Please help: 3yo behaviour issues - Mothering Forums

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Old 10-04-2013, 05:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So I'm having an absolutely awful time with my 3.5yo at the moment and I have no idea how to handle it. She is so defiant and rude and purposely doing things she knows she shouldn't do.

Today she has responded to me on more than one occasion by sticking out her tongue and blowing "spitting" in my face.

Her other preferred method of response is to scream NO! at the top of her voice. And I do mean scream. It is very obvious that she couldn't be any louder.

A friend told me that she has been suggesting her son spend some quiet time in his room when he gets overwhelmed. Not as a time-out, there is no set time or forcing him to stay or anything, just a bit of space for them both. I tried that today and it sort of worked. Although she seemed to be almost acting out on purpose to get the result. In the bath I asked her not to flick the wet flannel around and wet me. She did it again so I ended the bath. I asked her to go to the main bedroom where we sleep and she spat in my face again. Then said "go to my room?" quite cheerfully. I said no go to the main bedroom, it's time for bed.

Also, I have never forced her to say sorry and she usually will off her own bat anyway. But lately it has been a very perfunctory, sing-songy "So-ree muuum". Not the least bit sincere-sounding. And usually followed by a "now can I...?" insert whatever we'd said no to or objected to or whatever.

I find myself almost constantly furious with her and I find it very hard to reset my emotions. She is quickly able to move on and get over whatever the issue was but I can't and it makes it very hard to respond pleasantly and get on with our day.

I am beyond fed-up with her. Any advice at all would be very gratefully received. Thanks in advance
Kate

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Old 10-05-2013, 11:56 AM
 
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3.5 is one of the hardest ages, if we judge by how many posts we get about various ages. A lot of the posts in Gentle Discipline are about this specific age.

It's a huge transition from toddler, who is more of a walking baby, to a child who has her own opinions and strong desire for autonomy. 3.5 is a classic age for kids to want autonomy. This desire for autonomy leads kids to create power struggles. Sometimes lots of power struggles.

I've found that the best way to deal with this is to feed their sense of autonomy wherever practical, and you'll have to look at your family to see where it is practical for you. Basically to let them make as many choices about themselves as they can. So let them choose what they wear, even if it looks funny, let them choose what they have for snack and when, let them get out their own dishes, etc. And try not to get dragged into power struggles about things unless they're really big. Try to let as much stuff go as you can. It gives them a greater sense of autonomy, which can make them seek it less and therefore fight less, and also it's easier then to hold up for those issues where you can't budge if you haven't been fighting about 20 other things already that day.

Also, kids this age sometimes are helped by having little jobs to do, like some chores that are within their abilities. That feeds a sense of autonomy as well, for some kids.

For rudeness, I ask my kids to repeat what they're saying in a nicer way. And I've explained that you don't show you're sorry by saying words as much as by changing what you do. But I think you'll have an easier time dealing with the rudeness once you've fed the sense of autonomy, because her desire for autonomy and her fights for it are probably the cause of much of the rudeness. It's easier to get autonomy if you've created some separation between you and your parents, so fights that create separation aren't uncommon for this age either. Or for preteens/teens, because that is another age where kids want greater autonomy. It's the same basic issue, and I think it's solved in the same way - by giving autonomy wherever you can and holding firm only for those things that you really can't budge on.

Keep up with us about how things are going! My 4-year-old went through this pretty recently and my 11-year-old is going through it all over again so I'm interested in this particular part of the parenting journey.

Hopefully some other parents will chime in and say how they handle this, so you have more perspectives to draw from. Good luck!
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Old 10-05-2013, 12:16 PM
 
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I'm going through this with a 3.5 year old, so I will closely watch the responses.  In addition to the above issues, my 3.5 YO is hitting and/or pushing his younger (much smaller) sibling.  I can almost deal with one or the other, but both are pushing me over the edge. 

