My 4 Year Old Boy, How I Put The "Fear" In Him (Read All The Way To The End For The Lesson)

The Joys Of Being A Mother To A 4 Year Old Boy!

Ahhhhh, the joy that a beautiful baby boy brings into your life! From the moment he comes out, that indescribable feeling of holding your "little man," and the overwhelming feeling of love that takes over you. Having all of those feelings of wanting to keep him protected from all of the bad that is in the world. There is nothing that you wouldn't do for this beautiful little being.

And then one day.... he turns 4. "What the hell happened!?" "How COULD this have happened?" "What did I do wrong??" "I do nothing but try to love him, and all I get is this!?"

And all the while, he is in the background........

"NO MOMMY!" "I don't want to Mommy!" "But why Mommy?" "I farted Mommy!" "Why are you always screaming Mommy?" "But Daddy lets me... Mommy!" "I don't want to go to sleep....wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"

All of a sudden, it is harder than taking care of a newborn. The temper tantrums seem to be getting worse. It is getting harder to control him, as he only wants to argue. His behavior at times seems out of control. And we are left wondering, what we did wrong.


You Probably Didn't Do Anything Wrong, If You Are Reading This. Tending To A 4 Year Old Boys (sometimes aggressive) Behavior

I say this because if you took the time to look up information on your 4 year old, and their development, then you care. And as long as you care, then you must be trying. It is when people don't take the time to look for better ways, or for tips, that is when they most likely are doing things wrong.

I don't believe that there is any absolutely "right" way to train a child. What works for some, doesn't work for others. I think that most mothers could contribute a unique tip of their own, and together, we could come up with solutions for everyone.

I do believe, however, that the amount of attention that children get these days, is just not enough. We all are leading very busy lives, and are working long hours at our jobs, just to try to make ends meet. This means that the time that we do have with our children needs to be time well spent. I know that it is hard to come home from a long day at work, and still muster up enough energy to actually sit down and play with our children. But it is very important that we push ourselves to do it anyway.

Every day, your child needs some kind of personal attention from his or her parent(s). Even 15 minutes of undivided attention from you, (especially if he is used to getting none,) can make all of the difference in the world. I have personally tested this.

If I come home and spend just 15 minutes sitting down with my 4 year old, doing absolutely nothing but what he wants to do, then when the 15 minutes is up, and I get up and continue to do the housework or whatever it is that I need to get done, he will play the rest of evening pretty much on his own. Now, I do still talk to him while he is doing his thing. He asks me questions, and I try to always give him some kind of positive response. And I also sometimes will ask him questions about his day at preschool while I am cleaning up the house. They need this. They need the adult talk. They will have a much bigger vocabulary if you will just talk to them as if they were your "buddy." And they should be your buddy anyway.

Now, if I come home and immediately jump right into the house chores, or get on the computer or what have you, he will not leave me alone! He will not go off and play on his own, nor will he even be in a good mood to say the least. Children, especially 4 year olds, are craving your attention. Even though it seems at times that they are doing everything in their power to piss you off, they are only wanting some of your undivided attention. They love you, and they missed you all day. They just want a little of YOU.


When Things Get Out Of Hand

We all have our bad days. We have all "lost it" on our children at one time or another. No one is perfect, nor will they ever be. Children are very forgiving little beings. I think that even during those awful and chaotic days when it seems as if we are doing nothing but yelling at our kids, they still will feel the love so long as it's there. When you "mess up," and fly off the handle at your child, and you know that it was out of line, just remember that we are always training them. Some parents don't believe that they should ever apologize to their child. I don't agree with this. If they are out of line with another child, we expect them to apologize to that child, and to make up. Well, how can we expect them to know when to apologize for getting out of hand, if we don't show them.

As I said, we all lose it sometimes. Telling your child that you are sorry for yelling is the best thing you can do. Now, just to clarify something, I am not talking about when you are raising your voice to get them back into line. I am mainly talking about when you have taken your work day's stress out on them. I am so guilty of doing this. But, I do know how to apologize, and I believe that this is very important.

Don't think that you are bowing down to them if you have to say you are sorry. You are also teaching them that you are human just like them, and that you made a mistake. Be firm when you need to be, and also be sorry when you need to be. Keep in mind that your emotions are running 10 times stronger on your stressful days, and the typical "kid" things that they do, is going to get on your last nerve.

Now, onto teaching them a lesson....

Teaching The 4 Year Old Boy A Lesson That He Will Never Forget.

All 4 year olds crave routine. Whether you (or they) know it or not, they absolutely crave routine. If you have no routine, you will find that your children are misbehaving much more than a child with a routine. It is a must. And I believe that kids need a routine from the time that they are born. They should be waking up around the same time everyday, eating at the same times, and going to bed at the same time every night. They also need play time every single day. Play time with you, that is. And don't forget, even 15 minutes will make all the difference in the world.

Even with a well scheduled routine however, of course your 4 year old is going to act up. I am not going to claim to have the best answer for discipline, as I know that it is different with each child. I would like to share with you a story about my son and I, and how I put a little "fear" in him, thus teaching him a really good lesson. Read on, because this is good.

