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#1 of 28 Old 02-27-2011, 09:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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 My 3 and a half year old son is being such a challenge. Let me preface by saying that I just had a new baby 2 months ago, so I know the adjustment to not being the only child anymore is probably part of this. But seriously he is so difficult every single day. We have had some discipline issues for a while, even before the baby was born, but they have gotten worse. I think it's partly my fault, as I didn't really nip the behavior in the bud, but I didn't know what to do. I want to discipline gently, but I think I have been to lax, I don't think my son believes that I mean what I say. I am ashamed to admit that I have slapped him a few times out of sheer frustration, and yelled at him, which I do not want to do and is totally ineffective. I want to teach him how to handle his emotions, and I want to motivate him to change his behavior, but I have no idea how. We have tried time outs, and they do not seem to be very effective, I try natural consequences as much as possible but seem to be struggling to implement that. I know I need to remain calm, and firm and consistent but am struggling. I am really having a hard time enjoying my little boy, and he used to be the sweetest little boy, and now he seems like a terror and he doesn't listen to anything I say.  I still try and give him as much attention as I can, while the baby sleeps I read to him, I still take him to the library, the playground, etc. He goes to preschool three afternoons a week and is doing great there.

 Our problem behaviors:

 

1. He has been taking off and running and won't come back or stop when I call him. He was doing this when we would walk out to the car and scaring me as our car is parked on the street. I have had to run after him and grab him, and have explained countless times how dangerous this is. I now will not let go of his hand any time we are getting in or out of the car or walking anywhere.

 

2. He hits and kicks DH and I. He does this when we say no to something that he wants, or when we are trying to dress him or brush his teeth and he doesn't want us to. Or really anytime he gets upset. He has been hitting the baby. I have told him more times than I can count that hitting hurts, that we don't hit when we're upset, have tried to ask him what he's feeling, to tell me with his words. We have been using time outs when he hits, and then asking him to apoligize afterwards. This has been a continual problem for awhile. What is a natural consequence for this? I have slapped him back out of sheer frustration and lack of control on a few occasions when he kept repeatedly hitting me and smiling as he did it, but I am determined and committed to avoiding doing that ever again. (and I felt awful for it as soon as I did it).

 These two destructive/dangerous issues are the top two concerning me, but there are more. In general, he does not listen to me, with pretty much everything right now. I try to not use "no" a lot, but there are things that he has to learn he cannot do, and that when I say no I mean no, and he has to listen. I feel like it's becoming a power struggle, he keeps pushing and pushing to see what his boundaries are, and who has the power in the relationship, and I don't want to physically overpower him, or have him behave because he is afraid of me or DH or punishment, because I don't believe in that kind of discipline, but I am truly stumped and challenged with what to do. I feel like such a pushover, like such a clueless parent, and embarrassed that my child walks all over me.

 

  Okay, more problem behaviors.

3.  He makes deliberate messes. He throws clothes around, makes messes with his toys. I have decided to start the rule that he needs to clean up one toy/project before he takes out another, but he resists this. I know I have not been consistent enough with this in the past, but when he plays with everything at once, our small house looks torn apart. After he makes a mess, I tell him his consequence is that he needs to pick it up. He refuses. I tell him after he picks up we can do this fun thing, (go to the park, I'll read him a book, etc.) Sometimes this works and sometimes he just says "I don't want to do that". How does a natural consequence work then? He plays with his food at dinnertime, throws his food on the floor. When he starts this I take away his plate and say dinner is over. He still continues this behavior.

 

4. He was doing really well with potty training before the baby was born, and now he refuses to go sit on the potty when I remind him, always states that he doesn't have to go. He has peed and pooped in his pants, on the floor. I know he is perfectly capable of going. I am not pushing the potty training right now, as I know regression is common in an older sibling once a new baby is added to the family, but I am really eager for him to start toileting independantly.

 There's probably more, but I think those are the major issues. I have been trying my best to reassure him and show him that I still love him, spend as much time as I can with him, (putting the baby in a sling and reading to him, still doing some of his bedtime routine some nights). I try to give him choices, and involve him in things, let him do things on his own. When he does have positive behavior and listens well, I praise him and hope to encourage more of that behavior. But he is so challenging right now I am frustrated and finding myself dreading the long weekdays when I am alone with both kids. What am I doing wrong? How can I do it better. I would appreciate any advice from more experienced moms. Sorry this got so long.

 

 


Maria, wife to DH, mama to DS 09/2007, #2 12/2010 and hoping for a
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#2 of 28 Old 02-27-2011, 10:35 PM
 
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Wish I could offer you some advice but it would seem that we are almost in the same boat; although my DS does not get as physical.  He is also around the same age as your son and I am expecting  little one.  We have been having a rough time too and I just cant seem to meet his needs.  I was remembering today I'd read a book where they said that 3.5 if often an age of disequilibrium.  So I guess this coupled with the perceived threat of  a new baby might be causing all these reactions.

 

 

I have found that hugging him when he is going through his tantrums helps but it is short lived.  I like you also try to be firm but I also try to select which battle I am going to fight and I avoid having arguments with him.  I state my case and if he refuses he either gets time outs or have something taken away e.g. a toy.  I also make a big deal out of the times when he is good.

 

These are the things I am trying but I am still struggling.  When I am burned out my DH spends a little time with him while I try and get some energy and  entertain thoughts of happier times.  I also take him outside as much as I can so that he can burn off some energy.  Hopefully more mamas who have been through this can offer some more.

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#3 of 28 Old 02-28-2011, 05:31 AM
 
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It's a tough age! I don't have a lot of time but it just sounds to me like you need to get stricter.

Dinnertime: Food on floor = end of dinner. He goes in his room and there he stays until after dinner. If that's not practical then he leaves the table and sits in the LR or whatever works.

Hitting: You go home (if you're out) or you don't go wherever you were supposed to go (if you're home and it's practical) and he goes to calm down somewhere alone *until he is calm*. For us that could be 10 seconds or 10 minutes. It was about DS learning to take control of/responsibility for his behavior.

Deliberate messes: He loses the toy until the next day.

Running away: You're doing the right thing where he loses the freedom to walk alone.

These are just some things we did. I think it was around that age when DH got very frustrated with me because I was letting DS get away with all kinds of totally unacceptable things. He was right. We really tightened the reins and got a much calmer, happier boy out of it. In retrospect he was just crying out for a strong leader. It sounds like your son is doing the same thing!


GL!

DS (6.06), DD (10.08), DD (05.11).

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#4 of 28 Old 02-28-2011, 05:46 AM
 
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3.5 is a hard age, and any time a new baby comes into a house is a hard time.  I'm sure things are difficult!

