I wasn't a psychology major. I have tried to read-up on what we can do as parents to make sure Quincy grows into a confident, trusting man. My mom has always been big on making sure they never tell him that he's bad even when he does something that is clearly wrong, like throws rocks at the car. He actually did that here at home, but it is a good example.
I have told my husband to be sure to tell him that he is acting bad or that whatever he is doing is not a good idea or not nice. Anything is fine with me so long as he doesn't get the impression that he is a bad little boy. He is definitely a frustrating, unreasonable, uncooperative child at times, but aren't all four year olds?
You can imagine my horror when I went to take him to my parents the other night while I worked and the first thing he told me when he got in the car was, "I'm bad." I immediately asked who told him that and he said that Daddy did. I kept repeating that Daddy would never say that and he kept telling me otherwise. We went back and forth. Quincy tearfully insisted that he was a "bad little boy" all the way to my parents. It's a 25 minute ride.
My mom promised to keep telling him how good he is while he was there and I went to work. I called my husband as soon as I got there and he denied saying that Quincy was bad. He said that Quincy had done something bad that day (he always has), but that he had not said that he was a bad little boy.
I still don't know where Quincy got this impression. It's not how I want him to feel about himself. We've done our best over the past few days to make sure he feels loved and feels like he does good things. He learned how to peddle his tricycle yesterday and was so proud that he called me at work to tell me about it.
We make sure to tell him when he makes good decisions and to point out bad choices. I guess that pretty much all we can do as parents.