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Thread: Dear Lord, we need some advice about our 3 yr. old.

  1. #1

    Unhappy Dear Lord, we need some advice about our 3 yr. old.

    So, here's the scoop. I hate the age of 3. Yep, I said it, I hate it. 2 yr old, that was a breeze. A lovely walk in the park. Played by himself. All the time. Never had to entertain him, okay, once in a blue moon I did but nothing compared to this tyrant we've got on our hands. He's driving us INSANE. Mostly me, since I'm with him 12 hours a day. Hubby is so lucky he gets to go to work...sigh. I digress.

    So, he's started in the last couple of months hitting, throwing everything, screaming like a freaking banshie. However a banshie screams. So very very loud. Takes FOREVER to eat a meal, I'm talking 45 minutes to an hour and I am not exaggerating at all. He's never taken that long, it's only been the last few weeks. And I can't figure out what's changed. I turn off the tv, remove every toy within reach, but he just talks and talks and talks and fiddles with anything and nothing. I have to say, Jason eat. Jason eat. For every stupid bite. We've done time outs, taken away the favorite toy of the day, threatening a spanking and lastly a spanking. (Please don't judge me) I'll stand there and say, don't you dare throw that toy, he throws it. Jason, don't scream inside, he screams inside. I tell him to come by me for some reason or another, he ignores me. Don't hit, he hits. But mainly it's DH he's been hitting. For some reason he doesn't hit me, can't figure that one out either. Maybe cause I'm home with him?? I'm so out of my mind with confusion with how he's been acting I just can't understand him anymore. I get that he's 3 and is testing every limit, but for goodness sake, there's got to be something we can do to get it across that this behavior isn't okay. Aside from military school we are in desperate need for some advice, help, or a 3 yr old who's free for the taking. I'm kidding. Kind of. And heaven forbid I leave the room for a second it's, "Momma, what are you doing?" Where are you? Momma, come here. Play with me. And then there's the bossiness, OMG.

    What are we doing wrong? Is there something else we can do/try that you've done that works? I repeat myself 20 times a day, I'm losing my mind. We hate spanking him, but he downright ignores us, we don't know what else to do. The second we do it, ugh, the guilt is tremendous. And when we tell him not to do something and explain at the same time why it's wrong, I get "why momma?" I hate that word. Why. Worst word ever.

    We went to the zoo on Monday and he tried to hit a little girl as she was walking past us!! I just wanted to die. It happened so fast too. I don't even know if he made contact and her dad was so gracious about it too. They kept walking and I ran up to them to get them to stop so I could make him apologize to her. Which scared her and she started crying and then Jason started crying but I made him apologize and told him we don't hit, and then I get the "Why Momma?"!!!!!! He used to be the most sweetest boy too. Never the one to be aggressive until I took him to different playgrounds and the other boys who were a little older, not by much either, were way more aggressive with him. I know that's where he's learned it, but where he used to back away from a kid taking a toy away from him, he now grabs it harder so he doesn't lose it. This is so hard. We need advice. Anything.

  2. #2

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    Around at the end of two years old for Cody going into 3-3.5 was h*** for me. I know, that's a lot but, I totally empathize with you. I was pregnant at that time, had GD, mood swings anyways and a naughty 3 ish year old. Here's what I did for my sanity: allowed my MIL to take him for a bit but, my MIL and I have a good relationship and my dad helped at the end of my pregnancy with Sophia by taking Cody to the park. Your son is probably bored to be honest, if its potty trained and you can afford part-time preschool take full advantage if money is tight and you have a YMCA apply for financial aid no shame in that IMO: they offer two hours of child watch from ages 6 months to 6 years and after 6 years they do activities. Its wonderful you can walk the track, do machines, swim, whatever, and he's in a safe child care. Preschool for that age part-time runs about $100 a month for the YMCA and they are professional they have standards like everywhere else. Outside of the YMCA I was looking at $130-$150/ a month then, the YMCA after our financial was approved we paid $50 for Cody's preschool and $40 for our membership. If that's not an option trade favors with a friend for free I've done that before I get a break they watch my kids, I give them a break and watch theirs. The food: he'll eat when he's hungry don't harp on it I know, I know "But.. he'll starve" no.. he won't he'll eat *something*. If he screams put him in his room to let him scream it out. I had to do with Cody and I had a doctor and therapist confirm that its OK to put a child in a room even being 3 alone not locking the door but, he can be in there to cool down. Spanking- no judgement because honestly I feel like sometimes you just need to even though you don't want to but, I use it as the very last restore. I know my ideas are not what most people will agreement but, it works for us.
    Last edited by mom2CodySophia0811; 07-10-2014 at 07:59 PM.
    *** Lindsay ***