 

For the running, you're doing the right thing.  Just hold his hand if he can't be trusted to not run.

 

Messes - I just modeled picking up with my dd and kept her stuff neat until she got used to it being neat, and that did work though it took a long time, but with a new baby you'll have to be careful that there aren't little pieces out and about.  It might help if things are organized and inaccessible and he has to go through you to get them.  That way, when he says, "I want X" you can say, "OK pick up Y and give it to me to put away and when I put it away I'll get out X."  Then the ball is in his court.  If you have a spare room, you can put potential mess making stuff in there. 

 

The hitting - first thing is that so long as he's getting hit, he will hit.  He is being aggressive toward the baby because he isn't happy about having a new baby in the house, and I'd allow him to express that and even encourage it as talking about feelings makes them easier to deal with.  You could even encourage him to draw pictures about how he feels.  Empathize, and don't shame him for his feelings.  I personally would just hold his hands when he gets physical and say, "I will not allow you to hit me (or whoever)."  I think the key is more dealing with it very very consistently, and not hitting him, than anything else.  It's something you have to deal with every single time though to get him out of the habit of dealing with bad feelings through hitting.

 

Potty regression is ridiculously common when there's a new baby.  I'd just break out the diapers till he gets past this stage.  He will get past it but it is so incredibly common and I don't think there's a real fix other than getting used to the baby being there.

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#5 of 28 Old 02-28-2011, 09:34 AM
 
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Another thought to throw in...

 

To help minimize messes minimize the potential for mess.. Look at de-cluttering toys.  Don't have all the toys available at once, but put some out of rotation.  Keep toys with big mess-factor up and out of reach, and only bring them out one at a time, and when other stuff is put away (I'm thinking things like boxes of legos, paints, etc).  A tip for easy clean-up of toys with tons of tiny parts (like lego) is to lay down a blanket (we use an old receiving blanket) under where he's playing so that when he's done you just pick it up and funnel the toys back in the box.  The same concept of minimizing mess potential goes for meal time.  Only give him a very small portion of food at a time.  The whole idea of this is that If he does make a mess then at least it isn't a too big one!

 


Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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#6 of 28 Old 02-28-2011, 11:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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 Thanks for the replies. I think I need to get stricter and much more consistent. Sometimes the messes aren't toys, though, he just deliberately knocks stuff off of surfaces, starts grabbing laundry that I am folding and throwing it, gets into babie's clothes and makes a mess. I have been trying to then get him to clean it up as a consequence, but usually he refuses and states he won't at first, and then after we sit there a while, and he isn't allowed to do anything else, he eventually picks up. Is there a better way to do this? The hitting/kicking (and he used to bite) is the main issue I'm concerned with.  I realize that acting out towards the baby is perfectly normal and to be expected, and I try to encourage him to tell me his feelings. He has voiced a few times that he wants the baby to go back (go back in my tummy, we should throw him in the trash, and that he liked it when it was just him and mom and dad.) I try to be very empathetic and tell him that I understand why he feels like that, but that the baby will be a lot more fun when he grows a little bigger, and they can play together. Don't know if that's the right way to handle it. I have tried to get him involved with getting diapers or clothes for the baby when I need to change him, but usually he doesn't want to.  What if I send him to his room (or elsewhere) alone after he hits, and he won't stay? Keep bringing him back there? What if I leave immediatley after he hits and don't interact with him for a while? I think that it is a really good idea to show him the message that hitting is not going to get a reaction (or not the type it's been getting) because I know that he is wanting the reaction it elicits even though it is negative attention. DH is also frustrated with DS and believes that I am not strict enough and I let him get away with things. DH is better at being firm, but disciplines in some ways that I don't agree with. We have had a couple disagreements in the moment in front of DS, and I know that doesn't help the discipline, DS needs to see us as a united front. We have had a couple conversations about it, and are both trying to find an effective, yet gentle discipline method and plan to get on the same page. Since I spend a lot more time with DS I know I will need to do a lot of the discipline. We are both just trying to find our way, I think this is the most challenging part of parenting I've experienced yet.


Maria, wife to DH, mama to DS 09/2007, #2 12/2010 and hoping for a
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#7 of 28 Old 02-28-2011, 07:05 PM
 
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Sounds like we are in a very similar boat! I have a 3.5 yr old son and a 10 month old daughter... The transition to having two kids has been both exhausting and enlightening. I find myself having many of the feelings you expressed towards my boy, as he also hits, kicks, is way too rough with his sister, often refuses to do what we ask, etc.

 

Here's what we've discovered; our baby is going to be one tough mama when she grows up! No, seriously, here's what I've discovered: My son wants to understand how to exist in the new family structure. He wants to know that he's loved, valued, and useful (which can be hard to reassure him of when he's acting like a monster). I have found HUMOR to be the #1 "doorway out" of tough situations. It's relieving and surprising to the kid for you to turn into a goof in the middle of their tantrum ("Nooooo smiiiiling.... nope. Can't smile. Don't do it. Hey! Quit it! AAAHHH, stop smiling! You're angry!"). Anything to break the cycle. They want to break it too. It helps to turn back on my Love & Compassion for him when I see him smiling.

 

The next tool I use is Parental TimeOuts. Give yourself 5 minutes, whenever you are able (hubby can help with this sometimes, and it gets easier as the baby gets a little older). When everyone's happy/sleeping/entertained, slip out and do something you like, even for a few minutes. Breathe, center, be present with yourself, drink a glass of water. I find that I have a lot more patience with the little ones when I have taken even a smidgen of time for ME. In the middle of angry situations with my boy, sometimes I simply walk out of the room. Sometimes outside our front door. I remove myself from the situation if I feel like I'm getting to my "rage place" where I really feel like lashing out at him, feel like I can't take any more of ANYTHING. They learn to deal with challenges and anger by watching us... which means the pressure is on for us to grow up! But also, not feeling guilty or taking it out on yourself... you wouldn't want them to do that to themselves... you'd just want them to learn from their mistakes and do the best they can to do better next time. Right? Give that kind of caring to yourself. I feel SO awful after losing it with my son, but it's a practice of letting go, moving on, doing better.

 

We use time-outs as our discipline method. 1 minute per year old, double for serious offenses, like physical violence, hurting baby, etc. In the chair, time starts when he's quiet and still, no talking to/with him before or during. They understand the rules, don't have to reiterate them. It gives me time to cool off too. Use the time to breeeeeaathe...  :) If he won't go to the chair when we tell him it's a time-out, we tell him, "you can bring your body there, or I can help you. I'll count to 3.." We also use timeouts when he refuses to clean up ("Please go sit in your chair until you're ready to _____ brush teeth/clean up/...."). Usually he decides he's ready to do whatever it is fairly quickly.

