Why is my child sometimes rude to me, when he never was before? 4 Years

Four-year-olds are mostly charming, curious, and fun—but they also have their less-pleasant moments. The silver lining is that these moments are generally a normal part of their developing social and emotional skills.

Right about now, children are more concerned than ever before about what other children their age are doing and thinking. Your child may have his first best friend, and he may become very interested in play dates and spending time with other children. He’s watching their behaviors closely. And as he socializes more and visits friends’ homes, he’s also discovering that rules and expectations change from family to family. He may try to test the limits in your home by saying, doing, or asking for things based on what he’s observed elsewhere.

Four-year-olds are also little sponges, picking up the speaking and behavior styles they see on TV and from other adults. And rude language (like “shut up” and curse words) can be copied just as easily as kinder expressions.

Your preschooler also has a strong sense of himself as an individual, with his own ideas and opinions. That he’s not shy about expressing them is a sign of healthy development. You want him to be his own person.

With all of these developments, testing your authority is only natural. Remember, it’s only testing. Learning the limits of what’s acceptable socially and emotionally isn’t much different from learning the limits of what’s acceptable for safety. There’s some trial and error involved, and lots of testing, testing, testing.

Your best response: Remain calm and loving, not harsh or punitive. Revisit your expectations and rules. Explain that different families do things in different ways, but this is what you expect and why.


“Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, Birth to Age 5 (5th Ed)” by the American Academy of Pediatrics.