Let me start by saying that I believe that most adults today that are in and out of jail, were never actually taught ABOUT jail. I don't think they got attention, and if they did, it sure wasn't positive attention. Of course there are always other circumstances that may lead one to go to jail. It is just one of my biggest fears, even thinking about my son growing up, and doing something stupid, and me getting a call from him in the middle of the night to tell me that he has been locked up.

So, I, on a pretty consistent basis am telling my son, (when he is acting up) that he will force me to have to call the police, and have them take him to jail, if he doesn't straighten his act up. It usually works really good. He starts crying, and begging me to not call the police. It goes on for a while, and I just tell him, "well, you better start listening to Mommy, the police don't like when kids aren't listening to their parents!" And so on.....

On one particular day, I picked him up from preschool after I had had a really long day at the office. I was stressed out pretty bad, and I was doing everything in my power to not take it out on him. We were in the car, leaving the bank. My son was pissed off that the teller had not given him a sucker. And I mean to tell you he was livid. I was trying to explain to him that people working in the bank get very busy, and don't always have time to put a sucker in for the children. Well, he wasn't having it. He was in the back seat throwing a fit and crying and screaming, and just down right feeling sorry for himself.

As I was getting ready to pull out onto the main road, I saw a policeman going by, with his daughter in the backseat of his police car. I took this as the perfect opportunity. I told my son, "Oh my God! Do you see that little girl getting arrested?" He all of sudden got quiet.

"Such a shame," I said. "She looks like she's your age, and already going to go spend her life in jail."

My son then responds, "What did she do?"

As I replied back with, "Must have not been listening to her parents, and she must have been throwing a lot of fits."

He says back, "And they are taking her to jail?"

And of course I said, "Well yeah, I mean, I tell you how the cops don't like it when kids don't listen. That's what happens after a while, they can't deal with it anymore, and they have to take them away to somewhere that they will finally obey."

Of course my son all of a sudden is sitting up straight, and cranking his neck to see the little blonde head, being "taken away to jail."

And he then tells me, "Well, I'm not going to jail because I listen, and I'm a good boy. You will miss me if they take me away."

My son knows me very well mind you, and I think he was expecting me to tell him that I would never let anything happen to him. But I had to stay strong on this, and of course keep from laughing at the same time.

So I very matter-of-factly said back to him, "I would miss you son, but I have no control over the police coming to get you. Once they have been informed of the bad behavior, well, it's just over. You will have to go with them."

He of course vowed to be good forever.

Now, he has still thrown fits, and he has still acted up. But as soon as I remind him of the little blonde girl sitting in handcuffs in the backseat of that police car, let's just say our "fights" don't last quite as long anymore. I, "Put the Fear in Him."

If you can find the perfect opportunity such as this, take it! You will have all of the ammo you need, and a lot more peace in your life. Now Go Get 'em!

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Comments 47 comments

akirchner profile image

akirchner 7 years ago from Central Oregon

Too cute - and I'm still apologizing to my kids and they are 33, 31 and 29! You can't possibly do everything right but if you are involved and you love them, it's all good!


Miss Markayla profile image

Miss Markayla 7 years ago from Indiana Author

You are right, as long as there is love, it makes all the difference. My mom is still apologizing to me too! As I'm sure I will be doing the same thing some years down the road also. Thanks for the comment!


shellyakins profile image

shellyakins 6 years ago from Illinois

It's nice to know there are other crazy 4-year-old boys out there. I laughed at your introduction because it sounds just like my "little man." I'm going to try the 15 minutes thing when I get home tonight. Thanks for the advice.


sheela 6 years ago

Very cute!! I have tried this but now my son tells me that if I do not listen to him he will call the cops and send me to jail.... I guess it is a different experience for difference kids :-)


Andrea H. 6 years ago

This blog made me feel SO much better and gave me some good tips.. Im going to take your advice and hopefully it will help us out.. Thanks SO much!


Cynthia C. 6 years ago

This was wonderful advice and so true. Thank you.. I pray to God everyday for guidance & knowledge on how to discipline my son effectively. I believe he spoke to me through your article.

God Bless You.....


Miss Markayla profile image

Miss Markayla 6 years ago from Indiana Author

Thank-You Cynthia! And I needed to hear something wonderful like that today. Thank-you very much for responding- you made MY day. Good Luck! We all need it with our children :)


Miss Markayla profile image

Miss Markayla 6 years ago from Indiana Author

Sheela- That is too funny! Sounds like you have an extremely intelligent one on your hands- Good Luck to you too! :)


Rubys Mom 6 years ago

this was interesting and i found it trying to find tips for my very Spirited daughter


Trish 6 years ago

Dear Miss Markayla - Thank you for article - my little boy was a breeze till he turned four and then turned into a nightmare! I find myself yelling and screaming at him and then feel appalled that I have lost my temper - at times I have to go to the bathroom and have a cry just to release some pent up frustration!!

I agree about the 15 minutes of time (obviously more is better!) I also have a 8 month old boy and sometimes it is so easy to just go through the motions and demands of the day and not stop and "play" or soak up the joy. I have to remind myself to just enjoy the time and leave all the chores - and when I do that my four year old is an angel. I feel for him as I know we tell him to do as he is told, not argue - that he is a little boy and yet he also has the role of "helper" and the big brother as well. A confusing time for him.