 

Resources: Continuum concept, Dr. Sears, prayers for help (if you're into praying), talking to other moms!

 

It takes a lot of creativity to deal with these little kids of ours! I really feel for you... good luck! Hope my story helps out a bit!

 

 

 

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#8 of 28 Old 03-02-2011, 11:51 AM
 
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My responses in blue.

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Originally Posted by First Time Mama View Post

 My 3 and a half year old son is being such a challenge. Let me preface by saying that I just had a new baby 2 months ago, so I know the adjustment to not being the only child anymore is probably part of this. But seriously he is so difficult every single day. We have had some discipline issues for a while, even before the baby was born, but they have gotten worse. I think it's partly my fault, as I didn't really nip the behavior in the bud, but I didn't know what to do. I want to discipline gently, but I think I have been to lax, I don't think my son believes that I mean what I say. I am ashamed to admit that I have slapped him a few times out of sheer frustration, and yelled at him, which I do not want to do and is totally ineffective. I want to teach him how to handle his emotions, and I want to motivate him to change his behavior, but I have no idea how. We have tried time outs, and they do not seem to be very effective, I try natural consequences as much as possible but seem to be struggling to implement that. I know I need to remain calm, and firm and consistent but am struggling. I am really having a hard time enjoying my little boy, and he used to be the sweetest little boy, and now he seems like a terror and he doesn't listen to anything I say.  I still try and give him as much attention as I can, while the baby sleeps I read to him, I still take him to the library, the playground, etc. He goes to preschool three afternoons a week and is doing great there.

 

**********If you are unpredictable, his behavior will be unpredictable. You say you want him to control his emotions but first you have to learn to control yours. First, recognize his boundaries: crying, angry, yelling, fear, running away with emotion. Once you see him do these, recognize that you just crossed his boundaries and are making him feel unsafe. You also have little gut feelings that you are crossing boundaries. Stop what ever you are doing. Don't apologize, change strategy.****************** Now if he is showing these emotions because you didn't let him run out to the street, keep doing what you are doing.

 

 Our problem behaviors:

 

1. He has been taking off and running and won't come back or stop when I call him. He was doing this when we would walk out to the car and scaring me as our car is parked on the street. I have had to run after him and grab him, and have explained countless times how dangerous this is. I now will not let go of his hand any time we are getting in or out of the car or walking anywhere.

 

********Before you leave the store, hold his hand, put him in the basket, or put him in the stroller.****************

 

2. He hits and kicks DH and I. He does this when we say no to something that he wants, or when we are trying to dress him or brush his teeth and he doesn't want us to. Or really anytime he gets upset. He has been hitting the baby. I have told him more times than I can count that hitting hurts, that we don't hit when we're upset, have tried to ask him what he's feeling, to tell me with his words. We have been using time outs when he hits, and then asking him to apoligize afterwards. This has been a continual problem for awhile. What is a natural consequence for this? I have slapped him back out of sheer frustration and lack of control on a few occasions when he kept repeatedly hitting me and smiling as he did it, but I am determined and committed to avoiding doing that ever again. (and I felt awful for it as soon as I did it).

 These two destructive/dangerous issues are the top two concerning me, but there are more. In general, he does not listen to me, with pretty much everything right now. I try to not use "no" a lot, but there are things that he has to learn he cannot do, and that when I say no I mean no, and he has to listen. I feel like it's becoming a power struggle, he keeps pushing and pushing to see what his boundaries are, and who has the power in the relationship, and I don't want to physically overpower him, or have him behave because he is afraid of me or DH or punishment, because I don't believe in that kind of discipline, but I am truly stumped and challenged with what to do. I feel like such a pushover, like such a clueless parent, and embarrassed that my child walks all over me.

 

***************I too don't use "no" that often but I don't try to avoid it. It is just making things too complicated. I tell my daughter, if you want to play with toys or go outside you have to get dressed, brush you hair and your teeth. If you want to sing songs, read books at bedtime, you have to brush teeth, etc. If she decides to kick us out of the room, lights are out.********************

 

  Okay, more problem behaviors.

3.  He makes deliberate messes. He throws clothes around, makes messes with his toys. I have decided to start the rule that he needs to clean up one toy/project before he takes out another, but he resists this. I know I have not been consistent enough with this in the past, but when he plays with everything at once, our small house looks torn apart. After he makes a mess, I tell him his consequence is that he needs to pick it up. He refuses. I tell him after he picks up we can do this fun thing, (go to the park, I'll read him a book, etc.) Sometimes this works and sometimes he just says "I don't want to do that". How does a natural consequence work then? He plays with his food at dinnertime, throws his food on the floor. When he starts this I take away his plate and say dinner is over. He still continues this behavior.

 

***************I will dump toys in the center of the room and tell her to start sorting toys into baskets. When I see my daughter busy following directions or NOT, I go and take care of a few things.

 

I use cubby boxes, sat down and taught her, one basket out at a time. If she is starting to take out another box, I correct her but I don't stress about it.

 

She also uses a small rug to play on. My rule is to not let any toys off the rug. Does she always follow the rule? No. ************************

 

4. He was doing really well with potty training before the baby was born, and now he refuses to go sit on the potty when I remind him, always states that he doesn't have to go. He has peed and pooped in his pants, on the floor. I know he is perfectly capable of going. I am not pushing the potty training right now, as I know regression is common in an older sibling once a new baby is added to the family, but I am really eager for him to start toileting independantly.

 There's probably more, but I think those are the major issues. I have been trying my best to reassure him and show him that I still love him, spend as much time as I can with him, (putting the baby in a sling and reading to him, still doing some of his bedtime routine some nights). I try to give him choices, and involve him in things, let him do things on his own. When he does have positive behavior and listens well, I praise him and hope to encourage more of that behavior. But he is so challenging right now I am frustrated and finding myself dreading the long weekdays when I am alone with both kids. What am I doing wrong? How can I do it better. I would appreciate any advice from more experienced moms. Sorry this got so long.

 

 

I don't know what parenting philosophy you are using. I don't believe in the "Let the kids be free and figure it out on their own." I have rules and then they can be adventurous.
 

