the way that he relates and interacts with women for the rest of his life.

As a parent, take a step back from the situation and reflect on whether or not the behavior that you are modeling is healthy. Is this the behavior that you would like your son to repeat with your grandchildren?

Slapping a Child is Abusive

Slapping your child across the face and shouting at them because you have lost patience teaches the child nothing except to be afraid of you. One characteristic of the stage of Initiative vs. Guilt is that children engage in risk-taking behavior in an effort to become more autonomous. When they are not successful, they express irritable behaviors such as yelling, throwing things, and hitting out of frustration.

The general lesson that can be drawn from this is that when preschoolers are encouraged in attempting independent tasks, they will be independent and feel confident in undertaking tasks. As a result, they will smoothly transition to the next stage.

Slapping your child is abusive and will also send the child the message that they are an annoyance. This type of behavior will make the child feel guilty about asserting their needs.

What You Should Do

What I would encourage you to do is research further about the various stages of development that your child is approaching, and research the stage that your child is currently in. This will help you in gradually understanding what behaviors are developmentally appropriate.

I would encourage you to reflect on the message you received as a child. Reflect on the behaviors your parents modeled to you. Which behaviors stood out to you the most? Were they positive? Negative?

We often repeat ways of relating to our children based on the way our parents interacted with us. If we as individuals do not take a step back to reflect and learn lessons from our pasts, we can also not know when to avoid or how to recognize behaviors that did not work for our parents.

I hope this information is helpful.


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Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, it’s volunteers, writers, scholars, counselors, or employees be held liable for any direct, indirect, exemplary, punitive, consequential or other damages whatsoever that may arise through your decision or action in the use of the services which our website provides. 

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About Sakeena Abdulraheem
Sakeena Abdulraheemholds an MA in Social studies with a concentration in Islamic studies from the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences. She is currently completing her M.A.in counseling psychology with a concentration in trauma counseling. She has extensive experience working as a teacher, mentor, and consultant.