New baby and a 3 year old - why is he behaving like this? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 11-27-2014, 11:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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New baby and a 3 year old - why is he behaving like this?

I am having a difficult time with my 3yo lately, i am trying to give him choices/natural consequences but its not working as many things I CANT let him keep doing and have the natural consequence... for example lately he is taking his clothes off and then running and hiding from me like its a game ("heheheheh") so:
- I tell him "You need to wear clothes. Do you want to get dressed yourself or want me to help you?" ussually he does not answer just runs away more....i carry him to his room and put clothes for him (he is capable of dressing himself) and tell him he can come out when he gets dressed, he keeps trying to come out of the room, sometimes physically struggling against me and trying to push past to run out the door....what am i supposed to do??? if i just keep telling him "no" he doesnt listen. Sometimes he is in the room for some minutes and i sit down and am nursing my 3 month old, and then he tries to come out - in this time i am not able to force him back into the room bcos i am nursing...

its the same he keeps eating paper because he knows i dont want him to; then he runs away and hides and wants me to get upset at him and chase him... i cant remove all paper things from the house (books, TP rolls, tissue, papers on the fridge, etc. its impossible).. i tell him "food goes in the mouth" "we dont eat paper" etc. but he doesnt listen, and i cant just let him keep chewing on my books etc.

The third problem is he sometimes crawls over/near the baby or steps over her on the couch or grabs her hand to hard etc. which i feel is dangerous but when i tell him "no, stop that is dangerous" he again is like "heheheheh" and doesnt stop... so should i put him in time out? i can put him in the room but he will again try to run out, and if i hold the door closed he throws a huge fit banging on the door and screaming which is NOT ok in our apartment because of sound issues.

This happens with other things when we say "stop!" "no!" he will keep on with it, and when we say "you're not listening!!" hes like "im listening now..." just to get what he wants. We end up resorting to threats, bribes, screaming, etc which i know is not the right way. i know many ppl say "get down on their level and talk" but he just runs away without focusing on what i want to say!

i am trying to deal with him and a newborn baby at the same time which is not easy to juggle, any advice?? please.... i know i need to be consistent but i havent figured out what to be consistent with so it all feels like a mess and i can understand why a testing preschooler would get confused and keep pushing the boundaries
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#2 of 12 Old 11-28-2014, 12:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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BTW he adores the baby and we are always trying to give positive affirmation when he is listening and doing something good, which is like 60% of the time. We try to give him a lot of love and attention as well and involve him with what we are doing, and were very careful that he doesnt feel neglected or that he is second place to the baby

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#3 of 12 Old 11-28-2014, 05:03 AM
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Hi eshev and welcome to Mothering.

I think the new baby is probably making your son feel the need to act out a bit so that he can get a bit more attention. I'm sure you do your best to make him feel loved and not left out since the new baby arrived, but without doubt you have had to take time away from him to be able to care for the new baby. So he is probably just looking for ways to get your attention.

We have lots of moms and dads who have been in the same situation so I'm sure you will get some good helpful responses. But I did edit the thread title a bit so that it is more clear what sort of issue you are having and people can join in the discussion to offer advice.

Good luck!

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#4 of 12 Old 11-28-2014, 02:02 PM
 
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I always do my kids' time outs, if they need them, in a chair within my sight. If out of sight they just find ways to continue to act out or they get frantic, plus keeping them close seems to work better than sending them away. While they're young (like under 5?) it takes a lot of physically putting them where I need them to be over and over, it's not easy. We send the 8 year old to be alone when he is having trouble getting along with everyone, more as a relax and reset than a punishment.