 

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#9 of 28 Old 03-02-2011, 12:44 PM
 
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Like other PP have said, 3.5 is a ridiculously tough age.  I have a 3.5 year old now and it's HARD.  I have a new baby on the way too, and being superpregnant it's exhausting.  Someone referred to a book that said 3.5 is an age of disequilibrium.  The book is Your Three Year Old: Friend or Foe.   While that series of books isn't particularly AP, they do have some great information on child development and what's normal.  Unfortunately, everything your son is doing is completely normal for his age.  I did find it amusing that in the part I read, the only advice the author had for dealing with a 3.5 year was to put the kid in daycare or hire a babysitter.  lol.gif  At this age, it's all about control.  3.5 year olds are desperate for control and it makes them totally psycho. 

 

For hitting or throwing dangerous things, I take DD to her relatively safe playroom and keep her restrained in a bearhug, explaining that while it's okay to feel mad that I have to keep her and everyone else safe.  I let her go when she says she's ready to stop hitting and throwing, but sometimes she does it again and I have to restrain her again.  Eventually she calms down and helps me clean up.

I know some parents who have a mad room where the kid can go hit and throw things and get their aggression and anger out safely with beanbags, pillows, punching bags.  One family has a mad room at the back of a closet--it doesn't need to be a big space, just a safe one.

 

I think the main thing that helps me through it is realizing that it's completely normal and age appropriate, IT WILL PASS, and that my daughter isn't a little monster--she just doesn't have the impulse control yet to get her through the big, scary emotions she's feeling.  I'm working to give her the tools to understand and cope with the emotions she feels, and I know that eventually we'll get there.  The crazy out of control anger and frustration that you felt when you slapped your son is the same way that he feels when he acts out of control.  It's scary to know that you can't always control your body, it's scary to know that you're making everyone else upset, and it's scary to feel emotions that are so much bigger than you.  Just keep showing him how you calm yourself down when you get to that point and teaching him ways to calm his own body down, and in another 6 months or so you'll be past this hurdle and on to new ones. 

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#10 of 28 Old 03-31-2011, 03:17 PM
 
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Not too much to add here, just wanted to let you know we are going through the same thing here.  I'd say a difference is that we have been dealing with these issues for a couple years, although things have gotten worse since DS was born.  My daughter's teachers love her at school (3 mornings a week) but I'm having a very, very hard time at home.  Actually, DD is fine at home as long as she is getting 100% of my attention and she is getting to pick the activities, which with a baby and all the cooking and housework is only about an hour a day.  Aside from that, she hits and kicks the baby, purposely makes huge messes, runs away when we are outside of the house, hits me and DH.  I am glad to see someone else is having these problems because I have about 6 friends IRL with 3 1/2 year-olds and a younger sibling too and none of them are going through what we are in our house.   I really do dislike DD at times.   My attention split between the baby and DD is about 20/80.  She gets so much attention already and I hate that I have to ignore the baby while I take care of DD.

 

I did see where you said you don't want to physically overpower your son.  That is not what I wanted to do with my daughter, but I have come to realize that sometimes it is necessary.  If she is pummeling the baby, I have to pull her off.  If she is running away and doesn't stop when I say so, I have to go get her and grab her.  If she won't go in her car seat, I have to put her in.   I don't have any qualms about this.  What's more of a grey area is tooth-brushing, hand-washing, putting clothes on, etc.  I will physically do these things for her if she won't do it, but since sometimes when the stars are aligned right she will do these things on her own, so I feel like I'm screwing up when I have to do it for her.

 

I am dreading when the baby gets mobile.  I have no idea how I will ever manage then.

 

 

 

 


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#11 of 28 Old 04-01-2011, 01:07 PM
 
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I was totally there!!!  My kids are 3 years apart and it just seems that you cross a line where you realize that there IS no excuse, they really should be better disciplined - and then the baby is born, throwing everything into absolute chaos.  Hugs mama!!

 

Let me preface this by saying we are in a much better space at four years old.  DD listens, negotiates, loves her little brother, and is generally the cute little light of our family.  We still have some issues with her but they are more normal kid stuff than crisis mode.  If you told me this was possible a year ago, I would have laughed in your face.

 

I read a whole ton of discipline books and tried everything and luckily one or two things stuck.  Alyson Schafer's Honey I Wrecked the Kids was the one that sort of got the fires put out until I could sort through where I really was philosophically.

 

Basically I got through the aggressiveness by ignoring it.  We did time outs but not as punishment - for other peoples' safety.  In her case the behavior was a cry for attention and once she stopped getting any, she stopped.  She knew very well that hitting hurt and that babies were delicate but that knowledge wasn't stopping her - so I just stopped lecturing, set up consequences, and carried them out very consistently.  Now that she is older and has a better handle on the concept of manners and respect, we do more of the talking through, but at 3 with new baby in the house I simply removed her from the situation and that was that.

 

I handled a lot of the self-care (teeth, getting ready, etc.) and potty regression issues by turning the control over to her as much as possible.  I did this slowly over time but she did test me and there were consequences.  For example - no teeth brushed, no fruit/sugar that day.  No getting ready - no park.  I also backed straight off on potty training and told her they were her pants to pee in if she liked, but it was much comfier to be dry.  Turns out my DD is a very competent little girl!  She loves getting to do thing 'all by herself' and no more chasing her with shoes.  She did eventually see the benefit of dry pants and never looked back, but it did take a lot of patience.  (I think I'm going to try training DS early!!!)  I also made her responsible for cleaning up any messes she created.  I did help, as in give step-by-step instructions and handle things that she really couldn't (like lift the corner of the mattress to get the sheets back on) but I did not do it FOR her ever.  This really helped her see the consequences of her actions.  But it did take awhile for the wheels to turn before she stopped making messes just for the sake of it.

 

The general ignoring of anything I said got a multipronged approach....one was - fine, I'll wait until you are ready.  I did this in situations where I really could wait her out and once she had thoroughly tested that I never had a problem.  We also talked about how it feels to be ignored and respect, once she was ready for that conversation.  One I have stumbled upon recently is "did you hear me?"  That one has been GREAT - sometimes she uses it as a reminder and sometimes she stops and explains her plan.  Either way she knows that the option to ignore is gone!

 

There is so much going on at 3 and 3.5!  My DD was dropping a nap at that time so fully half the time I was dealing with tired irrational child.  She also seemed like she was a rational human being but really she just didn't have much capacity for self control, but was smarter and less easily controlled than at two.  Between 3 and 4 is a HUGE year.  This really came into focus for me recently watching my DD's last dance class, a "show" for the parents.  In a similar class, at 3, she needed the teacher to remind her to follow the instructions and not interrupt the whole class.  At 4, she was following the instructions perfectly and not distracted by the kids who just decided to run off or did the wrong move or ran to their parents...and those kids were the 3 year olds in the class!