  3. #3

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    When he asks why that is a teaching moment for you. Grasp that.
    I would drop the eating battle completely. Offer him healthy foods often and when he is hungry he will eat. This is how they learn to listen to their bodies and self regulate. Maybe he is not hungry when you are telling him to eat.
    I won't judge you for spanking but I can promise you it will be difficult to teach a child hitting is wrong if you are hitting him. Parenting methods aside, there is no difference to a child.
    When my three year old throws something, I give him a ball.
    I think if you try to eliminate some of the unnecessary battles, you may see the aggression ease up.
    There are so many huge developmental things happening for a three year old. He is developing physically and emotionally by leaps and bounds. The best advice I can give you is to give him every opportunity to have control over what he can do. If he feels like he has a voice, and gets a chance to practice his new skills (let him wash dishes, spray windows, cook with you, etc) he may be less likely to seek independence in undesirable ways.
    All that said, 3 year olds are beasts. Lol. They really are.
    Last edited by Bridget; 07-10-2014 at 07:59 PM.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bridget View Post
    When he asks why that is a teaching moment for you. Grasp that.
    I would drop the eating battle completely. Offer him healthy foods often and when he is hungry he will eat. This is how they learn to listen to their bodies and self regulate. Maybe he is not hungry when you are telling him to eat.
    I won't judge you for spanking but I can promise you it will be difficult to teach a child hitting is wrong if you are hitting him. Parenting methods aside, there is no difference to a child.
    When my three year old throws something, I give him a ball.
    I think if you try to eliminate some of the unnecessary battles, you may see the aggression ease up.
    There are so many huge developmental things happening for a three year old. He is developing physically and emotionally by leaps and bounds. The best advice I can give you is to give him every opportunity to have control over what he can do. If he feels like he has a voice, and gets a chance to practice his new skills (let him wash dishes, spray windows, cook with you, etc) he may be less likely to seek independence in undesirable ways.
    All that said, 3 year olds are beasts. Lol. They really are.
    This too! My son and daughter both love to help especially at age 2.5-3.5 I've noticed. Sophia says "Ep You, Mommy?" (Ep for help)
    *** Lindsay ***



  5. #5
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    Three year olds are awful. Their minds start working very well but they can't communicate articulately yet. I'd also figure out what is most important to you and let the other things not be a battle. Offer food and if he doesn't eat, he doesn't eat until the next time food is offered. My 3.5 year old has really slowed down on food lately. I also don't fight my kids on clothes. My kids do have each other to play with, though, so they generally have a play mate (except, of course, when they are fighting with each other).

    We always discipline for defiance so I would suggest stringent consistency with whatever works for your child. Physical or verbal abuse of another person is not tolerated at all, either. Try one form of discipline for awhile (a week or so) and if it doesn't work try something else. Something might work for awhile and then need to be changed.

    Have you tried a sticker chart or something visible for him to log good behavior (or to note bad behavior)? For example, if he can listen while you go to the store he can put a sticker or stamp on his chart/body, etc. If he is nice to Daddy instead of hitting him, he can have a sticker/stamp. You all could review the chart at the end of the day and talk about what went well and what didn't. Rewards can be helpful for establishing good behavior patterns. We've done stuff like that for the short term.
    Jessica (33) and Ryan (33). Madelyn born August 5, 2009; Malachi born December 23, 2010 and Nathaniel born July 19, 2013. Lost a loved baby 02/29/12, 05/14/12 and 07/05/12 all due a serious allergic reaction to fabric softener.
    My Ovulation Chart , My blog about MCAD

  6. #6

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    You could be talking about Jericho right now. He has been so hard since turning 3, maybe even a little before, and I don't see even a hint of the end of the tunnel yet. He has been the hardest out of all of our children. I honestly feel like I have a wild animal on my hands at times...he has no filter, no control, no sense of remorse, not a gentle bone in his body and he simply does not stop until he passes out each night...usually on the floor of his room because he refused to go to bed when it was time. I am hoping hard that 4 goes better, the trio were a little difficult from 2 1/2- 3 1/2 and 4 seemed to be when things started going very well....but they were not in his league at all, so I don't know if 4 will be his magic number or not.