My patience is tested as he has NEVER ENDING questions and I can't believe how mentally draining it can be explaining every nuance of life - but for the most part I feel I'm doing okay. My last three days have been the most challenging I've had hence me finding your article today! Thanks again. Your article helped reassure me that I am not a bad parent and not alone in the wonderful challenge of raising happy boys!!!

Just fyi - my bad three days commenced with him sneaking up behind me when I was changing his brother and giving me a huge poke in the side to frighten me - not only did I nearly jump out of my skin and nearly drop his brother but he is so strong it hurt for the rest of the afternoon!!! I don't think half the time he realises what his actions will create.

My hubby - his dad - is thankfully a very hands on loving father and very involved in our family life. They are currently have a project of building a cubby together outside and he is starting to teach him to swim this afternoon - so all in all I feel our little guy has it pretty good. Just need to not lose my cool with him. He is at pre-school today so am trying to reclaim my sanity!!! I think perhaps that has been part of the issue in the past week - school holidays!!! Thanks again.


Miss Markayla profile image

Miss Markayla 6 years ago from Indiana Author

Trish-

I thank-you very much for your feedback! I totally understand the having to go away to be alone to cry- all too well!! Of course this is normal- as much as we love our children with every inch of our souls, our own "alone time" is gone for a long time, and we realize this many many times along the way. Sometimes that is comforting, and sometimes this is hard to handle.

Sounds like you and the father are both an amazing job. You obviously were looking for some advice and comfort- which just goes to show how much you care.

I know how frustrating a child can be (with the poking incident) We know logically that the child just wants attention, and love. But our own mental state is then compromised as well! When there is another baby, the child feels that most of the attention goes on the baby and not them anymore. Of course this is just a part of life for everyone- and the child will in time learn how to cope with the change. In the meantime though, they will do those things that cry for your attention.

I think that the more you try to talk to him as you're doing the things that have to be done for the baby- the better. Just involving him in the whole process. But, no matter what, he will STILL do those things to get MOMMY's attention. Little boys especially LOVE their Moms- it's a proven fact that the majority of the time, the child opposite sex of the parent- loves that parent as they will love their future spouse. May sound kind of funny- but this is why Mommas will go through what you are talking about MORE with their boys, as the Father will go through similar situations with their daughter.

I hope that you do get some time to yourself- it is very important that we all get some time to recoup. I know personally I felt guilty for a long time if I didn't have my son (if I sent him to the daycare on my day off) But I have come to realize that this time alone is best for the both of us! I can get some things done around the house, and he gets to play with other children.

Thank-you again for taking the time to comment. I know I still feel comforted hearing other parents horror stories- as well as being reassured that I too am not the only mother to lose MY sanity! Good-luck to you and thank-you again!


jay 6 years ago

I had a simmular experience but I however am involved with the law enforcement community, so when my 2 yr old acted up where nothing would work I decidded to take him to see a buddy of mine and we followed thru with your situation except we actually put handcuffs on him and put him in a holding cell by himself just for 5 min or so, but it did the trick no serious acting up or anything from that point on.


brandon 6 years ago

well you have some good points but we have tried this in the past and he now calls our bluff, that works fine at the start but after you use it a couple times.... Guess what, it doesn't work! my child is super smart and that is why it now doesn't work anymore, if you have another tip please inform. Also we just had another child and he is acting out to the extreme! i had a son & dad day yesterday, took him to the park,and ice cream after. When we got home he thanked & repaid me by pissing in the middle of the bathroom floor. His excuse was that he didn't realize there was a toilet there. Now explain to me how spending a day of dedicated one on one attention opposed to only 15 mins.with him would result in such negative behavior?


44 year old MoM of 4 year old 6 years ago

I thought I was the only person who told my child he was going to go to jail for hitting others and for not obeying rules. Aggressive behavior in 4 year old boys can be overwhelming at times. I enjoyed the honesty of the writer!


Miss Markayla profile image

Miss Markayla 6 years ago from Indiana Author

I can only tell you from my experience Brandon- Behavior is so different from child to child. Different living arrangements and different situations can all affect their behavior. You also have the fact that no matter how much attention you give them, they are still children, and will still act up no matter what.


Dave 6 years ago

I read your article and as a father of a 4 year old boy and a Police Officer I must tell you that your take on telling him the police will take him away is a horrible piece of advice. By telling him this you will make him fear police officers. Is this what you want when you lose sight of him in a crowded mall or he is scared for his safety? Who would you like him to call? If it is the police you want him to call or run up to in a mall when he is alone you can bet that he will not, especially if he thinks he has done something wrong. I also served as a School Resource Officer and saw Pre-K children who were told this and they were scared to death of the uniform. Parents all the time try to tell me to arrest their children and I constantly correct them with this advice. If this is what you want, by all means continue but I think there are better ways that my not compromise you child's safety. Please tell them the police are their friends and not someone to fear.


karen 6 years ago

I am shocked about what you are saying to your child about possibly going to jail if his behavior does not improve. First, you are lying to your child, police do not take children away from there parents and send them to jail for having many tantrums and an overall bad attitude. You realize you are telling your child they will be taken away from you AND locked in a cell alone. This child will become very hurt and angry down the road when they realize how you manipulated them. It will not make you have a strong, positive relationship with them. Feeling validation will and tolerating their strong feelings while teaching them how to manage those feelings, over time, will. I am a child, adolescent and family psychologist and I am concerned about this advice you are giving. You are not respecting children when you do this and teaching them not to respect in turn. yes, they are fearful and defenseless NOW and will listen out of this fear but not for very long. Then you have a damage in your relationship with them and watch out in adolescents then. NOW is the time to be developing a trusting, tolerant and understanding relationship with your children. Very hard to do this in adolescence. Spirited children need understanding, patience and lots of positive training.


