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3 Y/O Discplining

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

My 3 year old has officially entered the temper tantrum phase. It seems every day he has a fit about something and decides that throwing things, while screaming and crying is the answer. 


For example, last night I gave him some juice that I mixed with water. I guess it was too watered down because he threw the cup across the room and started screaming...at 1am.irked.gif Here I am exhausted, frustrated and just over it. I told him to come get in bed with me but he preferred to stand in the corner and scream. I went back to sleep and eventually got up and put him in his bed while he was kicking and screaming. 


Another example is when he gets mad about anything or doesn't get his way, he screams and yells. He takes off running, has crazy tantrums in stores (so of course everyone is staring at me like I can't control my child). I thought maybe I just have a spirited 3 year old or maybe I'm failing as a mother. 


My parents did awesome jobs with raising us. They led by example and I feel like I'm doing the same for my son but he's just not getting it. When he acts up, I make him sit in time out and we talk about what he did, why it was rude or hurtful and why he shouldnt do it again. 


In one ear and out the other...nono02.gifI'm over it. Is there anyone else I can do to get him to calm down and actually listen? I remind myself that he is 3 and a ball of energy. I've tried to channel his energy into something constructive so I signed him up for soccer. Yea, that's not going well at all either. 


Any advice before I blow a gasket over here?

post #2 of 17

NAK - No advice for you, but I'm in the same boat. I think it's just the age. DS is 3 and 3 months - naptime and bedtime are battles every day. In fact, everything is a battle. hang in there, they say it getts better at 4!

post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

@BonnieNova - I certainly hope so! I just picked up from daycare and found that he got into two fight today.yikes2.gif My very mild-mannered, happy baby was fighting today. i'm in a shock! Even the teacher was in shock because he rarely ever does anything to get in trouble. I'm at a loss today. I took away his Scoobie Doo privileges for the day and him no SD. We also talked about how what he did was not nice and how if he doesn't listen, privileges will be taken away. Sigh. Welcome to Motherhood 2.0.....


post #4 of 17

Oh yes - some shocking stuff happening here too. It seems like DS has another personality that's been hiding away for th last three years! I'm reading a great book suggested by some mothers here. It's called "Your three year old: friend or enemy". 




It's nice to know we're not alone!

post #5 of 17

I'm just impressed you to 3 before it happened.  My kid was freaking out like that from 15 months.  I hate middle of the night tantrums over stupid things.

post #6 of 17
3 is an age where they are starting to developmentally need some autonomy, so they draw parents into tons of power struggles in an attempt to get some authority over their lives. The only things I think you can do is give autonomy where practical - for instance maybe pre-mix some juice and water and put it in something easy to pour from and let him pour his own drink? And then just treat it like any other tantrum and wait it out when tantrums do happen. (Briefly empathize, as in "You wanted to do it yourself", and then as calmly as possible wait it out.) But it usually helps to give them some power and control over their environment. It won't help completely as it's largely just part of being 3. The good spin on this is that it's a really healthy sign that he's developing normally and in an emotionally healthy way. He should be wanting autonomy at his age.
post #7 of 17

I am also surprised that the tantrums didn't start until age 3. They started before my grandson was 2. I agree with the problem may be with autonomy. My grandson just turned 3 and is just starting to talk. He gets frustrated that he can't talk, but refuses to sign, and frustrated that he can't reach things or do the things he wants.


When her started having tantrums I watched him in my home part time and my son took care of him the rest of the time. We both handled tantrums the same. We stayed home when he first started trying tantrums and we would walk away from him when he would have a tantrum and let him tantrum until he was done. He had two huge tantrums on my kitchen floor. That was it. Tantrums were over in about a week. He will whine when we can't understand him. I think when he learns to talk that will stop.


We do let him have a lot of autonomy. I live with him now. He can open the fridge and I put food surprises for him in there. He picks his clothes and shoes. That kind of thing. I let him choose between 2 or 3 things. He hates his diaper changed and screams (I don't know why).  Today he wanted apple juice and had gotten the bottle out of the fridge. I said, "How about first diaper change and then a BIG apple juice." He let me change the diaper with no problems. He needs to gain weight so he can have a big juice.