    I'm just hanging on, loving the sweet kind moments and doing the best I can to keep reminding him to be kind, gentle, sweet and nice boy. It is bound to sink in eventually....right?! LOL
    Good luck.

    ~*~Katrina~*~ Momma to Xander, Hayden & Lily (6) and Jericho (3 1/2)

  7. #7
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    I agree with Bridget and I would definitely drop the spanking especially since it's obviously not working, you said you feel awful doing it anyway, and if hitting is one of his issues that will only make it harder to get the point across that you don't want him hitting others.

    I think part of the horror of age 3 is that a lot of their behavior is for attention and show. The more you react the more they do it. Even if it's not a desirable reaction. Most of their awful behaviors produce a reaction and it just lends to more awful behaviors. Age 3 sucks!

    What worked for my kids was to #1 stop reacting. Obviously bad or offensive behaviors need to be addressed but they key to age 3 is CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES! I cannot stress this enough! Why does he have to finish eating? Let him eat what he can and give him more when he is hungry or at the next meal time. If he is hungry 10 mins later you can explain that he would not be hungry if he had finished his previous meal. But really I would not fight about food...or clothes...or anything that is non emergent

    So stop reacting and #2, have a very predictable and consistent way you do react in situations that require a reaction - so if it's time outs if he hits gently take him by the hand, calmly say, "we don't hit" or whatever phrase you prefer and lead him to his time out location and tell him he is in time out and for how long. I would just escort DD1 to her room and she would stay there for 2-3 mins. I didn't care that she had other things to do in there it was more about removing her from the main room. I discovered through this site that that is not a time out I thought it was but whatever it worked for us.

    The constant questioning is a hard one. It's obvious you are frustrated and burnt out but really he is curious and just wants to learn. I get it though. DD2 talks all.the.time and sometimes I just can't take it anymore. So while it's a positive thing I totally understand how it can be exhausting. If he keeps asking the SAME questions I would just say, "I already answered that question" which I have to do with DD2.

    I think it was the book the happiest toddler on the block that advises you to reflect the child's feelings back to them? Maybe someone else can chime in there. All I can say is that totally works a lot of the time! I have stopped my tantruming two year old in her tracks by using some of the methods they suggest. Perhaps that can be helpful especially if he is expressing emotions by not using words but physically.

    3 is no fun.
    Last edited by macksmom; 07-10-2014 at 08:54 PM.
    Thing 1 (8), Thing 2 (5), Thing 3 (2)

  8. #8
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    I agree with Bridget.
    "Why" is a wonderful word. It means he wants to learn and he is looking to you. It means he is smart and he wants to understand why the world works the way it does. It might be exasperating at times, but like she said, each time he asks is a teaching moment and a chance to encourage his curiosity.

    3 truly is a HARD age. 2 was easy for us, too, and then 3 hit. But try to hang in there and summon whatever patience you can find. Get breaks in for yourself to destress.

    I also agree with Bridget on allowing him as much choice and control as possible, within boundaries. Really think on what matters and what doesn't. You may be surprised at how much really isnt a big deal. Say yes and offer choices as much as possible. Save no's for what really matters. I wouldn't force the eating issue either. It sounds like there is a lot of power struggle going on and he may be acting out more because of it. Also, kids feed off of our emotion. So if you are reacting with a lot of emotion, he is getting a reaction and negative attention. Kids want positive attention, but if negative is what they can get they will work for that, too.

    So in your example of throwing the toy, instead of having a stand off with him, warning him, then becoming angry... You can choose to be calm, remind him not to throw toys, and offer him something he can throw. If he throws it, walk calmly to the toy, pick it up and say something like "OK, the toy is taken away. We don't throw toys in the house."
    No screaming or stand offs, just matter of fact, short and to the point, and done.

    I haven't had boys or aggressive children, so I don't have much advice for that, except to repeat that if he sees you losing control, he is going to feed off that. It won't help.

    I would recommend the book 1-2-3 Magic. Its very simple. It would give you a strategy that you can be consistent with. A big part of the strategy is keeping your own emotions in check and just keep with the steps in a matter of fact way.

    We use it, but I also believe that positive interaction is more important and has more impact than negative consequences. I do believe both are necessary, but finding positive solutions and connecting with, encouraging, catching good behavior, etc., goes a long way to helping kids behave better, because they feel better about themselves.

