Parenting Tips: 3-4 Years

Your child pushes or pinches a playmate, or uses inappropriate language. What do you do?


  1. Don’t spank your child. This teaches that hitting is okay if you’re bigger.
  2. Don’t criticize or lose your temper. This lowers your child’s self-esteem and sets a bad example.
  3. Don’t isolate your child from peers.


  1. Listen to your child’s reason for getting angry and support his right to his feelings, expressed appropriately.
  2. Tell your child the appropriate words to communicate the feelings.
  3. Give your child a “time out” using the following rules:

Rules for “Time Out”

  1. Tell your child in a firm, controlled voice that he’s going to have a time-out. Place your child near, but separate from, the desired activity.
  2. Tell your child that he will have to sit quietly for as many minutes as his age. For example, a three-year-old sits for three minutes.
  3. Time out is not over until the child sits quietly for the set amount of time.

Children at this age are beginning to learn the rules and limits, but they make mistakes. They need reminders and immediate consequences that respect their growing self-esteem and help them learn without embarrassment or an angry confrontation with their parent.

  1. Observe how your child plays and compliment good behavior. For example: “I really liked how you asked for your turn on the swing.”
  2. Be sure you and other adults in your child’s life are good role models in expressing feelings.

From “Good Kids, Bad Behavior” by Jonathan Brush, PhD, MD