Amanda  6 years ago

I agree with the previous 2 comments. There are so many things wrong with this advice. First off you're telling your child that if they don't behave you are going to have them sent off to be alone in a jail cell..way to show unconditional love. And yes, even if you say you have no control over what the police do you are the one sending him if you threaten to tell the police about his behavior. Yea, that's going to make him feel real secure if he thinks that the police can come and take him away from his parents at any time and there's nothing you can do to protect him. The other thing is what the police officer above mentioned. You do not want to raise a child who is afraid of the police. My son will talk the ear off any police officer/firefighter/paramedic he meets because I taught him that they are our friends. The first time he asked me about a police officer in uniform I walked him right up to the officer and said "This is a police officer, they are our friends and are here to protect us and help us. If you're ever in trouble you can trust them" and then had him introduce himself to the (very nice) officer. If my son is ever taken from me by anybody it will be over my dead body and he knows this. He knows that he has a Mommy who will do everything in her power to protect him. Save the "police" scares for when he's older and doing something that actually could land him in jail (drugs, stealing, fighting etc). BTW..I've seen kids whose parents have used this on them and they are afraid of the police. I've even had relative try and say this to my son and I quickly correct them and say "No, baby the police will not take you to jail..they only take the bad guys to jail, you're not a bad guy".


Miss Markayla profile image

Miss Markayla 5 years ago from Indiana Author

Well, thank-you for your comments and concerns. I do appreciate all of the advice. I do consider everything that has been said about police officers and see the concern. However, my son is now 6 years old, so it has been a year and a half since I have written this. He has never been afraid of police officers. My son of course is a very outgoing young man. This may make the difference- I don't know. If a child is already timid and shy- then maybe this is not the way for you. I am only speaking from my experience here. For a child that doesn't have a lot of fear in them already, I see no harm. And I in no way do I make my son feel like he is the "bad guy." Only his behavior at that time may be bad. And letting them know that their behavior could lead them down a road of trouble is the best thing a parent can do. I don't sugarcoat life for my son. The truth is the truth. And the truth is that there are consequences of ones actions. Letting them know at a young age that not listening to authority could get them in big trouble is wrong? I don't agree. If a child is shown an enormous amount of love and given much attention on a daily basis, and thoroughly explained to about action and reaction- they figure out what is acceptable and not acceptable.

And lastly, walking a child up to a police officer and telling him or her that they are our friends and are here to protect us- that's very wrong. That is stereotyping every police officer out there as the "good guy." Do you really think that there are no police officers serving our communities that don't rape or molest our children? Of course there are. We see it on the news constantly. So you think I should teach my child to trust everyone in a uniform with a gun? Hell no I won't. I will teach him to use his common sense and to listen to his gut. Just like I would never teach him to trust every pastor out there just because he has a title of "Pastor." I will teach him to do the right thing. Point blank. Right is right and wrong is wrong. Trusting someone purely because they have a certain title is ignorant. Now teach them to just do the right thing to begin with and (with lots of prayer and faith)they will. Now if you go and sugarcoat things for them and tell them that they only take the bad guys to jail- not YOUR baby angel......the kid thinks they can do whatever they want because you labeled them as good. So now let's go steal from a store because "I'm not going to jail. Mommy(Daddy) said so." Yeaaah. Good one guys.


kmurdy profile image

kmurdy 5 years ago from Maryland, USA

I too have a 4 year old boy that can be a nightmare at times. I understand what you are saying, there needs to be something that will stick in your son's mind, as to what consequences are. I think raising children is all about bribes and threats--in a good way. We use reward charts, sticker charts, penny jars--all are bribes so to speak. And the threats-counting to 3, giving warnings, and time outs. That being said, I don't believe in telling your kids something that is really a stretch from the truth-like your example about the police. I totally understand where you are coming from, you need your child to stop and think before he acts, but not at the cost of believing he will go to jail, or that police are bad. I have said things to my children like if they don't brush their teeth, they will rot and then the dentist will have to pull them out-which is not a lie, but it did scare them. I also told them that if they don't hold my hand while crossing the street, a car might hit them-again not a lie, but pretty scary. I think there are other ways to get him to understand. If you use a consistant disclipline technique and follow through every time, he'll get the picture. Like you said, children crave attention, good or bad, and ignoring them at time, can be just as important and effective as giving them attention.