    Also, get him outside and let him get his energy out as much as possible!!

    Remember, even though he can be a little terror, he is just a little boy. Its a hard age for him to go through, too. Good luck! I hope things get better soon!

  9. #9

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    123 Magic. Buy it and read it and do what it says.

    Don't say anything you are not willing to enforce, ie. pick your battles really carefully.

    Say at least as many nice things to him as criticisms. Even if you have to say, thank you for not throwing anything right now. Give him a ton of attention for behaving how you want him to, and no attention (time out) for behavior you will not toleratel

    Get yourself a time out, find a sitter or put him in child care a few hours a day or week so you can regroup. Toddlers are totally exhausting. Hang in there! It's all a stage.

  10. #10

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    I'm so sorry you are having such a hard time!! They sure know how to push our buttons...

    I agree with everyone else, with only a few things to add. As others have said, pick your battles. BUT, I also like to give him a choice. So rather than just let him, say, sit at the table and play instead of eat (oh boy, do I know this one...), I give a choice "Since it's dinner time, you can eat with us, or go play in your room by yourself." "If you want to scream / throw something, you need to go outside." "If you need some time to be mad, you can go be mad in your room." (Said after I try to help her calm down) I am a HUGE fan of that type of if / then parenting tactic! Gives them the power, but you get the close to results you want. I mean, it won't force him to eat, but at least he won't be sitting at the table playing for hours.

    And for "why"... I agree that it is an amazing teaching opportunity. But if it's something you think he might know or figure out (such as why we don't hit), I LOVE to turn it on her and ask her. "Why do you think?" or "Think about it". And not in an exasperated way, but a serious conversation. Then I help her find the answer (because usually she is asking not because she doesn't know why, but using "why" as an alternative to "no!"). For example "Why do you think we don't hit?" "Well, how do you feel if someone hits you?" Not only does it keep you from having to answer all the questions, but it really helps them practice critical thinking.

    Best of luck to you, Momma! It's tough, but you can TOTALLY do it. <hugs>



  11. #11

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    I guess I'm a bit surprised by the responses. A couple of good points for me to ponder but I don't agree with most. I guess that's cause we're all different. The boredom thought makes a lot of sense. Heck, I'm bored most of the time. But he seems to enjoy all his toys, but it is a thought I haven't considered, but I will now. So thank you for that. I have no creative bone in my body but I'm gonna have to find one in there somewhere. I also like the chart idea, that's a good one. Thank you for that idea too.

    I guess I assumed it would go without saying that we don't fight over every little thing. I do pick my battles with him. He's 3 and he's a PITA, but I wouldn't want any other kid. He's an amazing and smart little boy whose driving us crazy right now. And yes, I'm going to make him eat when it's time to eat. Or he wouldn't eat at all. He want's to play all the time. I have to remind him to go to the bathroom cause he's always so engrossed in what he's doing he just forgets. I don't think it's okay to let a 3 yr old have the run of the house. He doesn't get to make the decisions. I give him choices all the time, but there are certain things he has no say in. I think most of the responses are assuming that I run around screaming at my kid. I don't. I'm kind of sorry I even posted this.

    And the word "Why" is the most annoying word right now. For us. And I do turn it around on him. All. The. Time. It still is annoying to have to listen to it after every statement I make.

    Spanking. How do you even tackle this subject? We never spanked him until after he started hitting. WE DON'T SPANK HIM WHEN HE HITS either. It seems counter productive if you ask me. We're not complete morons. I think I just have to leave this alone. I guess this should have been more of a vent on my part than asking for any advice. And I never should have admitted that sometimes we have resorted to having to spank him. I know we're not the only parents out there who have done it, but it still sucks.

    We are just at our wits end with his behavior and since nothing we try seems to be working I just wanted a little compassion. I guess the old adage is true, until you've walked a mile in my shoes...

  12. #12
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    I didn't reply before but you are taking this way too personally. I read your first post as asking for advice being at wits end. Actually your title DOES ask for advice. I didn't see ANYONE judging you but offering ideas and suggestions as to what worked with their 3 yr olds and a whole lot of sympathy. And pretty much every poster I think has complained about their toddler/preschooler before in here.

