How To Approach An Angry 4-Year-Old In 10 Steps

by Joelle Wisler
baona / iStock

Four-year-olds can get very angry. At 4, they are harder to fool, and they have a lot of passion about things like yogurt. Also, they can speak in full sentences and tell you exactly what they think, which is not always nice. I made the recent mistake of disagreeing with my own 4-year-old about whether or not she ate a certain yogurt (she had eaten it, but I couldn’t figure out a way to evict the yogurt from her stomach to prove it to her). Three days later, and I’m still startling at loud noises.

If you find yourself stuck in a room that is being dominated by an angry 4-year-old, here are some steps you can take to try to ensure your own survival:

1. Start with giving them a time-out. Realize quickly that you did not anticipate the level of their commitment to the yogurt that has already been consumed. It appears that they have associated the yogurt with “oxygen” or “will to live.”

2. Suggest taking deep breaths as the child seems to be self-combusting. Call and apologize to your neighbors for the noise. Explain to them that you have a 4-year-old who wants a certain yogurt that has already been eaten. They end up apologizing to you and sending you a get-well package.

3. Speak softly, or loudly, or don’t speak at all. I’m not sure. One time, one thing works, and then the next time, I am told that I am a horrible, mean, no-good sort of person.

4. Create a diversion. Or focus on the problem. Do whichever but make sure you are wearing a protective coating of some sort.

5. Play soothing music. And then stop doing that, immediately.

6. Confuse them with your superior language skills. Find yourself hours later, rocking in a corner, speaking gibberish.

7. Approach slowly, or quickly, or run away. Choose quickly but know that any of these things will be the wrong choice.

8. Suggest a snack. Feel real fear for food in general.

9. Plead with them to tell you why they are so upset. Be prepared to not like the answer, as it may have the words “poopy face” in it.

10. Give into bribery. Offer bigger, fancier, more delicious yogurts. Yogurts that only princesses eat. Yogurts that can only be found at Disney World and you will take them there. They don’t care. They want the yogurt that they had already eaten and nothing else will do.

Then, they finally get a hold of themselves and walk to refrigerator to show you which yogurt they wanted. You brace yourself because you know, without a doubt, that they had eaten it already. They pull out a container. The container holds the leftover yogurt that was in their lunch from the day before, not the yogurt that they had already eaten for breakfast.

They are a ray of sunshine. They are as sweet as honey, as pie, as that frosting that makes your stomach hurt.

It was all a misunderstanding.

Welcome to parenting a 4-year-old.