The Effing Fours

Crappy Baby will be turning four soon.

Remember how I whined about him turning two back in the day? Ha. That was nothing.

Everyone knows that three is more difficult than two. Course in our family, four is the most challenging of all. At least with my clinical study of exactly one child so far. (Five was much easier, six has been awesome and I hear that seven is magical. This is the extent of my experience but feel free to chime in with yours.)

Well, Crappy Baby is almost four and he is already exhibiting fourness symptoms.

Rage. Pure rage.


If I’m on the phone or driving or in the bathroom or having a conversation right in front of him or otherwise occupied and he needs something he’ll just scream at me. Not after ten seconds. Not after five seconds. Immediately.

All the “Excuse me, Mama” and “Mama, will you please get me some water” that he was previously using (um, a good portion of the time, not all the time) have disappeared. My sweet child has been replaced by a tyrannical boss who barks commands. “MAMA! GET ME WATER! MAMA, I SAID GET ME WATER!”

And half the time, he is pissed off about things that don’t even make sense.


That one? That “hungry but can’t eat” style of crazy? Crappy Boy did it when he was four too. The same exact phrase and everything.ย 

With Crappy Boy, we could usually figure out the source of the catastrophic problem and then help him solve it accordingly. “Is your food too hot? Is your strawberry too slippery? Is your fork too shiny?”

But with Crappy Baby we only get this answer:


So yeah. This is fun stuff over here.

I know it is just a phase. Crappy Boy grew out of it. Crappy Baby will too. Knowing this sure makes it easier the second time around.

And with these big developmental bumps come big developmental strides.

This means next week he’ll probably be speaking Latin.

Or at least yelling it.




It has come to my attention that it looks like he is squeezing his nipples in the pictures. Which he isn’t. If he WAS, he’d surely be screaming about how it hurts to squeeze his nipples. Because that just makes sense.ย 

PS – if you liked this, then you’llย definitely, probably like my new book: Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures


This entry was posted in crappy pictures, Effing Fours, through the ages. Bookmark the permalink.

269 Responses to The Effing Fours

  1. JJ says:

    I had no idea that the “i’m hungry but can’t eat” was a thing, my son does this too and I honestly thought I was alone! I mean really, we were worried about him. Once again, thank you for making me feel sane!

    • My seventeen year old sophisticate still does this. For the 20 Year old, chocolate milk through a straw, still brings the blood sugar back up and makes her a person again.

    • Joie says:

      My son does this thing where he says, no, screams “I’m hungry!” and proceeds to reject everything I offer. When I ask what he wants he yells even louder, “I don’t KNOW!” It goes on like this for several rounds until he finally finds something that will work.

      • Cyndi says:

        Joie, I hate to break it to you, but this never goes away. At 28 years old, I still do this, and it drives my boyfriend CRAZY!

  2. Meghan says:

    My inlaws always told us “It’s not the terrible twos, it’s the fearsome fours.” They were right. EVERY SINGLE ONE of our three children has been a beast at four. Our youngest is about to turn five, and I’m really hoping that day will be like a magic switch to make her suddenly cooperate and stop being a general booger. One can only hope.

    • connie says:

      See, now, all my friends with kids *promised* me the transition from horrid to bearable would happen at age four. It hasn’t. He’s over 4.5 now, and I don’t want to get my hopes up for 5.

  3. Ann says:

    Oh goodness, four was the worst here too. I mean, all ages are different but four was just attitude and anger and aggression and frustration. I’m so glad my daughter is now seven which has indeed been magical.

  4. Heather says:

    LOL the effing fours indeed! Living it over here, two was a pancake.

  5. Kathy says:

    I am so with you on the 4’s! Only my (now) 5 year old is taking longer to get past this. For the most part, 7-10 are good! 11 can be iffy and 12, watch out. That’s as far as I have gotten in this parenting thing.

    • Katie says:

      I’ve got a two and a half year old (bio) and a 9 year old (steppie). I love two. Absolutely love it. 9 on the other hand, I may end up strangling her lol….only mildly kidding…

      • Christina says:

        We’re in the same boat as Katie – 2.5 yo biological son & 9 yo stepson. Years 8 and 9 (so far) absolutely suck.

        • Jodi says:

          Yeah I agree there I have a 9 year old boy. 9 SUX and somehow I don’t think a magic switch will be thrown in 3 weeks when he turns 10 and turn him back into the sweet, carefree little boy I once knew. My son should be in acting because EVERYTHING IS A CRISIS AND THERE IS NOTHING BUT DRAMA in his short life on this planet. He says he can’t wait to be a grown up. Just shoot me now.

          • Esther says:

            I have 5 kids (D-13, S-11, S-9, S-8, D-under 2). I have to say from my experience they actually seem to get better around 11, but I struggle from age 4 through to about 9. Everything is dramatic and extreme in these years, but after 11ish they seem able to think more logically.

    • Rachel says:

      The current 5 year old, has taken a whole 8 months (he turned 5 in February) until now (after a month of being in school) to show signs of finally being released by the 4-year-old monster that was holding on oh so tightly!!! Thank God, because I would have gladly moved to some remote part of Africa and dealt with beastly disease carrying bugs as opposed to the 4’s if it didn’t come to an end soon!

  6. Karen says:

    OMG I love that last picture of Crappy Baby, that embodies exactly what four was like. LOL! They go from so cute to crazy and then back to sweet again. What IS it about four?

  7. Lisa says:

    Major sympathy here. My oldest is 4 and she does the same stuff, especially not telling me what’s wrong when it’s likely easy to solve. She’s home sick today and refused to tell me if her throat was sore and wanted some water. So, it remains a mystery and she’s very angry but I have no idea why or how we can fix it. Very, very frustrating.

    • Lisa says:

      Oh and I’ll add, my other one is 2yrs and throws tantrums daily. They do indeed seem trivial compared to the 4yr old’s attitude problems. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Jlynn says:

        I also have a four and two year old. My oldest was a cake walk at two but my son gives me meltdowns every day(as I am typing this he is having a major meltdown in timeout, like a one man show). He loves to pick on his sister which is half the issue because it usually causes her to have a major breakdown when he takes off running with her baby doll(or whatever toy she was playing with) I tell her to use her words and talk to him not scream like the world fell apart. She is also testing everything and if we tell her not to do something how serious we are about it and when we come down with the punishment she acts like we are the bad ones and puts on a great show.
        I am waiting for a tear free day in our house

        • Jlynn says:

          Oh and forbid you give her a red cup when she wants a purple cup. She is starting to understand the moto of our house “You get what you get or you get nothing”

  8. Jenny says:

    The Effing Fours. I KNEW there had to be a label for it. It was like a switch was flicked the moment he turned four. My sweet, mostly placid child became a monster – so much anger! I really hope five is better, like with Crappy Boy.

    (By the way, perhaps Crappy Baby would feel better if he stopped tweaking his own nipples?)

    • Lisa says:

      Our’s was the same. Someone flipped a switch, literally, on her birthday. I remember the moment we saw it happen… she refused to be happy about getting her birthday cupcake and refused to blow out the candle. It was all downhill from that moment. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • amber says:

      It so massively looks like he is squeezing his nipples! Ha ha, oops!

    • neal says:

      Tweaking your own nipples . . . it’s like the Effing Four-Year-Old version of frustratedly punching your fist into a wall. Which is a good way to break your fingers, incidentally. Good thing nipples grow back . . .

      • Morgan says:

        There is no way I believe nipples grow back.

        • Lisa says:

          I have it on good authority from a nursing mom who went through latch-hell that they do grow back. Not that it’s very reassuring to know that they CAN be ripped off…

          • Charity says:

            OMG NOOOOOOOO!!! I keep reassuring myself that they will not, in fact, come off. Don’t tell me they can!! Aaagggghhhh!
            Also I can’t believe they grow back either. Why am I just now finding out about this?

          • foxgarden says:

            I’m laughing so hard right now… Mine never came off but Oooh the scars…

  9. Kim says:

    I have lovingly called it the “f’ed up Fours” sorry for your pain, but its nice to know I’m not alone. As she gets closer to four and a half, we’ve had a lot more normal conversations and dare I say it rationalization?
    However I also have an almost three year old…

  10. Louise says:

    Three was the worst, the absolute worst for us. Four was when, every so slowly, we started to see signs that they might be human beings after all, with the ability to reason and stuff. I’ve always told parents that three is the worst and that things start to get better with four, and now I’m wondering if I didn’t just give them all FALSE HOPE.


    • Jamie says:

      Yeah three was worse here too.. It carried over into four though then mutated into the talkative fours. I wanted to stab myself in the ears so I didn’t have to listen to all the talking.

      • Kimball says:

        OMG! I had a talkitive four too! Once she talked so much that I threw up. Seriously. Threw. Up.

