How to encourage positive behaviour from a four year old?

I am no expert, but I am always trying my best to be the greatest mum I can to my children. I have a four year old daughter, Sophia, who is a very

independent big girl and my sweet cuddly little girl too. She is in limbo with wanting to have freedom of choice and independence; dressing herself and getting her own bowl of cereal, versus still wanting to be my baby; “I want a cuddle and I want you to sit with me while I go to sleep mummy”. As a result four year old’s behaviour can be challenging sometimes. So I have come up with my very own list of 5 important ways to enhance your four year old’s behaviour.

1. Routines

I have learnt that keeping my four year old in a set routine is important, I am not rigid, and I allow flexibility. But things like a bath, brushing teeth, and bed time all have a set order in her daily routine.

This way Sophia learns to take care of her but also to create healthy habits for when she is more independent.

2. Discipline

The same applies for disciplining and ‘what is’ and ‘what is not’ allowed. If one day Sophia is allowed to climb on the furniture and the next they she is not, she will not know what is expected of her and I could not expect her to take anything I say seriously.

By being consistent and reliable with discipline I create a secure environment where Sophia knows what is expected of her.But there are times when I am not consistent and I do fail to reinforce things. But I am committed and I try my best to be consistent.

3. Praising Positive behaviour

I have learnt that telling my four year old how fantastic she is at something or how happy it makes me when I see her helping out with her brother, or dressing herself really pays off. I have learnt that I can expect to see more of this good behaviour that I praise. Feeding negative behaviour really just creates more negative behaviour.

Positive reinforcement is the first step in helping my four year old to be happy and confident. I want her to think my mum thinks I am brilliant because the truth is I really do.

4. Tantrums

Don’t even try to reason with your four year old if they are in the middle of a tantrum.

If I know the signs one is coming on, for example being tired, hungry, or frustrated. I Try address these issues before the tantrum starts, because once my four year old is having a tantrum it is very hard to reason with her. She is best left alone until she has calmed down.

I try reminding myself that she is only four years old, still so much to learn and understand. I find it is important not to get angry with her when she has a tantrum, (staying calm may be hard sometimes but it is always the best answer for a tantrum) as it is not a reflection that she is angry with me or being naughty, rather that she is frustrated with a particular circumstance like her trousers wont roll up or her socks are not on properly (these are big issues to a four year old!). But almost all the time these tantrums only occur when she is tired or hungry, which is only normal, even for us adults, I get pretty grumpy when I am hungry and tired too! Except as an adult I won’t have a tantrum about it.

5. Whinning

My four year old little girl has a gold medal for whining, the one thing that she whines about the most is sweets and toys.

The key here is to not give into the whining because my very clever four year old will learn that whining gets her exactly what she wants.

Sophia is teaching me a hell of a lot each day and on top of this list I created she teaches me patience and forgiveness daily if not hourly. So thank you Sophia, keep teaching me, I am a great student always wanting to please!

Regardless of her four year old-ness, Sophia never fails to brighten my days my moods and my sadness. What is sadness when you have a beautiful bouncing four year old to dazzle your days?
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Can you relate to this? What have you learnt from your four year old in terms of correcting their bad behaviour?

Mums' Days



  1. November 25, 2014 / 3:45 am

    My lil guy,also 4, whines so much! Drives me nuts! But he is also super sweet, helps me clean and helps with his little brothers. If you ever deviate from routine does you lil girl have a fit? Mine gets really upset if something gets in the way of routine. Not sure if it’s a 4 year old thing or something more

    • November 25, 2014 / 7:33 am

      Hey, Yes she does mostly only bedtime routine and I put it down to being tired though. So I think it’s totally normal.

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