Also, if they are at home then running around naked and finding for himself it's a bit chilly for that is not the worst thing in the world. Undies and a blanket would be good to offer to make him more comfy. Refusing to make it a fight may work well in this case, since he's really trying to get a rise out of you. Paper probably won't hurt him either, the ink may be a bit bad, but blank paper might be ok to ignore as long as he's not ruining something valuable. Rice spring roll wrappers or nori might be something he likes if he actually enjoys the texture of paper.
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#5 of 12 Old 11-28-2014, 08:24 PM
 
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The first thing to do is encourage more kind and helpful behavior toward the baby. Reward this with positive attention.
To make attention more rewarding do these 6 things: get close, touch, be enthusiastic, respond immediately to the good behavior, mention specifically what you liked, don't caboose criticism on the end.

You can just catch him doing good or you can prompt him.

Prompt him by saying "Please do X", where X is some small task that helps with the baby one that he is likely to cooperate with. Then give him positive attention. When you prompt: get close, touch, don't put it in the form of a question, don't prompt more than 2 or 3 times (don't nag) instead find a different strategy that gets cooperation.

Repeat the pattern of prompting for small things, getting cooperation, rewarding with positive attention many times to help him form the habit of being cooperative and helpful.

You can do the same for his putting on clothes and wearing clothes. Give this positive attention, don't take it for granted.

Start ignoring the running around naked and the eating paper. Do it subtly at first, and then more and more. Don't look at him, walk away immediately. You don't need to have battles of will trying to impose a time out over these behaviors, they are harmless in the short run. He will stop within a couple of weeks if you stop rewarding them with attention and instead reward the opposite behavior and other good or acceptable behaviors instead. Ignoring can more effective than time out and it's easier to use and avoids the battles of will.

If you still need time out (perhaps for the dangerous interactions with the baby) get the book Kazdin Method and learn from that book how to train him to cooperate with time out and learn how to do it right. Time out is complicated, but you may need to learn how to do it right if you have to deal with behaviors that can't be ignored because they are harmful.

Your current response to his dangerous behavior is to yak at him and give him lots of face-time and attention. This just rewards the unwanted behavior, that "hehehehe" is the sound a kid makes when his behavior just got a big reward of parental attention. You should pick him up and take him away without looking at him or talking to him. If you feel the need to give him lectures about stuff he probably already knows, do it later when it is not a immediate reward for the unwanted behavior. Strike while the iron is cold with the lecturing, not in the heat of the moment.
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#6 of 12 Old 11-29-2014, 06:51 AM
 
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You should pick him up and take him away without looking at him or talking to him.
It’s better to pick the baby up and take the baby away and leave the 3 yo where he is in “time out” for about 3 minutes (the usual time out guideline for a 3 yo). I will work as well or better than trying to move him to his room and you will not have the power struggle with him, you want to use methods that avoid the power struggles.

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#7 of 12 Old 11-29-2014, 07:34 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mary a View Post
It’s better to pick the baby up and take the baby away and leave the 3 yo where he is in “time out” for about 3 minutes (the usual time out guideline for a 3 yo). I will work as well or better than trying to move him to his room and you will not have the power struggle with him, you want to use methods that avoid the power struggles.
Three minutes is an eternity for a child that has this temperament. Lots of parents get hung up on this 'guideline' of a minute for each year, and it is arbitrary.

The purpose of time out is not punishment. It is to refrain from attending to the negative behavior choice. So it is really just like planned ignoring but in a safe spot. Kazdin gives a better rationale for this intervention.

The best thing I ever heard to help me empathize with my child with a new baby in the house is this: Imagine that your partner brings home a new woman. (Gender examples used for ease of writing; insert different gender if needed). He is very excited about her. He thinks you should be too! He asks you to be nice to her and to treat her as a new family member. He is upset that you do not like this new family member. He is upset when you want to harm her or to question why she is here. He is upset when you 'act out' and have a tantrum over it, or sulk or leave. That is how the older child can feel when a new baby joins the family. But they get the powerful message that they are supposed to like this new being if they want to please mom/dad, so they act like they like the baby, even while suppressing powerful feelings of rage. This can be true even if they were fully involved in the preparations for the baby. The child is still three! Developmentally nothing can really prepare him for this new person who is going to steal all the attention.