        • neal says:

          Which started a really terrible cycle, I presume? I mean, “Hey mommy, remember that time I talked so much that you gave me some food out of your stomach? There were little bits of red, and green . . .”

          I’m sorry. I’ve got a talker, too.

        • Chris says:

          Oh god! My 5yr old is the same! The other night I was trying to get him to stop talking while he was brushing his teeth. He mentioned he was like Mr Chatterbox, I agreed and told him to stop talking and brush his teeth (for about the 3rd time in under a minute). He then proceeded to tell me he wasn’t like Mr Chatterbox because Mr Chatterbox talks in his sleep and I don’t talk in my sleep and… I responded with “oh my god, you’re STILL talking! STOP TALKING AND BRUSH YOUR TEETH!” Drives me nuts.

        • Charity says:

          I am laughing so hard at this right now. I have a talkative almost 3 year old but she takes forever to finish a sentence, so I imagine it will get worse.

      • Lys says:

        I just spat my coffee.

        As an aside, I have a 3.5yo and this conversation is not making me want to hurry on his next birthday. What, the three-year-old “Don’t talk to me like that” attitude gets worse? Awesome.

        • foxgarden says:

          Both of mine (3.5 & 6.5) talk constantly. Without listening to each other so it sounds like two separate conversations. They talk to themselves if there’s nobody with them. Or they sing. Usually not the same song as each other.

      • emma says:

        Haha my son is going to be four in a few weeks and we have had lots of drama, aggression and tears lately, but he is learning the like it or don’t get anything motto. However he is getting really talkative now and I too sometimes want to stab myself in the ears….

      • Kory says:

        Ohmygosh yes! The TALKING!
        Don’t get me wrong, I love to talk to my daughter… When’s she’s not just describing the world around her, repeating everything I’ve already said, and arguing with me… You know, the real talking… Either way, it’s talking or screaming. She even talks in her sleep.

    • connie says:

      You did! Everybody told me that exact same thing so there I sat, staring at my 4 yr old on his birthday, thinking pixie dust would appear and he’d be cool and ask if he could quietly play with Spirograph and listen to John Coltrane. I was betrayed by all those parents! He is so negative, contrary, uncooperative, sassy, and other icky stuff, wearing me out!

    • Gabrielle says:

      Us too! We are off the curve… but in which direction?

      When mine turned 4, he went from “God, Mom. Just… No.” to “I made it/did it/wore it for YOU, Mom!”

      But it’s a short window. His sister, at 5, hit the phase I thought came with teens: I am the dumbest human ever to exist without a Darwin Award (and really, she should get the credit for saving me from that!)

    • Shana says:

      Three was absolutely the worst for us too. While four did have plenty of sucky attitude, four is also when he really started to develop his sense of humor, creativity, and style. That’s also around and when he developed what I might call a higher level of “self awareness” and the language to express it. I enjoyed four infinitely more than three. (At least for kiddo #1, kiddo #2 just turned 2 so we’ll see how things turn out with him).

  11. Laura says:

    I hear ya, my twins are four and most of their crazy is unleashed on each other. I’m a constant referee. Can you say exhausting?

    • Stephanie says:

      Oh thank goodness I’m not the only one! Mine aren’t twins – my oldest is about to turn five (Holy Four…four is definitely a four-letter word!) and my youngest is 15 months behind him. So I, too, am a constant referee.

  12. Kate says:

    “What’s that baby? You want a swirlie? Well okay, if you insist!”

  13. Elizabeth says:

    What does it say about my little creature that he is doing this shortly after turning three? Maybe it will pass sooner? Or is it just because his closest aged sister knows exactly how to push his buttons? Or that she just moved out of this fearsome four age and he is now copying this behavior?

    • Cynthia812 says:

      Ugh, I have a button-pusher. She’s about to turn six, and her almost 4 brother has learned ALL her tricks. Grr.

    • Shana says:

      Three sucked way more than four at my house. I’ve heard three referred to as “the terrorist threes” and the age of “defiance with a smirk”. I actually saw some improvement at four. Hopefully you will too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Nikki says:

    Yes!!! It was like he morphed overnight into a beast when my eldest turned four. He is five now but I still remember how truly dramatic the switch was.

  15. Tarah says:

    Oh God my oldest it about to turn 4…I thought it couldn’t get any worse Aghhh…

    • Lori says:

      ^^Yes, that’s what I was thinking. My oldest turns 4 in November. The 3s have been trying as it is. He doesn’t say “I’m not gonna tell you”, he just grunts or cries more loudly. My MIL will pester him and keep asking him what’s wrong, trying to guess, and several times I’ve stepped in to tell her to back off and let it blow over all by itself. There’s nothing anybody can do. This is going to get worse? Lovely.

      • Chris says:

        Not everyone goes through the Effed Up Fours. My eldest was mostly fine, he’s now starting to hit the Effed Up Fives instead… Maybe he’s a late bloomer ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Kris Strong says:

    When people talk to me about the “terrible twos”, I just laaaaaaaaugh…
    Because what’s coming down the pike is so much worse than two that it is like comparing “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” with “Pet Sematary”.
    When my daughter was 3, we went for her annual physical, and when the doctor asked after the exam if I had any questions or concerns, I began to weep.
    The adorable, curly-haired, lisping little being before us, I said, was capable of morphing into a whirling, shrieking dervish at the drop of a hat. OVER NOTHING. Or, at least, nothing we could discern, because the dervish was unwilling/unable to speak clear enough words to tell us what was so upsetting. She could scream, cry, flail, you name it, for what seemed like hours.
    The doctor said to me, “You teach middle school, don’t you?”
    I allowed as how I did.
    She said, “Well, 3 and 13 are very, very similar. Both ages are trying to figure out the world and their place in it; both are trying to impose their will on their surroundings; both are working on establishing their own identity separate from their parents.”
    She paused.
    “13 just has way better verbal skills, so 13 can tell you what a bitch you are.”
    Oh, well, when you put it like that…
    Then the second one came along, and he did the same thing. Only this time, I was ready for him. It didn’t help me do away with the tantrums, and the anger, and the unreasonableness, but at least I knew what I was looking at the 2nd time around.
    Be of good courage.

    • Wendy says:

      โ€œ13 just has way better verbal skills, so 13 can tell you what a bitch you are.โ€

      OMG I just fell off my chair laughing. What a great way to put it.

    • Lydia says:

      “like comparing ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ to ‘Pet Sematary'”… the best line ever, no context even needed!
      I too have wept at the “concerns” question from others, maybe it is the wine working its magic, but I laughed so hard reading this. I tried to share the mirth with my husband… I don’t think he got it…

    • Tori Michel says:

      Your whole comment made my day. Seriously. You need to put it on a blog and share it wide and far.

      (Back to original post) And yes, EFFING FOURS INDEED. We’re at nearly 4.5 here and I don’t know who replaced my adorable child with this whiny, demanding, won’t do anything I ask even if I roll the politeness in sugar and caffeine and give it to him at 10pm, doesn’t nap, is awake from 8am-11:30pm little boy. I just hope five simmers down!

    • Charlotte says:

      Thank god we’re not alone! We too have terrorist three at the house, he will be 4 in January so I hope it will pass by then. I can’t go anywhere or he throws a fit, I get those looks from my own parents and grandparents, you know, where they tink of you as bad parents…
      And he just does not stop talking!

  17. Krista says:

    We called them the “F-U Fours” in our house. My son (now 6.5) hit the Terrible Two’s at 18 mos, the Terrible 3’s, the FU Fours, and it slowly migrated out about 5…. My youngest never hit the Terrible Two’s (he’ll be 3 in November) but we are already seeing the signs of the Terrible 3’s. At least with the little one, I can look right at him and say “When you can ask me with the right words and volume, I’ll respond” and then turn away calmly. It usually works…. And in the midst of his frustration, I’ll just calmly say “Well, let me know when you need my help.” The two boys are so different, but I have changed too between having one and having two. ๐Ÿ™‚ I like to say that my 18 years (so far) in early childhood education and all the crap that I’ve learned FINALLY worked on one of my children. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Chronicallysickmanicmother says:

    Fours…Yeah. Five was I can do anything I am five. Six was good, Seven for half of it..See The Kid is a girl…..she started getting all moody and dramatic. Now She is eight. We are only a month and half in but so far its pretty awesome.

  19. Lisa Lutes says:

    3 was our bad year. Scream until you vomit on a regular basis bad. 4 has been a breeze so far, it’s like whatever rage switch got flipped on at 3 turned off at 4. But we’re not out of the woods yet, baby sister is only one!