Miss Markayla profile image

Miss Markayla 5 years ago from Indiana Author

Thank-you Kmurdy. Again I appreciate the feedback on this as I still will listen to all of the advice given and of course would reconsider my approach if I felt that I needed to. And I totally agree with you. We do use the bribes and different techniques to try to get the child to obey and also to learn. I just don't think (in my situation at least) that what I did was at all wrong. Like I said, it has been a year and a half since I wrote this. My son is not afraid of police officers to this day. He does have some fear- of course. Having some fear and being afraid are two totally different things. The bible of course says that we should "fear God." That doesn't mean that we should be afraid of God- just that we should fear him, the same way that we had fear for our parents if acted in a certain way.

I DO want him to fear "being bad." I know that all children are going to act up- there is no doubt. And it is our jobs as parents to correct the behavior. My fear is my son getting older and not realizing the consequences of his actions, and then not having any fear of going to jail. I want him to fear jail! It had nothing to do with being afraid of the police man himself. When I was telling the story- I said that I told him that the little girl in the back seat was being taken to jail because of HER behavior. I never said that the policeman was the a** hole for doing it! He was doing what he had to do. I even said that the police can only deal with the "bad" behavior for so long before they have to come and get them.

So I just don't see where anyone in the comments above yours- thinks that I am putting all of this blame on the police. I have always taught him to take responsibility for what HE has done. When he gets mad at me for disciplining him, I remind him that it is not ME- it was HIS behavior that got him into the mess. Same with the police. If someone is arrested for murder or stealing or what have you- it is their actions that got them arrested. The person putting the handcuffs on them is not to blame. They are simply doing their job.

And I totally understand and agree with you about not lying to your children and not telling them something that won't happen. But I look at this as something that is not a lie either. He may not get arrested for throwing a fit about a sucker at the age of 4, 5 or 6. But if he doesn't learn to control his temper and any anger that he may have when he doesn't get what he wants right now, then he won't know how to control it when he is 25 and finds that his girlfriend has cheated on him with his best friend ( just a scenario of course :) And he WILL most definitely go to jail THEN if he doesn't control his anger at that age. I just look at every disciplinary action right now as a lesson for him in the future. And just as you explained about the rotting teeth and getting hit by a car- scary scary scenarios given to the child to teach them a lesson in advance.....to me is the same as letting them know that jail could be in their future if "bad" behavior gets BAD enough. And again in NO way would I put the blame on the police force for throwing him in jail for something that HE did. I just wanted him to know that not controlling his anger can get him into a lot of trouble.

Once again, thank-you for the comment. I think yours was much more thought out than the last few. I would NEVER EVER teach my child to go up to any police officer and just trust him because of his job title. He will (and does) know what the police are here to do. And that IS to protect us. And their jobs are very scary and dangerous every day they leave their homes while their families are still asleep in bed. I would never try to take away from what they go through on a day to day basis. I did not write this to offend anyone. But! I think we all know that no matter what kind of job a person has, it doesn't mean that we should just automatically trust the person. There are police officers that use their power to get what they want just as much as anyone else in any other job field. We have to go with our gut feelings. Thanks again!


Alayne Fenasci profile image

Alayne Fenasci 5 years ago from Louisiana

I am glad your son is not afraid of the police, and teaching him that he is responsible for his own actions is an important lesson. I hope that continues to be the case. I know a number of people whose parents employed this same method and have not had such results. In fact, the adults I know who grew up being told the police will have to arrest them for misbehaving are the ones with issues being skeptical of the police officers rather than their own actions. I'm referring to mature, intelligent, and reasonable adults who watch a police officer out of the corner of their eye in the neighborhood to make sure they're not being scrutinized, even if they're just mowing their own lawn (incidentally, this kind of behavior makes a citizen look suspicious and much more likely to be scrutinized).

It is important a child not simply trust every person, but this involves two separate lessons. First, a child of this age needs to understand that the police are there to help keep us safe, as are firefighters and teachers at school. The child should also be taught what kind of adult behavior is not appropriate and that no matter who says or does these things, that person is not safe.

Additionally, you are right that there are police officers who misuse their authority, just as there are those in every walk of life who do so. This does not mean we must automatically assume everyone is like this. It sounds like you believe such a large percentage of law enforcement is dangerous to children that a child should distrust all of them. The fact that there are bad people in the world has little to do with misleading a child with empty threats of being arrested for throwing a fit over candy.

Your gut feeling tells you this is the way to best discipline your child. From what I have experienced in my life and seen in others, it is a dangerous lesson to teach. I also believe it to be a cop-out (no pun intended) when a parent threatens fictitious punishment by people who are not disciplinarians for the child's household. As one previous commenter indicated, this clever trick is only clever until the 4-year-old calls the bluff and realizes this may not be the only instance where the parent's word is no good.


Miss Markayla profile image

Miss Markayla 5 years ago from Indiana Author

Thank-you for your comment Alayne. It is really up to each parent in which direction they want to go with their discipline. I certainly have no problem with that.

I don't agree that I sound like I'm saying that a large percentage of law enforcement are dangerous to children however. Again, as I've said in the previous comments, I never mean to offend anyone. And after re-reading everything, I still don't see how anyone could assume that. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I just want to clarify that I respect the law and the people that are here to enforce the law. And once again, I would like to clarify that I believe that if a child is taught to take responsibility for their own actions, then there isn't any reason to be afraid of the police. I'm not afraid of the police and yet I know that they will throw handcuffs on me as fast as anyone else. My son knows this too.