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#12 of 28 Old 04-01-2011, 01:35 PM
 
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I am dealing with my 4th 3.5 yo.  Fun times!  Adding a sibling to the family is a HUGE adjustment.  Plus, at this age they start to really get an idea of how big the outside world is.  It is a tough place to be for such a small person.

 

Some of the things I would suggest:

 

-start to think of his behaviour as communication.  He is feeling disoriented and is trying to let you know (or at least get those yucky feelings OUT).  Not appropriately, but that is what he needs help learning.  Give him words or actions to help him better express himself.

 

-consistency  So important for young kids to know what to expect.  It really helps, especially in times of transition (it takes at least 6 mo or more for a child to adjust to a new sibling)

 

-take a break.....with him.  This should be the #1 priority.  Take a break from the fighting, the frustrations, the expectations.  Just spend a few days doing fun stuff together (with baby in tow).  Go for ice cream.  Have an adventure around the neighborhood.  Play at the park.  Just have fun and reconnect with him.  Firm up that attachment.  It will make everything SO much easier.  Then you can implement the changes you want to make from a positive place instead of just reacting to what has already happened.

 

-humor, silliness, and more humor.  Making anything or everything lighthearted or less serious will save you in SO many situations.  A great distraction (is this our car? while pointing to a motorbike, city bus, or giant truck as you walk through the parking lot), a freak-out diffuser (HEY, these are MY pants while you try to put them over your legs while trying to get a stubborn child dressed in a hurry), etc.  Them thinking you are wrong and confused while they are right is just so much fun!

 

Practically speaking a 3 year old is old enough to mostly dress themselves (picking their own clothes is FUN), brush their own teeth (with you checking how clean and amazingly shiny they are afterward), and clean up their own toys with help.  If he gets to choose his own clothes, pick out his own toothbrush, and help decide where his own toys go that may help him feel like he has more control at a time when things are changing for him.

 

As for hitting, the thing I found that worked best when any of mine when through a hitting phase was to calmly state that I did NOT like to be hit/kicked/pinched/bit.  Then I walked away from the area.  Being calm is important (because clearly the child is not being calm, so having it modeled to them can be very helpful in helping them feel less out of control).  I would consistently leave the area when being hit.  Making a big deal of it would have been a mistake for me, that gives more power to a child who is already out of sorts.  It always passed much faster this way than it did in the times when I was cranky, frustrated, or handling it in other ways.

 

The only non-negotiable for me is running out into a parking lot.  In the cart or holding my hand are the only 2 options for a runner.  I need to know they are safe from point A to point B.

 

 

Good luck.  This really can be a fun age once you get past all the hard parts  :)

 

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#13 of 28 Old 04-01-2011, 07:20 PM
 
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I just want to say that we have a 6 month old and a 3 year old (3 plus 3 months) and you have described my son exactly!! He does all of the same behaviors! It is somewhat comforting that we're not the only ones going through it, and helpful to hear from others that it will pass. He was very well behaved prior to baby's arrival, and then we went through an awful period for about 3 months. Now, his behavior has declined again, including hitting (he had stopped doing this, but it is back). This thread is sooooo helpful to keep in mind all of the things they are going through at this age! Everything is a power issue. We really have to pick our battles carefully. We've also stepped up the reinforcement of rules with time outs. We have to put him in a room by himself. It is not locked, but the door handle is child proofed so he can't open it. The idea in our case is to give him separation from us as his time out (being with us is what he craves the most). Consistency is key, and we are trying to respond sooner, rather than give warnings/threats about time out.

 

However, there is one area in which I am totally losing it! Sometimes, we have to put the baby down, or I have to nurse the baby. At this age, it is impossible to nurse when DS1 is around, because DS2 is totally distracted. So, we need about 10 minutes of absolute silence in the room where baby is, whether it is to nurse him or put him to bed. DS1 is HORRIBLE about this! He used to be good at playing by himself downstairs while we were doing this, but not anymore. Now, he wants full attention. He comes in and makes noise, either talking, or whining, or whimpering, or throwing himself on the ground, or, tonight, it was throwing himself on top of me while I was side-laying nursing. This makes me SOOO angry!! It is always just when the baby is about to sleep, and it wakes him up. I have no idea what to do. I have offered for him to read a book in there, and that worked once, but he usually refuses. He also purposefully refuses to play by himself downstairs. I know my husband said he had a talk with him about it, saying, "just please, don't come upstairs." I wonder if that made it the forbidden fruit. Now, he just won't stay away. It is so frustrating!


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#14 of 28 Old 04-02-2011, 11:54 AM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by nina_yyc View Post

The general ignoring of anything I said got a multipronged approach....one was - fine, I'll wait until you are ready.  I did this in situations where I really could wait her out and once she had thoroughly tested that I never had a problem.  We also talked about how it feels to be ignored and respect, once she was ready for that conversation.  One I have stumbled upon recently is "did you hear me?"  That one has been GREAT - sometimes she uses it as a reminder and sometimes she stops and explains her plan.  Either way she knows that the option to ignore is gone!


Sorry forgot to mention the most important thing here, which is that I made it very clear that she was expected to respond each and every time.  I did not give warnings or ask her to do something more than once unless it legitimately seemed like she had forgotten.  If she ignored me even once I would go to plan B.  I felt like if I set up a pattern of asking more than once I would just be feeding my own frustration.

 

I have used non-GD consequences like time out and docking TV time.  Those have had their place in managing really out-of-control behavior, and DD and I have taken the time to talk it through each and every time, but overall it was probably not the best move for us.  DD is really strong willed and she just gets angry rather than learning a lesson.

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#15 of 28 Old 04-02-2011, 08:15 PM
 
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This is so rough!  I explain to DD that once DS falls asleep we can go do something fun together just the two of us and it just doesn't sink in. I honestly think she is unable to wait for 10 minutes.  I do understand it must seem like an eternity to her, but it is really frustrating to me.  I get all cranky and the baby is cranky and sleep-deprived, too.  On weekends and when DH works from home I can have him take her for 10 or 15 minutes so I can put the baby down for a nap. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by porcelina View Post

 

However, there is one area in which I am totally losing it! Sometimes, we have to put the baby down, or I have to nurse the baby. At this age, it is impossible to nurse when DS1 is around, because DS2 is totally distracted. So, we need about 10 minutes of absolute silence in the room where baby is, whether it is to nurse him or put him to bed. DS1 is HORRIBLE about this! He used to be good at playing by himself downstairs while we were doing this, but not anymore. Now, he wants full attention. He comes in and makes noise, either talking, or whining, or whimpering, or throwing himself on the ground, or, tonight, it was throwing himself on top of me while I was side-laying nursing. This makes me SOOO angry!! It is always just when the baby is about to sleep, and it wakes him up. I have no idea what to do. I have offered for him to read a book in there, and that worked once, but he usually refuses.


