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4-Year-Old Son Has Really Bad Behavior at Home

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I got divorced when my son was 18 months. He is just turned 4 and his behavior is awful at home, but at daycare they tell me he is good. He doesn’t listen, he is defiant, he cries over everything, and laughs when he is told what he did was wrong. I am running out of patience. His father is no help because when he and his sister are there, they are allowed to do whatever they want. His behavior ruins all the good times we try to have and my boyfriend (who is also a single father) is running out of patience for him, too. I don’t know if I should have him evaluated for issues such as ADHD or something else to see if medicine would help to calm him. I don’t know if spanking him and putting him in time out will eventually help. Please help me! I am literally having a breakdown because of his behavior and just don’t know how to fix it.

4-Year-Old Son Has Really Bad Behavior at Home

Answered by on -


I would highly recommend an evaluation. If your son is able to manage himself during daycare and not at home you’ll want to understand what factors causing this. It could be fatigue, ADHD, or something else that allows him to keep it together during the day. Under no circumstances should you spank him. Research shows that spanking may actually make things worse. An evaluation sooner rather than later is the way to go.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

4-Year-Old Son Has Really Bad Behavior at Home

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). 4-Year-Old Son Has Really Bad Behavior at Home. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 20, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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