Help with mt DS who pushes the limits every day - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 3 Old 01-16-2013, 12:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My DS is strong willed at times. I'm learning that he has that temperment. He is not a child who is naturally compliant. He tests tests and tests some more. He needs firm, clear boundries. My problem is what to do when he tests them because he will!

 

Here is an example of a daily exchange in our home:

 

He misbehaves at the dinner table (throws food for example and laughs), I say "food is not for throwing, its for eating. If you throw your food again dinner is over"

 

He throws the food. I tell him dinner is over and remove his plate. he gets mad and starts crying and will hit me. He knows hitting is not allowed and there are no warnings its an automatic cool down. So I put him on the stairs (his cool down spot) and tell him he needs to cool off for 4 minutes. Inevitably he will not stay on the stairs. He will get up laughing and run away. I go get him and put him back on the stairs. This will go on for anywhere from a few minutes to 20-30 minutes. in between there is additional hitting and tantruming sometimes.  It's exhausting. 

 

I know you have said time outs don't work as they are a form of punishment. So in the above scenario what would be an alternative way of handling it? 

 

I find it very confusing as I've purchased multiple books and they all seem to advocate a different approach. I have not and will never use physical punishment  - relying on just reinforcing positive behavior because children really just want to please their parents doesn't resonate with me either. My child needs the boundries and there has to be some consequences for crossing the line doesn't there? 

 

Thanks for reading and look forward to your reply


If the people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny." Thomas Jefferson.

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#2 of 3 Old 01-17-2013, 06:27 AM
 
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Dear Marnica:

 

You are right in that your son needs some clear boundaries and you are great in providing them.  If we look at this from a developmental approach, he is three.  His brain is developing enough so that he is exploring power - who has power and how they use it.  He has very little power compared to the adults in his life, but he does have power (control) over simple things such as not staying on the stairs, and throwing his food.  When you make him stay on the stairs (which does nothing to calm him down) you are setting up a power struggle between you and him and when preschoolers do that, it's very hard to win.  You could "win" with stamina and tears, but is that going to build your relationship?  Timed time-outs are a very bad discipline tool for strong-willed children for that very reason.  It sets you both up to see who will hold out the longest. 

 

When he starts throwing his food, the natural consequence is that he is probably done eating.  Remove the food and wash his hands and let him go to play.  If he starts crying and tantrumming, let him.  He has the right to express his feelings.  Don't let him hit you though. Move away. In time, he will find ways to handle his frustration, but it's very hard for him at three.  Acknowledge his pain by saying, "It's fun to throw food and you are upset that it has to stop. It's okay to feel angry at that."  You are still providing boundaries but firmly and kindly.

No punishment needed. 

 

Warmly,

Judy


Judy Arnall
Author of "Discipline Without Distress", President of Attachment Parenting Canada, and Best of all, Mom of Three Adults and Two Teens!
http://www.attachmentparenting.ca
http://www.professionalparenting.ca
 

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#3 of 3 Old 01-17-2013, 07:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Judy,

 

Thank you for the reply. What you said makes total sense to me, however I do have an additional question/comment. I have experimented with ignoring/moving away when he hits me (I also have a 9 month old daughter who he hits on occasion- not ok!!). This seems to do nothing to deter the behavior. I'm concerned that just telling him hitting is not allowed or I don't like being hit and moving away (by the way he will just follow me and continue to pummel me)  is sending a message that although I don't like it, it's ok, because there will be no consequences so he gets the green light to continue. Also my son is almost 5 years old ( bday is 5/1)- not three. Shouldn't he know by this age hitting is not ok??

 

Thank you


If the people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny." Thomas Jefferson.

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