/4-Year-Old Manipulates Mom

4-Year-Old Manipulates Mom

Dear Sara,

My four year old son gets angry with me when I try to discipline him. He tells me that he hates me and doesn’t want me for a mommy anymore. I really feel bad when he says things like this. How should I deal with this?


Dear Judy,

Even four year olds know when they are having an effect on people. That’s how they learn to manipulate their environment. They will do what works. If your son feels that his words or his behavior will in any way change or lessen his punishment then this is what he will do because it works in his favor. Your job as a parent is to teach him to behave in a civilized manner. If that means putting him in timeout or taking his toys away for a while then this is what you need to do.

You can say to your son that he is angry and doesn’t really mean what he is saying. Let him know that you love him but can’t allow him to break the rules. If you don’t make too big a deal out of it he will eventually decide that this isn’t working and will stop trying to manipulate you.