  20. Monica says:

    My oldest is 9… and now the “pre puberty” stuff starts. it’s “you can’t tell me what to do” …”i hate you!”…”you’re so mean to me!” …enjoy the 4s…enjoy the lull after the storm because what’s next is horrible! (it’s horrible because they have no idea why they are acting that way and how to fix their emotions until you sit down and have “THE CONVERSATION” with them) And boys go through hormones changes and emotional puberty stuff too, we didn’t get off the hook with that with only having boys.

    • Cynthia812 says:

      My daughter started doing that at 4- maybe even three. I thought “I hate you” didn’t start until at least nine. I’m really worried about her as a teenager. She’s almost 6 now and is getting better, but still throws out an “I hate you” whenever she gets mad. None of my boys do that.

  21. sarah says:

    nodding and agreeing as I’m reading it.
    this IS my 4.5yr old

    guess the ‘crappy’ 5s aren’t much better?! oh joy

  22. Andrea says:

    Oh no. I have an almost three year old and an almost one year old. The oldest has run away from me and INTO TRAFFIC twice recently. All the while giggling madly until I catch him and then it’s screaming hysterically for at least a half hour. And now you are all telling me it gets worse still? *cries to self*

    • Krystie says:

      Andrea, I solved that running in the street thing by telling them if they go past the end of the building they have to o in a stroller. For some reason, that, and going back home are the two most horrible torments ever invented. But technically it’s not a punishment or a threat, right? I’m just stating a likely outcome so it’s science. Yeah.

    • Robonanny says:

      I reacted much the same way, but offered a harness (he’d been a bolter from the second he could walk). Choice is, you walk nicely holding my hand, OR you wear a harness like you did when you were a baby… it’s up to you, sweetheart.

      Logic and the desire to be a “big boy” mostly won. He’s still alive, anyway.

  23. angie nesper says:

    my 4 year old just walked by as I was reading and said “mama! dat boy say AAHHHHHAHHAHAHAHAH!’ very loudly. right behind me. in my ear. at least I got to giggle at your post before I went deaf.
    thanks for the reality check! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Rachel says:

      Lmfao!! Omg my almost 4 year old does the same thing. He SCREAMS instead of talking. He screams so much, he makes his big brother cry because he hurt his feelings. ๐Ÿ™ I seriously feel like I’m going to turn deaf sometimes. Luckily we know a lil bit of asl. Ha.

    • Charlotte says:

      Oh my, you’re scaring me :p 5month old dd screeches when shr’s happy. Yesterday they compared here with a bat, today people in the store thought there was a fire alarm… Please don’t tell me it get’s worse!

  24. Sarah M. says:

    I feel your effing pain.

  25. Shauna says:

    My daughter will be 3 next month. The only way I know to describe her is INTENSE. Now I’m freaking out about the next 2 years!! Thanks everyone!! Lol

  26. Lyz says:

    Oh my goodness! I also have the angry four year old. Both of my boys skipped terrible twos, and threes were okay as well. FOUR has been, well, interesting with boy #2. He’s always been our resident drama queen but he really ramped it up when he turned four.

    Most of the time he is a very polite, loving, and charming kid. He says please and thank you, loves to help people, and loves to hug everyone he meets. However, if he gets angry all hell breaks loose. It is a night and day difference.

    This kid has knocked holes in his wall and his brother’s with their doorknobs. (Yes, we have doorstops, but he takes them off and then loses them.)

    He will throw things, bang things, and scream and yell and say things that he knows he’s not supposed to say or do. “I’M GOING TO THROW! I’M GOING TO BANG! I’M GOING TO HIT YOU!” for example. When he’s at this point, he has completely LOST it, and I have to pin him to the floor to get him to calm himself down.

    Only six more months of this! Five can’t get here soon enough.

    • Rachel says:

      I think you just described my nephew!!

      Earlier in the year, I think he’d just turned 5 (yeah, sorry, no magic off switch on the 5th birthday)… we had walked to the park, him and I and my 7 year old niece. It was time to go and they were both a little protestant, but mostly ok with it. We were waiting to cross the road and he was kicking rocks into the road. I told him to stop and ALL. HELL. BROKE. LOOSE. Screaming, crying, kicking, yelling, hitting, “I hate you”, “let me go”, “I’m not talking to you”, “I’m not listening”… on and on and on all the while I’m dragging him, trying to carry him, flopped down around my waist, over my shoulder, whatever it takes… for 4. freaking. blocks! Maybe I should have tried pinning him down along side the road! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  27. Stephanie H. says:

    My four year old has always been a bit of an emotional mess but four has really brought it on.

    It’s infinitely worse when she’s sick. One night she woke up and screamed for hours complete with writhing on the floor. After telling us her ear didn’t hurt, then did, then didn’t we decided it was an ear infection and got her into the doctor later that morning.

  28. Nicole says:

    My 4yo is in his rage stage. He begs and cries to do soccer like his big brother, and we find him a short class to sign up for. He is ecstatic. But the morning before the first class? He screams and punches and swears he’s not going and is angry because “I don’t WANT to play soccer! I HATE fun things!”


    • amber says:

      I can’t help but laugh at “I HATE fun things!” That is so exactly what we’re up against right now. Sigh. Four.

      • Nicole says:

        Turns out he loves soccer AND fun things again.

        But he is PISSED that big brother got to put the soccer ball away. Like, flail-around-on-the-soccer-field-and-freak-out-the-coach pissed.

        But then he saw the bubble guy at the park and all was instantly well again.

        • Kory says:

          Oh lordy, this is my daughter. Exactly. Here I thought I was seriously screwing up this parenting thing. Good to know I’m not alone!!

        • Rachel says:

          Sounds like this morning with the 5 year old… we’re out of the flailing stage in now into the sniffling, tears streaming, poor-pitty-me stage, btw.

          Anyway, every morning we debate who’s classroom we’re going to drop off at first, his K class or sister’s who is in 2nd grade. This morning we’re walking across the street to the school, and I was thinking it was later than it was, so I said we’re going to drop sister off first so that she’s not late (thinking because I drop her at her locker, her teacher doesn’t see me… his does.. if I put on a good “omg it’s been THAT kind of morning (which it hadn’t, but I can put it on like Angie Jolie here) look” she’ll understand, right?? So we’re getting out of the car and I look over and he’s crying!

          I ask him what’s wrong and he starts wailing “I want Alayna to get dropped off first!!!!” No matter how much I try, I can’t convince him that THAT is what I said… total fail!

    • brenda Lw says:

      Ok, that was funny. Oops, sorry for laughing at your expense ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Cynthia812 says:

      That sounds like my oldest (who is now 7, and thankfully mostly past that stage).

  29. Katie says:

    3 and 4 were horrible for my oldest…..then 5 was better….annnnd 6 so far (it’s been 6 weeks) has been the worst!!! For my second, 3 was bad but 4 has been great. He only really becomes an annoying beast when he’s hungry or tired ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Nikki says:

    4 is horrid! That is when mine get mouthy. 3 is great! I love 3! Why can’t they just stay 3 forever. The only good thing about 4 is they can generally wipe their own butts at that age.

  31. Tammy says:

    Thankyou… thankyou… thankyou! I’m not going mental, and neither is my almost-four-year-old. And a much needed laugh!

  32. SL Hayes says:

    Terrible twos
    Trying threes
    Fitful fours
    Frantic fives

    Good luck

    13 and 14 are the worst!

  33. Ainskey says:

    Someone once told me that the terrible twos start at 18 months and finish when they are five…

  34. Meghan says:

    Wow. I feel a great sense of relief. Our son is almost 3.5 and our second son is due in Dec. Everything was lovely and generally easy once he left the 2s. But in the last week or so he has become, as my best friend describes it, “an alien psychopath terrorist”. I was fearing it was a sudden rebellion against the coming sibling (which he’s been super excited about). Or maybe he was sensing the hormones that make me feel like a giant rage monster and was acting upon them. So your post couldn’t have come at a better time. Maybe its just the impending 4s behavior that is rearing its ugly head a tad early. Thats what I’m going with for now at least.

  35. People. Perspective.

    Wait until they’re teenagers. That will show ya…

  36. Shareen says:

    Holy crap. You mean it gets worse? We were holding out for four which we have been told is magical. Hang on is there some kind of conspiracy going on here?!

  37. Gina says:

    Wait…so you mean this happens at 4? Then my son must have aged overnight. He just turned 3 in July and he is this screamer you describe. “MAMA, NOW!”, “MAMA, I SAID COME HERE!”, “MAMA, APPLE JUICE NOW!”. Ummm…okay. I just smile and ask him what the magic word is. At least he will squeak out please rather than yelling it! My 4 yr old, soon to be 5 yr old in 8 days, skipped this stage. Man, I hope he isn’t a late bloomer…I don’t need 2 screaming at me! ๐Ÿ™‚

  38. Jessica says:

    This made me laugh, because today I posted about how I hate the 3’s. I discovered the sweet spot is between 5-7 with my oldest. Because after 7, the preteen emotional stuff starts in. Good luck!

