Parenting--Toddlers/Infants/Pre-Schoolers/my toddler


Dear dr.james:
Today my 4 years old son was doing some paper crafts ,then he suddenly started to yell: "it's not working .i am a loser, i am a loser ".
I came to him and asked to help him ,but he kept yelling and saying "i am a loser"
I told him he's not a loser and he's a successful boy ,and maybe the way he does the thing is not working and maybe if he tries another way it might work ,but he kept saying that he is a loser !
This is not the first time that happens.
Any problem within his playing or any wrong with his toys ,my son yells and shouts and gets angry!
And for information i had never ever told my son that he is a loser! On the contrary i always encourage and support him in any project or drawing he does.
please i want to ask:
Did i react right to the situation?
why my son do this "yelling and shouting and saying that he is a loser"?
what behavior that possible i do cause this kind of my son's behavior?
What should i do in such case ?

Hello Zeina,

 I don't think you are doing anything to cause this behavior. Nor do I think anyone else is causing this. More likely, it is related to his temperament and personality. That is, your son tends to be more exacting, more of a perfectionist, and with a greater need to be right and do things well. Obviously, these are not necessarily bad traits to have, but it can cause him to be less than satisfied with himself.
There are a few things I think you should do. Certainly, you can continue to be a loving, supportive parent. And do not associate your love and affection with his performing well on tasks. Beyond this, you can demonstrate to him that it is all right to make mistakes and that people do not have to be hard on themselves when they are not able to accomplish certain things.
For example, if you were trying to follow a recipe to cook a meal and it wasn't coming out right, you could use this an example. You could say in front of your son: "I made a mistake. I didn't do this recipe correctly. Are you mad at me because I didn't cook this food to perfection? You're not mad at me? Oh, that's good. Then, I'm not mad at me either. You know what, I learned from this. The next time, when I try to cook this recipe, I will try something different; then I think it will come out better."  
The more you show that it is silly to suggest someone else would be angry with you or that you would be hard on yourself for a simple error or mistake, the more he can learn from you. Hopefully, soon, he begins to imitate you and asks if you are mad at him for not being able to do something to perfection. Then you can say: "I love you even if you are not doing things to perfection."
I hope this helps. Any questions?

James Windell


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James Windell


I can answer questions related to normal child development, disturbed behavior and how to provide appropriate guidance and discipline.


I've been a clinical psychologist in a juvenile court, worked in school settings, been a child psychotherapist in a private psychiatric clinic and consulted with schools, courts, hospitals and daycare centers.

American Psychological Association
Michigan Psychological Association

I have been a columnist with the Oakland Press (Oakland County, MI) for 21 years writing a weekly column called Coping With Kids, which is also published weekly in the Staten Island Advance. I have been a mental health columnist with the Detroit Free Press and a columnist for Working Mother Magazine. In addition, I have published articles in professional journals. I have published 16 books, among them are "8 Weeks to a Well-Behaved Child" (IDG Books), "Discipline: A Sourcebook of 50 Failsafe Techniques for Parents" (IDG Books); "Children Who Say No When You Want Them to Say Yes" (IDG Books), "What You Need to Know About Ritalin" (Bantam Books) "6 Steps to an Emotionally Intelligent Teenagers" (John Wiley & Sons), "The Fatherstyle Advantage" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang) and "Defusing High Conflict Divorce" (Impact Publishers). My latest parenting book (2012) is "The Everything Child Psychology and Development Book." Articles about my work with parents has appeared in the New York Times, the Chicago Sun Times, the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press. My website at includes more information about me, my books and includes many columns I've written.

B.A. in Psychology from Wayne State University
M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Oakland University

Awards and Honors
Best Educational Program by Juvenile and Family Court Judges Association (National award for the development of a parent training program for parents of delinquent teenagers. Beth Clark Service Award from the Michigan Psychological Association.

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