or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Gentle Discipline › 3 1/2 year old boy. ...Is that all???
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

3 1/2 year old boy. ...Is that all???

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Good morning.

Or is it?

We're starting off on this same foot every morning.

Everything is a fight.

Everything requires bargaining, threatening and eventually yelling from both of us!

We start every day the same. 

Wake, potty, teeth, down for breakfast, while breakfast is cooking we do circle time

He helps me get the table set

We light a candle (which I started doing in an attempt to get him to stay at the meal table- it only worked for a hot minute but I continue to do it for myself now), say our blessing (which he rarely takes part in- hiding his hands behind his back when he knows it's time to hold hands)

Then it begins. 

"eat your meal, please. ....Stop messing around and eat. ....Sit in your seat right and eat. ....If you don't eat this...."

The whole meal.

Lunch and dinner are usually about the same (unless we're having his favorite- noodles)

I wouldn't be so bothered by him not eating his meal if I knew it was because he wasn't hungry or just not interested in food but that's not the case because a mear 10 minutes after the meal he's back asking for a snack!!! ....and then we're fighting about that.

He's disrespectful and disruptive.

It starts at the breakfast table and I feel like it sets the tone for the day.

He wants to be able to just do whatever he wants whenever he wants and if I say no or things don't go his way it's a colossal melt down and screams of "You make me sooo ANGRYYYY!"

Now, when I say fighting I don't mean it like I'm yelling and he's yelling back the whole time.

It's more like I start off very calm and patient and he wears me down to the point where I'm ready to smack him upside the head.

And I've done this before. 

I know- taboo to mention in a GD forum, but I'm coming here for help!

I don't want to smack or yell.

I try sooooo hard to stay calm and think about everything I say before I say it and think about what his reaction may be so I can try to avoid conflict. But then I think - how is this 3 1/2 year old outsmarting me and making me so stressed out?

Things like "Please keep your snack in the kitchen" or "it's time to wash your hands/get dressed/clean up..." have to be repeated over and over and over and over and over until I'm about to explode. And sometimes I do.

So sick of it and I don't know what to do.

Any suggestions?

Or is this all normal and I just have to deal with it the best I can in the moment???



post #2 of 8
It is normal for kids that age to get you into power struggles. They are desperate for autonomy, and the three areas where they have the most power are input (eating), output (toilet), and sleep, so those are sometimes areas where they will dig in their heels most.

I would disengage from this, especially if it's leading you to that level up anger, because it just isn't worth it. Put his food out, and if he doesn't eat it, put it in the fridge. If he is hungry later, get it out again. For my kids, if they just don't like what we're eating, I do have a few healthy and uninteresting options for them that they can get themselves (like PB sandwich and carrot sticks, nuts, etc.). I don't make it interesting because I don't want it to be a draw from the regular meal, but I don't get into fights over food either so they can have it if they're going to put up a fuss over what I make. I don't make two meals though - they can get themselves the boring food or eat what I cook. But I wouldn't force him to eat, and I wouldn't make him something else or throw out his food if he doesn't eat it. I'd bring that same food out if he wants a snack later as his first choice.
post #3 of 8

I second what pp said.  Don't get into a power struggle.  It's hard on everyone.  OK, if you don't want to participate in breakfast then you can leave.  He's old enough for this to work.  At first, he'll be surprised and run off and then he'll come sneaking back to see what you are all up to.  (It doesn't hurt to have a great time lauging and joking with any other table members.  I'm not sure if dh is there or if there are other older children.)  Then he is, of course, welcome back if he follows the rules. 


Also, I would consider relaxing your rules a little.  It sounds like a lot of Do this, Don't do that!  If he wants to play with his food a little that's fine as long as it stays on the table.  If it's a big problem just tell him that he's going to clean off the table when you're all done.  (Don't expect greatness, just expect him to take a wet cloth and go over the table.  At this age, you're going to have to follow behind and actually clean the table.) 


To give him a chance to have fun time, maybe make one meal a "picnic" where eveyrone eats while sitting on the floor.  Or, a no silverwear day.  Or a no plate day.  Yeah, it's messy, but it's fun and everybody will be laughing at the end. 


And, yeah, 3 yo's will drive you crazy.  And, yes, you have to repeat yourself a million times sometimes.  But, that's the life of a parent.  I DO like the book the Secret of Parenting (but maybe you're not ready for it yet).  One thing he does is say the request once and then stand there and wiat for it to get done.  Don't repeat yourself immediately.  Just stand by them and stare at them and wait for the request to be fulfilled.  And, yes, you'll have to ask him to do the same thing tomorrow again. 


Good luck NewMa.  I know it's hard, but you can make your home a more peaceful place. 

post #4 of 8

We are having similar issues with our 3-nearly-4-year-old too. I could have written the OP, minus a few things, but yeah, I've gotten to some really angry places. Today was an example, and fits in very well with the PP who mentioned the three hotspots of input, output, and sleep.


DS informed me on the way home from school this afternoon that he deliberately peed in his pants (he was still wearing the same pants he went to school in, so YUCK) b/c he didn't want to stop playing and use the bathroom. He was quite proud of his ingenuity. I was not pleased. He couldn't wait to get home to see how big the spot in his underwear was! Whose child is this???


This, of course, after a fight with his father at breakfast. Same scenario as OP. Playing with food, refusing to finish in a timely manner and then crying (within 20 seconds, still at the table with plate in front of him) that he was still hungry and wanted something else to eat. He was told he could have something else when he finished his toast, continued to NOT eat it, and then cried again when it was removed. Ugh.


We do try very hard not to have power struggles over meals, but his playing around, dropping food b/c of his fooling around, and the interminable waiting for the meal to be over is driving us insane.

post #5 of 8

It can definitely drive you crazy.  But, if I want to have a "family" meal, I start the kids about 15-20 minutes before the meal.  I usually start with fruit because I know they'll eat it and it doesn't completely fill them up before the "meal."  (And, if it does, so what?)  Then we can sit down and have the "meal."  I don't know why this is, but it seems as if my kids are over hungry, they won't eat and instead just melt.  This takes the edge off the hunger and they'll be more inclined to eat. 


Also, I've found kids just take F.O.R.E.V.E.R. to eat.  I really don't think it's "disobedience," it's just the speed they go. 

post #6 of 8

Yeah I could have written that post too - again minus a few things, I've stopped at the point of getting violent at all, but some days only just barely.  I told my DH that some days I feel like I'm being bullied - it's just constant questioning and tantrums and melt downs and screaming about how I "hurt his feelings" because we couldn't do something he wanted to do, the second he wanted to do it. 


If I really need something done, and he is resistant, I do ask him to do it once or twice (or thrice), explain why it needs to be done, and then if it's still not done, I "help" him do it, the whole time explaining again why we need to do this.  It's exasperating to explain the same things over and over again every day, but that's just the stage we're at I guess.


Anyways just wanted to chime in since misery loves company!! :)  Not that I'm miserable of course, a lot of the time he's an absolute joy.  But it is a challenge!  I think we just need to do our best and decide what's really important - I can be a bit OCD at times about things and sometimes I just need to let go and figure things will be OK. 

post #7 of 8


Edited by ChitownTracy - 7/19/12 at 8:02pm
post #8 of 8


Edited by ChitownTracy - 7/19/12 at 8:02pm
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Gentle Discipline
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Gentle Discipline › 3 1/2 year old boy. ...Is that all???