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#16 of 28 Old 04-03-2011, 09:12 AM
 
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Wow, we are so going through some of the same things.  I wish I had advice but I was just searching around here for some help with our struggles.  I have a three year old, almost 4 now actually and a 10 mo baby, and a 7 year old.  I thought things were getting better after a VERY difficult adjustment to the new baby, but most days I just want to crawl in a cave and hide until everything is easier.  I spend way too much time yelling/threatening/being angry, but I'm just so spent and exhausted from trying so hard to avoid problems and having them happen anyway.  Just hoping things get better soon...DH is starting to threaten to "just start smacking" him, which breaks my heart.  Anyway, no great advice from me...just commiseration.

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#17 of 28 Old 04-13-2011, 08:36 AM
 
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I so needed to read this thread today.  I wish I had advice, but today is one of *those* days where I just want to cry.  I feel like I have failed in every way it is possible to fail as a parent all before 8 a.m.  My throat is scratchy from yelling.  I've said things I regret.  It is SO HARD to deal with a child like this.  Some days I feel like I need therapy and other days I think that this child would push a saint to his limits (and since my DH is pretty close to a saint and even he loses his temper a lot, I know this is true).  We don't even have a new baby yet (DS2 is 21 months, #3 coming in about 2 more months) and things are crazy here.  It has not always been this bad ... well, off and on, but not so consistently as right now, during the second half of 3 years old.  So I am hoping it is the age and things will even out some during age 4.  Being pregnant or having a new baby definitely doesn't help.  One thing I have found that does help is to have a lot of activities he can get really engaged in.  E.g. right now he is painting with watercolors and I have a few minutes of peace.  Or reading to him, or going out to the playground, or playing with the Lincoln Logs or a puzzle, baking cookies, and (shamefully but honestly) an age-appropriate movie or PBS show.  If there is nothing planned for a particular moment and I am trying to get something done, he will be into something he's not supposed to be into and then it just escalates from there.  Our biggest issue lately is that he won't let me make a meal without being up in my face wanting to "help."  I try to let him when I can, but there are some things he can't do (like cracking eggs).  Then he throws a huge fit and starts throwing toys and ... sigh. 

 

I'm not glad that anyone else's child is having similar problems, but I'm glad to know about it because it makes me feel less alone.  Hang in there, mamas.


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#18 of 28 Old 04-13-2011, 03:48 PM
 
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I have six children, and some of them have adjusted to a new sibling better than others. Here are a couple of suggestions: 1) You are not superhuman, so give yourself (and, by extention, your little guy) a break! Take the pressure off and go ahead and put him in pullups or diapers until he expresses an interest all by himself to resume the potty. When it is no longer a battle, the motivation to fight you is gone and the issue will resolve itself. 2) Put up all of the toys, clothes, etc so they are inaccessible, then only get out what you want him to play with. Again, take the pressure off of yourself and your little one by simply picking up the toys yourself for the time being and reserve starting a new routine for when baby is older. 3) You've already handled the running to the car issue yourself by doing exactly what I would suggest...holding onto your son until you have him safely in the car. 4) Hitting is a natural response to stress and frustration for a preschooler. Obviously it is unacceptable behavior, though! And since you've caved into stress and frustration yourself in this area, you understand how he feels! Again, take the pressure off of yourself by forgiving yourself for being human, then work on avoiding letting your son get to that level of stress and frustration. Watch for signs he is moving in that direction and give him a 'time-in' instead of a 'time-out'! A 'time-in' is when you stop what you are doing as soon as possible and simply sit with your son, giving him your full attention, eye contact, and physical contact with a light rubbing on his back or stroking his hair or full-on cuddling if he enjoys that. Defusing the stress and frustration before it erupts will solve most of the hitting issues, but on those occassions when hitting does occur issue a firm, calm 'no' and then walk away (or remove the baby) with no further engagement in conversation, reasoning, correcting, admonishing, etc. This effectively stops the current situation from escalating and stops the issue from becoming an attention-getting device. Wait until he approaches you, don't go to him. Then accept him back without any further reference to the hitting. You are making your point with your actions and you are modeling self-controlled behavior. 5) If brushing teeth has become a battleground, take him to the store and let him pick out a new electric toothbrush and some toothpaste (no floride in case he swallows it), and let him put the paste on and brush his teeth himself for now to remove the issue from battleground status. You can resume brushing (or helping him brush) later.

 

I hope that helps! God bless.

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#19 of 28 Old 04-13-2011, 06:59 PM
 
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This is a response to: "Our biggest issue lately is that he won't let me make a meal without being up in my face wanting to "help."  I try to let him when I can, but there are some things he can't do (like cracking eggs).  Then he throws a huge fit and starts throwing toys and ... sigh." 

My 3.5 yr old often insists on being involved in what I am working on, even when there isn't an easy way to involve him... Here are a few ideas; get him involved in something that you don't actually need done, but won't hurt anything.... like cutting up a zucchini or banana with a butter knife, squishing and re-squishing a tiny bit of dough into "his own pizza/bread", washing a few simple dishes at the sink, pouring the pasta into the water, etc. It's not that you actually need the help, but more to diffuse the situation. My boy usually gets bored after about 5 minutes of "helping mama" and goes to play by himself. With cracking eggs, try taking his hand and helping him hit it on the bowl/pan, then coaching him on how to "open it like a book". It's only messy for a second!

 

Good luck to all of you.... I know that mothering/parenting has been the most challenging thing I've ever encountered, on every level, but also the most gratifying. Remember to reach deep into your heart and find what it is that you are grateful for in those moments... it will restore the love to your heart and put your experience into the right perspective.  <3

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#20 of 28 Old 04-14-2011, 06:51 PM
 
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Please listen to littleheartbks- mom of 6. She has it RIGHT ON! Please do NOT get more strict with your little guy! My heart goes out to him. I have a 3.5 year old. I am 46 (yes, he's mine, naturally). I am a stepmom, too - I have helped raise a 4 and 9 year old to now 16 and 22. I was strict with them. It was all I knew, and I needed some control given we were a blended fam, and I was the odd parent out. But, what THEY taught me is that authoritative parenting (these are real parenting styles you could research) styles can backfire big time. I think about my own parents and their generation - I know that what we did was to just not misbehave in front of them out of fear, not out of an obligation to good choices. We still broke the rules when they were not looking. After raising my stepkids, I felt committed to breaking the cycle of dysfunction with my ds. Even now I have to remind my dh that he cannot expect ds to regulate his emotions (kids his age have real trouble doing that) when dh sometimes cannot even regulate his own as an adult! Same goes for all of us.

