What to do about defiance-tantrums with 3-year-old - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 2 Old 06-18-2011, 12:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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What kind of consequences can I used for my dd who will be 3 in a few weeks when she is completely defiant?  I know that she's younger, but she's getting old enough to understand what is allowed.  She role plays with her dolls about what they shouldn't be doing and puts them in time-out.

 

I've starting doing more time-outs lately, maybe one every other day, as far as frequency goes, only if she is really out of hand,

 

Here's an example.  Today she was blowing bubbles and my husband told her she needed to be careful not to blow them in the new puppies face (or spill it on the puppy, something to that effect.)  Anyway, I guess she continued doing this and my husband was telling her to stop. He may even have tried to get her to give him the bubbles.  So, she threw them in his face, just missing his eyes!!

 

I know she doesn't understand how serious it is to throw soap in someone's face, but that is the anger and defiance I'm talking about.

 

I put her in time-out for that.   I had to sit with her for most of it b/c I couldn't keep her on the step.  Lately, I've wanted to spank her, because I couldn't think of any other way to get her to stop her completely out of control fits...but I can't do it.  I don't want to do it.  But I need some alternatives.  She is very verbal.  Maybe I expect more from her than she can handle because of this.

 

BUT, when it enough enough?  At what age do I say "This behavior is completely inappropriate" and how do I enforce it or reinforce it?

 

 

Help!  I haven't been enjoying parenting as much lately.

 

 

 

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#2 of 2 Old 06-18-2011, 11:50 AM
 
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Well the defiance and tantrums seem like two separate issues. She's at an age where she is starting to want to assert her autonomy and not be controlled, and that's just going to get worse over the next year or two, and she will start acting out to assert it in some ways that aren't appropriate. The first thing I would do is to let her have control over everything she can practically control - if she doesn't want to wear a sweater someplace, just carry it. That kind of thing. Look at areas where it isn't really important, and give her someplace to feel like she is in control. Then, in areas where it isn't safe or practical, such as where she could hurt an animal, you have to be super consistent and physically stop her as much as possible. I think it is possible to curb this without punishment, personally, however that's just my POV as someone who avoids punishment. Whatever you do, you need to be right on top of her and catch her every time, because if she gets away with it sometimes she won't learn it's futile to try.

As far as tantrums go, kids that age can't control tantrums - tantrums are literally a loss of control - so expecting her to control her tantrums is futile on your part and IMO trying to stop them can backfire and make them last longer. Kids learn things through tantrums, and I think they have them until those things are learned, so just letting go of the tantrums and thinking of it as a stage to get through rather than something to stop might help. That concept of futility I talked about in the other paragraph is also a big part of tantrums - they think if they want something to go a certain way and they fuss enough about it, they will get their way. Even about ridiculous stuff - my dd had a tantrum because of what time of night it got dark. She didn't understand that some things are out of her control, and even my control. She was also very verbal, but being verbal doesn't make a 2-year-old older than they are, it just makes them better at yelling at you. LOL. But after she has tantrums and things dont' change anyway and it ends up being not that big a deal that things didn't go her way, she'll get it and the tantrums will relax. Things I think help a bit are to briefly empathize ("You wanted X."), if appropriate find a way to verbally put the two of you "on the same team" so she starts to understand it isn't about what you can do or what you can't do but that some things are simply futile ("I wish ice cream were healthy to have for dinner too.") And then let it go. I would not talk too much because, again, they are just plain out of control and a lot of discussion doesn't help. I would not "feed the drama" by getting angry or upset, but I would try to be calm and relaxed to help her have some emotional stability. I would not get upset or anything, I'd just go about my business and stay close, and then when she comes out of the tantrum I'd give her some love so she knows the tantrum doesn't really change anything, it just passes and the world goes on. She will get past them. Some kids have them longer than others, though. My 2.5-year-old hasnt' ever had a tantrum (knock on wood) but my older dd had terrible tantrums for a while. My mom tells me I had them until I was 8, but I was pretty severely punished for them. My brother tried to force them to stop in his kids and punished for them too and their tantrums weren't helped by that at all. I just don't think trying to force kids to not lose control helps at all, and I think punishing for them just feeds them.
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