“Help! My 4-year old is out of control!” This is not an unusual complaint from new parents, and sometimes even from those who have other children. Some families also wonder why their 3-year old won't listen, and these problems can become a huge source of stress for everyone. This is especially true when the child in question becomes aggressive and poses a risk to himself, his siblings, playmates or even his parents.

Some kids do have trouble handling their emotions, so they lose their self-control. But it becomes difficult when they direct their emotions towards others. Fortunately, most children later feel sorry and calm down once they have tired themselves out and expressed themselves.

How to Deal with Out of Control Preschoolers

1.      Just Stay Calm

“What do I do when my 4 year old is out of control?” Experts say that when you are faced with a child who is acting out, you must keep calm and stay in control instead of yelling back at him. Shouting at him may just make him less likely to listen to you and become more aggressive or defiant. On the other hand, when he sees that you are calm, he is more likely to listen to you and try to calm down.

2.      Find Out the Root Cause

Punishing your son or daughter for behaving badly won’t always work, as most parents find out. It is more helpful to find out what is making him/her rage inside and to fix the root cause so that you will understand why your three year old won't listen. It would also help to find ways to communicate with him/her without getting hurt, which could add frustration to both of you.

Sometimes, seeking help from a professional such as a pediatrician, family doctor or someone who is familiar problems with young children is advisable. Other people with experience such as a teacher, relative, or friend may also be able to help.

3.      Set Rules

Establishing household rules and schedules increases structure and reduces chaos at home. Give your children specific tasks that are suited to their age and set some time for doing chores and homework. Make rules that will help reduce sibling rivalry, such as taking turns and sharing stuff with each other. It is also helpful to write down rules and schedules and post them where everyone can see them.

4.      Give Consequences

One parent says, “I made a plan of action to discipline my child especially when my 4 year old is out of control. I make sure he understands that if he misbehaves, he cannot watch his favorite TV show.” Whatever your strategy is, it is important to be consistent and follow through. Managing a child’s behavior problems requires patience and firmness before you become successful.

Find out what disciplinary measures are more effective, such as taking away their privileges until they are able to control themselves. Do not despair if your 3-year old won't listen or if his behavior seems to get worse at first. He may just be testing your limits. When he sees that you are serious about your rules, he will soon follow your lead.

5.      Set a Good Example

Many children see their parents or older siblings yelling at each other, and they tend to do the same. If you say, “My 4-year old is out of control,” try to look at your own behavior when you are angry or frustrated. On the other hand, if he sees you composed but firm when he throws a tantrum, he may respond by calming down instead of being more aggressive.

6.      Do Not Reward Undesirable Behavior

Some parents are tempted to give in when their child throws a tantrum just to avoid confronting their anger. Others “reward” undesirable behavior by offering candy or something that will make them stop, without really correcting the behavior. These strategies will only reinforce negative behavior and will not improve the situation in the long run.

7.      Motivate Them to Behave

Most children need positive attention from their parents or caregivers. Giving them a few minutes of undivided attention often helps make them happy and calm them down. Praise them when they behave. Praising one sibling when he is behaving may also motivate other siblings to do as well. Giving rewards is also an effective strategy to motivate kids to behave. Rewards do not have to cost much – you can give stars, stickers, points, or added privileges just to make them feel appreciated.

Here’s a helpful link for parents where you can find supernanny superstar reward chart for 3-5 year olds.

8.      Practice Consistency

Rules are only effective if they are followed all the time. Be consistent about enforcing rules and schedules to that your children will take them seriously. Changing rules and not following through with consequences can be confusing.A three year old won't listen if you say one thing now and say another thing tomorrow. They could test your limits to find out if you actually mean what you say.

9.      Talk About Your Feelings

It is important to remember that young kids have a different understanding of what is rational. They are often not able to express what they want and their frustration leads them to yell and act aggressively towards others. It may be helpful to talk to them calmly about how their behavior can hurt you or others. Talking to them about your feelings may help them behave in a similar manner when they want something or feel something bad.