    Jennifer, 35, DH 36

  13. #13

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    i didn't read the responses.. but i am right there with you.. with a slight complication that whatever my 3 yr old does my 2 yr old repeats... monkey see monkey do so she is doing what he is doing just to be like him.
    what works to get the 3 yr old to stop does not work for the 2 yr old... its tons of fun

    i have also tried everything, some days are harder than others. by the time dh gets home i am ready to run away.

    i just take it one day at a time. i get no down time (dd up at 5am plays till 6am then down again till 9am then up till 830 pm; ds up at 8am and goes strong till 10pm... )both are cranky and cry about everything, and not just crying the top of the lungs banshee screaming crying.

    so no advice from me just hugs and some venting of my own!



  14. #14
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    You posted several times that you were desperate for advice. Isn't that what you got a whole lot of?
    If you only want to vent and get empathy, that's totally fine. We understand. We have had our share of hard days. So we can hold off on advice and just give support. But you have to be clear on which you want.

  15. #15
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    We have all been in your shoes that is why we had so many suggestions on how to handle some of the behaviors you described. We have all stated we have been through each one of those behaviors you described, some with multiple children. Not sure what else you are looking for. A post with a title stating, "dear lord we need some advice​ about our 3 year old" but you don't want any advice?
    Thing 1 (8), Thing 2 (5), Thing 3 (2)

  16. #16

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    We've all walked miles and miles in your shoes. Everyone empathized with you. Everyone gave advice because you said you said you wanted tips and ideas.

  17. #17

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    "This too shall pass" is probably the best that anyone can say. Everyone's kids are hard at this age. It was rough from shortly before 3 to shortly after 3.5 with DS1 and we're in the thick of it with DS2. It really is a whole lot of normal phase and will really clear up.

    I second the use of 1-2-3 Magic because it helps teach you, as the parent, to calm down and take a step back.

    I agree 1,000% that the "why?" that a 3 year old asks is the MOST annoying WHY in the world. It is asked repetitively without any actual desire to know or absorb the answer because it is asked repeatedly even after you've given your proudest parental explanation. I have learned to answer the first why and then ignore the others. It's still annoying as I don't know what, but I find it is important not to react to it. If I don't react, they die down faster.
    Dorcas (35) DH (36) 3/13



  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by macksmom View Post
    We have all been in your shoes that is why we had so many suggestions on how to handle some of the behaviors you described. We have all stated we have been through each one of those behaviors you described, some with multiple children. Not sure what else you are looking for. A post with a title stating, "dear lord we need some advice​ about our 3 year old" but you don't want any advice?
    Ditto! We gave you advice because you asked for it. You don't truly know any of us so... if you aren't liking what we had told you then don't take the advice.
    *** Lindsay ***



  19. #19

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    I'm so sorry you feel like we were assuming negative things about you. We weren't, really. I know how, when you're in the midst of it, everything feels negative and critical. But really, we do understand and were offering sympathy. You are not a bad mom. You're a good mom with a good kid, and we just wanted to share what worked for us. There was no judging involved, just sharing our experiences, as you requested.

    On that note, I do want to mention that you make it sound like we're telling you to let him have run of the house. That's not it at all. None of our 3 year olds had run of the house- at least not by our allowance! It's just that, since you say that nothing you are trying is working, maybe try something different, even if you don't agree with it. Again, that doesn't make you a bad mom- we are all learning as we go, that's all. I swore I'd never co-sleep, because I don't agree with it. Well, the crib just DID NOT WORK, so alas, we coslept for nearly two years.

    If you want sympathy, we have it in spades. And buckets. And whole truck fulls! You are always welcome to just vent. If you want things to change faster (he will outgrow this phase, honest), however, you might want to at least consider some of the advice we've given you. Every kid is different, and you know yours best, and it might not work... But it also might.

    Good luck, whatever you decide!



  20. #20
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    3 has been *the* single most challenging age for us ! We've had eight 3yr olds in the last decade and a half...you'd think we'd be experts by now, but nope not even close !! Haha I just looked at dh the other day wide-eyed and told him we only have about 6 more months of 2yr old bliss left and he replied that we'll just have to enjoy it while it lasts . The funny thing is that we currently have 4 teenagers...yet it's knowing our 2yr old will soon be 3 that we are mentally preparing ourselves for

    All I can say is 4yrs old is awesome...they turn that fabulous-four corner and life gets sooo much easier ! They will occasionally revisit the thunderous threes, but it's usually brief (lol, just long enough to give you a small panic attack ).

    Hang in there momma ...you are handling it better than what it feels like right now !
    Dh (39) Me (37) 8bio 1adopted, 14 angels






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