    • ACsMama says:

      Yes! I taught second grade last year, and had a class with mostly fall birthdays, which meant that most of my class was 8 for most of the year. SO. MUCH. DRAMA. and EMOTIONS.

      straight-A student/tough guy melted down into frantic tears in the middle of a math test because “He (pointing to his best frenemy) is thinking about me that I’m stupid, so now I can’t remember anything for my test!”

      I’m so glad to be back in Kindergarten with some Fabulous Five-year-olds!

  39. Crystal says:

    My three year old daughter does the exact same thing. I am REALLY hoping she will grow out of it, because I don’t know how I will survive another year and a half of this.

    I, too, laugh at people who talk about terrible twos. Thankfully I have a friend of mine who warned me about that. Her kids are both out of high school (one is actually out of college) now, but she said she remembers very well that when they were three she would have gladly sold her kids to the gypsies. Several other people have said that too.

    I frequently refer to toddlers as Gremlins. Cute and cuddly one minute, snarling, drooling, and ready to claw off your face the next.

  40. SB says:

    This sounds like my 2 1/2 year old. I hope she doesn’t do it til she’s five.

  41. Laura says:

    My little guy will be 4 in December. Since he’s gone back to school this year ( I think it’s been like 3 weeks) he’s had TWO write ups for hitting other kids. Never done this before. Same school. Same teachers. Same everything. Difference? HE IS ALMOST 4. Thank you for posting this. ๐Ÿ™‚

  42. Barbi Y says:

    O God Ya’ll are scaring me! my one and only child just turned 3 and turned into some kind of freak alien, bossy, demanding, unrecognizable and /w NO HEARING! and now fours are worse? /wahhhhhhh

  43. Kay says:

    My little man just turned 3 this past Saturday and he’s at his peak but now I’m not so sure if that’s the peak anymore after reading your post. So the things that my friend told me about “Terrible Twos, Tantrum Threes and Fucked Up Fours” is true?

    I’m scared, really really scared…

    • Jessica says:

      Don’t be scared, what doesn’t kill you, gives you a really good story in hindsight. The kids love some of the stories I tell about them when they were crazy 2 and 3 year olds.

  44. ladywine says:

    Four was about like that around here…both times.

  45. Hugz says:

    We (In hindsight, not the best idea) had our kids 2 yrs apart. That meant I had a terrible two and an effing four AT THE SAME TIME! Simultaneously dealing with losing my job, having to move house and clinical depression. Last year SUCKED!
    Now, I have a great new job with flexible hours, my -now 5 yr old is a gem and I’m appropriately medicated (Never thought I’d want to hug the inventor of antidepressants!). My 3 year old, on the other hand… She is such a sweet-heart some moments, then she turns into this crazy horrible screaming vicious creature, that, to be perfectly honest, I don’t like very much at all. She had a proper melt down at the mall over the weekend. It was awful. Her favourite words are “NO”, “Not yet” and “You’re not my friend anymore!!!”. Sigh.

  46. Mascha Feldman says:

    what? they only snap out of it at 7? shit…

  47. Mandy says:

    I have found all “half ages” really have my son pushing my limits. Oh and he’s eight now and mouthy and sometimes disrespectful. It’s a real treat too. I will call it egotistical eight!

  48. We love four!

    We did have classic terrible twos, but thankfully that’s it. Now our three year old tries to express himself, but gets all the words wrong. Hands on hips+ “I’m impressed” = I’m frustrated. It’s too cute.

  49. Isabel says:

    Awwww… man! And here I was thinking that three was bad. My daughter is a dictator already. I can just imagine…. :/

  50. Lauren says:

    I am so glad it’s not just me. My first son (Crappy Boy’s age) was mildly stressful at 2, worse and 3 and then worse still at 4. At that time, I thought the terror would magically turn off at 4, so the fearsome 4s were made even worse by erroneous expectations. Son #2 just turned 4 this past weekend. 3 has been typically challenging, and now I at least know this time that 4 might not be even better. I won’t be holding my breath for a dramatic improvement.

  51. Ashley says:

    Don’t tell me it gets worse! I can’t guarantee I won’t eat my three year old twins if they get worse.

    • Rebecca says:

      Ack! I know! Im terrified. My 2.5 yr old girls are already just like this. Bossy, “mommy go away”, shouting nonsense while completely hysterical and throwing themselves around.

  52. Zanzicaro says:

    In my own private study of one child, I can attest to the f-ing four. My son is 5, almost 6, and life has gotten soooo much better in the past months. The 4s were indeed horrible. I can’t believe we came out of it alive. But we did and you will too, again. ๐Ÿ™‚

  53. Jamie says:

    The ages I have wanted to sell my kids to the gypsies have been 3, 4, and 11. While trying, the other ages have at least been tolerable.

    Exceptions based on child:
    My son who is now 13 carried over some of his insane behavior from when he was four. He still suffers from “I’m the boss” and “don’t hug me” and “if you take my picture I am not going to smile and pitch a fit till you delete it.”

    I wanted to sell my daughter.. Who is currently the delightful magical 7 for about a month this summer when she reverted to the “talk your ears right off your head” part of 4 years old.

    Good luck to you all. If I adopt or remarry a man that has a 4 year old I am DONE with that! Mine are 13, 10, and 7.

  54. Amy Fifer says:

    The 4 year old girl version is “I can’t stop crying!! Why can’t I stop?!”
    And I have 7 year old twin boys….its a horrible age but i think its the twins not the age!

  55. Kim says:

    My 5 year old son was horrible at 3 but 4&5 have been relatively easy. My 2 year old is a whole other ball game. She is in the tantrum mode hard core. The other day day she had hysterical screaming tantrum because I would not let her drink the toilet water. I know, I am a mean mother.

  56. (Stealth post, hoping it gets lost in the internets and my son won’t find it…as long as you never talk about Minecraft, we should be OK…looks over shoulder…)

    Soo…he sounds like a thirteen-year-old?

  57. Sarah says:

    Very timely post, I was just googling to see if my four year old (well, almost, like 2 weeks and he’ll be four) was a raging psychopath who needed to be institutionalized. He likes to say no to everything and he loves doing “I’m not going to tell you!”when he is hurt or angry about something Like exactly that. He’ll be very mad at his 6y/o brother and when we ask why he get’s pissed at us and says ร’m not telling you!!”
    He also hits me if I ask him to clean up his stuff, which isn’t the most fun thing in the world.

    • Rachel says:

      OMG โ€œIโ€™m not going to tell you!โ€ just reading that makes me cringe! If I never hear it again….. yeah, who am I kidding??

  58. chrys says:

    Please, please don’t start ruining the dream that is four for me! Before becoming a mother, I’d only heard of the terrible twos, of which my son is currently neck-deep in. Then, as he approached two, other mothers started telling me how three is worse. WORSE?!?! HOW CAN THIS POSSIBLY GET WORSE?!?!?!!!! Now here you come along and destroy my dreams that maybe by four my son may stop speaking in tongues and that I might on occasion be able to have a normal adult-like conversation with a fellow adult. No. Apparently I get to look forward to him SCREAMING in tongues! You shatterer of dreams, you!!! (Love your blog, BTW;)

  59. Samantha says:

    Ours was the terrible threes. Always the terrible threes. With ALL FOUR boys. Age 4 was magical <3

  60. Rose says:

    Our first baby is also knocking on the door of turning four. The sweet, dopey, go-with-the-flow toddler has become a demanding, sneaky, smelly boy! I really miss all the pleases and thank you he used to shower upon us. At this point, when he is verbal, he issues orders but most of the time he fancies himself a cat and just meows his disapproval.

    Lucky for all of us he is still darn cute, and says some pretty hilarious things (when speaking).

    • neal says:

      My daughter shows disapproval by channeling a ravenous T-Rex. That’s what we get for showing her The Land Before Time, I guess. Even though that Diana Ross song at the end is pretty wonderful.


  61. Connie Marshall says:

    Back when I was learning to be a child therapist, one of my professors referred to pre-schoolers as “psychotic dwarves with a good prognosis. Seemed harsh at the time…

    • Jessica says:

      That is AMAZINGly accurate and hysterical!! My 4 year old daughter was horrific at three….a serious beast with record breaking tantrums unlike anything people have ever seen. She has been 4 for 3 weeks and I have my fingers crossed that her “psychotic dwarf” self will fade away:). Limiting her sugar and eliminating food coloring has also helped a lot!

