Why is my 3 y/o the devil?

We're having discipline issues. I don't spank, but trust me, I've wanted to. He talks back like crazy.  His daycare is a family member who has a 10 and an 11 year old girl in the house so you can imagine the stuff he's picked up.  Time outs don't work. We've taken toys away, he doesn't care. We've tried to explain and reason and I know better, but...Tonight he spent the entire night in his room alone except to come out for dinner.  He cried and screamed the whole time. I'm open to suggestions. Please don't flame or criticize, I'm at wits end and I'm looking for positive suggestions and help.  TIA.
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Re: Why is my 3 y/o the devil?

  • I'm with ya sister!! I just posted below about my 3 yo screaming bloody murder.  This is about a tenth of the problem.  I read "the Explosive Child" and while the plan is great in theory, he doesn't "get it" yet (that I'm trying to reason with him).  Nothing matters to DS.  We don't spank either, but man.... he has made it a test of wills not to!!

    DH and I were talking tonight that we don't know what else to do either b/c nothing is working.  I'm interested to see what others have to say.  Just wanted to let you know that you are not alone!  I can't WAIT for this stage to be over!!! 

  • If you haven't read 1-2-3 Magic yet, I highly recommend it.  I'm not sure it would work for you since it's time out based, but maybe it might give you some ideas?
  • When people say "terrible two's" I laugh.  Three has been SO MUCH WORSE.  Hang in there.  It has to get better.  Right?!?!
    Nathan (2006), Ben (2008), Anna (2009), Abby (2011)


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  • Ha! I also thought that it was terrible twos and then I had a three year old and everyone I talked to said, "Ohh NO it is the terrible threes for sure!"  I wish I knew what to do.  I seriously thought I was the only one in the world with these problems.  My DD will be 4 in December and is finally growing into her skin and starting to have really good days.  She will be starting pre k in a few weeks though, so I am expecting the worst.  I cannot say that there was/is anything that has made a huge difference other than assuring that she takes a dialy nap.  She thinks she dosent need one, but her behavior is so much better.  The other thing is that when we have nice weather I get her outside as much as possible.  That is a huge help as well.
  • I know I'm not a mom yet so I haven't lived with a 3yo day in and day out but I have worked in a daycare with the 3yo class. One thing we did at the daycare was a "time-in" where the LO would have to stay next to the teacher quietly for 2,3,5 minutes. If they aren't quiet for the first minute another minute is added. Basically is 2 true minutes of quiet. At first I would let it be broken up into spurts of 30 seconds then hold the time until they shushed, but eventually with some kids I worked it up to 5 minutes straight (starting over if there was a peep or complaint). It usually worked better than "time-out" for those kiddos that couldn't handle time-out. 

     Like I said, still working on my bun so I haven't tried it with my LO before, it may work differently in a school setting, but it may be worth a try!  

  • I know you are looking for a little advice, I don't have anySmile I have my own drama with my just turned four year old daughter. I just wanted to tell you that your boys are so beautiful.
  • Now, I am only a new mother with a one month old, so I haven't had the opportunity to put this into practice yet, but my Aunt is a mother of 7 children which she had in 13 years.  6 of those children are boys.  And they are all about the most perfect children you could imagine. I actually sat down with her and asked her once how she did it.  And she told me that she sat down with them at one point and asked them, like adults (I think the oldest at the time was about 5) and set up a list of "naughty things", a subsequent list of "rules" that they made TOGETHER!  In addition, they discussed appropriate consequences for certain positive or negative actions that they would have, like a night without video games for saying a bad word, or maybe if they went a whole week without saying a bad word, they would get an ice cream day alone with mommy.  What a novel idea!!  Since the children were involved in creating the rules and consequences/rewards WITH the adults, they felt like they had a role in the decision making process and therefore, were more willing to follow them.  The key, I think to the whole process was rewarding them for good behavior.

     I don't know. Hopefully this idea might help you out. :)  Good luck. 

  • I am a kindergarten teacher and the school that I work at uses a discipline program called Love and Logic.  You can find it on the internet and it works wonders with helping set limits and encouraging good behavior.  It helps you learn to use natural consequences and helps the students (children) recognize that their behavior can have positive and negative consequences. It is always harder to discipline your own child but this program will help you have the language you need to be objective.  I have found that it empowers children when it us used consistently because it gives them the power to fix their problems and it is more about their behavior then them as a person.  The hard part as a parent is to follow through with the consequence because your little one really knows how to pull at your heart strings. Oh and remember boys especially need concrete physical examples and consequences because they do not think abstractly so some times you have to show them the positive behavior you want.  Stay encouraged and remember that no parent is perfect the first time around we learn as we go.


  • I'm the mom of a 4.5 yo DS.  I could have written the OP's post word-for-word a year ago.  He'd always been difficult, but the 3's were the worst.  I tried Magic 1-2-3, Love & Logic, Partening the Spirited Child.  N.o.t.h.i.n.g worked, until he turned 4.  Honestly he's like a new kid.  He doesn't listen all the time, but he's not openly defiant and having full-blown melt-downs.  I wish I had some practical advice to offer, but the best I can tell you is there is light at the end of the tunnel!  Good luck!
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