 

I just feel so deeply about this that I have to take a few minutes to elaborate. My little guy gets tons of attention. I do extended breastfeeding, still cosleep, SAHM, etc. He has no reason to be "bad." But even my sweet little guy does the things you speak about. I organize his toys and I pick up after him (modeling) and ask for his help, and thank him even if he picks up only 1 out of 100. I use tubs, shelves, baggies, drawers, cabinets. If he sits at the table for 3 minutes and it is obvious he does not feel like eating, I do not force him (food disorders prevalent in my own upbringing). He is taught to say I enjoyed dinner mom, dad can I be excused - then he can get down. In restaurants, he does pretty well, but when he deteriorates, one parent gets up and walks or goes outside or takes a break then comes back to the table. If he makes instant messes, I learn what not to have at his disposal, and I just clean it right up so he cannot make it into a further mess. I don't complain. I just do it. I don't belittle him bc making messes is part of growth, exploration, discovery. I sometimees feel bad about being such a clean freak for fear I will stunt his creativity. He is still in diapers and showing barely ANY sign of motivation to potty train. I'm not worried about it. If others criticize that or anything we do, I just plan to say - "I'm not worried about it...but I find it peculiar that you do worry about it, seeing as he is not your child.' I'm on his time as far as weaning, potty training, etc. goes. When he is school age, I'll be looking back at how fast this time flew. He won't be this disagreeable and controversial forever, unless he gets an abundance of negative attention.

 

Kids his age cannot and do not have malicious intent. They are not trying to blindside you. They have an unmet need. The key is figuring out what that is. They desperately want control. They leave the safe base (you) and they explore, but they need to be able to return like a yo-yo again and again.

 

What littleheartbks suggested is so great - to give in to the easy way (I cloth diaper, but in this situation, I would do what ever it takes - buy whatever disposables - to help get through the new baby in the house transition). She has so many good suggestions. Her idea for taking the pressure off is wonderful - your little boy is by nature good. Kids his age internalize negative discipline to every inch of their little being. They cannot separate sense of self as good or bad from their behaviors. They will think they are just bad.

 

Here is what I would recommend doing - and if anyone thinks it is bunk, they can kiss my rosy old hiney.

 

Sit down with him. Make sure hubby has baby. Be in a calm place when ds is in a mood to be calm and listen to you. Tell him you want to tell him a story about him.

 

Talk to him about how happy you were when you were pregnant with him, his birth, etc. Then, change the story to the present, keeping as many story telling features as you can.

 

At this point, tell him how hard it has been for you (in simple terms) to adjust to the new baby, and that you know (keep hugging him often during this and look him in his sweet eyes) if it has been hard for you, you can only imagine how hard it has been for him.

 

If he seems responsive to the process, ask him to confirm his feelings on this. Hug some more. Continue the story, but if he needs to unload in his own way, let him. If he interrupts or you need to add more to the story later, you can.

 

But, the goal of the story needs to be a point of catharsis. Tell him that you as his mommy (and daddy) want to do better as a family and have more love and less conflict.

 

Tell him how sorry you are for the things you wish you could change. Then, promise him that you will do your best to love him and meet his needs.

 

Tell him, you need him to help mommy with the baby and also with talking about his feelings using his words instead of hitting (Kai Lan has a GREAT episode about this) and that you trust him to do the right thing. That phrase works so well. "We are going to eat out. I expect you to not stand in the booth and to use your inside voice. I trust you to do the right thing."

 

After you do this, take the measures you can to make things easier (taking the pressure off as suggested by littleheartbks) and when the going gets tough - that will be the time to be consistent with your gentle discipline - stay within your bounds, but don't use emotion yourself - be firm, but be kind and calm.

 

But try not to fall back on old habits when you are on a short leash yourself. We all have tough days and I know it can seem easier at times when you are fried to use the old tactics. But, in the long run they don't work.

 

I really am upset that anyone would tell you to become more strict. Afterall, this is a mothering community - not parenting magazine. I mean no offense or insult, but I find it alarming. Nonviolent communication (NVC) is good for the whole family. It can also be googled.

 

I will add, that I got the idea for apologizing with the story about ds from an article somewhere on circumcision. I regret my ds's circ. I never wanted one but let dh strong arm me bc of his concern that ds would be different from him. My ds loved the story of his birth and he hugged me like nothing else when I said I regreted what he went through. The idea is that on some level, an infant retains the memory of the pain. So I was helping him to process this pain. Lest you think I am a kook, I have a master's degree. I really feel this works. My ds loves me to retell the story about when he was cut. I feel good knowing I acknowledged the pain I let him, as his mother, experience (and that I regret).

 

So, helping your ds process how tense things have been can help you all put it behind you and move forward with renewed love and understanding. Not until he is 6-7 will he understand truly right from wrong. Truly. I hope this helps. Best of luck. Hug that beautiful child when he is at his worst. I have done that since mine was old enough to put up a fuss in a grocery cart and it has always worked and spared worse tantrums. Even if he protests - I just keep hugging and responding softly over and over, validating his feelings. He is so compassionate - yet he will hit once in a while if we have drifted too far (if we have become to enmeshed in stressful living). It is natural for kids this age.

 

You are brave to come forward with this tale and all the personal details. You obviously want so much to do the right thing and we all could share similar stories!

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#21 of 28 Old 04-14-2011, 07:28 PM
 
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Something I often forget when giving either-or instructions to my ds is to give him choices instead. Do you want to brush your teeth first or have your story first? We co sleep, so this is probably not the best example... but the idea is to give him options instead of ultimatums. I am still working on that myself.

