Help me w/ disciplining my 3yr old boy - Mothering Forums

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Old 10-24-2006, 12:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi. I have a 3.5 year old boy who can be a little wild. We go to a weekly playgroup and one of the moms recently told me her and the other moms felt some of my son's behavior had to be adressed. Mainly, they said they saw DS hold his hand out like a gun and say to the other kids while playing, "I'm gonna kill you." (I missed it when it happened and didnt see it.)Then she told me that it needs to stop, and offered how she disciplines her kids. She said her and the other moms will be there to help me whenever I need to discipline him in group, and she was trying to say this as a friend; gently and just trying to be helpful.
It hurt a bit, but I've been thinking alot about it and trying to decide what move I'm going to make to help my kid play nicely, and what kind of discipline routine I am going to choose and stick with for awhile to get him back under a little more control.
I've ordered some of the gentle discipline books off the sticky list, and I'm very new to the ideas, I know I dont like spanking, alot of my friends use timeouts, as we have, but I need something that works!
Ok, my question I guess is any help with how do you gently discipline your 3 to 4 year olds, and keep yourself as calm as possible through it all?
He is a good kid, and most of the time is very sweet.

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Old 10-24-2006, 01:11 AM
 
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The thing is nothing works all the time. I've read a few discpline books..the gentler ones and the main thing to remember is that discpline means to teach...not punish. I just finished Alfie Kohn's "Unconditional parenting" and to me it is erally gets to the heart of what genle discpline is. It is kind and understading and it's main goal isn't to get the kids to listen. a 3.5 year old saying he is gojng kill the other kids is proably about as threatenning as a fly. However it doesn't sound right to adults and probably the other kids don't like it either...but what does your son think about it? Was he playing "cops and robbers" was it part of game and he might not have any idea that such a thing is frigtenning to hear? did he hear those words on TV and is just repeating them? Instead of punishing the behavior away find out what is going on and help him understand a better way of playing. IMHO

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Old 10-24-2006, 03:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks for your response. I'm sure he probably heard it on tv, and was certainly playing, and also doesnt know what it means.. all that seems true. I see how I can try to explain why what he says may bother others, and how he might play instead- and thanks for reminding me it doesnt have to be all punshment.
I also dont want to stifle him by saying he cant play something, but I think alot of these moms in group dont even want their kids to know what a gun is so that might be where their reaction is coming from- either way, we have to play another way to really be welcomed in the group. Hope I'm making sense.

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Old 10-24-2006, 03:14 AM
 
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I have a nephew who is a wee bit of a gun nut. They have a rule that we'll probably try if any of our kids get into guns. The rule is that you can never, ever point a gun at someone else, even if the "gun" is actually a stick, finger, carrot, whatever. Maybe you could have a rule like that with your ds? I wouldn't try to criminalize it, that backfired with my sister and I think was a bit of a contributing factor to my nephew's obsession. When they both lightened up about it and just tried to regulate how he played with guns, he seemed to be able to move onto other games.

Also, maybe you can just attend that playgroup when they meet at parks or places where your ds will have enough room to be his rambunctious self, at least until, he gets a little older?

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Old 10-24-2006, 07:18 AM
 
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Originally Posted by natensarah View Post
I wouldn't try to criminalize it, that backfired with my sister and I think was a bit of a contributing factor to my nephew's obsession. When they both lightened up about it and just tried to regulate how he played with guns, he seemed to be able to move onto other games.
This is the approach our daycare takes with the kids. Not sure about gun-play, but other fighting type play. Rather than having a no-go rule fullstop, they give them ways to play that limits/directs it. So their play is directed into a way that's just play - not coming across as threatening. They are shown to do pretend striking (if they're playing, not talking about aggressive) instead. DS so far, rarely tries it out at home and if I'm not coming down on him like a tonne of bricks he seems to have a little play and then moves on.

I was at the playground one day with ds and he was playing with some other kids and was saying "kill the monkey" - all in play and they were all laughing and chasing, I was a bit shocked and didn't think fast on how to manage that. But if it were to happen again, I would ask him to say something like "chase the monkey" or "tickle the monkey". To him they were just words and they were playing chase, so in our situation I'm sure just substituting the words would have been just as fulfilling for him without it sounding "bad".

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Old 10-24-2006, 09:45 AM
 
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I agree about not stifling/criminalizing the gun play. He is only 3! A lot of kids need to sort through what they see on TV at this age, and the way they do it is by play acting. My kids used to "lock" their dolls and teddies "in jail" at this age!

I'm sorry that conversation was hard for you. I don't know what to say! My kids don't really do gun play, etc. but I realize full well that they will be exposed to kids who do, and I just tell them that different families have different rules. I would not jump all over somone else about their kid playing like this! Sometimes moms with younger children haven't learned yet, that it is pretty pointless to try to control other people in order to shelter their kids.

