Natural consequences for three year old who does not obey house rules. - Mothering Forums

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Old 04-03-2012, 06:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I need to start this by saying that I am 5 and half months pregnant, and my ability to parent my child physically, ie. picking her up and removing her from the dinner table, is becoming uncomfortable, strained or painful.

 

My dd is over three and half years old. I work towards creating a "yes environment", finding appropriate expressions for her needs, removing absolute nos and temptations from sight, and modeling the behavior and speech I want her to use and learn...eventually. I am not perfect all the time, of course, but this approach has been the most fruitful.

 

In some rare instances and areas we have not been successful at disciplining her around some of her conduct. Because she doesn't nap anymore, or very rarely, I do expect her to play on her own for one hour a day in the safety of her room. This meets a need primarily of my own as a sahm, who needs a little mental space, but it is also helpful in smoothing out the rest of the day for her, giving her a chance to integrate and be reflective through imaginative play.

 

When she is upstairs in her room, she will often ask for help to get started with activities to keep her interested, but sometimes it goes on and on, and the distinction of "quiet time" gets muddy. I want to be clear with her. And I tell her that mama needs quiet time too.

 

Today she came downstairs after half an hour. When I told her gently it was time to go upstairs she screamed "nooooo", and after much insistence from me, and refusal from her, in frustration I delivered the consequence of losing a swimming lesson she has lined up for today. She has three more this week, which she can still go to.

 

I don't feel great about this, mainly because she doesn't really understand how the two are connected. That said, this kind of resistence from her is a daily ocurrance, and sometimes escalates to hitting, and tantrums when she doesn't get her way. Like not wanting to come inside when everyone is waiting to eat dinner, wanting to drive in the car to the store instead of riding in the bike trailer, or getting ready for bath at bedtime. The above examples, for me, are decisions that she doesn't get to make.

 

My bottom line is that, I think she is expressing a need to understand the boundaries around her control and influence, and so far, I don't know if we have been successful. Any thoughts or suggestions?

 

Is this something she will eventually "grow" through?

 

Thanks Mamas

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Old 04-04-2012, 03:20 AM
 
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I read "natural consequence" but then I saw you took away a swimming lesson. I'm sorry I don't have more time to type but in my book taking away a swimming lesson isn't a natural consequence ... it isn't even related to what it is that you are suggesting she do. I thought a "natural consequence" was along the lines of letting their food get cold and not reheat it if they don't come to the table. Taking away a swimming lesson is a threat if she doesn't do what you want. That won't teach her anything but compliance. A much deeper lesson that seems to be missing is for you to express and for her to respect your need for down-time all the while preserving her dignity while she figures it out.

 

If you need a break from her then find another way. This isn't working. Stop punishing her for not doing what you want. Staying in her room so you can have a break works if she is happily engaged but once she wants to move on then you are going to have to remain courteous of her as if she were anyone else. If you are at your wits end then just tell her you are frustrated and want some quiet time. If she wants to YOU to stay in the same place she wanders into then she needs to remain quiet and find an activity to do. That isn't achieved with forcing her into something and insisting she be quiet ... it is more of a "mommy needs a break" kind of deal where you take longer to respond to questions, use shorter sentences and kind of wander off mentally. The best thing you can do is to show her how to relate to a reasonable need that is reasonably stated. Making her go away might work as a short term solution but you aren't really addressing the larger need to work in some actual unscripted down-time that it sounds like you are due.

 

You might like reading Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn.


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Old 04-04-2012, 05:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lovepickles View Post

I read "natural consequence" but then I saw you took away a swimming lesson. I'm sorry I don't have more time to type but in my book taking away a swimming lesson isn't a natural consequence ... 


You are confused about my post. I am very clear that taking away swimming lessons is not a natural consequence. I posted because I did not like my choice, recognized that and was seeking alternatives that were in line with a natural consequence to the many situations I listed.

 

I hope thats clearer.

 

 

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Old 04-04-2012, 06:26 AM
 
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I disagree with the above poster. I'm personally not a big fan of Alfie Kohn in the home. 3 is a very difficult age for many kids, mommy being pregnant never helps winky.gif.

 

I would try first and for most turning things into games. "lets race up stairs" "let's see is you get undressed before I get to 5" etc. etc. Three year olds are really trying out their independence. I think it saves a lot of hassle if you can gain cooperation through positive means. Make sure you give warnings for transitions like going in or riding in the bike trailer. She might be a child that struggles with transitions and needs bit more time. There are several really good positive discipline books. If you aren't familiar with the strategies then check out your library that's always my first line of defense.