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Old 10-05-2013, 02:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you very much. I will look for ways to give her more autonomy. She already dresses herself and actually has a really cool sense of style :-) but I'm sure there are lots of things where I just automatically choose for her which I can change.

Giving her some chores sounds good too. There are definitely things she has done occasionally which could become a regular activity.

Thank you again.

And Mulvah, it's nice to know I'm not alone :-)

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Old 10-05-2013, 08:14 PM
 
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I'm struggling with a 3.5 year old, too, and just wanted to urge you to read (or reread) "Your 3 Year-Old" by Louise Bates Ames.  It is so validating, and some of the lines about 3.5 year olds are priceless.  (She basically advocates sticking the 3.5 year old with a sitter as much as possible and just holding out until they turn 4 :wink)

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Old 10-08-2013, 01:52 PM
 
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For particular situations that are problematic day after day, it was helpful to sit down with my son and talk through what the "rules" are for each person involved.  For example, we wrote up a page for bedtime with the headings, "Nicholas will..." "Nicholas will not..." "Mama will..." "Mama will not..." "Daddy will..." and "Daddy will not..." where we listed what each of us was supposed to do and the things that we sometimes did (like shouting, or his kicking me while I was reading his story) that the others wanted us not to do.  Although he could not read at all, he liked having the rules posted on the inside of his bedroom door, he liked pointing out to us when we were breaking a rule, and he was more responsive to my saying, "Remember, the paper says you will not kick me," than just telling him to quit it.

 

If your daughter does not care about a written list, perhaps some pictures of what to do and what not to do (for example, picture of her spitting, with a red slash across it) would be helpful reminders.

 

I know what you mean about the difficulty resetting your feelings.  One tactic that has really helped me--based on advice I read here years ago--is focusing on how my child is really only very small.


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Old 10-08-2013, 02:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks people :-)

Newmamalizzy, I will try to get hold of the book. I would love to give her to a babysitter til she's four lol.gifbag.gif

Envirobecca, the chart might be a good idea. I've tried talking to her about things when she's calm which didn't seem to have any effect so maybe a visually reminded would be good.

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Old 10-08-2013, 02:45 PM
 
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My son turns four on Saturday. Would anyone be interested in watching him until then? LOL.

I have found that giving him more autonomy has helped a lot. :-) Hoping something magical happens on Saturday!!! :-P

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Old 10-08-2013, 05:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Fingers crossed for you Dalia :-) Please come back on Sunday and offer us some hope!!!!'

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Old 10-08-2013, 05:26 PM
 
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Fingers crossed for you Dalia :-) Please come back on Sunday and offer us some hope!!!!'

I will let you know when the transformation occurs LOL!!!

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Old 10-08-2013, 06:53 PM
 
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And Mulvah, it's nice to know I'm not alone :-)

 

We can have stress headaches together.  :wink

 

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I'm struggling with a 3.5 year old, too, and just wanted to urge you to read (or reread) "Your 3 Year-Old" by Louise Bates Ames.  It is so validating, and some of the lines about 3.5 year olds are priceless.  (She basically advocates sticking the 3.5 year old with a sitter as much as possible and just holding out until they turn 4 :wink)

 

Thank you so much for the suggestion.  My library had a copy and I'm already feeling much more relaxed (in my head, anyway).  Some of the scenarios feel like they were taken directly from my life with a 3.5 year old.  I'm not halfway through it yet, but the sitter suggestion isn't going to happen, so I've really just appreciated the validation a book like this provides.

 

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I will let you know when the transformation occurs LOL!!!

