Ok Moms, I need help. My DS is 3 and 1/2. No one ever warned me about 3. It was all 2. OOhhhh 2222222. Scary 2's!!! Uh-uh. Not my kiddo. Boy was near angelic. 3 though - wowsers. The beauty of it all is I know all about proper parenting. I got skills, baby. Even got my list of golden rules written down. You know, Don't sweat the small stuff. Listen. Keep things positive. Redirect. Avoid threatening. Admit your own failings. Compromise. All those are perfect sense. Words to live by. Why then, why, in the heat of the moment- do I hear myself saying, "If you don't stop that right now, you are not getting any more treats until you are old enough to vote"? Ok, I may not use those exact words. But I use similar ones, and I'm using then far too often. How can I break out of this habit? I can't stand it.
Please advise, wise counsel. I'd really appreciate the help. Much thanks!!
The can talk, and argue, but aren't reasonable or rational. They know what they want, but don't understand why the answer is no sometimes. Gah, I'm struggling with it too.
3 stinks. And I have my 15 month old DD to remind me how easy the baby years were (are!).
It's all about testing you. If your child argues, breaks stuff, bends all of the rules, breaks his head open for crying out loud... will you still love him? I swear DS just wants to see if he can do ANYTHING in the world and still have me love him. Which, of course, he can.
But yes, at 3, there is just no rationality. For as logical as DS is, he still just can't understand why the answer is no sometimes.
He'll be 4 in August, and in the last 2 or 3 months I have gotten better at following logical consequences rather than making ridiculous statements (although I still make more than I am proud of!). He won't stop climbing on the couch, so I just let him, knowing full well he is going to fall (after I've told him atleast 100 times to stop climbing on the couch because he's going to fall). It's not far enough for him to get truly hurt, but it's far enough that he'll bruise his knee and not do it anymore. When he hits me, I don't play with him for awhile. When someone hits me, I don't want to play with them. Period. Doesn't make me a mean mom, it's just logical. He plays alone and I play with DD... he gets the picture. He colored his walls, he didn't come out of his room until he washed them clean. It's much calmer and easier than being mad. He won't stop pouring water on DD in the bath, so now he has to take a bath by himself for a week.
I've also gotten better on my follow through.. threatening isn't the best option, but if you do say something like "Don't do it again or you're not getting a treat." and then he does it again, DO NOT give him a treat! Don't bend on this. 3.5 y/o's are geniuses. They remember everything. If you fold once, they'll keep doing whatever they want.
We're not swimming in joyousness or anything, but it's definitely improved in the last 6 months. I am hoping this is a good sign for age 4 to come........!
Sleepy, running, wife to DH 08/09 - Mama to DS 8/08 & DD 1/11
"Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare. " - Japanese Proverb
DD is also getting into the testing threes!
Piratemommy, I think at 3 they are super interested in learning about how stuff works, including boundaries. I often think you could be the mellowest person ever and they are going to seek out for that one thing that drives you crazy, and they won't stop until they find it!
I was threatening alot in an effort to persuade until one day it dawned on me that persuasion just wasn't going to work. I like to focus on skill building and a lot of the other GD standards. But DD wants to see clear cause and effect. So while I never used "consequences" when she was younger, because I felt that it just didn't make much sense, I began to use consequences.
What I mean by consequences is this: these days, I find it helps me most to focus on my own behavior and be as disinterested as possible in hers. I inform rather than persuade. "The polite way to say that is, "blah blah blah" or "dirty dishes go in the washtub" or "You may not hit me. I don't like being hit." The corollary to this is: "If you hit me, I will get up and leave the room/will put you in another room and you can call for me or come back/out when you are ready for hugs, or quiet play, etc."
I try to give her the clearest possible information about my boundaries, my expectations, the actions I will take, etc. I try to be as predictable as possible. This doesn't mean she's going to make what I think are logical choices in response. But, those choices are just as important as the choices she makes that I think are wise. We say, "We will try again later," alot. She doesn't thank me for setting those boundaries and she often doesn't like them. But, I am the mom that she has, and this is what I came with, and she is allowed to dislike the outcome, or my decision.
Sometimes we talk together to get a better expectation. For instance, she wanted to change when she nurses to after meals. I agreed but pointed out that the next time she asked me at a time that was not after a meal, I would say no. Did she still want to do that? "Ok," she says. And if she hit and screamed at me because I would not give her milk, I would put her in another room because I do not like being hit and screamed at. "OK," she says, "I'll not hit you." She seemed quite pleased with the outcome.
I won't be surprised if she hits me at some point over this. Then things will happen exactly like we agreed. After some space, we will be able to "make up" and cuddle or read a book or have some other connecting activity.
Being clear about my boundaries and following through has required me to do a lot of (ongoing) soul searching about what my boundaries are, because I grew up without being really allowed to have any. I suspect it's different, maybe easier, for parents who grew up being permitted to have healthy boundaries.
Anyhow, she runs me ragged sometimes ;) but I am so happy to know her. I can't really control her behavior, but I can control mine. My stress level has gotten a lot lower since I began doing these consequences, I guess you would call them. I wouldn't have done it when she was one or even early two, because I didn't feel like her comprehension was there... but now, it definitely is.
Now that I have started enforcing a small number of boundaries very seriously, she doesn't test me nearly as much as she used to. When I say we need to do something, this is important, she says, "Oh, ok." I know part of it is that their development comes in waves but part I think is being able to form a predictable idea of what I will do.
Thank you for even just commiserating, Moms. At the worst of times, I sometimes feel alone. I wonder if I'm the only one who feels like they should have their "Mom card" revoked after a particularly hard day. I know I'm not really the only one, but it also just helps to hear/see other people say they understand- they know. I just place such high standards on myself. While it keeps me functioning at a good Mom level, it also means I beat myself up alot.
Anyway, I thank you all for the advice you've given so far, as well as your shared stories and what works for you. I'll take everything I hear into consideration and just keep on keeping on. 3 won't last forever. And it's honestly been a blast in between the testing/tantrums. It's fun watching his personality emerge. I'll remember that and take a deep breath the next time I want to tell him I'm going to give away his toys to a band of gypsies if he doesn't stop spitting at me.
Yeah, I have a current three year old right now, OMG, I feel your pain.
A friend started me on the path of researching personality types. After disecting dh and I, I moved on to the kids. Three is still kind of young, but I was able to type my 7yo.
The amazing thing is that they were spot on with her. I was shocked. All the things I thought about her, and have been trying to work on with her were right there in print. Also interesting, was the tendancy of our personalities to collide because we are so different. I wasn't that surprised, but did find it helpful to see why I couldn't get through to her at times.
So...maybe reading through this website will help you relate to him a bit better., and talk in terms he can understand. First figure out where you are, and then try to discern what he may be.
"If you keep doing the same things you've always done, you'll keep getting the same results you've always gotten."