3 yr old - cries all the time - Page 2
My DD went through a very emotional phase at about 3.5. The worst of it lasted about 2 or 3 months. Shes going through a bossy phase right now at 4 and 3 months. I'm finding the bossiness more annoying.
my dd is 3.75 and is the epitome of all these posts and I keep telling myself (ad nauseum) that somehow, like magic, when she turns 4 it won't be so bad (this despite the fact that she's been ,ahem, spirited since birth)
"If I set her food in the wrong chair she will scream and howl out until she is in the chair she wanted to be"
"She clamors for choc milk or candy at Whole Food and whereas I used to agree, now I practice saying no more often,"
"I used to always pick her up and hug her and try to see what she wanted."
If screaming holy hell gets you what you want, even once, it becomes a viable method for getting other things.
We've made a major effort emphasize that screaming/crying is NOT an acceptable form of communicating what you want. It's AMAZING how my DD can go from 60-0 when we calmly say "I can't understand you when you're whining/crying." In an INSTANT she stops all the drama and very clearly and calmly states what it is she was howling the second before. Once that happens then we can actually talk about what it is she wants and have a much greater likelihood of being able to calmly negotiate it. She doesn't always get the thing she was howling for, as it may just not be a reasonable request, but she HAS to make herself understood calmly and politely.
I really try to avoid concerning myself with what other people think in terms of public parenting. I hope that people with any sort of sense will understand what's happening if I have a howling small person and I'm attempting to calmly deal with them, and honestly, if you DON'T get it, and you're THAT put out, tough. It happens. My concern is with parenting as effectively and consistently as possible in a fashion that I believe is constructive. If I try to please the adults around me instead of focusing on doing my job, I'm doing my DD a disservice.
Yes, she IS doing this because she's 3, but its your job to teach her how to interact pleasantly with others. You can't just say "Oh, she's 3, she'll grow out of it if we wait long enough." Well, I guess you COULD say that, but it will be harder on both of you if you do.
They are desperate for autonomy at that age and will try to get it any way they can, whether by demanding a certain cup, by demanding no one touch something, or by refusing to use the potty or refusing to eat certain things. So I would model appropriate ways to ask for things, but at the same time give her autonomy wherever practical. I got a lower drawer at that age and put my dd's cups in it and showed her how to get her own water. She could choose what cups she wanted. I put her plates someplace within her reach so she could choose a plate and I didn't have to guess or ask her every time. But at the same time, I would say, "I understand you aren't happy. Can you tell me nicely what you want?" Repeat that, and give her autonomy where practical, and she will get it with a little time.
Mom - "What can you do about it? Do you think you could get a different glass?"
Boy - "It's too high".
Mom - "How can you get to it? Do you think if you pushed a chair over to the counter, you could reach it?"
Boy does this, gets his glass, spills the water while transferring it, and then Mom guides him through cleaning up his mess. What I like about this (and I'm not sure how it works with different kids' temperaments) is that it presents kids with a way to think through their own problems. It doesn't tell them their problem isn't valid, but rather, lets them figure out the solution and makes them feel "powerful" to solve them.
If that doesn't work, then I ignore the screaming. I tell her I'll be happy to talk with her when she's ready to talk. If it keeps going for more than a minute or two, I remind her that we don't cry and scream in the common part of the house and tell her she needs to either calm down and talk with me or go to her room.
When she's ready to talk we come up with a solution. I don't give in while she's screaming, but I will often spend that time thinking about how I can reward her using her words once she does calm down. She's just 3, and I'll often have to supply her with the words, "You're really upset that I gave you milk in the green cup." But that seems age appropriate.
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Even at that age, I would say things like, "You're upset. This screaming is not OK. I'll be happy to help you/change it/etc. when you ask me politely." And then wait for them to do it. If they seemed to need help with the words, I'd wait a minute and say, "You could say, Can you change the music please mommy?" and help them out.
Agreeing with those that say if you "give in" even one time out of 10, they'll keep waiting for that 11th time every time and do it over and over again. You can be kind and gentle and firm, without being mean. It may *feel* mean initially because she'll be throwing the fits repeatedly. But if you keep modeling the kind, but firm resolve to not help her until she can channel those negative emotions into a non-aggressive way, it will eventually work.
My own 6 and 8 year old occasionally try to pull a bigger kid version of this. I'll usually say, at this point, "Do you think that's going to help this situation?" or, "I'm positive you can think of a polite way to say that." - It's totally a normal kid thing, but normal does not necessarily equal appropriate....that's where the teaching comes in, to guide them out of it.