I need more dscipline tools for strong willed 3 yo - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 07-12-2013, 09:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My 3.5 year old daughter is very, very strong willed.  I try to only discipline her when it's really needed (no arbitrary rules in our family!) but even those necessary times often turn into battles of the wills.  We use time-out as our form on discipline, but they aren't working.  They aren't a strong enough deterrent for negative behavior.  She gets out of time out, so I have to put her back, and after doing that a few times for one time out I don't like how I feel.  I come from an abusive childhood and I have to stay far away from anything approximating "needing to control the situation" or I can get nasty.

 

I don't know what else can be used for discipline for her.  I'm at a total loss.  I don't want to spank, or even threaten that, but the few times I have spanked her it's been effective.  That breaks my heart.  "Grounding" doesn't seem like it would work for a 3 year old.  And I also need to be careful what sort of privileges I pull so it doesn't get too hard for me.  For example, if I tell her she can't watch any movies then I don't have a tool to use if I get overwhelmed that day.

 

Is there any been there, done that advice?


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#2 of 6 Old 07-12-2013, 03:41 PM
 
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"Discipline" can be interpreted as "punishment" or as "teaching".

 

As you mention grounding and removing privileges in your post, I assume you favour the first interpretation.

In this case maybe you just need to up the ante. Find something that she really care about and use that as a discipline leverage.

 

I prefer the second definition of "discipline"; but in this case there is no right answer. What might work with a kid might not work with another. What works at a certain age is useless months later. Some behaviours might take months or years to change or instill.

 

For example, right now I'm working with ds to teach him to make his bed in the morning. I could take away his "computer privileges" if he doesn't comply. I could ground him or put him in time out. But I prefer to remind him day after day, check if he made it, say something nice if he put extra effort in, or ask him to make it again if he did a really bad job. Some day it will sink in (fingers crossed). But he learned to pick out his clothes, tie his shoes, so I trust that he'll be able to learn to make his bed as well.

 

With dd, I teach her how to put on and and take off her shoes. She is perfectly able to do it by herself at daycare, but she refuses when I am with her. So right now we negociated one shoe each (she puts on one shoe, I put on the other). Hopefully we'll move on from this stage sometime in the future.

 

Both my kids are strong-willed. I think this is great; I wish I could be like them.

 

Maybe you can tell us more about your dd's negative behaviour, some other PP might have suggestions.
 

k x s likes this.

Ds 9 and dd 5
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#3 of 6 Old 07-12-2013, 06:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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 For the record I prefer to teach, guide, and counsel rather than dispense punishment.  I do time outs when specific requests are ignored after a few warnings, or for hitting. 

 

An example of my daughter's behavior just happened.  Friends are over and everyone is running in the backyard.  We have a ton of clover in bloom and the bees are all over the lawn.  My son has been stung twice today, but since he has no adverse reaction to stings (beyond initial pain and the tiniest of localized swelling) I keep reminding him to wear his shoes and inform him of his choices and then let him make is choice.  He is also 5.5 years old.  I've also been stung today.

 

My daughter, on the other hand, had her first two weeks ago and it was scary.  She was stung on her toe and her whole foot swelled up with blisters.  She ran a fever for two days and had intense pain for the first two hours, and distracting pain for the next two days.  I go outside with a pair of rain boots for her to protect her feet from bees.  I ask her to come to me so I can put boots on so she doesn't get stung.  She starts coming for me and then runs away so I have to chase her down, yelling at her to stop running so she doesn't step on a bee in her frantic escape from me. 

 

I finally catch up with her and put her boots on to have her kick them right off.  I give her a choice to keep her boots on or come into the house.  She yells "NO!" about both options but puts her boots on.  I watch her for a bit while she sees how far she can slide her boots off before I take her inside.  Eventually she keeps her boots on, but sits outside and cries about having to wear boots outside.

 

If I had to take her inside what would typically happen is she would try to run outside, so I would tell her, "Stay inside or sit in a time out."  If I would have to up to a time out she would probably not stay in it, seeing how far she could slip off the chair before I would come back to her and "fix" it. 

 

I know it's a battle of the wills, I totally understand this is normal 3 year old behavior.  But I don't feel like I have any ante to up.  I feel like her need to defy me is more important to her than any punishment I can give her.  And there are times she needs to listen to me, so she doesn't get stung, or she stays out of the street, or she doesn't get hit by a car, or whatever.  Sometimes she needs to listen and she just won't. 

 

And because when she goes through these phases I only discipline (punish) on what really matters it makes every choice she makes pretty important as far as safety goes.


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#4 of 6 Old 07-12-2013, 06:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Also, in before the "You need to give her more attention, this is a cry for attention," she gets a lot of individual attention.  And I'm glad she has a strong will, but she also needs to work within the family.


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#5 of 6 Old 07-12-2013, 07:24 PM
 
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I didn't mean to criticize you in my post. I would have done the same thing in your situation, maybe except the time out part. Sometimes we need to keep them safe.
But at the same time we can't ask them to be happy about it. The end result in the situation you described was that your dd did listen. Sometimes they just need to express their feelings to feel better.
It happens to us as well from time to time that dd doesn't agree with what I ask her to do, then storms to her room slamming the door behind her and has a good cry. Then she comes out in 5 minutes, asks for a hug and we move on.

This is my experience, don't know if it's helpful or not. I hope you find the answers you are looking for.

Ds 9 and dd 5
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#6 of 6 Old 07-13-2013, 12:26 AM
 
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I have a very strong willed, spirited 3.5 yo DS and we absolutely do not have this figured out!  We struggle with it everyday.  Time outs have never worked for us so I don't even try.  Most of the time we do whatever we can to avoid getting into a place where it becomes a battle of wills.  That means we use all kinds of other tactics like distraction, choices, "when/then", "you can do this but not that" types of reasoning.  For the grass example, I would probably ask him if he wants to wear his boots or his sneakers before we go outside, so he still has some control and it's done before the temptation to run off is presented.  (I see that you did try to offer choices.)  If that doesn't seem like it's going to work, I might quickly switch to distracting with favorite socks or something else while I get the shoes on.  Right now he's really big on being first or fastest at things so I might try to race him to get shoes on first.  Those things may or may not work, but that's probably what I would try.

 

Yours is a good example of a situation where safety is an issue.  I haven't had luck with any discipline technique that consistently works at stopping my son's unwanted behavior, even when safely is at stake.  We were having a problem with DS thinking it was funny to unlock the front door and run out of the house.  He was also unlatching the gate in our backyard and running down the street.  Trying to stop him from running away or trying to have a serious conversation with him about it seemed to just escalate the behavior.  I want to be able to feel secure that he will listen to me in important situations like that, but we resorted to installing locks in places he cannot reach because we felt that it was the best decision for his safety right now.  Maybe you just need to cut the grass and clover to avoid the struggle in this situation.  I'm joking, but you get the idea--save the battles for times when safety isn't an issue.

 

I know that 3.5 is developmentally a very challenging age so I try to remind myself that.  I'm also trying to get myself more comfortable with him being upset and crying for awhile.  It's always been hard for me since he was a colicky infant but I have to remind myself that when he gets upset he will not cry forever.  If I can last 5 minutes or so he usually comes to me for comfort and then we can talk about the situation.   None of this is easy by any means.  I look forward to seeing other responses and getting new ideas.  Good luck!

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