How about this....if you take something from this article as some have, GREAT! And if you feel this isn't the way to go about things..... Move ON. My son is 6 now and is NOT AFRAID OF THE POLICE. If your child ends up afraid of the police, then you misunderstood what I said, and were probably lazy in teaching them about THEIR OWN actions. Thanks!


Megan 5 years ago

So you are willing to compromise the trust and safety of your child by scaring him with "the police"? It's because of parents like you that we have an anti law enforcement society. When you teach kids to fear the police and hate the police you are also teaching the mind set that when they did something wrong (speed for example) that it is the cops fault they are speeding, and not teaching them to take responsibility for their actions. This is the same bad parenting as using Santa to keep your kids under control. Also when you do these types of things you are telling your kids YOU are not in authority over them, when in fact you are. Well maybe YOU are not, I mean in a general sense of what should be. They should want to obey you because they love you. Obedience is a response to love. You are not going to get that response with the manipulation you are using. For crying out loud YOU ARE THE PARENT! Not the teacher, police, Santa. You had the child, you parent the child and quit trying to pass the responsibility. Maybe next time you "see and opportunity" don't jump at it just think about it. And to make up for what you did when you see a policeman with his child you could tell your child all they do for society and they types of things they see (using age appropriate language and decernment)then they go home and are husbands and daddies. The police are amazing people not a tool for bad or lazy parenting.


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TPSicotte 5 years ago from The Great White North

Your child needs to respect you. Not some outside boogey-man called the police. I agree with Megan, not a great message to send. I also understand that you are frustrated and maybe out of other ideas but quite frankly this one may not be the best. What happens when your child gets older and realizes your threats were hollow? He likely won't trust you as much as he does now. Also, if the only reason he behaves is because of threats of punishment then what will he be doing when no one is watching?

Children need to learn to internalize values of respect and peacefulness and care for their environment. With boys this can require a lot of monitoring and reinforcement of when they are doing things right. Still, it's obvious you love your little guy a lot and that goes a long way.


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aheil 5 years ago

Very nice hub. You should read this. http://developyourlife.net/parenting/child-misbeha...


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Miss Markayla 5 years ago from Indiana Author

Thanks for all of the comments- Megan-quit being an idiot and learn how to read. I've already responded to the comments like yours. You wrote nothing new.

Thank-you TPSicotte- I respect your opinion- and thank-you for noticing that I DO love my little guy- this whole thing went a lot deeper than I ever thought it would!

Oh!!! and my son brought home a picture from Kindergarten the other day- that he had drawn....OF A POLICE OFFICER. Imagine that, he wants to be one when he grows up. HMMMMMMM.....don't think my little "trick" scared him of the police.


Patricia 5 years ago

I couldn't stop reading. This is exactly what I am going through with my 4 year old and I did feel indeed that I was wrong. Your words were heaven sent, exactly... if I wasn't trying I would not have looked this up. I have renewed strength and determination now after reading about it from you. I have introduced the concept of jail to him. Such a smart boy. He asked once after seeing on television men behind bars. He asked why they were caged and I said matter of factly as well that they were put there by the cops. Why? because they were naughty. why he asked again. I took the opportunity to say, Well you know some children were not taught about what is good and bad to do, that's precisely why Mom & dad teach you that, because we wouldn't want you to end up in jail one day for doing the wrong thing. His expression was priceless, I had to stop myself from laughing. That for once got him to consider his tantrums. I didn't use it as amo tho, I will carefully use it more often now. Thank you very much!! I'm just happy I am apparently on the right track. God bless you for sharing :)


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Miss Markayla 5 years ago from Indiana Author

Thank-You Patricia! I so very much appreciate that! Reading the comments above, you can see that there are a lot of mixed emotions about this. But I can tell you that it works, and the child will not be afraid of the police as many seem to think- as long as it is explained that the consequences are due to the actions from the child- NOT the police.

My son is not afraid of the police- but he does "fear authority" Not AFRAID- (in biblical terms)...he Fears, as he should...as all children should. Some of these so called psychiatrists and therapists that have left comments on here will wonder why their children are in so much trouble one day. Thanks again Patricia!


Rachel 5 years ago

Miss Markayla,

After reading what you've written as well as some of the responses, I'd like just to offer my opinion and advice on the one 'thing' here that seems most incendiary.

I'm somewhere in the middle. I agree that lying to your child (about anything) shouldn't be a disciplinary method we're excited to employ! My husband and I always abstain from lying to our children; even if it will (temporarily) achieve the desired behavior.

There are so many other ways to 'train' our children. And I'm certain you can agree that God's standards are "God's standards" and a lie is a lie no matter who is telling it.

We are commanded to lead our children and to teach them not only by word but more importantly by example. You are training your child (whether you realize it or not) to believe that lying is acceptable. Think 20-30 yrs down the road when your children have children and they remember that "good scare" that Mom put in them about the police! "It worked on them, and they didn't turn out too bad, so it surely must work for their kids..."