  62. Aimee says:

    The twos were not terrible for us. Busy, yes. Challenging, yes. But it was pretty great all around. I became both relieved and smug that we had dodged what is perceived as typical.
    And then three came.
    Holy cow. My kids were just “late bloomers” for the terrible part, I guess. Three was extremely challenging for us. Both boys. Then four was a blast. I loved four. And I agree, it is easier when you understand it will pass. And the way I always see it- more blog material for mommy! ๐Ÿ™‚

  63. Nan says:

    My mother-in-law keeps telling me, “they turn human at four”. So it’s not true…? my daughter is 3 now and i don’t know what i’ll do if she doesn’t turn human in another year!!

    • connie says:

      That’s what all of my mommy friends told me, too, but my boy is now 4 yr 8 mos and still a little turd of the highest order.

  64. My child. He’s four. We have a sweet nickname for him now. Genghis Khan. It works for us.

  65. Jen says:

    Wow, it all makes sense now. It must come down to pure mathematics:

    Terrible 2 squared = 4
    Effing 4 squared = 16
    16 squared is so bad that no one ever lives to be 256 years old, apparently.

  66. Janice says:

    I’m frightened. My youngest will be 4 in Dec. and he’s already starting this. It’s horrible. My oldest is 11 and is driving me insane. It’s going to take a lot of patience and prayer to get through the next few years..

  67. Kim says:

    As I was opening this post up, I heard a scream…. “mmmoooooommmmy! I want more KETCHUP. Noowww!” So, unlike her. She is turning 4 on Saturday. Thanks for this post! I’ll know its not me!

  68. Rebekah says:

    Love Jen’s math! My daughter went from age 3 to 14 (4) overnight…I thought we werent’ supposed to deal with this attitude stuff til they hit the teen years! Good to know I’m not alone ๐Ÿ™‚

  69. Cathy Heinz says:

    My kids are 9 and 11. I think the absolute most challenging age is 9. My suddenly polite kids each turned into rude narcisists who melt down at the drop of a hat. This is almost the same as 4 year olds except that they now have learned if you say no they find loop holes to get around things. I’m worried this is the true test to see if I can handle teenagers. I failed miserably.

  70. Lisa says:

    I liked 4! But then, kids in the UK start school full time at 4, so maybe my daughter was too exhausted to be beastly? (I totally don’t agree with the young start, but clearly it has its perks) At 2 she was a handful, and 3 she was in nursery part time, so our afternoons together while my son was at school were lovely.
    I suppose the trade though, is I’m not liking 7. 7 is mouthy, and rude to her brother. 7 is a pig. 7 heard me perfectly well and carried on doing what she pleased. Which has caused the 10 yo to decide he should help parent, and that opens up a whole new arena of fighting. :/

  71. J'aime says:

    Thank God. I thought I had the only evil 4 year old. He was a wonderful baby, perfect 2 and 3 year old and then 4 hit and he became a teenage girl in the throws of hormonal meltdown over u predictable things. Thanks for the post!

  72. Cassidy says:

    Three was the worst for my daughter. It was all tantrums and attitude. She is nearly 6 now and has mellowed out a lot. My middle child just turned 3 on Friday and turned into a Hellbeast overnight. My sweet, sweet youngest is only 6 months old and may or may not be my favorite.

  73. Robyn says:

    I remember for sure that 3 was worse. I want to say that 4 was the worst though it started to get better as we neared 5. I had the oldest kids in my peer group so I hit 3 and 4 first and they wouldn’t believe me when I said “I have no idea what this terrible 2s business is. I mean it’s not great but comparatively it’s a cakewalk.” Then their kids hit 3 and then 4 and they apologized for doubting me.

  74. 3 was the nightmare age for me. 4 was like sparkly rainbows in comparison. However, at 8 and a half my son will still come out with non sensical weirdness that drives me to madness. The other day it was “every time I put my coat on it’s wet!” I explained that this was because he often leaves it lying on the ground when it’s wet.
    “I won’t wear it tomorrow because it will be wet. It’s always wet!”

    He has to keep spare clothes in a waterproof bag as he goes to an outdoor school called Wood School, so I took the coat out of the bag and got him to check that it was dry. I then returned it to the waterproof bag.

    “Now you know it will be dry tomorrow” I told him.

    “But what if it’s wet?”

    At this point I started getting fed up – “it’s in a waterproof bag! We’ve just checked it’s dry!” “But what if it’s wet tomorrow?” Aaaaaaaagh!

    The next day he said “you know all that stuff I said about the coat? It wasn’t even true.” I despair….

  75. Linnea says:

    In our house, four is sweet and five is the devil reincarnate. Littler just turned six and someone forgot to flip that off switch. Bigger is 8 and almost seems like a real person, when he’s not beating on Littler.

    • Heidi Rosen says:

      I met a woman who had two sons – about 10 and 12 (i think) – and we asked her if it was great having sons so close in age (since our are still toddlers and 19 months apart)? She said they play together 100% of the time but 95% of that, they are truly trying to kill each other. We thought, “Uh oh!”

  76. Amber says:

    My sons are 21 and 23, but I remember those days very well. I thought three was the hardest, especially with my second one. Then when he was four and I put him in the corner, he announced, er, I mean, SCREAMED that he was going to “worship satan” (my husband is a pastor). Then came the teen years . . . and I survived it all. Now I’m just waiting for them to marry, have kids and get to see the payback……. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hannah says:

      My grandmother always said that grandchildren are the reward for not killing your own children.

      • Charm says:

        Love it. My mother always said “I hope someday you’ll have a kid just like you” ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Rachel says:

          Lol!! Oh my, this comment had me cracking up so much!! “I’ll worship satan” my dad is a pastor. I would’ve been dead if I said something like that lmao!

  77. Heidi Rosen says:

    My step-daughter was a beast at 2 and 3. Four was actually relatively easy and each year has gotten easier with her, she’s now 8. I have to say though, we did A LOT of discipline with her…Time Out Capital of My Block…so maybe that is why she was better? Beats me. My next 2 are currently about to turn 3 yo and 15.5 months. We’ll have to see where that goes.

  78. Patricia says:

    We had the “terrible twos”, the “horrible threes”, and the “effed up fours”! And they are “effed” up!!!

  79. Jessica says:

    I don’t have kids of my own, but I nanny for 4 (ages 6, 3, 2, and 6mos). The 3 year old will be 4 next month. At lunch today, she sat, string at her food. I asked her what was wrong and she became very angry and said “I’M JUST HUNGRY!” So I said “Sooooo eat?” To which she turned very slowly towards me, gritted her teeth and said “I CAN’T!!” I’m pretty sure I just stared at her like she had six heads. 4 is going to be just fantastic (sarcasm, if you couldn’t tell). 4 was also horrible for the oldest, 5 was a little better. 6 is great so far!

  80. liz says:


    So glad to know I’m effing not alone.

    I have a 4yo and 2yo boys. The 2yo is already a drama queen. If his behaviour deteriorates to the same degree as 4yo I have NO idea what I’ll do.

    I must be crazy though – I’d still love to have a third!

  81. Mari B says:

    A wise mom (with kids older than mine) once warned me:

    Terrible twos
    Terrible threes
    F$@# you fours

    And it was all too true….

  82. Hannah says:

    I’ve always held the opinion that toddlers are bipolar. My three year old can go from cuddly and sweet to screaming hellion in the space of a heart beat, for no reason discernible to someone over three.

  83. Stephanie says:

    I LOVE every single post about Crappy Baby. My youngest will be 4 soon too and I feel like we are experiencing the same things over here. I was just thinking today I can’t take anymore of the screaming. “MOMMY!! I’m SO Thirsty!!!” Where did it come from? He was such a quite polite little boy not that long ago.

  84. Holly says:

    My little girl turned 10 last week. When she has had a good day it’s great. But then if she gets in trouble at home oh boy the tears come and all of a SUDDEN ” I’m a bad girl” tears are just flowing like there is no tomorrow all the while she bangs her fists on the couch.
    We are in BIG trouble. We just have her and I have nothing to compare her to but I would have to agree with Erma Bombeck about raising girls being harder.

  85. Dreamy says:


    Here’s a hint of things yet to come: middle school age children (roughly ages 11-14) are not really human. They are demon-spawned evil pod creatures sent from the deepest, darkest depths of hell even Satan fears venturing into.

    But hey… age four can be a challenge, too… *snicker*

    • Tara says:

      Four is cake compared to the teenage years. Couldn’t agree more!

    • Julia says:

      Thank you soooo much – I have a son who just turned 11! So far he’s been pretty normal….! I also have a 8yr old daughter and a 5yr old son, so the horrible times won’t be over too soon…

  86. Allison says:

    Yes! I haven’t read through the comments yet, but this is my child! Thank you for reminding me that misery loves company.

