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4-Year-Old Boy Exhibits Destructive Behavior

Question:

My 4-year-old son has become very destructive. He breaks just about everything I give him and puts holes in furniture and clothes. Even though he is fully potty trained, he has been urinating in his room. He throws trash down wherever he is standing and I have to tell him multiple times to put it in the bin. Nothing I have tried works. He just looks at me like I am stupid and walks away.

Answer:

Dealing with a 4-year-old can be exhausting. Because of his age, we recommend that you first schedule an appointment with his pediatrician for a complete checkup. Make sure you give the doctor all the information you’ve shared with us. Before assuming that his actions are behavioral in nature, you’ll want to make sure medical causes are ruled out. If his doctor makes referrals, be sure to follow through with those as well.

We know that from a behavioral standpoint, every behavior has a function. In other words, he is doing these things for a reason. You need to understand what that reason is. Some children have figured out that they get a lot more attention for engaging in bad behaviors than for being good. Another reason may be that your son is angry and is blaming you for something bad that has happened; he may see these destructive behaviors as a way of punishing you.

It is difficult to think like a 4-year-old, but sometimes we have to consider his ability to reason and think critically. Hopefully, you have some support so that you don't have to deal with this on your own. 

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