 

:lol 

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Old 10-16-2013, 08:00 PM
 
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I know this post is a little old, but I have a son who's the same age. He's not toooo bad, but I've actually taught him the word "defiant" and when he starts acting up I'll ask him if he's being defiant. Thankfully it's still something he doesn't want to be, so he'll usually stop. I did read the book by Louise Bates Ames, but personally I didn't like it very much. She does seem to endorse just spending as little time as possible with your 3 and a half year old so they don't drive you insane and promotes putting your kid in front of the TV to get them out of your hair. Maybe it's practical, but not exactly what I want to hear as a "best solution". My favorite book is Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting by Laura Markham (http://researchparent.com/peaceful-parent-happy-kids-how-to-stop-yelling-and-start-connecting/). It's based around three principles which in my mind are basically 1) don't lose it when your kid loses it, 2) remember that deep down you love them, and 3) think of your parenting job as coach, not enforcer. She has a whole section on how to go without yelling, which I found very useful. I still yell, but now there will be a few days in between which is an improvement. Really, I just find the book calming to read and good for my sanity.


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Old 10-18-2013, 06:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Not too late to post at all. Nothing's changed around here. Thanks for the book recommendations, I'll look into them.

I think the reality is that I just have to grit my teeth and hope we get through this age without causing too much psychological damage. To hell with enjoying it, if I don't permanently scar her I'll consider it a success.

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Old 10-22-2013, 10:23 AM
 
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Just wanted to sympathize. I have a 3.5 year old and it's a really tough time. It's so exciting to watch him turn into a big boy....but it's also maddening when he gets really rebellious and stubborn about everyday things like hand washing or bedtime, plus all the bossy, demanding behavior and whining. It's enough to make any parent go nuts! I don't have much advice, just wanted to say I'm in it with ya! :grouphug


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Old 10-24-2013, 07:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks :-) always nice to know you're not alone :-)

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Old 10-24-2013, 08:52 PM
 
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Another empathy, no solutions post.

 

My 3.25 year old has recently turned into a shouting, demanding, tantruming monster. We are struggling in an awesome, epic, fail - kind of way every day. It's very distressing to not understand or know how to help them calm themselves, or express themselves better or whatever.

 

:-(

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Old 10-25-2013, 01:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, if nothing else, we'll have a support group. I recently discovered www.ahaparenting.com which is helping a bit.

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Old 10-25-2013, 10:49 AM
 
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That's the website associated with the book I mentioned above. I haven't spent much time looking at the website, but, seriously, that book is awesome. I can't recommend it enough. It'll make you feel guilty for a few pages, but then it'll make you feel calm and capable after that.


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Old 10-25-2013, 02:37 PM
 
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How nice to read up more on how common this is! My second out of four, a boy, has really tested my sanity for at least the past half year! Last spring we had ''social'' help coming once a week for 2-3 hours because I was so exhausted from different things. I remember them (there were 2 ladies) telling me that I'm going to have lots of trouble with my oldest. They were having trouble with her. I told them that funny, cuz I have no problems with her, but with my (about) 3.5 year old son! It got to the point that I was telling DH this is not normal. He's not normal. There's something wrong with him. There HAS to be something wrong with him. I'm taking him to see a psychologist. He would debate with me about everything. And silly me, in the beginning I debated back.

''You need to sit down when you eat, on your own chair'' and he doesnt listen AT ALL, so I say something to the effect of having to take his food away to which he answers:

''Well, then I'm going to hit you!''

''Then I'll have to take you on time out''(We have a bit different way of doing time out than what others do)

''Well, then I'll dump out all the toys from the toybox!''

And thats as far as I want to remember those kinds of situations:)

It was about anything. And sometimes he didnt make any sense in what he was saying. It went competely off topic and made you stop and think for a minute. What?!?!?!

The kids were outside playing for quite  a while. DD1 (5) DS1 (3.5), and DS2 (2) all came inside and the oldest and youngest settled down with something calm to do. DS1 came ''running wildly'' inside and slapping whatever in his reach, pushing his siblings around, kicking their toys away from them or tearing the books out of their hands. Just really messing things up.