  87. Needed this post! says:

    My sweet child has been replaced by a tyrannical boss who barks commands. โ€œMAMA! GET ME WATER! MAMA, I SAID GET ME WATER!โ€

    This is my almost 6-year-old now. I’m really hoping it is an adjustment to school and she’ll return soon.

  88. Aneta says:

    Here is what i was told: terrible two’s, trying three’s and the effing fours and then you are free and clear….until pre-teen that is! I have a 3 year old and the battle rages on!

  89. Jennifer Spencer says:

    My oldest was atrocious at 4. She still hears stories of her rage, refusal to do anything, and inability to handle all emotions. I’m quite frankly terrified of the twins turning 4. I have a feeling I’m going to be locking myself in the bathroom scarfing chocolate a lot.

  90. Chrissy says:

    Oh thank goodness. My oldest turned a real corner at 4 and has gotten easier and better every year since (now 6). So when my little guy, who hadnt been half as hard as his his big brother, turned four I was hoping for the same. Instead he turned into a complete lunatic. Sulky, grouchy, rageaholic. He just turned 5, it’s getting better, a very little bit.

  91. Sara says:

    I’m so glad to know other moms are going through the effed up fours with me, my son has always been pretty easy to negotiate and reason with, the twos were a bit trying but not too bad and the threes were fine, just some attachment issues. Now the fours, oh my god, someone has replaced my loving, sweet son with some beast who is full of aggression and suddenly cannot seem to stomach the idea of underwear or shoes! I swear I spend at least a half hour each morning explaining (also known as pleading) with him that you have to wear underwear, and that his brand new shoes are not too tight and did not magically become smaller overnight! Thank god there are others who understand!

  92. Elizabeth says:

    Someone once told me “four is the blessing you get for not killing your three year old” I thought it was humorous and hopeful. My daughter will be five in 2 weeks and we have yet to experience *that* four. Our four year old experience has more closely resembled yours. You give me hope though. (5 is better? Really??)

  93. Aliya says:

    I’d be pretty frustrated if I was hungry and couldn’t eat too. I hear ya, Crappy Baby.

  94. Fuchsia says:

    I have a 4 year old and this is spot on! “I am so angry but I don’t know why!” I am happy to hear it will pass…someday…

    But then it will go back full circle! I also have a 16 year old step daughter and a 19 year old step son. I think the reason the teen years are so much harder is that they are too big to pick up and put in time out! I am not pleased with 14+ for boys. And 13-16 for the girl was so much worse than toddlerhood for her little sister! All the attitude! I am told that they come out of it someday…we must have!

  95. Fuchsia says:

    To avoid cleaning up her board game last night dear 4 told me to just take it away. She was also ok if I took away her brand new my little pony, her dolls and all tv…forever! As long as she didn’t have to clean up her game, she didn’t care. I bet she would have this morning if I had gone through with it. Not a battle that was worth it though!

  96. Karen says:

    I didn’t notice the nipple tweaking and now that’s all I can see.

  97. Jill says:

    My son seems to be crazy for half of each year. He’s now 8. It’s like each year he spends 6 months trying my patience, crossing every line drawn in the sand and generally being a disagreeable troll. Then he calms down and mellows out and I think “wow, I really like this age” and then another birthday comes along…

  98. Chelsie says:

    So love this, especially the disclaimer at the end!
    Fours are my least favorite…. I’ll take a room full of two year olds over a room of fours any day!
    I know some of you are wondering why…at age four or there abouts is the biggest hormone surge they’ll have until it happens again in adolescence, if memory serves. I know for girls evening primrose oil can help balance out the hormones. Not sure what might help the boys…. Besides reminding yourself to remain calm, that it’s just a phase, that it too will pass, and to keep breathing ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Ali says:

      That is interesting. I was an aide in a 4 year olds preschool class for several years and loved it! I would definitely choose a room full of 4s over a room full of 2s. First, no diapers or potty training! Second, better language skills. Third, time-outs worked with them. Fourth, they were fun! But, hey, to each his own! I had friends who taught the 2s and loved it.

  99. Lulu says:

    Oh lord! This rings SO true. My daughter won’t be 4 until the end of January, but she is like this constantly.

  100. Susie R. says:

    I think the Council of Evil Babies assigns each member a different year to be dreadful, just to keep us confused.

  101. Francine LaSala says:

    My husband calls it “four-ible.” Good luck!

  102. Amy says:

    My son is 7 and I can’t say it’s been magical at all :(He was pretty good at 4 though so maybe that was the trade off.

  103. S.L. says:

    That first picture would be great on a t-shirt

  104. Jenn says:

    My 4.5 year old hates eating and sleeping. If I even mention dinner, he has a complete meltdown-full of screaming, kicking, yelling about how he hates food and eating. Repeat when I mention bed time. Super fun. 4 sucks.

  105. Amanda N says:

    So funny! In our house it was the Thrashing Threes that made me crazy! I’ve always found 4s to be quite funny and charming; in fact that is my favorite age to teach and I’ve been in the classroom for 20+ years! My daughter was a fabulous 4, my son took a bit longer but made it there to. Right now I’m loving 6 & 8!

  106. JJ says:

    have wanted to cry over 3 1/2 yr old’s antics lately and hate to think it could just get worse … another year and a half of this is almost too much to bear. But, on the bright side, nice to commiserate with everyone here.

  107. melissa says:

    No. Nonono. This cannot be. I’ve had a tyrannical three year old for nearly a year and I’ve been promised (PROMISED!!) That four is sweetness and light and obedience and manners.

  108. Ali says:

    I remember 2 being terrible with tantrums and time-outs that were ineffective. 3 was sweet and loving, but with non-stop talking! I called it “narrating their lives”. It started as soon as they got up and didn’t stop until they fell asleep at night. 4 was pretty good, but as the school year neared the end and most kids were 5, my girls would come home with hurt feelings over various playground dramas. Most commonly: “You’re not my friend, and you’re not invited to my birthday party!” It was like mini mean girls. A wise preschool teacher told me it was a phase that happened every spring. 5 was rough, a second ” age of independence” like 2. 1st to 4th grades were pretty fun. 21, 18, & 15 now. The older two are asserting their independence again, and it can be rough, especially since they live at home. But I know it needs to happen! 15 is a boy, and sweet for the moment! Love them so much!

    • noelleb says:

      That so rings 7 year old has that mean girl playground drama too and I live in Ireland..I remember that too from school not bullying just politics with girls yikes…

  109. Bridget Stevens says:

    oh my word, I can’t tell you how relieved I am that it’s not just my 3rd child that is like this at 4. and also, how you tell it funnier that I could ๐Ÿ˜‰

  110. Carrie says:

    Glad to see I’m not the only one raising a pyschopath. My boy will be 4 next week and some days I wonder how I’m able to survive. I actually weeped in his pediatrician’s office last year because I was so convinced that something was wrong with him.

  111. Yuck. For us two and three were harder and four was pretty fun. But whenever the weird unreasonable tantrumy stuff hit we’d just leave the room. Then it would either wind down and stop, or amp up until they passed out from exhaustion, and either was was better than watching it up close.

  112. Andrea says:

    My daughter, also four, would tell me she forgot how to swallow.
    Me: “Eat! Just eat! I will make you freaking Cheerios for dinner if you will just eat!”
    Napoleon Bonaparte reincarnate: “I can’t! I can chew it but I don’t remember how to swallow!”
    This usually ended with her bawling her eyes out and choking on a nibble of a piece of bread or sobbing so hard she puked onto the floor (hey, dinner for the dogs was covered).
    I finally wised up and told her that if she forgot how to swallow then there must be something wrong with her. Absolutely terrible! Hurry, get in the car! Hurry everyone! We have to take Napoleon Jr. to the hospital so they can give her a bunch of shots and medicine so she can remember how to swallow!
    Miraculously, she remembered.

  113. leslie says:

    4 was a total nightmare for us too (we’re at the end of it now, Sabrina turns 5 in Nov. and it has gotten WAAAAY better just in the past couple months) my already “passionate” little critter was already pretty intense in the emotion department but this past year was insane with the random anger. We called it The Furious Fours. I can’t believe we lived through it.

  114. Lyndsey says:

    this is terrifying as the mother of a just 4 and just 2 year old-both boys. yikers

  115. Kelly says:

    I was feeling so much sympathy, a little humor. And then I read the post note and burst out. If I was squeezing my nipples all the time I would scream a lot too!

  116. Ceryle says:

    Apparently, when they are 4, their little bodies test out their hormone systems, just do they know it will work right when it is needed. That is why is is the same as 13, but without the language skills.
    That being said, I am about to go through it a second time (I have 4 months until #2 is 4), and then a third time (although #3 isn’t even 1 yet)

  117. noelleb says:

    I have found when my 7 year old girl gets wound up and dramatic that child essence drops from flowers works whether it’s psychological or the flower essence gets going it really calms her and natural..just throwing it into the ring. I take alot of them myself for stress..