When we go to the store I ask him if he wants to walk or go in the cart. Of course he wants to walk. I tell him if he doesn't stay by me that he will have to go in the cart. We have been doing follow Grandma since he was 2. If he causes problems he goes in the cart. I am consistent so he usually will behave.


My grandson has a genetic disorder and has head to toe eczema. If you have had eczema you know how irritating and painful it can be. It turns red and bloody and infected. He doesn't sleep well. So I have to take into account that some of his irritability, frustration, and getting upset easily is because of the eczma. When kids don't feel well they may behave less well. Kids don't do well when they are hungry or tired.


We have a few rules and always enforce them (right away with no counting) and don't care so much about the rest. This is an actual parenting technique. Ours are safety things like don't unlock the door and go outside by yourself, don't mess with medicine, don't jump on the dog. We don't care about things like jumping on the couch, turning the light on and off like lightening, playing with water in the bathroom sink, things that might drive other parents crazy.


I did the same with my kids as toddlers and as they got older the rules would change. There would still be just a few rules that I would enforce. When they were teens I wanted to know where they were, if they had my car they were expected to return it the way they found it,  they had to be home by curfew, and I didn't want to have to go the the police station or the ER (so they better not do anything that might get them in the police station or the ER).

post #8 of 17

My two year old son, now 4, found Montessori together and we revamped the house in all this stuff. I found those Target $16 ottamons to be a great huge help! In our old state/home we used a learning tower but we didn't get one here and I am very happy we did not. The ottamons hold some toys or books, but the kids slide them around the house and then climb up and it is a farely large surface and cushiony if they ever do fall and they also play games in the boxes. We have a book shelf for both kids that the outfits get put on, son chooses from 4 (4) and daughter chooses from 3 (she is two). She also needs way more help but Freddy has it down on his own now. They brush their own teeth once I day and dad brushes it the other time. Basically, since he was 2, I have been trying to think this way about interdependance and even found a herb knife at William and Sonoma which he can use, slowly, in front of me. Athena is too, but it is in my hands too. Every time I take the time to break up the fights it is usually giving them some control over the situation in a more helpful way. And when a real freak out show happens, I try to head to a safe place fast, or even just unblock the isle and seriously hug him and try to calm him down. This is not always the case with kids - I have seen it. I feel lucky that his eyes don't roll back and he goes into shock. I have always taken the time to listen to him and as he gets older and I assume way more, I have been eating my words and going back to taking the time. Sometimes I try to find the words for him. It is grating and long but I always look with love. The best advice I have for you is to *push out* love and *do not* bring his pain in. You will find out more about him in time, but the vibe, I feel, is better to calm them down and stress after stress is not good for you. They need us so this is important. The love I send out is, :P, goodness, looks like my pic. I imagine this going out of my chest and breath. When it is over I feel half okay and not a wreak. With a bad attitude and a mix of words comes out of my son (experimenting), I try to get him to a safe place, it usually is his bed when at home and I tell him he can play there, but he has to come back happy. "I'm sorry" is coming into play right now...I did wait.. I want it to be real and it is just happening. I do explain feelings. last thing: When we leave places I ask him (task) to tell everyone goodbye "NO! I don't want to leave!" "Okay Freddy, we are going to leave (nice voice), you should leave like a gentleman, a big guy, and tell everyone you had a great time and they rock! Or else I will carry you out kicking and screaming and they would (big sigh) not think that was so cool" It has worked, really, every single time but once...and he feel asleep in like 10 minutes in the car after. 