So getting naked, eating paper, running away!! Ingenious! Almost like returning to an earlier stage, right? When clothes were not so important and people thought it was cute when you ate books.

I know this is not "the" answer, but when we see things a little more from the 3 yr old perspective and have empathy for their experience, it can decrease our annoyance and increase our understanding of their plight.

Loving consistency, a lot of support, being firm but kind and loving. Over and over again!!! No magic bullets. It's a rough stage but you will all get through it!!

 

Last edited by cynthia mosher; 11-29-2014 at 08:26 AM.
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#8 of 12 Old 11-29-2014, 06:46 PM
 
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Originally Posted by eshev View Post
I am having a difficult time with my 3yo lately, i am trying to give him choices/natural consequences but its not working as many things I CANT let him keep doing and have the natural consequence... for example lately he is taking his clothes off and then running and hiding from me like its a game ("heheheheh") so:
- I tell him "You need to wear clothes. Do you want to get dressed yourself or want me to help you?" ussually he does not answer just runs away more....i carry him to his room and put clothes for him (he is capable of dressing himself) and tell him he can come out when he gets dressed, he keeps trying to come out of the room, sometimes physically struggling against me and trying to push past to run out the door....what am i supposed to do??? if i just keep telling him "no" he doesnt listen. Sometimes he is in the room for some minutes and i sit down and am nursing my 3 month old, and then he tries to come out - in this time i am not able to force him back into the room bcos i am nursing...

its the same he keeps eating paper because he knows i dont want him to; then he runs away and hides and wants me to get upset at him and chase him... i cant remove all paper things from the house (books, TP rolls, tissue, papers on the fridge, etc. its impossible).. i tell him "food goes in the mouth" "we dont eat paper" etc. but he doesnt listen, and i cant just let him keep chewing on my books etc.

The third problem is he sometimes crawls over/near the baby or steps over her on the couch or grabs her hand to hard etc. which i feel is dangerous but when i tell him "no, stop that is dangerous" he again is like "heheheheh" and doesnt stop... so should i put him in time out? i can put him in the room but he will again try to run out, and if i hold the door closed he throws a huge fit banging on the door and screaming which is NOT ok in our apartment because of sound issues.

This happens with other things when we say "stop!" "no!" he will keep on with it, and when we say "you're not listening!!" hes like "im listening now..." just to get what he wants. We end up resorting to threats, bribes, screaming, etc which i know is not the right way. i know many ppl say "get down on their level and talk" but he just runs away without focusing on what i want to say!

i am trying to deal with him and a newborn baby at the same time which is not easy to juggle, any advice?? please.... i know i need to be consistent but i havent figured out what to be consistent with so it all feels like a mess and i can understand why a testing preschooler would get confused and keep pushing the boundaries
I have 4 kids now, and each one was 3 when the next one was born, and if it helps you to know, I still don't have all the answers or some instant fix. I have seen the 3's from 3 different kids now, from a girl and then two very different boys, and even my second son who is so compliant, is having the same terrible 3's with the refusals to cooperate, etc.

Honestly, it's hard. They want and need more attention, they aren't used to someone else vying for the lion's share of your attention (as new babies can't help but do, and we are wise to tend that need), and all I can say is, it WILL get easier. And you don't have to be perfect. Which is good, because none of us are, and most of the time, our kids survive it fine. The few who don't, probably wouldn't have been fine no matter what we did. So, just do your best, do what you need to do, but don't take it too personally if nothing seems to work. The tincture of time will help, most likely. There really doesn't seem to be any one perfect way to raise kids, so seeking it can drive you nuts. Even if you blow your stack, realize that generations of parents have also blown theirs before you, and most of their offspring came out alright in the end. HUGS! We are only human, and so are they.