How old are the children of the other mamas?
Do any of them have kids who are much older?
Is it possible they don't have the experience necessary to be relaxed and realistic?
How does the woman who spoke to you discipline her children?
What other examples did she give, of bad behavior? Is he hitting or hurting anyone?
Where does the playgroup meet?
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Old 10-24-2006, 11:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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How old are the children of the other mamas? the others do have older kids, up to six or seven, and 3yr olds, and babies. OUr group is from birth to 8.
Do any of them have kids who are much older?
Is it possible they don't have the experience necessary to be relaxed and realistic? I think they do have the experience, some are more laid back and maybe more understanding, and some are very much more controlling of what there kids see, do, eat. They are a natural, and APing, and homeschooling mixture.
How does the woman who spoke to you discipline her children? My friend told me she gives them timeouts on their bed then spanks them if they try to get off, and she also said sometimes she just has to hold them too and that sometimes these things take up to a half an hour. I'm trying to find what way will work with us, and I dont want to spank.
What other examples did she give, of bad behavior? Um, don't recall specific examples. My friend has 3 girls; ages 3,5,6. And she mostly says with having the three of them, she has to have some control over them to be able to go out and do anything.
Is he hitting or hurting anyone? Occasionally he does hit, I think because he is angry and trying to express it, and I always address it, have him apologize, and have a timeout. It doesnt happen regularly, but it has happend a couple times.
Where does the playgroup meet?[/QUOTE] We meet everywhere. But now that its getting cold again, we will mostly be meeting in an empty gym for the rest of the winter.
Thanks for all the replies. I hope I'm not making too much of it. But if its disrupting our life, then I have to figure out how to make it better.
I did alot of surfing around last night and read a little about power play at this age- so it is normal, but we have to set limits that will work for him socially. I like the idea of not pointing 'the gun' at anyone.
My son is also really into monsters and tries to growl and scare the other kids sometimes, so that isnt flying either. I have been pointing it out to him, and its starting to calm down a bit, but he just loves how the girls run and scream-- I think some of the girls like it too, but not the moms, or some of the other kids.
Sorry so long. Thanks

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Old 10-24-2006, 12:07 PM
 
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Are you really sure you want to remain a part of this group? It sounds like your son is pretty normal. And it sounds like this woman is very controlling! The way that she is disciplining her children is not okay. Unless your child is continually infringing on the dignity of the other children in some way, I think that the other mothers need to learn a little tolerance. He's only three!
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Old 10-24-2006, 01:08 PM
 
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It would have upset me if someone approached me about her and the "other" moms coming to a conclusion that something has to be done about my child. : I'm sorry, but like all things kids pick up certain things from t.v. and go through phases. It's not like he has a real gun and I doubt it bothers the other children at all. They're just playing. These moms are just pushing their ideas about what a child should behave like on to you. It's not right IMO.

I don't think this is a discipline issue at all. I would just talk to him repeatedly about not pretending with guns, especially around his friends in playgroup and eventually he will stop. They can't keep badgering you if a 3 yr old chooses to do such a thing. He will be doing something else later for goodness sake. He's a kid! That's just how kids are.

This mom is in for a rude awakening once her children start school she better plan to homeschool or keep him locked in the house so they don't get around such horrible children such as your's (not).

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Old 10-24-2006, 02:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, mamas. I did need a little boost to remember he's just being a kid.
And you're right, I was upset about it. I do really like this group, thats why I've thought so much on this, otherwise I wouldnt care about other folks' opinions.
I do think some of the group may be a bit uptight. I also think that my son is one of the most, um, trying to find the word, maybe butch-like boy in the group, and they just arent used to that.
Thanks for the suggestions, I will keep them in mind.

oh, and they are all homeschooling... for the long haul.

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Old 10-24-2006, 02:33 PM
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I point out what behavior is not okay and the reason why and that seems to help. I also remove her from group situations when she is not doing well and either have her sit with me until she is ready to go do well in the situation or leave if it is not a day when she can handle being in a group. I also talk about my expectations for the group before we go in by using questions and letting her answer the questions.
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Old 10-24-2006, 04:42 PM
 
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Originally Posted by nathansmum View Post
I was at the playground one day with ds and he was playing with some other kids and was saying "kill the monkey" - all in play and they were all laughing and chasing, I was a bit shocked and didn't think fast on how to manage that. But if it were to happen again, I would ask him to say something like "chase the monkey" or "tickle the monkey". To him they were just words and they were playing chase, so in our situation I'm sure just substituting the words would have been just as fulfilling for him without it sounding "bad".
Good idea!

My ds often has his animals/toys "bite" me. I've handled it different ways. Sometimes I play along, because I figure this is his way of getting out some aggression. Since he used to bite me, I figure this is a big improvement! Other times I will say, "Oh, no, he is kissing me!" to try and turn it in a positive direction. I'm not sure which way is best, though... maybe he NEEDS to get those more hostile feelings out in a fantasy/play situation, and I shouldn't try to turn hostility into a "loving" situation just because I'm uncomfortable with anger expression??