The parenting has gotten much more testing with a 4 and 2 year old. My best advice is to clip nails! It happens and happens, but I am certain it will soon be much better! I try to talk to him about teaching Athena to be nice by being nice to her and sharing. (she is a total sweetheart btw, I am so sure she copies and acts out when he is sensitive). 

post #9 of 17

The only method that worked for me is from a book called Have A New Kid by Friday.  It works for all ages.  It may seem a little radical, but the basic plan is this:


Let your kid do their thing (tantrum, acting out, whatever).  Don't address it.  When they come to you needing/wanting something, tell them gently, I'm sorry.  Because you did *fill in the blank*, I cannot do *fill in the blank* for you. There will be some more misbehavior at that news, usually.  But. it will only take a few times of them not getting their needs and wants fulfilled to stop bad behavior.  It does take some patience and going against your nuturing feelings a bit, but it works if you stick to your guns.  And everyone in the house that is a disciplinarian needs to be on board.  No more tantrums, back-talk, and unnecessary messes from my kid!


I also take this a step further with a rewards program.  I have a mason jar, and a basket full of decorative glass rocks from the dollar store.  Each time she does something worth rewarding, she gets a rock in the jar.  When the jar is filled up, she gets to shop for a prize at the dollar store.  I also take a rock out of the jar for misbehavior.

post #10 of 17

While I do agree that maybe a rewards system could work, I do not agree with not addressing your child's needs at the moment of the tantrum. I know it can be frustrating as a mother to experience, but I believe that the tantrum is for a reason and the child should be allowed to express that.


Also, I'm not for rejecting "needs" that children had just because they expressed thier emotions. If it's a true need, then the child should be provided that need regardless of behavior.


Just my two cents...



post #11 of 17

OP - I definitely agree with providing more autonomy!  My DD will be three in November and has been getting consistently more out of control recently.  I try to let her participate in as many choices as possible - would you like juice or water?  Do you want to wear this shirt or that shirt today?  Just keep it simple - I only give her two options to choose from.  It's definitely cut down on the tantrums as she's getting to feel like a "big girl".


Do you let him help with things around the house (if he wants to)?  DD helps mix the mashed potatoes, helps water the plants, etc.  Simple things but she feels involved and useful.


I totally feel you on the shopping though!  I actually dread taking DD out to any sort of store...  She'll scream to get out of the basket, then the second you put her down, she goes running off and won't come back.  I set rules like you can walk if you hold onto the basket, which lasts maybe 5 minutes before she's gone again.  So then to enforce the rule, I put her back into the basket where she proceeds to kick and scream and act like a hooligan.  I'm sure everyone in the store thinks we're crazy... 



Single Mama to Miss Priss (3 y/o)

post #12 of 17


Edited by ChitownTracy - 7/19/12 at 8:00pm
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 

I should have mentioned that I very much into autonomy. I pretty much let him help me make decisions and allow him to be independent (he can open the fridge and get juice boxes when hungry, he can get his own snacks, goes potty by himself, etc). We're even at the point when I encourage him to make up his bed. I'm definitely all for it and have been encouraging it for a year nwo. so far so good but man these tantrums are something else. 


Since my last post we have only two tantrums. His dad was witness to and he basically couldn't take it. I had to tell him to walk away and ignore it because that's what it usually takes. He got to so mad he jumped in the car and left. eyesroll.gif i realized that maybe my DS needed some fresh air so while he kicked and screamed, I put him  in the car and we went for a ride with all the windows down. When he settled down we talked about the tantrum and then I told him he would be a big help if he cleaned up his mess (which he did). 


We had another one this morning, which I think was a result of not being quite awake all the way. I've shifted his bedtime and definitely keep him active (we're doing 100% better in soccer now). I don't know. I suppose this is just a phase I will have to hang through.

post #14 of 17

Age three is awful. My DD had never had real tantrums before she was three, but there were some days when I wondered how the human race survives... ! I wanted to eat my young. 


