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.


4 Replies to “4-Year-Old Manipulates Mom”

  1. Just wait until he gets hungry, then tell him that he said he didn’t want you for his mom any more. Let him try to fix his own meals for a while and I’ll bet he changes his tune pretty quickly.

  2. In addition the formidable years from 1 through 13 are our programming years. If he thinks he can get away with anything in those years he will always have a problem with people. It is a well known fact that either lack of real parenting skills, or buckling under the child during the years from 1 to 10 are when a person is programmed to be a Narcist, much like Trump and a few other people I know. These are the people that do not know how to share, now to negotiate, or take fault when it is theirs. You have a choice Sara, let him go unchecked and create a monster, or start being a parent and program him correctly by using discipline, Never mind what he says to you, and in fact you can play it back to him by agreeing with him. He will earn real quick that threats no longer work.
    An excellent presentation in Sociology is one by Morris Massy, UCLA Professor called “What you are is”. Kind of explains why we all act the way we do. Highly recommended.

  3. Using a leather paddle will straighten the kid right out. Several soft taps will work wondeers every time he acts this way.

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