  118. Robonanny says:

    My son went to school at 4 (we live in the UK) and he was too exhausted to be contrary, mostly. Now he’s 7, he’s behaving like a hormonal teenager.
    Aggressive and irrational responses to reasonable requests? Check.
    Complete incomprehension that manners are required when making requests himself? Check.
    Incomprehension when he is relentlessly rude for hours then manages to remember his manners for 10 seconds and wonders why we don’t want to do stuff for him? Check.

    I’m retaliating with a star chart. He doesn’t sort his attitude, he won’t have earned enough pocket money to buy Christmas presents (that’s what pocket money is for in our house) and everyone will know he’s been revolting.

  119. Kristen says:

    Thanks for the warning. My older son is about to turn four and I was almost ready to breathe a sigh of relief. Anyhoo if it suits you, I was recently given some very helpful parenting advice from a frat boy on my last 8 hour flight with my 3 and 1 year old toddlers… Thanks Bro! I’m sure you’d do a much better job than me. Here’s what happened:

  120. Jenny says:

    We get “I want it to be DAYTIME!!!” at night.

  121. Rachael says:

    I think I got a Fruit Loop stuck in my nose when I snorted after that Nipple comment!
    This sooooo reminds me of my CB who is turning 3 in October. Right down to the “I said Mama!” (he actually pushes Daddy away and waits, not patiently, for me)

  122. Matthew Tarpy says:

    OMG, my Little Man turned four in early June and it has been literal hell. on. wheels. since then. I keep wondering where that sweet boy went to.

  123. Leaca says:

    Bwahahaha! I didn’t see the “squeezing nipples” (just clenched, angry fists) but now I can’t NOT see it!

  124. Kristin S says:

    My son is four in November and we had the creeeeepiest experience last night. He was flinging soap bubbles as far as possible throughout the bathroom while being asked not to….and when it came time for a timeout because of it, he creepily laughed and cackled and laughed for minutes on end, spitting in our faces, laughing, trying to bite my knees…creeeeepy! Is this what four is about!? Noooooo, I thought three was bad, but it’s four!?!? Lord, help us all.

  125. Mercy says:

    My kids were pretty good at 2 and 3. My youngest is almost 3 and still the perfect angel, behavior-wise. But the 4 year old can be a sassy little teenager, and the almost-6 year old is the tantrum, cry-over-anything king. I can’t wait until they grow out of it.

  126. This post is so relevant to my life right now. My daughter is almost 3.5, and I’m not looking forward to the next year and a half. My only hope is that you wrote: “Five was much easier, six has been awesome and I hear that seven is magical.” My six-year-old is a sweetie, but I’m terrified that my daughter isn’t the Mistress of Terror because she’s three years old, but because this is just the way she is.

  127. meridith says:

    I just laughed out loud at “Is your fork too shiny?”! Also, I read “MATER” as “Mater.” As in “Tow Mater.” Can you tell I have a 3 year old son?

  128. Debbie says:

    Oh, man. I remember 4. We adopted one of ours when she was nearly 4, and we brought home her brother at the same time, when he was nearly 3. We didn’t know which one to kill first. We were sure we’d made the worst mistake of our lives. The good news is that we let them both live, and now they’re 10 and 9 and sweet as pie. The other good news, I guess, is that they did all their screaming in Russian, so we didn’t understand most of it.

  129. The Monko says:

    oh my goodness this made me laugh so much. My son is the same age and RAGE is exactly how we would describe his current attitude to everything.

  130. Sarah says:

    My 4 year old daughter had a big yelling strop today because she got into the bath and the water touched her. I’m not sure what else she was expecting…

  131. Michelle C says:

    Yeah. Whoever came up with the term “Terrible Twos” clearly never had a 3-year-old. And fours are just an Unholy Mess.

  132. christie says:

    That sounds an awful lot like what is going on in our house right now…are you sure you didn’t secretly plant microphones and camera’s all over my house? Can’t eat hot food, can’t eat cold food, can’t walk up the stairs because she’s too tired, can’t go to sleep because she’s not tired…and it goes on and on and on….

  133. Jamie says:

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Four is rough too?????!!!!!. I have a 2 year old and a 3 1/2 year old. I was soo excited to be so close to the end of crazy-ville. Sigh.

  134. Auds says:

    I was just saying everyone talks about the terrible twos but no one warns you about the obnoxious eights. Oh boy lol. Good luck with the fours, there is always more to come;)

  135. deathstar says:

    No one told me about this – I thought it was supposed to get easier. I think he’s possessed by a 2 yr old.

  136. Karen Walker says:

    Yup…I remember the effing fours. And you’re right, of course, that it gets better…but then it gets worse. I’m now into the teen years. Trust me when I say it’s the fours dialed up by a factor of 10. Until the teens hit, you always have a trump card (size, voice, the TV remote). Now I have only my wits and purse.

  137. Andrea says:

    For us it was the odd ages. We holed up in the underground bunker when the kids were 1 and 3, 3 and 5, 5 and 7, 7 and 9. Nine and 11 were particularly squirrelly. I’m stockpiling anti-anxiety meds for the teen years.

  138. HL says:

    GAH, my girl is about to turn 2 and she’s already like this. This is why I’m one and done! I’m a weakling.

  139. Laurie ("Farkles") says:

    You (and your “commenters”) are doing a wonderful job parenting and it will pay off in the end. Now, the end might be 30 years away (the teen/twenty years are the worst: little children-little problems/big children-big problems), and it still might not be perfect (God knows nothing is!), but I can happily report that “crappy” children truly can become adults we love to hang out with. Wish the internet and your blog were around when my kids were “crappy,” but I love to follow you–reminds me of the “good” old days and I get a chuckle with each post.

  140. Mari Brown says:

    “Is your fork too shiny?” Amazing. Love it. This confirms my friend’s theory that parenting is like being the sober person who leads your best friend through a years-long acid trip.

  141. Julie says:

    My son just started the screaming with rage thing too! I was blaming it on his new preschool. So delighted to hear that it’s really the result of his 4th bday next week. Thank you!! I like that answer so much better. It seems easier to manage than trying to find a new preschool.

  142. filaree says:

    maybe someone said this….just started a new job and don’t have any time at all now to read through the comments! But….side note, I’ve been a stay at home mom for 7 years and working is WAY easier:) I have a 6.5 and a 4 year old (in less than a week). When my oldest turned about 3.5 it was literally like he was possessed. It was so bad I blogged about it on a local mom’s site. A child behaviorist wrote in and said it’s a real thing called the “4 year old change”. It’s literally about gaining a stronger sense of self and is a critical time to stick to your guns about rules, etc. The more you let them walk on you the longer they need to be in this phase. Supposedly the tight boundaries are what allows them to feel safe and explore these new feelings they are experiencing. In my experience it lasted almost exactly 6 months. Waiting to see what happens with my second. He seems a bit more mellow (or it’s just going to happen later:).

  143. kate l says:

    We definitely have the terrible fours!!
    We have twins, so fingers crossed we get through all of it at the same time and move onto the happier times we keep hearing about ๐Ÿ™‚
    One of our girls is generally very easy going and takes care of everything before we ask twice, but her sister is anither story. She is constantly LOUD and always give me “I’m just so tired” with the overly dramatic body flump and deep sigh to really sell it. TIRED?? I’ll give you tired!!
    Only 9 months, 5 days until we can reach those fabulos 5’s!!

  144. Sarah says:

    Oooh, goody. I knew the magic and wonder of Threesville was only a stopgap to the fun and wonder of Fourtown! Woot! I know where I’m booking OUR next vacation. Hang in there and thanks for your continued public service warnings. Finding them scary but extremely helpful. But mostly scary. :/

  145. Tammy W says:

    Nipples!!! Hee hee. I am surviving child number six being the all knowing seven now…and four teens.

  146. Audra says:

    I was glad for the nipple disclaimer. When I got to the third picture I FINALLY realized those were his balled-up fists, and I laughed at myself. But I too had been wondering why he was doing that, and was cringing about it with every picture.

    Good luck navigating four for the last (?) time. One day you’ll miss it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  147. Jen says:

    My boys are about the same age as yours, and you are correct. Four is a battle and six is absolute bliss. May the force be with you!

  148. Charm says:

    This one made my day.

    My oldest turned 7 today. I hope the magic switch of loveliness gets switched on because it has been challenging. Thankfully we were forewarned about the effing 4s. My little one (who is 2.5) hit the terrible 2s at 12 months. My little overachiever ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope it doesn’t mean we have a longer effing 4 period with her. Thank God I can go to work to get a break.

