Consequences for a 3 year old? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 07-23-2004, 02:35 PM - Thread Starter
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This is my first time starting a thread here. My son is almost 3 and so far in his short little life he has responded very well to distraction, redirection, short/easy to follow instructions and consequences to his actions. He also responds to "1,2,3" but we rarely have to get that far. My husband and I try very hard to patient, no yelling/screaming etc. We are 100% against corporal punishment and have never/will never spank.

However for the last week our son has really been procrastinating at bedtime. We have a set routine (video, jammies, teeth, 2 books) and bedtime is consistent-between 8 and 8:30. His new thing is to really dilly-dally, fight jammies, he gets very distracted when brushing his teeth (playing with the water, needing to wash his hands again and again), wanting to watch a little more, now I need water, etc etc. We have tried to be more flexible- Ok you don't want jammies? Here's a t-shirt. All along reminding him that bed time is the same no matter what and if he wants to wash his hands again that means less time for a video, he wants to watch more video? Ok less time for books. Most times when I say Ok time for bed he gets up, turns off the TV and off to jammies, books and bed we go.

For the most part we have not had to limit anything and still been able to get him to bed on time. Reading books are his (and mine!) favorite part of his nighttime routine. So last night he really dilly-dallied. At 7:45 we had just put on his video. So at 8:00 I told him time for bed and he kept asking to watch just a little more, I want to hear this song mommy please!?! So I said OK but that means no time for books tonight OK? Yes mommy! So 8:15 video over and we get our t-shirt on (No jammies mama!!) work our way upstairs, where he has to put his trains’ always. We get into his bedroom and I start to tuck him in and he asks for his 2 stories. I said no stories tonight, its bedtime. He starts screaming, a real throw doww tantrum. I try to get him calmed down whjile all along explaining that because we watched more video there was no time for books.

Well the poor guy was so upset. I ended up being in there with him much longer (almost an hour) than it would have taken to just give in and have read him the books but I didn’t want to leave him in his room crying. I feel strongly about consistency and consequences to his actions but am I just being stubborn? I almost felt like it was a power struggle. Would it have been better to “give in”? Would it have better to deal with the tantrum at video time instead at book time and not have let him watch more?

As an aside: He is exhausted by 8:0O so it’s not that he isn’t ready for bed. He usually falls asleep during the last book or is asleep before I even get downstairs. Also I can’t really start the bedtime routine an earlier other wise it would be in the middle of dinner LOL.

So wise GD mamas: Any advice? Should I be giving in, changing our routine? How do I change so that he still understands the consequences of his actions but I don’t have him crying hysterically bedtime? Thanks!

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#2 of 8 Old 07-23-2004, 07:06 PM
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I say keep the routine predictable. Either turn the video on when it needs to start so it'll end when you want it, or accept that you started it a little late, you'll be a little later to bed. It does sound like he's tired and not able to negotiate at that point. If a video is definitely part of his routine, could you do jammies and teeth first, and when he's ready you turn it on? That only leaves stories, which is the fun part. Maybe there'd be more cooperation getting ready. Just remember to keep it upbeat and not a threat. "When your teeth are brushed and your jammies are on we'll turn on the video" vs "If you brush your teeth and put your jammies on you can watch a video"
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#3 of 8 Old 07-23-2004, 07:53 PM
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I may be totally heartless, but I would have stuck to my guns, not read the story and let him cry. This is the beginning of when you need to really follow-through with what you have said, every time. It is HARD to do sometimes. Now, the next time it came up I might be more careful in how I presented the choice and made sure I was comfortable with what I had said. But once you lay out a consequence, I think its really important to follow through. If you do, its likely only to take once or twice. If you don't, you are setting yourself up for lots and lots of these scenes.
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#4 of 8 Old 07-23-2004, 08:57 PM
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I think you should stick to your limits too but I also wonder whether a 3yo can have the foresight to see what your offer meant in the first place.

I think you should have stopped the video and if you wanted to negotiate anything maybe return to the video after jammies and teeth so that the choice is about the immediate future only. Like: "You can choose to watch more of the video now or read books now." I think putting your foot down on that if he chose the video would make more sense to a 3yo.

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#5 of 8 Old 07-23-2004, 09:46 PM
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I personally think I would skip the video right before bed, I find they rile my daughter up, and she's much less agreeable after watching it. I agree about doing teeth/getting changed before video, and I also agree that at 3 kids are more likely to agree with anything to get what they want in that moment, whether they mean it or not. By staying while he was crying to comfort him, but not giving in to the reading a book, I think you make it a bit easier for yourself when he's older, to understand consequences and agreements, etc. (ie I think if you would have given in to reading the book he's learning that you don't mean something when you put your foot down, and I really think that if you're not going to follow through on something, don't set it up) One friend we have has started, "okay, we have 20 minutes until bedtime. We can use all of that time brushing our teeth and getting changed, or we can quickly do those things and have time to read some more stories" This has really helped avoid all the teethbrushing fights she's been having, yet gives them control over how they spend their time. We've tried bits of different things to see what works for us - good luck on the journey!

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#6 of 8 Old 07-24-2004, 03:43 AM
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I think you were being "stubborn" (your word, no offense intended). You should have read him the books. Seems from your post you know this in your heart.
Being flexible and forgiving is a far greater quality of parenting than "sticking to your guns." Maintaining a peaceful bedtime and respectful relationship with your son is much more important than proving some point. Life is short. Roll with things.
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#7 of 8 Old 07-26-2004, 03:15 AM
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The video may be too stimulating for him. I'd experiment and start the bedtime routine a bit earlier and read more to him and spend a bit more time, even if it is ten more minutes with him. He may be needing more of your heart right now anyway...

Other things that come to mid to help prepare him are lavendar baths, chamomile tea in the evening, talking about the day and favorites things about it....

Hang in there and remember that your heart is enough....
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#8 of 8 Old 07-26-2004, 10:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi everyone!

Thanks so much for the responses! We were away this weekend so I am just getting to them now.

It's interesting about the videos being too stimulating. We added the video to his routine at around 2- 2 1/2 maybe and its the only TV he watches. He never gets "riled up" by it, instead it has a very calming effect but then again he doesn't watch anything overly stimulating- usually just a TIVO'd Sesame Street, Arthur or Sagwa these days. It has never bothered him before so maybe this is a new phase?

We do relaxing baths, just not every night. He usually showers w/ me in the AM and then has baths a few times a week depending on how dirty he gets. It’s more in the summer and a lot less in the winter. Have to watch his skin though since he is prone to eczema, so maybe I can talk him out of the showers.

As I stated before I really can't start his bed routine any earlier. I am home at 5:30, we have about 45+ minutes of just mommy and son time (no mail, getting dinner ready, phone calls etc) and then my husband is home and one of us starts dinner. We usually eat by 6:30-6:45. Dinner is usually over by 7-7:15. Then the bedtime routine starts. I really don't want to give up the re-connect time....

The good news is the past few nights were a dream. A soon as I said the video over he either got up and turned the TV off himself or when he asked for more and I offered that he could watch more or ready books, he chose books. I am hoping the last week was just an example of his testing him limits. But I think in the future I won't put my foot down about the books and just set the night night timer a little earlier so he watched less TV. While I believe in teaching him the consequence of his actions I want to keep reading a “fun thing” and I’d rather him have a fit about TV and use books to calm him down.

Again- thanks for all the advice! I am sure I will be back for more!

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