It's a perpetual cycle. And certainly not a good one!

With all that said, I'd like to share that I have also used the "police" and "jail" to teach my 4 yr old son a lesson, but here's where our approach differs:

One (hectic) day, after taking some time to pray and seek God for help with disciplining our 4 yr old, I sat down with my son and I discussed 'choices' with him. I told him that in life we have the option to make 'good' choices or 'bad' choices. I explained the difference between a good choice and a bad choice and then I talked to him about something called jail and people called police officers.

I explained that there were many different kinds of people in jail and that they were not all "bad" people, but many of them were just normal people who made some bad choices.

I explained to him why it is important to obey Mommy and Daddy now, so that he can learn how to make good choices. I told him that he needs to learn now while he's young to make these good choices so that when he is a man like Daddy he will know how to stay away from jail! I explained that all it takes is ONE bad choice to end up there.

I do not tell him that the police will come for him now while he's a child. I explained that they do not take young children like him to jail, only grown-ups.

He really understood everything we talked about and he absorbed it like a sponge.

That day he was exceptionally well behaved and any time he started to act up, I reminded him about his choices. When my husband arrived home from work later that evening and our son started to throw a fit about bedtime, I pulled him gently to the side and asked him, "Son, do you remember our talk about choices? Are you making a good choice or a bad choice right now?"

He immediately straightened up and went to bed like an angel. My husband turned to me with a smile and look of pleasurable disbelief and then he wanted to know about our little talk on "choices". =)

Now anytime he starts to act up, I not only remind him that it makes God happy when he obeys Mommy and Daddy, but I remind him by asking him if he is making a good choice or a bad choice...and that's all it takes!

This is just our experience and perhaps a suggestion for anyone else out there who may be reading. It really isn't necessary to lie to our children, sometimes it just takes a little prayer and a firm belief in sticking to your guns about telling the truth. =)

Hope this helps!


Dmommy 5 years ago

So glad to have found this article. I thought there was something wrong with my four year old boy but your description fits him perfectly. You're obviously a loving, caring mom. These haters are being overly judgmental.


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1stPhotoInvites 5 years ago

Great information! Congrats to this hub!


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workingmomwm 5 years ago from Kentucky, USA

Are you kidding? Keep your child in line by lying to him - and not just lying but making up a really elaborate story!

I agree that we should apologize to our kids when we mess up, and I really hope that someday you apologize to your son for lying to him like this - even if he doesn't remember it.


Laureaann 5 years ago

Im sure you have already responded to comments on what is completely wrong with how you handled your sons behavior by using the police. the only thing i see wrong is that now the child will have a fear of police and when he truly needs assistance from a police officer, he may be too afraid to approach one. i can see how you were at your wits end with his behavior as my 5 year old throws tantrums like this, but i work around a lot of police officers and deputies and this is what they have told me about disciplining my child, never use the police as your ploy to get them to behave by scaring them that police are bad people. but kuddos to you to finding something your child is "afraid" of to scare him into behaving


simplebeauty 5 years ago

i came looking for information because my 4yr old boy has been very rude and aggressive to me and others. I have had to give myself time outs recently because i have noticed every time i so aggression his aggression gets worst.... like you said every situation is different.a big part of our reason is because this is learned behavior. he's doing exactly as his daddy did before he got sent of to jail for hitting him. it has been a long 10mths but thats a short time to undo 3yrs of an abusive pattern. im shocked to find out that's how most 4yr old boys behave. Phew!! anyway my son his his concerns about the cops because they took his daddy away but i also thought him to call 911 if ever mammy is sick and doesn't answer him. he asked "is the cop gonna arrest you mammy?" I said "no, the cops arrest people who do bad things but they also come and make sure the ambulance take sick people to hospital" plus let him say hi to police officers when they are near by and one time he wanted to know if the police will arrest him if he runs out in the street again, so i asked a policeman the for him and he got the answer. i have told him i will call the police when he has is htting but im not sure its right for our situation because he might want to go to jail to meet his dad(he probably think he's still there)......but i understand your take on this one...keep up the good work!!!


Vicki 5 years ago

Just like the last few commentators, we have been struggling with our 4 year olds behaviour. He understands the concept of Jail and often role plays jail and jailer, much like cops and robbers. I loved your article and can see alot of myself in your approach to parenting. The past few weeks has had me questioning my ability to control my child, but you have reassured me that my little boy, who has enormous capacity for love, tenderness and empathy, is just a normal active 4 year old, and the aggressive and out of control behaviour will find its way out as part of his maturation.

Such a shame that the negative comments about the "Police Arrest point" take away from the genaral point which I find to be true in most children I have observed, that when Mum/Dads authority is questioned there is a higher authority. No child wants Mum to tell Dad what they've been up to. They don't want you to tell Grandma, they shrink when a teacher discuses their behaviour with you, why not make them aware that there are some authorities higher than their parents, that is the truth!


Shellie 5 years ago

I do this with my son, but now he is arguing with me saying he is stronger than the police and he will beat them up, theyl never get him, he doesn't seem to grasp the fact that it wont have to get to that stage if he just bes good.. :(


Concerned 5 years ago

This is just too wrong. You should not be giving advice! Do you hold some sort of degree? People may read this thinking you're an expert at childrearing but from your "advice" I cannot believe that. I feel sad for your child(ren).


