Help! My 3 year old simply won't listen to me. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 01-22-2005, 01:07 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm about at my wits' end. I really try to treat my 3 year old DD with respect and to practice GD. Wouldn't dream of hitting her, don't do time outs, try (unsuccessfully, I admit)never to raise my voice, try to label her feelings to help her understand the situation. But it's not working well. I can say something like, "Sarah, put down that pen now, please" and she'll just run around the room with it or tell her, "Sarah, you may not throw toys in the house" and she'll put one toy down and throw something else.

I know some of her recent defiance/tendency to ignore me stems from the arrival of her 2 month old baby sister. But still, she simply needs to listen from time to time. I try to explain to her that sometimes I need to set rules to keep her safe, and I really try not to be careless with restrictions (even though she makes me crazy some days and I'd just like her to sit STILL and be QUIET).

What do you do about this? We've tried lowering our voices so she has to listen hard to hear us (works on occasion), raising our voices (works when DH speaks firmly, not for me), suggesting that, when she doesn't listen, she needs to go sit quietly somewhere until she's ready to cooperate (which I guess is basically a time out, but we present it as something to give her quiet space without distractions), counting to 3 to get her attention, you name it. Honestly, some days I'm ready to just grab her and strap her into her car seat so she can't do anything for a while, KWIM?

Help, wise mamas. I'm starting not to like my DD very much, and that makes me very sad...
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#2 of 7 Old 01-22-2005, 01:30 PM
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One thing I experimented with at this stage was the way that I asked dd to do something. I am not sure about whether it is right to use 'please' when you are not actually giving an option of the child saying 'no'. But then again, I want to model speaking respectfully - and I certainly wouldnt say to another adult 'get your shoes on'.

The way I solved this was to make the first request in the way I would to an adult, eg "Please dd, go and put your shoes on." I did cut out the unnecessary words as I realised she tuned out if it was lengthy (eg 'because we need to go in five minutes'). If she ignores that, I give a direct statement next "Put your shoes on." I use a nice, kind voice, but cut out all the flowery stuff.

Interestingly, it works fairly well and she doesnt seem upset by it. Sometimes she shakes herself and seems to come into focus when the second instruction is given. Getting down to her level, making her look at me etc helps, but in the end, it is the way I give the verbal communication that makes more difference.
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#3 of 7 Old 01-22-2005, 02:50 PM
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With a three y.o. once you have told her what to do once or twice, you need to physically intervene.

I don't mean spanking (god forbid). I just mean going over to her and as gently as possible taking the pen out of her hand.

The trick to doing this is to act gentle AND BORED. Don't seem aggraveted or upset or she will "up the stakes" .

If she continues to throw toys take them away (for the moment only) and say, "since you can't stop throwing toys, we are going to ....(could be listen to music, read a story etc...)
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#4 of 7 Old 01-23-2005, 12:17 AM
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Not a lot of advice but:

You said But still, she simply needs to listen from time to time OK first of all I am assuming you mean obey and not listen. becuase she hears you and chooses not to do what you asked. That is an obedience issue and not a listening issue. Listen is when you are telling thgem somthing and you need them to focus. obeying is when you tell them somehting and need them to act. Me I have no problem with the expectation of children obeying thier parents. But in order to get her to obey ever you need to make sure she obeys all the time. consistancy is key. with my little ones I will say "Ava get back in bed" and when she doesn't I grab her hand and lead her back to bed and say "Mommy said get back in bed". and really you have to be that consistant every time to get them where they expect that they have to. If sometimes you care and sometimes they don't they are just going to go with thier preference and you really can't be dissapointed when they do. They are not mind readers and they don't know when you mean it and when you don't. If I can not follow through with a request I try not to make it all. I either look the other way or ask with a no option and hope for cooperation. and if they say no just suck it up until I can deal with it.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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#5 of 7 Old 01-23-2005, 12:20 AM
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struggling with this issue with my 4 year old dd.
Keep in mind the age 3 is a tough one. She is checking and re checking her boundaries with you. This bears repeating. BE COCNISTENT.
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#6 of 7 Old 01-23-2005, 11:38 PM
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Just wanted to let you know we struggle with the same thing. 3 is a tough age! We are having a hard time with letting her be independent and explore vs. running the house. LOL!
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#7 of 7 Old 01-23-2005, 11:59 PM
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First, three is a very hard age. Nothing that you do will work like magic, nor will it work overnight. You need to pick a course and stick to it for several weeks (if not months) before you see significant change.

That said, I think that the best course is to phrase things as positively as possible. So instead of "please put that pen down" I would say things like, "here's a toy for you to play with" and gently trade with her. "You may not throw toys in the house" can become "let's throw this ball instead of that toy". DD used to love to bang on glass doors and windows - I would simply say, "great banging! Let's do it on the floor (couch, chair cushion, whatever) instead!". You don't even have to use the word "instead" if you don't choose to. Or I would give her something that she could bang on the glass (like a straw) and just hand it to her while taking the wooden spoon out of her hand and saying (enthusiastically) "can you bang on the window with this? We can only hit the glass with a straw but you can use the spoon to bang the couch".

I also have always found that giving DD important "jobs" makes her feel very good about herself. Tonight in fact, I saw that she was bored and starting to get whiny so I asked her if she could help me set the table. Now your little one is young for that so my favorite trick at that age was the old classic: a wet paper towel! I would ask DD to clean the floor, the table, the dog, whatever. She loved that! I also bought her her own feather duster so that she could dust. Keeping her occupied with chores was wonderful because she loved it (still does!) and she felt like she was accomplishing something very significant. Another favorite was to let her fold the underwear and pajamas (I don't care if those are done in a sloppy way) and she loved, loved, loved doing that.

It does get better but it takes time. And to leave this on the positive, think of it this way: instead of "3 year olds can drive anyone crazy" say to yourself, "my, my I am becoming a very creative parent."

(that's what I used to have to say to myself about 50 times per day)
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