Many four-year-olds have difficulty controlling their emotions, particularly anger. However, given that fact that he acts one way at home but is a different animal at school, here’s what I’m thinking…
It may be that he only obeys you and your husband to avoid punishment. This may be the case if you are more harsh and punitive with your discipline, with little emphasis placed on relationship. Your son isn’t internalizing positive character traits; he’s simply obeying so he won’t get punished. When he’s outside your home in a less rigid environment, his true colors show and he acts out in a variety of ways.
I’d encourage you to examine your parenting style. Are you providing a healthy balance between love and limits? Are you affirming and rewarding him for good behavior as well as disciplining him for negative behavior? Are you helping him to develop compassion and understanding for others, instead of simply adhering to a strict set of rules and regulations?
An excellent book that you may find helpful is “Boundaries With Kids” by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.
Thanks for writing Coleen. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” tab on the Family Expert page.
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