I guess I dont need to go through any detail of his behaviour, but we had our fourth in the summer when he was 3 and 9 months. He was a very difficult child to get to obey, to even just listen to what I was saying. I had a hard time trying to understand his needs. Why he behaved like he did. October 2nd was his fourth birthday. He got SO much attention and big boy toys  from the few friends that came to visit. We got sick not long after that (probably from eating all the sweets and leftover sweets from his b-day!) and he actually got an ear infection. Which went over on its own. But the few days he was sick he was a complete angel. Even DH mentioned.....He hasnt done anything! We havent had to say anything to him! And now when he's doing better he has been a bit easier, tho I cant say I've seen any dramatic changes. I think it will be a gradual change, but I'm so thankful this stage is starting to be behind us! I used all my energy on him and got a bit depressed. Like what am I doing wrong sort of thing. My sister told me on the phone then when I recently talked with her that she remembers I told her the same stuff (having a difficult time with a child) when our first was the same age:)

 

So yeah. It belongs to the age. And though I hate it being said to me, this too shall pass:) Our now 2 year old and 5 year old have started having tantrum like ''blow-ups'' that has caught me kind of by surprise. Just starting to unwind after such a wild (but NORMAL) time with DS1 only to be encountered with the others acting up:) This might be a baby thing tho..... I think they're all feeling somewhat neglected by mommy. There is SO much work to do with 4 little ones.

I personally feel a babysitter is a great idea. It gives you a chance to wind down and collect your cool and strength again. It certaintly helped me!

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Old 10-25-2013, 03:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That's the website associated with the book I mentioned above. I haven't spent much time looking at the website, but, seriously, that book is awesome. I can't recommend it enough. It'll make you feel guilty for a few pages, but then it'll make you feel calm and capable after that.

Oh cool. Thank you. Does the book have any concrete examples of how to deal with specific behaviours like screaming or hitting siblings? The website talks lots about how to connect with your child and the theory of why it works but no specific ways of addressing problems.

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Old 10-25-2013, 03:26 PM
 
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There must also be something in the air (though where we are...it's slowly warming summer air coming)....

 

http://www.mothering.com/community/t/1392020/3-year-old-raging-upset-how-to-help-with-emotional-expression

 

I had to write out my own situation...it does feel better to write it down at least, doesn't it?

 

G.

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Old 10-25-2013, 03:36 PM
 
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Wow I could have written this thread topic. My daughter does almost ALL the things the OP mentions and more annoying things on top of that. She's got a new baby sister (2 months) and is turning 4 in December.

She's just not fun to be around. I find myself wanting to lash out at her (thank god I don't or I'd feel terrible) when I'm tired (very often these days) and trying to empathize is almost impossible-- her behavior is just crazy. I can't even pick my battles because everything is one. I let her do most of everything on her on, she even helped me cook eggs on the stove and it felt a bit unsafe but there was NO stopping this kid. And that's good I guess?! But the throwing toys at people, SCREAMING at 3am because I couldn't nurse her (more of just a latch on for a few minutes) and actually trying to push the baby off of me, that kind of stuff needs to stop! My DH gets much more angry then he should and treats her badly at times. We are struggling. Can't believe I will be doing this again in 3 years!!!

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Old 10-25-2013, 04:54 PM
 
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@katelove I want to say, "yes, it definitely has concrete examples," but unfortunately I lent my copy out so I can't see exactly what it says. More it's about altering your frame of mind when you're dealing with a situation like that, but I'm 99% sure there are specific examples. I know the end of each chapter features "Action Guides" telling you what you should do in a variety of situations. 


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Old 10-25-2013, 06:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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@researchparent - great! Thank you. I will look for a copy. Sorry I didn't realise you had already referred to it when I wrote that post about the website. I hate it when people refer to something I've posted about without acknowledgment bag.gif

@Tillymonster - yep, your house is sounding a lot like ours in many ways. DD2 and I have been sleeping in the spare room since July which is helping. I night weaned DD1 when I was 34 weeks but started feeding her again to stop her yelling and waking the baby. When we moved out though, she was absolutely fine from the first night though. She sometimes wakes up but DH has no problems settling her again and she quickly goes back to sleep.