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#22 of 28 Old 02-09-2012, 12:19 AM
 
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Hello. I read your blog on your 3.5 yr old.  I would like to know how things have gone since you wrote this? I am an American living in Australia. I have 6 grandchildren. Only 1 out of the 6 are exactly like your child. I think you said it was a son. My 3.5 granddaughter is doing EXACTLY the same things. She has temper tantrums, won't listen, throws toys, throws food, has to take all the clothes out the drawers and wardrobes, makes a mess on purpose, won't listen, etc.  She is having some real bahaviour issues at the moment. This is my daughte'rs only child, and I am very thankful at this stage she does not have another baby to cope with. My daughter is going out of her mind. My daughter has taken her 3.5 yr old to a couple of doctors. One doctor said it is normal behaviour for her age and it just might be a phase she is going through and may get over it. However, another doctor told her it is NOT normal behaviour for her age, and has sent her to a child psychologist, as she thinks perhaps my granddaughter has ADHD, ODD, or even something like Autism or Aspergers. I must say, it has been really refreshing to hear other women with children like this, and the other comments I read gave hope that it will pass. My daughter is also seeing a paediatrician in 2 weeks to see if there is anything wrong with this child. I am fearing that she may indeed have something mentall wrong, as there are days when she is a disaster, like puporsely making a mess, always says no, refuses to listen, etc. She has improved a bit in some things over the past few weeks, like hitting and spitting. She no longer does this, however there are other things she is doing in lieu of this.  She has always been a very hyper child since birth, and has always loved to throw things. However, with the doctor saying this is not normal behaviour, it is a worry. After reading all the comments on here, and mothers saying it IS normal behaviour and it will pass, has given me a ray of hope. I was just wondering how your child is going and if you have found any really good ideas to help.  Also, my daughter has a good homeopath that she has been going to for years, and this woman has been a homeopath for over 40 years. After hearing about my granddaughter's behaviour, she said right away that in her opinion it was ADHD, and ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder).  She has put the little one on some herbal drops to calm her down. This homeopath said that more & more she is getting children like this with ADHD & ODD, and she has helped so many children with these herbs. My granddaughter has only been on them for 10 days.  The things is, some days she is "perfect" and like an angel. She will listen, be happy, do everything right and everything asked. Then other days, she is a TERROR.  The doctor said this can be the behaviour of children with ADHD/ODD, autism and aspergers. However, the other doctor said it could be just a phase she is going through. She is the sweetest little girl you could ever imagine. Even the doctor said today that she is the sweetest girl she has ever seen, and then other days, wow....complete opposite. Please let me know how things are going. Thank you.  Cino

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#23 of 28 Old 02-09-2012, 12:25 AM
 
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Hello... I read your comment about your 3.5 yr old. Could you please read my comment on the last page (as it's too long to repeat), and let me know how your little one is going? I would like to hear any help or comments from other women with children like my granddaughter. Thank you.  CINO

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#24 of 28 Old 02-09-2012, 12:29 AM
 
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Hello... I read your comment on your 3.5 year old daughter. Could you please read my comment (it's proably on the last page and too long to write again), and please let me know how your daughter is doing. I would love to hear from mothers with children just like my 3.5 yr old granddaughter. Thank you. CINO

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#25 of 28 Old 02-13-2012, 02:37 PM
 
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Your 3 yr old needs one thing. YOU! He needs to get firmly connected to you. The worse he gets, the more you reject him, and the worse he gets. You need to start at the core of the problem which is his FEAR of having lost your love. And, yes, he needs to KNOW you mean what you say. All the difficulties you are having with him come from the same dynamic. This isn't about what to do about each particular behavior. This is about what to do about the RELATIONSHIP. This is not a behavior problem. There really are no such things. It is always about the relationship. ALL BEHAVIOR IS AIMED AT MEETING SOME NEED and your little boy is lost in figuring out how to meet his needs. All this maddening stuff you see is his frantic attempts to meet his needs and of course we know he's way off track. I have a website  parenttrainingseattle and most of your answers are there.Also, get your hands on this book ASAP  HOLD ON TO YOUR KIDS By Gordon Neufeld. See his website, too. This can all be "fixed" when you come to see what's going on with your beloved little boy and can begin to WORK WITH him and stop DOING TO HIM. He's lost in the woods right now and YOU can rescue him! 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by puddle View Post

 I did find it amusing that in the part I read, the only advice the author had for dealing with a 3.5 year was to put the kid in daycare or hire a babysitter.  lol.gif  At this age, it's all about control.  3.5 year olds are desperate for control and it makes them totally psycho. 

 

 

I haven't read past this sentence. THANK YOU for writing it out. My ds just turned 3, but he's always been a tad ahead so he's acting in all the ways that pp's described - it's difficult at times. Thank goodness for co-sleeping though, I can climb into bed and see my sweet innocent 3yo sleeping - and its so nice to feel like he's actually sweet at the end of the day!

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#27 of 28 Old 02-15-2012, 06:11 AM
 
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Nothing much to add but that my DD was just-4 when her little sister arrived and i would say that 6-10 weeks after the birth was HELL in terms of her behaviour.  The honeymoon of having a new baby sister was over but the bond between them was still barely-there.  She was awful.  AWFUL.  Everything you describe - shouting, kicking, running off and HIDING in stores (terrifying!), drawing and painting all over the walls of our home, chucking stuff all over so i'd have to clean it up.

 

Bottom line, for us - she needed to FEEL loved.  She needed massive reassurance that she'd been given a sister not stripped of a parent.  She still struggles occasionally, and DD2 is 20months, but ultimately giving her as much time as i possibly possibly could, and time to get used to the new dynamic, were what helped.

 

Deep breaths.  Hug everyone.  Be gentle with them all and ESPECIALLY with yourself.  This time will pass.

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#28 of 28 Old 02-20-2012, 05:29 AM
 
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If you get more strict, you are going to get MORE problems.  

 

Yes, I believe that firm boundaries and expectations are necessary.  But done with as much kindness and gentleness and calmness as you can muster given the circumstances.

 

Here is why:  I had my second child when my eldest was 2.  My girls are now 5 and 7.  For my 7 year-old, in retrospect, the birth of her little sister was DEVASTATING.  Because she was so consistantly emotionally cruel to her little sister, we finally consulted with a psychotherapist.  The woman almost laughed -- she said, of course your daughter is upset at her little sister -- she took away her mom and dad!  It's an incredibly difficult transition for many kids.  She has lost exclusive rights to mom and dad.  

 

The old analogy is that imagine if your husband decided to have a second wife.  Yes, he would be psyched.  And yes, perhaps you would have more help in the house and a new friend.  But primarily, you would be SO hurt.  

 

What your child really needs, IMO, in addition to some good gentle discipline, is an outlet for all these feelings.  For us, things started to improve with our eldest when we regularly sat down alone with her and had a heart-to-heart and asked her to talk about how hard it was to have lost us when her little sister was born and how she had to share us.  And to not convince her that "oh how nice it was to have a little playmate," but just to 100% agree how darn hard it was for her.

 

We ultimately brought our daughter to a therapist for a couple of sessions, which quickly (from what I understand, I wasn't in the room) focused on how hard it was to have a little sister.  There was no lecturing on proper behavior etc, she just got a chance to be heard and to know that she was recognized in her pain.

 

After this, things improved SO much in our house.


Kids. I got two of 'em.
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