Older Homeschooling mom with 4 kids, born cesarean, HBAC, HWBAC, and unmedicated VBAC in hospital after age 40.
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#9 of 12 Old 11-30-2014, 12:24 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lauren View Post
Three minutes is an eternity for a child that has this temperament. Lots of parents get hung up on this 'guideline' of a minute for each year, and it is arbitrary.
I think you are right. I should have said the typical guideline is 3 minutes or less for a 3 year old. And, Kazdin does not use that guideline as far as I know.

I was actually trying to make sure eshev was not trying to use longer time outs.

Quote:
The purpose of time out is not punishment. It is to refrain from attending to the negative behavior choice. So it is really just like planned ignoring but in a safe spot. Kazdin gives a better rationale for this intervention.
I agree, I did not mean to imply it was punishment. It's time out from reinforcement, that is the intent.
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#10 of 12 Old Yesterday, 09:41 AM
 
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Ugh, this is a rough situation, but I think you're getting some good advice.

Quote:
for example lately he is taking his clothes off and then running and hiding from me like its a game ("heheheheh") so:
- I tell him "You need to wear clothes. Do you want to get dressed yourself or want me to help you?" ussually he does not answer just runs away more....i carry him to his room and put clothes for him (he is capable of dressing himself) and tell him he can come out when he gets dressed, he keeps trying to come out of the room, sometimes physically struggling against me and trying to push past to run out the door....what am i supposed to do???
What happens if you offer to dress him, or if you stay with him talking to him while he gets dressed?

One of my most vivid memories of early childhood is that after my brother was born when I was 2 1/2, my mother insisted that I dress myself, alone. Usually I was able to do it, but I remember feeling sad and resentful about it. I would call to her asking for help, and she would say no, and I felt that I was disappointing her by wanting to be cared for and that the stupid baby had taken my mama away when I still needed her. One time I got my head stuck in my turtleneck and couldn't find my way out; I yelled for help but only got a distant call of "You can do it!"; I felt stupid and wrong and frightened and abandoned; finally I blundered into the door frame and got a bloody nose. It sounds like no big deal, but I still think of it often when I want to ask someone to help or nurture me but the task is one that I could do for myself: I am still hurting from the idea that I don't deserve help and I am on my own.

I know you don't want your son to regress to being dressed by you every day, when you have a baby who really does need to be dressed by you. But I think he may be expressing a need for nurturing. You are saying, "Do you want to get dressed yourself or want me to help you?" but what do you mean by helping? It sounds like it means forcing him into his room and getting out the clothes for him. He's trying to get out of the room rather than put on the clothes. What else can you do to HELP rather than continue the power struggle? It might help to put his clothes on him yourself, or it might help to talk about his feelings: Just say, "You don't want to get dressed," in an understanding voice and see what happens. Another approach that might work is laying out his clothes and baby's clothes and saying, "You put on your clothes while I put on her clothes," and narrating, "First the shirt goes over your head...then one arm in one sleeve..." Look for ways to keep the interaction positive. As it is, you're putting time and attention into keeping him in his room, so put that energy toward achieving your goal (clothes on kid) but try other approaches for getting it done.

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#11 of 12 Old Yesterday, 04:41 PM
 
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I really like the points you raised, Envirobecca.

 
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#12 of 12 Old Today, 06:32 AM
 
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New baby and a 3 year old....

Momma, I think your toddler is craving for your attention, as Cynthia had earlier mentioned, may be because you are nowadays mostly taking care of the infant. His child-mind is producing all kinds of 'novel ideas and tricks' to get it. Perhaps you are over-reacting to the situation, except that in his innocence he should not be allowed to do any physical harm to his infant sister. To me your DS seems to be a normal happy-go-lucky boy, especially as there are no signs of sibling jealousy going by the details of your account. You may consider trying to give him more toys and encourage to be with other family members and neighborhood friends, if any. Incidentally, did he wean completely before your second child-birth? And whether has he not shown the desire to nurse again?
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