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Old 10-26-2013, 12:40 AM
 
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@researchparent - great! Thank you. I will look for a copy. Sorry I didn't realise you had already referred to it when I wrote that post about the website. I hate it when people refer to something I've posted about without acknowledgment bag.gif

@Tillymonster - yep, your house is sounding a lot like ours in many ways. DD2 and I have been sleeping in the spare room since July which is helping. I night weaned DD1 when I was 34 weeks but started feeding her again to stop her yelling and waking the baby. When we moved out though, she was absolutely fine from the first night though. She sometimes wakes up but DH has no problems settling her again and she quickly goes back to sleep.

I'm so glad to hear that your DD is OK with being in a different room and with DH. Mine however was NOT and it pulled at my heart strings everytime she said she wanted to sleep with mama. Plus I'd have to start dealing with her at night because DH is starting a new job this next Monday and he will be starting very early in the am.

DD seriously fights bedtime. Still wakes up at night. It also takes her forever to fall asleep unless she's very tired. Then it still takes a while.

So we moved her into her bedroom and out of ours. I have a twin that I put next to DDs. I slept the last 2 days there and let me tell you, it totally sucked. DD2 is a baby and makes noises I thought DD1 would sleep through. Nope. The littlest peep wakes her. So we had the worst time because DD1 was so tired.

My DH said to just come in and sleep with him with the baby and I might have to tonight to avoid waking DD1! But then if she wakes up I'll have to get up and deal with her. That's less sleep all around for me. It just makes me so sad because I WANT the family bed! I want to sleep with BOTH of my daughters. Will the baby ever quiet down or do I just give up and sleep with DD2 somewhere else? I feel like I'm making her sleep alone and my DH thinks in crazy. I feel he's sort of selfish wanting the bedroom all to his self but I also instigated having DD1 sleep with me and she clearly wants to and said she didn't want to sleep with daddy.

I really hope the closer she gets to 4 the better. I can't take much more crazy. We will see how it goes when daddy is back to work.

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Old 10-26-2013, 02:43 PM
 
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Another empathy, no solutions post.

My 3.25 year old has recently turned into a shouting, demanding, tantruming monster. We are struggling in an awesome, epic, fail - kind of way every day. It's very distressing to not understand or know how to help them calm themselves, or express themselves better or whatever.

:-(

We are also epic fail here, same age. So much so that I feel it would be better for DS if I hired a nanny to be with him instead of me. He is at Montessori school 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, and I still can't deal. Epic fail.

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Old 10-27-2013, 02:42 PM
 
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We are also epic fail here, same age. So much so that I feel it would be better for DS if I hired a nanny to be with him instead of me. He is at Montessori school 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, and I still can't deal. Epic fail.

 

I know what you mean. I'd never do it in a million years - but I feel like just walking out. We are going from really bad to horrendous here, with no sign of any let up. She is hitting us with all the 'bad' behavioural things: defiance, screaming, destruction, refusing to eat/bathe, mega-tantrums etc. And when upset...she just seems devastated. She's also clinging to me more than usual, but I still can't seem to help her calm down, or fill her empty cup or whatever. I have no idea what to do about any of it. Very tired and stressed household at the moment.

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Old 10-27-2013, 09:28 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Grover View Post

I know what you mean. I'd never do it in a million years - but I feel like just walking out. We are going from really bad to horrendous here, with no sign of any let up. She is hitting us with all the 'bad' behavioural things: defiance, screaming, destruction, refusing to eat/bathe, mega-tantrums etc. And when upset...she just seems devastated. She's also clinging to me more than usual, but I still can't seem to help her calm down, or fill her empty cup or whatever. I have no idea what to do about any of it. Very tired and stressed household at the moment.

Ugh same here!!! We all need a group hug and lots of pinot noir over here STAT!

