Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Negotiating With A Four Year Old

As a mom, it is certain that you have witnessed the screaming four year old in the grocery store having a meltdown. Have you noticed how differently parents handle this situation?The most successful way of dealing with a four year old that has hit the wall, so to speak, is to not join them in their land of bad behavior. Once you cross the line and join them, you might as well go home because they have just single-handedly won!

The first mistake most parents make is to try to negotiate with them. Do not bother doing this, it does not work and you must realize that the person you are trying to negotiate with is a four year old. They will verbally extract things out of you and before you finally do get home, their little meltdown will have cost you $50 or more in goods, toys or treats. You would be better off hiring another four year old in the store to tell them to be quiet! What you must remember is that life is what it is. Chances are that when you went into the store as a child with your parent, you most probably did not leave with a ton of goodies that you shook your mother down to get. There is a reason for this, it is unacceptable for a child to behave like this and if you let them win, you will be sorry because you will pay dearly each and every single time you enter a store with this child.

Always be reminded that in life good behavior gets rewarded, not bad. Adults with bad behavior go to jail and they do not get presents at the store for having public meltdowns. Thinking along the reward line once the child is home and has behaved in a good way, feel free to give them a big hug, kiss or a little treat that they enjoy. Notice the word little? The best way to negotiate with a four year old is to not negotiate. Do not participate in their land of preschool crazy. Who cares if they cry in the store? Children cry, all of them at some point in public. Tell them to stop behaving like this because when you get home, they will be in time out for acting this way. After that it is best not to even talk or look at them. Act as if they are enjoying time with a nanny at home and you are out alone and someone else’s annoying child just happens to be screaming right next to you. The child will soon learn that they are not getting a rise out of you and they will give up the fight. It may a take a month depending on how weak you have been with them up to this point, but it will happen and when it does you will rejoice in your victory. Not only you have taught them how to properly behave in public, you have reminded them who is the boss. Unfortunately, as parents you must be the boss. No parent really enjoys this part of the job, but it must be done. Hang in there, stay strong and soon going shopping with your four year old may just become pleasurable.


  1. I adore this article!! I would recommend this article to anyone with young ones. Just the other day I bore witness to a parent just like the one you mentioned in the grocery store who was giving in to their childs' every whim. It was a disgusting display by a spoiled brat who had their parents wrapped round their grubby finger.

  2. Yeah, it is really great advice! It's true, negotiation at that age does not work.

  3. I didn't realize it was *possible* to negotiate with a 4-year-old, but I guess if you do it right...:)

  4. Yes Danielle, it is definitely possible, just not a good idea. Lol, an operative word here for negotiation with a toddler would be....bribery. Which works in certain times of desperation, but then you're teaching them manipulation early on and they will try it on you. They are smart little suckers :)