Anyway, I agree that the gun play is not a discipline issue, but a time for education. Look at the cause of his behavior. Is he just role playing what he sees? Then change the environment (turn off the tv). Is he feeling anger/upset? Then encourage a different outlet of expression (pretend to shoot off fireworks in the sky?).

I'm finding things are getting more difficult with my about to be three year old, too. Good luck!

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Old 10-24-2006, 04:52 PM
 
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I'm in favour of giving you both a break from the group while your son moves through this phase. I've done it at various stages for different reasons - and it was always short-lived. This too shall pass!
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Old 10-24-2006, 07:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I point out what behavior is not okay and the reason why and that seems to help. I also remove her from group situations when she is not doing well and either have her sit with me until she is ready to go do well in the situation or leave if it is not a day when she can handle being in a group. I also talk about my expectations for the group before we go in by using questions and letting her answer the questions.
I like your ideas on how to handle it. May I ask what are some of the questions you ask?
Thanks.
I also like Honeybee's idea of shooting fireworks!

And as for what Mommy's Goove said, I could do that, but first we're going to try playgroup on thursday, and see how it goes.

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Old 10-25-2006, 02:22 PM
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I ask things like "what are the rules", "what will we do when we are mad", "what are the toys for", "will we do____(climb the shelves, hit friends, screech at people that come near us, shove kids hands off the huge play kitchen, or whatever the problem we ran into the last time was", "what will we do instead", "what can we do", "what will we do if a friend is bothering us", "what will you do if someone has something you want and won't give it to you", "what will you do if someone squishes you", "what will you do if you need space", "will we say ___(stupid, I'm Lucifer, etc...) while we are here", "Why will we share the toys" etc... I try to hit the highlights of what happened last time that I don't want to happen again and let her answer. When she doesn't feel like answering I will make something up that she knows wouldn't be okay like "If your friend wants to play with the oven to then you push their hand away" then she will say no then I say "step on them" "screech at them" "Oh, you share with them? Oh, okay" This usually engages her in the discussion. For dd sometimes she gets overwhelmed with to much group time and needs some time to come sit on me or sit with me and color or something calming. It seems to happen more often when I am having an adult conversation.
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Old 10-25-2006, 03:02 PM
 
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About the gunplay, ITA that it is normal. Just yesterday I was wondering if children did that kind of thing even before there were guns. I won't let my child have a toy gun, but I don't have a problem with pretending some other object (like their hand) is a gun. My 3yo DS points sticks and yells "BAM!" There have been times I have said "that baming is hurting my ears. Please don't do loud bamming in the house." Sometimes I need to help him transtion to a calmer activity. If he were to engage in gunplay that felt aggressive, like getting up in a person's face (and saying I am going to kill you to an actual person as opposed to an imaginary person probably falls into that category), I think I would say "honey, that bamming is scary. Please don't bam in someone's face." Then I would try to redirect him to another activity.

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Is he hitting or hurting anyone? Occasionally he does hit, I think because he is angry and trying to express it, and I always address it, have him apologize, and have a timeout. It doesnt happen regularly, but it has happend a couple times.
About hitting I say "Please don't hit. Hitting hurts X's body. We don't want to hurt X's body." I tell him it's okay to be angry, but not okay to hurt people. I encourage him to use words or clench his fists or stomp his feet if he is angry rather than hitting. I also don't make him say he is sorry. I sometimes have had him come check in on the person to see if they are okay. Then I will say "he's crying. He's sad." If DS doesn't say he is sorry on his own I will say I am sorry you got hit, X. Hitting hurts."
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Old 05-04-2014, 09:26 PM
 
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my 3 yr old boy is also interested in playing bad guy with a gun he picked it up from our closest pal who is 4 and also a boy my daughter whos 4 gets scared and tells them she doesnt like the game and of course me and the other boys mother dont approve and try to distract them from the game.i love the the theory of gentle disciplining and i always explain to my children why their actions are inappropriate or unsafe.im totally not ok with my son saying these things but is it appropriate to explain to a 3 yr old that guns kill.i dont want to traumatize him. i know its just pretend its just hard hearing such violent words coming from my sweet  innocent baby.ive always pushed for no tv in our home but my husband got his way and we have always had one.i know thats where hes picking some of this stuff up .it seems like all movies made for them have a bad guy and some form of violence.i would be thrilled if my children didnt know what a gun was but thats pretty impossible with the influence of tv and other children.everyone also says its a boy thing.must be i sure dont get this weapon thing.ive never even bought my kids squirt guns i always pick an animal or something that squirts just the same.he ll use his finger, a stick ,anything and say its a gun.it drives me nuts.at this point all i can do is ask him to stop and explain that nobody likes it and guns hurt people.

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