Some things that helped us a lot were structure, sleep, and food. For about four months or so I had to have DD out of the house, and preferably outside at the playground or somewhere like that, every single day by 9 am. If I was late, then the tantrums would start and they just wouldn't stop. By 9:30 the whole day would be ruined and I'd be wishing for bedtime so I could just pretend the whole day hadn't happened. But if I could get her out of the house and jumping and swinging by 9 am, then things were better. And then I had a really specific schedule for the rest of the day: play outside all morning, go home and have lunch, lie down and rest (she hasn't napped in years--grr), and go back outside and play. LOTS of exercise. It was a lot of work for me, but it didn't actually last that long...now she's getting close to four and sometimes we can spend the morning relaxing at home and she does totally fine. :) I also had to just keep her away from other kids for a while!--but again, it was only for a little while. 


And of course they always need more food and sleep than we think they do. :) I'm still trying to get the right bedtime for my DD...she keeps sleeping in in the morning and I keep moving bedtime earlier. 


It really is a stage. I thought we would never survive it, but it actually didn't last that long. Just a few months ago my daughter would scream for hours if I set her cup down in the wrong spot. Now she acts like a human being 95% of the time. 

post #15 of 17

I am so glad to see this thread, it has been a bad few weeks at my house.  My 3yo DS has been having meltdown after meltdown.  And if he isn't melting down, he is running around like a possessed banshee, screaming at the top of his lungs. 


There is no joy in trying to carry a 3yo who is tantruming, up to bed at night, with his 1yo brother. 


I just hope this is a stage that we can ride out.  I feel like we are doing all the right things, structure, consistent expectations, follow through, lots of play and outside time, healthy diet, little to no TV, consistent bedtime.  I am home alone with my boys for 12 hour days, and I work during the overnight, so this is hitting me hard. 


I feel like I am threatening all the time, even though there is really nothing exciting to take away.  Or I yell, which just causes him to yell back.  It is not cool to hear your kids playing and then suddenly yelling "RIGHT NOW".  I cringe, knowing where he got it. 


When he is like that, there is no talking it out, it's like he can't even hear me.  After, we have big snuggles and talk about how we felt and how we can do better (me included) next time. 


UGH.  I don't have any words of wisdom, just support and sympathy!

post #16 of 17

OP, gladdness! That is awesome! I think you are with it and totally strong! Hugs.. I think strength is a big key now that I have a 4 year old. I have told DH the same and he turned and said it to me once afterwards because somedays we gotta save each other. 


mio2323.. That is what I am talking about.. I have no clue either and it is a really bad case. Huge hugs.. I only know that the level of sleep, food, and exercise makes a huge play. Mostly simple sugars though. I have never had it like you but it can get pretty close. I can talk the 4 yr old through some carrots to calm him and he has a pretty good mind about it. The nutrition part of parenting is my biggest relesson in life and I think sometimes I feel the side effects in my son's mood. Not saying anything bad about you! I hope it gets better soon! My friend's son is this way and ohhh, it is stressful. 


Yeah, about stress. it is so important to think this is the one place we really can change. That helps me a lot. When I am stronger I feel like the way I am working it out is so much more loving, strong, but not mean or crappy. Maybe some moms are born with it but I am not! I gotta keep up my body to deliver the good mom under pressure..yikes!


@ChitownTracy! Oh yeah!!! That is a huge part!

post #17 of 17

What's Eating Your Child? Kelly Dorfman - http://whatseatingyourchild.com/


Has been  terrific resource for my and many of my mom friends. We're discovering that a lot of difficult behavior is food-nutrient related.


On that note, DS turned really annoying when he turned 3. I started giving him Focus Factor for Kids (because it was the ONLY vitamin in our local store that did not have his allergens). Within 3 days, I had my old (cheerful, compliant, no-meltdowns) son back. And when we missed a few doses, he was fussy by the end of the day and prone to melt-downs and disagreements. I don't know what the magical ingredient is, but clearly his body/brain needs SOMETHING that he's getting from FFfK and not able to metabolize from his relatively good diet.


He just turned 4, and he gets FFfK a couple of times a week. He doesn't "need" it the way he did last year. And I can't remember the last time he had a melt-down.

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