I wanted to add that while it's not ideal at all-- putting on her favorite shows really calm her when she's just out of control. My DH likes to bribe with sugar. *sigh*

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Old 10-27-2013, 10:30 PM
 
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Let me first say, I am a big fan of Attachment Parenting.

But, One of the biggest things to change our lives was a tip I got from the Communicating Yahoo group, Dr. James MacDonald, who works with Late talking children (our third has Down Syndrome) and he recommends

DON'T TALK TO MISBEHAVIOR

No lecturing, no explaining, no reminding. (unless the kid is truly clueless, we're talking about situations they KNOW what they're doing is wrong)
because:

Attention, and Talking is ALWAYS REINFORCING

If you want more of something, TALK TO IT.

Pay attention to GOOD behavior only, and comment on that.
And, if kid misbehaves, ignore it, as a first step. As a second step (you know when the kid is doing stuff on purpose to get a reaction), put him down on the floor and walk away. Disconnect totally for 20 or 30 seconds. You'll feel better, and the kid quickly gets the hint.

This manifested itself in our life, when our child about age 2 started pulling glasses off my and my husband's faces! I saw a post around that time, luckily and pretty soon started doing Dr. Jim techniques. (of course you make sure the kid is SAFE, don't leave her with a sharp knife nearby, or sitting on a ledge for goodness sake!) Usually while changing her diaper, Etel would reach up and grab glasses. I calmly prevented her from pulling them more, or got them back (NO TALKING) and stopped everything if I possibly could. Just sat her right down on the floor and said NO I didn't like that and walked away. Etel pulled my glasses for about 2 weeks.

Daddy on the other hand, had a serious problem with this for 2 years and lost 3 pairs of glasses that way. Because he wouldn't listen to me, ahem, Dr. Jim . Her Daddy's responses were always DIFFERENT. What is he going to do TODAY ? Let's see if it's the same or different then last time? This is such GREAT FUN!! DRAMA! Because He had a WIDE VARIETY of wonderful (unhelpful) tactics and responses! Ranging from: Gentle loving Lecturing, "Distract her with a fun song" "Explain that it hurts me" and even sometimes, very rare for a patient man like him, and the BIG BONUS: getting Angry: "DADDY DOESN"T LIKE THAT" .

I highly recommend just cutting off communication - not long - 20 or 30 seconds is an eternity to be ignored for a toddler. Try it consistently and see if it doesn't help things. AT the very least, it'll help you feel more calm and centered, not reactive!

Liora. Best way to reach me is FACEBOOK, search for "LioraP2". Jewish and Frum In Beijing, Mom of Three (mother of 3: #1 was vaccine injured at age 2m later dx with PDD-NOS, healed in 3 years with biomed. #2 unvaxed and healthy boy. #3 unvaxed amazing girl with Down syndrome using Targeted Nutritional Intervention (TNI) since infancy)
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Old 10-27-2013, 10:34 PM
 
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And reading your post more carefully, start with just ONE OR TWO discreet behaviors that are dangerous or absolutely need to be stopped. Everything won't be rosy overnight, but if you can get some of the problem behaviors toned down, the tone of life can be more fun.

I sing songs. ABC's or whatever, one per step, to get her to walk upstairs.

I also started the 1-2-3. But, she doesn't see it as a threat, even though I honestly started out thinking that I'd spank....I never did, to her it's A FUN GAME, she knows she's supposed to come back, or run over to me (or do whatever I asked like put on her shoes by 3) and then she gets major smiles and a big hug!

Liora. Best way to reach me is FACEBOOK, search for "LioraP2". Jewish and Frum In Beijing, Mom of Three (mother of 3: #1 was vaccine injured at age 2m later dx with PDD-NOS, healed in 3 years with biomed. #2 unvaxed and healthy boy. #3 unvaxed amazing girl with Down syndrome using Targeted Nutritional Intervention (TNI) since infancy)
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