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Miss Markayla 5 years ago from Indiana Author

As always, I appreciate the feedback! And I'm happy to say my son just celebrated his 7th birthday. Happy Birthday to my Baby boy ! :). As a comment back to "Concerned" please don't feel sad for my child! Be sad for your own. I have a boy in the 1st grade reading at a 3rd grade reading level, has had no behavior issues at school, is very active in playing soccer and leads his team....need I go on? I feel sad for people who have looked into this so deeply that they missed the point. I still stand behind my word that my son is STILL not afraid of a police man. - have never had any issues with that. He knows right from wrong and knows that there are consequences to his actions-as all children SHOULD!?! Are you kidding me? You feel sad for my child? Try-- maybe, being "Concerned" for the parents that are beating their children, starving their children, ignoring their children, and the parents like you--who obviously do nothing to reinforce discipline.


Rebecca 4 years ago

I think this is so sad and hurtful. Telling your child that you will abandon them forever if they don't "behave" (like an adult, I presume, is what you mean)? All children can be difficult, demanding, cry and fuss. That's part of growing up. Telling them that they'll be locked up all alone is just cruelty.


SIHAAM 4 years ago

I PERSONLY THINK THAT ALL CHILDREN SHOULD BE THOUGHT A LESSON AND BE TEACHED TO BEHAVE AT ALL TIMES AND KNOW THAT YOU AS THEIR PARENT WILL NOT BE TAKEN AS THEIR FRIENDS TO SAY AND DO WHAT THEY LIKE DOING TO YOU.CHILDREN SHOULD BE TEACHED TO BE WELL MANNERD KIDS FROM VERY YOUNG AGES ALREADY SO THAT THEY KNOW THE DIFFERENTS BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG.PARENTS ALSO SHOULDN'T ALSO ALLOW THEIR CHILDREN TO BOSS THEM AROUND THEY SHOULD KNOW THAT THEY ARE THE CHILDREN AND WE ARE THE"PARENTS AND NOT THE OPPOSITE.I MYSELF AM STILL A TEENAGER AND I AM A WELL MANNERD YOUNG GIRL BECAUSE MY PARERNS WERE VERY STRICT WITH ME WHICH THEY STILL ARE.MY MOTHER NEVER ALLOWED ANY CHILD TO BE RUDE WITH HER OR EVEN TRY TO THROUGH TANTRUMS.NO,NO,NO SHE NEVER ALLOWED IT WE GOT A HIDDING.BUT THATS JUST HOW MY PARENRS WAS WITH ME AND IM HAPPY I TURNED OUT THIS WAY.TRY IT.....IT WORKED FOR MANY.XOXOXO GOOD LUCK


barbara leighton 4 years ago

One day my 7 yr old boy, had stolen ANOTHER toy car.. When we would go to the store or a friends house, he always came back with a car or 2. I knew I had to do something, and I knew from being an abused child, a spanking only makes an angrier child.

I had him take the toy back & tell them what he had done. When we got home I put him in middle of the floor in his bedroom. I drew 4 lines into a square (6'x6')on the floor, using chalk. I told him he could not leave and that he was in jail for 2 hours for stealing. You'd of thought I killed him...He would actually walk to the line and cry like a Banshee...My daughter who was 11 at the time, immediately SHE wanted to FEED him. So I gave her bread & water to take to him.

When 2 hours had passed, he was a new MAN! He never stole from friends & stores (that I found out about) from then on! He is 38 and has had a little trouble, but NOT jail, he does everything to make sure that never happens.


trisvonik 4 years ago

Miss Markayla, don't you worry about all those coments, those people first don't know how to interpret, even less what is a lie, they do not lie to their kids, but something to think about; are they are so pure that they still believe that Santa Clause is putting toys and gifts under their pillows? Isn't this a way to lie too? Thanks for your article. It's being a blessing.


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Miss Markayla 4 years ago from Indiana Author

Oh and I agree that children can be difficult. No doubt about that!! And that IS a part of life as you said.

And I also believe that going to jail is the consequence of stealing, defying authority and so on. I just happen to believe that children should know that there ARE those consequences.


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Miss Markayla 4 years ago from Indiana Author

I couldn't agree more. The comments about this being cruel and so on- I just don't believe that "acting" like going to jail for bad behavior is out of line. It is the truth. And I believe we should do what it takes to get the child to realize the truth very early on- even if it means by making up a bit of a story to prove point. Thank-you for your comment!


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Miss Markayla 4 years ago from Indiana Author

Thank-you for commenting and sharing this story. It just goes to show that we MUST teach them what COULD happen. This is a perfect example.


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Miss Markayla 4 years ago from Indiana Author

Very good point. I think all parents tell "lies" whether they be about Santa or if it's to teach them a lesson. My son is very well behaved (years after this was written) and to this day- is telling me he wants to be a cop when he grows up. He is actually kind of "obsessed" with FIGHTING CRIME!! These comments about this "scaring" the child from the police- it just is NOT so. It teaches them respect for those Officers that are out "fighting crime" everyday. Thanks for your comment!

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