She fears her 3-year old is an Embarrassment: What to do when your kid is acting out?

Some days it’s hard to be three!

My client’s husband was out of town and her friend, Marie, offered to come by with dinner to hang out. Their plans were thwarted by an unruly three-year old with a different agenda. As Marie left, my client felt embarrassment and shame threaten to overtake her.

L.O.V.E. Parenting takes out the toolkit and offers:

1. Was it a good plan: Having the girlfriend arrive at 6:30pm to socialize with the mom when her husband was out of town and she has a 3-year old and a 6-month old? Set yourself up for success. Perhaps, having the plan be a late afternoon tea/early dinner, 4:30-6:30, would have been an easier time frame; not starting a big activity that centers on the mom’s needs at the end of the day when the evening would normally be winding down.

2. Have you Set the Stage with your child? “Honey, I love you so much. I want to let you know that tonight rather than do our regular bedtime routine, we are going to do something different. You get to stay up late and sit quietly in your pajamas on the bed looking at a book, coloring or relaxing, while Mommy talks with Marie. I feel very excited to have you and your sister in a quiet groove in the room with us, while Marie and I have grown-up conversation.” Setting the Stage does not guarantee a perfect performance from your child according to your wishes, but it does plant the seed in their mind of your expectations for the evening and it gives you a collective frame of reference from which to draw upon if things go awry.

3. Set Yourself Up for Success with Give & Take: Before Marie arrives, take your daughter aside, set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes, and tell your daughter this is now HER TIME and you will be 100% focused on her. “I am setting the timer and during this time I will be with you; we can read a book, make up a story, play a game, cuddle & talk; whatever you choose. I will not check my email, talk on the phone or cook dinner; I will be focusing on you. Then when Marie arrives, I will be concentrating on talking with her, all the while, happy to be have you and your sister with us.” Taking this moment to really be present with your child, before your energetic/mental departure, will help your child allow space for you to be otherwise focused.

4. If your daughter tests the limits once Marie has arrived, as most young children will, you do not need to spiral into despair. Your daughter’s acting out is not a reflection of your failed parenting. Parenting is a work in progress. Set yourself up for success with good plans, Set the Stage with your children to make your expectations clear, and deal with how it plays out in real time.

5.Dealing with it: If your daughter is acting out and testing limits, you can recognize the signs early before the behaviour gets full-blown, and calmly ask if your child would like to take a moment to “reset” herself. This isn’t a time-out or a punishment; this is an opportunity for the child to de-escalate and reset internally; a pause, a breath, a moment to remember how you Set the Stage and how things could be going right now. Remind her of the picture you painted when you Set the Stage with a light, expectant tone of voice.

6. If you remember last week’s post, ask your child if their behavior floats the boat or sinks the ship right now.




Call for your private session today: 310-242-7081. “Truly amazing woman. I love her advice.” -Carrie-Anne Moss


Jessica Williams

About Jessica Williams

Jessica Williams created L.O.V.E. Parenting with a series of techniques for effective communication, deepened connection and more joy in parenting and life. Jessica is also the creator of with the best of today’s progressive parenting experts together in one program. Jessica is a featured expert internationally on both’s Ask An Expert and the upcoming Jessica is a regular contributor to Mothering Magazine’s All Things Mothering, LA Parent Magazine, LA Mom Magazine & DailyBuzzMoms. She has been interviewed on television and radio and taught workshops at family wellness centers, schools and doctor’s offices. Her BirthKit has helped women have a transformational & empowering birth. Jessica maintains a private coaching practice in her native Los Angeles where she lives with her husband and their three children. “Truly amazing woman. I love her advice.”—Carrie-Anne Moss. “All you have shared has helped tremendously.”—Lisa Bonet. “I am experiencing nothing short of a miracle thanks to your laser beam approach.” –Andrea Bendewald.

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