The Challenges of Parenting a 4 Year Old

I cannot hold it in any longer: I’m having really trying times with my 4-year-old son Braden right now, and the more I talk about it with other parents, I’m thinking it’s more the challenges that the age of 4 brings, rather than Braden himself. I find it really hard to cope with his constant need to talk. I know not all 4-year-olds are as talkative as Braden is, but I do know that it can be common among 4-year-olds, and it certainly is with Braden. It seems like all day long, especially when we’re home together he’s talking to me all the time. “Mommy?…Mommy?…Mommy?” all the live-long day. I need to really work on not snapping at him so much–I’m 31 and he’s only 4! I think these 4-year-oldisms (if that’s even such a thing) can be really annoying, but perhaps only to me.

One example of that is when Braden goes to the bathroom in our laundry room bathroom just off of our kitchen (where I spend a big majority of our day, it’s the hub of our home), he’ll try to carry on a conversation with me. I’ve explained to him many times to please not try to talk to me when he’s going potty, because I can’t hear him, and potty time is private time…yet on a daily basis all I hear is jibber jabber from the back bathroom. Perhaps just ignoring him is best? Or setting a new rule that he can only talk to someone if he’s looking at them? Whatever it is, something needs to change.

He’s also just starting to learn etiquette when people are talking–we’re trying really hard to teach him not to interrupt when others are speaking. Braden also tends to say the same thing over and over and over until it is very distinctly acknowledged–sometimes a simple smile and a nod to him just will not suffice. I catch myself saying many times a day “Braden, I heard you the first time you said it–I know!” He also asks a lot of questions that I know he knows the answer to: “Is Daddy home right now?“, when Braden knows that almost every day his daddy leaves for work because he gives him a hug and a kiss goodbye, yet almost every day Braden asks me this question. Pretty sure he just wants to converse, because I know that he knows the answer. From what I’ve observed in playschool, he doesn’t seem to talk too much or interrupt the class. In fact, probably because he’s one of (if not) the oldest in his class, he listens quite well, so I hope this carries on in his school years and I don’t get notes home from school that say “Braden talks too much and disturbs class time”.

This might sound awful to you, but I started to question whether Braden was “normal” developmentally or not, and from talking to my mom who has been in the preschool/elementary school system for 20+ years and from doing some reading of my own, I know that he is normal for his development as a 4 year old and it’s ME (yes, me) who has the problem and needs to change and adapt. He really is a great kid—he’s sensitive, sweet, and very caring, and still doesn’t have a mean or aggressive bone in his body. The characteristic about him that I need to be more accepting of is his “Chatty Charlie-ness”, which ironically he gets from me.

So, you might be surprised that it’s not Braden that has the problem, it’s his mother. I need to embrace Braden and everything about him. I don’t want to discourage him from talking to me and sharing things with me…one day he might not want to at all. I need to give him more grace every day.

Do you have an extremely chatty kid too? Any tips or experiences you’d like to share?


Comments (16)

  • Thank you for writing this post Sarah. I feel where you are coming from and have sometimes similar frustrations with the constant “why’s” that come from my little guy. You are doing the right things so keep up keeping on! Little people with lots of words have big thoughts and big futures 😉

    Shannon Thorndyke
  • I totally understand how you feel Sarah! Our little guy has the habit of talking at the same time as the adults and over top of them. We also get the questions that he knows the answers to and repetitively as well. It IS a part of them being the age that they are as they’re more inquisitive and aware of things around them. I also have to learn to be more excepting and understanding of this! Great post 🙂

  • It’s truly just so great to know that I’m not alone and that Braden is a “normal” 4-year-old!! Thanks for the comment and the tweet.

  • Thanks for reading, Shannon. It’s just nice to know we aren’t alone! We went through the “why” phase, now he’s very particular and very very inquisitive!

  • Your definitely not alone and I hope it doesn’t burst your bubble but our daughter is 7 and I like to tease her with the term “Blabbermouth”, she has the gift of gab! She is better though with not interrupting us or someone else if talking, however, if they are not you can be sure there is a story to be told…and she has a memory like no other…lol ohhhhh my ears and sanity as I am very much like you. The best advise I can give you is that although it took me time, the snapping from yourself will stop when you realize that it’s easier to say mmmhmmm and give him some acknowledgement and move to the next one lol….we all get to this point, it does get easier with time.

  • I have a little miss smarty-pants-know-it-all-chatterbox over here.
    Definitely have been trying times as well, deep sighs, bit tongues, eye rolls and extra wine glass… just to be clear I’m talking about me… but yes, they’re very curious and naturally cannot stop asking the person they think knows the answers to all – MOM!

    Signs of a social and intelligent child! 🙂 Enjoy it while you can, soon enough they’ll be tweens and teens and we will be hoping they talk to us more!

  • I have been spending time with one of Mister J’s little friends (3/days a week, daycare at my house), and she incessantly asks questions.

    I answer her the first time, and then after that I reply “asked and answered”. It seems to do the trick! Of course, then she changes the questions, but hey… 🙂

  • I love this post, Sarah! My daughter is now 5, but I have to say that 4 was an interesting year! She’s very much like Carol’s little girl…a little miss smarty-pants-know-it-all-chatterbox. All signs of smart, social kids.

  • How about having two Chatty McChattersons? My oldest is a story teller (like his mother) and my youngest, even with a speech delay, is a chatterbox (also like his mother). And, to make things even more interesting, DH is also a talker! lol

    I will say though, that we’ve been fortunate enough to have awesome teachers along the way that have embraced my boys’ gift of the gab.

    As for at home, we have ‘quiet’ times established, you know, so we can all rest our voices 😉

  • We have an 8 year old who still challenges me daily with the constant talking. In our house it is called “jibber jabber”. Sometimes in my head I am screaming “shut up, shut up, shut up” although I would never say this to him. When he was around the age of Braden and we were dealing with the constant interruptions we actually taught him to raise his hand for his turn just like in school. A lot of family and friends laughed at us and thought it weird but it really worked and also helped for school. At the dinner table he would have to decide if would he had to say was worth raising his hand and waiting.
    It is a challenge on a daily basis that has continues to this day but it can be such fun having a curious and interested child.

  • Hey Matthew, thanks for the comment! Oh don’t worry, I’m sure his talkativeness will never subsides…both of his grandpas did/do talk non-stop as well! It’s just the context of the speaking is what I hope will improve!

  • Braden has been a bit sassy-smarty pants…and I’m sure that will get ‘worse’ as he gets older. I agree with you gals—social and intelligent children!

  • I do that with my older nephew or I ask him the question back and he answers. I bet my son is old enough for that too now!

  • Thanks, Christine! My SIL with a 5.5 year old said 3 was the most challenging age thus far…and I’d have to say so far for me it has been 3.5 until now, but 3.5 was the worst! Smart and social kids, let’s go with that! 😉

  • Nay, I think I’m in line to follow suit! 😉 My 18 month old is very very chatty with toddler babble at the moment 😉 They’ll be talking over each other in no time! Everyone seems to get a kick out of Braden’s talkativeness, so I hope people keep embracing it and that he can be quiet and control it when need be!

  • Dawn, I am right there with you! In my head I always scream “shut up, shut up, shut up!!!” but I have never and will never say it to him. I have said “Braden, it’s time to be quiet and not talk so much!” and he will go and play quietly. That’s a really good visual way to teach kids to not interrupt to raise their hands! Great idea!

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