 

That said, my kids do get consequence, both logical and not. Last night my youngest who also happens to be three, was fighting me at bed time and ended up hitting me because she didn't want to go to bed. Her consequence was she got jammies on straight away and went to right to bed (no stories etc.). She was not pleased, but frankly I don't want to read a story to someone who is hitting me and screaming at me. I'm not sure she saw the logic in it, but it doesn't really matter. She is learning hitting/screaming are not socially acceptable. When you hit/scream at people they don't want to be around you. That's life.... 

 

I know some people swear by being able to parent with out using any consequences. I am able to do that until about age 2.5.  If I only had my oldest child, I might actually be one of those people that swear kids don't need consequences and UP works fab. With out firm boundaries my middle child would be an out of control nightmare right now. He has come such a long way and is really starting to learn self discipline! Different kids are different. Some kids never need more then a gentle reminder not to do something and other kids need to repeat the same offense and get the same consequence 888x before they learn, maybe there is a better way. lol.gif

 

Anyway a practical break down for ya: thumb.gif

 

-turn what every you can into games

-use songs to get them moving in the right direction 

-don't be afraid to use gentle consequences. Meaning not yelling, hitting, etc. Instead things like "you hit, you sit". 

-on the same note, logical consequences are nice but don't get so wrapped up in them that you aren't acting when you need too. 

-don't be wishy washy in your words. Make sure you are not asking her a question, when you want to be giving a directive. Make sure your voice is firm and no nonsense (and I don't mean yelling, I just mean direct.) 

-remind her to use her words when she is starting to get upset. Help her put her feelings in to words and empathize with her. Like "you really wanted to ride in the car today. Are you feeling sad, angry, disappointed,  etc about riding in the bike? " give her time to respond. After she responds you can point of some good things about the trailer. Something she will see, or distract her with something you will be buying at the store. You can empathize while still keeping your boundaries. thumb.gif

 

Parenting is tough! hug2.gif

 

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Old 04-04-2012, 06:27 AM
 
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Have you experimented with a timer at all? That might help in a few of your situations. It might more clearly delineate the start & end of quiet time... It also might help get her moving when you need her to ("When this timer rings, you need to come inside for dinner.") How to enforce it? I'm not sure, at this point there is still a lot of physical reinforcement in our house (if he doesn't come inside, I'd take him by the hand & lead him inside or, if that fails, just carry him in) so if that's not possible for you, hopefully someone has some ideas for you. I think once it becomes routine & she understands that the timer is ALWAYS enforced, she won't test it often anyway, so after a few days or weeks of enforcing it, you wouldn't likely need to pick her up anymore. Really, I think that is the key even without the timer... at some point we start getting lax about enforcing things and then they learn they can get away with stuff... so you kind of need to 'retrain' her to show her that certain things WILL be enforced and are not choices but necessities. Once she understands that she can't just do whatever she wants because Mama's too tired & pregnant to enforce it (not that I blame you one bit, totally understandable!), she will probably be more cooperative. You also have to wait out the tantrums, I think, and keep yourself safe in the process (If she's hitting you, don't stay close to her while she's tantrumming) without giving in.

As far as quiet time, is she normally able to handle an hour in her room? That sounds like a lot, but my kid is just starting to handle 5mins in another room so what do I know lol. I guess I would think about how much you are willing to compromise & what she can handle, and then stick to it. If she's consistently only able to last half an hour, I think you need to cut quiet time down a bit. If she's able to last an hour most days, then go for it... Some moms I know have success with quiet time boxes (google it, you basically rotate through a few boxes with special toys or activities that are ONLY used during quiet time), so that might be something to try. You might give her a few minutes to settle in and then start the timer to signify she isn't to come out & ask questions any more after that point, or you could give her a token or two -- and when she comes out to ask for something, she also needs to turn in a token, so once her tokens are gone she's done coming out until the end of quiet time. Just a few ideas I've heard work well for others, we don't do quiet time here so I can't say from experience!