  149. Amanda Reed says:

    For me, the terrible twos started at about a year and a half old and went on until about age 6. O.o

  150. Laura says:

    Three is the awful one here. I think i’m just lucky with my first child. She’s 4 (since June) and yes, she yells at me occasionally “Mommmmmm I’m THIRSTY!!” To which I reply, “Well tough! You ask me the right way or get it yourself.” Then she’ll come back and say “Can you get me some water please?” It’s a CONSTANT reminder, but I’m lucky her meltdowns are fewer now and besides being rude every now and then (which I try to correct), she’s at her best behavior yet!

    • ACsMama says:

      Ha! You are nicer than me – when AC whines I’m thirrrrsty, I say, “Ok. What are you going to do about that?” Most of the time she does then either ask nicely or get it herself, but like you said – CONSTANT reminders.

  151. michelle says:

    AH. I kinda cant wait for my 2 month old to be a toddler! I cant wait for a whole different set of problems ahahah.

  152. Cathy says:

    I loved this one because I hate the fours!!! Okay, so hate is a strong word — but for us, the threes and fours were sooooo much worse than the twos. I can not wait until my daughter turns 5. When my oldest did, it was like a ray of sunshine!!!

  153. Erika says:

    Effing four year olds are like aliens from another planet…worst age ever!

  154. Cherie says:

    Sweet baby Jesus, if 4 is worse than 3 then I’m taking my bottle of vodka and camping in the closet for the next 18 months or so. My 3.5 year old daughter is just like that and has been for quite some time! My son (now 6.5) was NEVER like that, not even on his worst day! My daughter, I swear most days is a combo of bi-polar, sociopath, and psychopath.

  155. Erica says:

    Seven and heaven rhyme for a reason. Seven is awesome. And guess what? My oldest son has been eight for exactly 2 months and it is even better. Is that a light I see at the end of the long, dark tunnel? Has my sweet baby returned for good? Cuddles, love, and independence all at once? Sigh…. ๐Ÿ˜€

  156. Amanda Gilds says:

    My 3 year old turns 4 in 4 months…it’s been a fun couple of weeks here too. His favorite thing to do now is to yell ‘Mom, COME HERE’. Every time I leave the room. It’s usually just to get me back to he can tell me he’s watching Super Why or whatever else other random 3 year old thing he’s doing. It’s exhausting.

  157. Linda S says:

    Oh yeah, total insanity. We called it “the fractious fours.” Glad it’s over.

    • Michelle du Toit says:

      My beautiful, angelic little boy has also become an f’ng tyrant. Wish I had known it a stage when my now angelic, interesting, stimulating 6 yeast old boy was a 4 year old monster. I think it had to do with a substantial dose of testosterone they get at this age (as well as the substantially increased brain power.

  158. Lana says:

    And when the fearsome fours are over and he’s a grown man it will probably be romanticized and remembered fondly despite the yelling.
    I can’t really talk. My eldest is 3.4 years old and I am yet to really have any major tantrums or what have you. Though I’d love to take all the credit and blabber on about “effective parenting… blah blah blah..” I don’t think it’s the case so much as I just have very mellow easy going sons. So very lucky I guess although he may have a melt down as soon as he turns four.. who knows, but we totally skipped the terrible twos with just a couple half-tantrums before the second birthday and then nothing, our 18 month old is also really mellow, I better stop at two kids.. I can’t be lucky 3 times in a row.

  159. Candice says:

    Ok so I have a 4 yr old boy who has turned into a wonderful kid but my 2 yr old daughter is a nightmare! Yesterday I was buckling her into the car and commented “oh look it’s raining” she replied “NO ITS NOT!” And proceeded to have a hissy fit over how it wasn’t raining. Driving. Me. Bonkers.

  160. Haley says:

    Dear Crappy Baby- meet crappy chair. Scoot crappy chair over to crappy cabinet where crappy cup is located. Scoot crappy chair with crappy cup over to crappy sink / fridge. Insert water into crappy cup, drink.
    If you should spill in your gatherings, you can meet crappy towel and clean up spillage.

    • Lana says:

      love it!!! I totally do that to my kids. They are so wrong if they think I am going to get anything for them once they can do it for themselves, especially if they are not being polite. I. Am. NOT. Their. Slave.

      *not a judgement on anyone else at all, if someone wants to do everything for their kids that is totally up to them*

  161. ACsMama says:

    Oh my goodness, YES. We just hit 4 in June, and ever since then the fuse is like 2 seconds short about everything. The biggest thing she does right now, is she’ll ask me something about some event that happened in the past (days ago? weeks? months?), but will only give me vague details (you know, the way we went to that place, and there was that thing?) and then expects me to tell her all about it. Um. I don’t have a clue what you are talking about, kiddo! And she gets super-duper incredibly furious with me, “you KNOW, Mommy!!! YOU KNOW!!!! TELLLLLL MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!” As though I am purposely withholding life-changing and crucial information from her. And she won’t accept the truth – that she ruined my brain cells right about the time she ruined my boobs, and it will never again be able to recall minute details of everyday life that happened years ago and bring up the exact dates and details and what each person was wearing, and who said exactly what words, etc. etc. that my precious bundle of 4-year-old would like me to tell her RIGHT NOW.

  162. Erin says:

    My 3 1/2 year old is behaving similarly.

    Alot of “JUST DO WHAT I SAY!” around here.

    Or being upset and not wanting to tell us why, or what he wants:
    “I don’t want to tell you. Just do what I want!”
    Which is. . . ?
    “I don’t want to tell you!”

  163. Jen says:

    I just found this site, and love it. Referring to your kids as Crappy Baby and Crappy Boy is hilarious.

  164. Tiffany says:

    You are cheating by using the same photo three times. I expect more from you.

  165. Cyndi says:

    I just love you. Your stories just crack me up. I have a 15 month old at home and I will soon be going through all of this but your stories just are so true, and just are hilarious. That is all.

  166. Hazel says:

    Thanks for this. My second son is going through the terrible twos, which I know is followed by the terrible threes and effing awful fours. But why is it they’re somehow even ruder and crappier? My second son is so much more feisty than my first, makes me think I had it easy with son number 1 and didn’t even know it!! ha ha ha. Or maybe it just means each subsequent child is worse than the last… just another reason to stop at two I say!

  167. Lynn says:

    I was so relieved, when my son was four, to learn that 4yo boys have a testosterone surge as bad as they will at puberty, only with even less judgement and life experience to guide them. Fortunately they are also smaller and can’t break as many things. Or people.

  168. Helen says:

    I would much rather deal with the 0-5’s than the 12-18’s, for a boy anyway!!!! Only at 13 with the Girlie so far & it’s not quite so bad, yet!!!!

  169. Kory says:

    Oh man. Thanks for this post. Made my night.

    I love my daughter. To pieces. I really do. But MAN has she been hard to like lately.

    I love 2, it’s my favorite age. My two year old is so amazing I want to eat her up and her sister was the same way at that age. Three was challenging, but still more good than bad. So far four has been *horrible*. I get ‘I don’t like you’ and ‘I don’t love you anymore’ and ‘don’t talk to me’ and ‘don’t look at me’ and on and on all stinking day, mixed in with the crying, screaming, etc.

    In her defense we’ve had some tough transitions around here the last few months, but dang. The 3 is like 13 reference in the comments above makes so much sense.

  170. Melissa says:

    Our crappy age for our two has been 3, both times. Like a switch at age 4, The Boy said on his own (and I swear this is true): “I’m four now, so I don’t do that.” It did come back at age 5 for him. The Girl has been roughest at this age 3, but not nearly as bad an experience as with The Boy. She whines a LOT more than I remember with him. I expect she is just ramping it up for her Grand Effing 4 Entrance. She is doing her own rebelling by making us learn all new stuff from what we thought we knew from The Boy.

  171. Emily says:

    Wait, wait, this angry four thing is a thing? And we’ll get our sweet boy back again? I am loosing my freaking mind with all the talk back to me and biting (!) and pushing of his sister. This comment about sums it up: Mom, I wouldn’t talk back if you didn’ make me do this I don’t want to do.
    Yea, and this:
    After warning him about his talking back: mom, I don’t like it when you use that tone of voice. . .

    They’re using your words against you!

  172. Amanda Pavlovich says:

    This was just the laugh that I needed. Nipple pinching and all.

  173. says:

    I am cracking up! Your blog is sooooo great! I have two boys as well, one is 4 now, the other is 1.5. Yep! The 4 year old is totally in this screaming beast phase : ” Mama, i said give me water, NOW!” and like u said half the time he is pissed about things that dont make sense and blames us for it. Like for instance, he trips and falls and yells ” You see! I told you! You shouldnt have let me walk this way! ” stuff like this…hysterical….

  174. Lisa Lutes says:

    It was 1 and 3 here. 2 and 4 were magical ages. We will see with the little one though.