Another thought, are you clear with her about the boundaries and expectations? And how does she respond to that? I have one friend whose DS needs very very clear & precise boundaries, a line drawn in the sand. With my DS, he needs clear boundaries but room to exercise his judgement & control within those boundaries (a more vague area of sand, or let him draw the line himself). So with my friend's DS, she might tell him, "In five minutes it's time to go," and with my DS I might say, "Here, set this timer, and when it rings it's time to go."

As far as actual consequences... It's hard to explain natural consequences and not every behavior has a natural consequence really. I don't tend to think in terms of consequences, TBH, though I guess we do use them without calling it that! But, I would say the natural consequence of not adhering to quiet time is that she has to deal with a cranky mama lol. Maybe that you aren't able to play with her & engage her until YOUR quiet time is finished. Or with getting ready for bath, if she takes too long to get ready, there won't be time to read 2 books before bed (be wary of taking away something she NEEDS to sleep though, if she needs 2 books to fall asleep you might want to choose a different consequence, even if it's less 'natural'!) If she doesn't come inside for dinner, she misses dinner and has to eat by herself. Sometimes I am not willing to let the consequences fall naturally (like maybe dinner NEEDS to be all together, or it's just too cold to let DS go without a coat) and those are the times I tend to physically enforce things by picking him up or whatever... or let go of the 'rule' and come up with a creative solution (if DS won't come inside for dinner, let's all go outside & have a picnic!)

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Old 04-04-2012, 06:38 AM
 
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I think an hour is a long time to expect a 3-year-old to be quiet away from you. I know some kids that age can handle it, but I've known plenty for whom that just wouldn't be possible. If you need an hour of quiet time, I'd put on a TV show before punishing over something that is outside of her abilities. It sounds like she can handle a half hour, so maybe she could play quietly for a half hour, and then watch a half-hour show? It just doesn't sound fair to me to punish her because she can't handle something she obviously just simply can't handle, but if you really need an hour than there are probably ways to get that. The world isn't ideal though and it might involve letting her do something quiet you don't like her doing, like the TV.
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Old 04-04-2012, 09:29 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mamazee View Post

I think an hour is a long time to expect a 3-year-old to be quiet away from you. I know some kids that age can handle it, but I've known plenty for whom that just wouldn't be possible. If you need an hour of quiet time, I'd put on a TV show before punishing over something that is outside of her abilities. It sounds like she can handle a half hour, so maybe she could play quietly for a half hour, and then watch a half-hour show? It just doesn't sound fair to me to punish her because she can't handle something she obviously just simply can't handle, but if you really need an hour than there are probably ways to get that. The world isn't ideal though and it might involve letting her do something quiet you don't like her doing, like the TV.


Agree word for word. I haven't birthed a child yet that could handle that at age 3. Sure there are kids out there that could, but many, many can't. 


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Old 04-04-2012, 10:08 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mamazee View Post

I think an hour is a long time to expect a 3-year-old to be quiet away from you. I know some kids that age can handle it, but I've known plenty for whom that just wouldn't be possible. If you need an hour of quiet time, I'd put on a TV show before punishing over something that is outside of her abilities. It sounds like she can handle a half hour, so maybe she could play quietly for a half hour, and then watch a half-hour show? It just doesn't sound fair to me to punish her because she can't handle something she obviously just simply can't handle, but if you really need an hour than there are probably ways to get that. The world isn't ideal though and it might involve letting her do something quiet you don't like her doing, like the TV.

I totally agree. An hour is a long time for any kid to go without interacting, much less a three year old. Is there any way you can do a Mothers Day Out or something? I think 30 minutes a day would probably help the idea of quiet time continue, but if it's really about your mental sanity, then maybe you could find a place to take her a few hours a week so that you can have a mental break.

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Old 04-06-2012, 02:41 PM
 
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Do you ever give her "special time"? She is going to need it once the baby is born! Sometimes my 3 yr old just doesnt need his nap.  So during his "nap time," I spend some quality cuddle time with him, then feel no guilt when I have to zone out with a coffee and MDC orngbiggrin.gif Maybe next time she comes down, be a little flexible, invite her to sit next to you, or in the same room with you, and watch TV, color, play with something "special" like your unbreakable jewelery, etc. I would also say things like, "For today, you can stay with me..." or "This ONE time..." if you are so intent on keeping her in her room for an hour for the future. I live for nap time, my two boys (other one is 18m) drive me nuts all day, I am also pregnant and "due" in a week, so I know that quiet time for mama is super important, but she is reaching out to you, not trying to get you upset.


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