Toddlers: 24 Months+

Dealing with a threenager...help!

DS is 3 1/2 and has just recently started acting out.  Among the worst of our problems is when we ask him to do anything, he yells, 'No!'. We have tried time-out, but he continues to get out. We keep putting him back in. He eventually ends up hitting walls, hitting us, screaming, etc. We don't let the time start until he stops those things, so he ends up in time-out for 30 minutes or more.  We give repeated warnings leading up to transitions and set timers, but that doesn't help curb tantrums.  We have taken toys if he won't pick them up and that doesn't phase him. Today, I said, 'You can pick up or I will take your grocery cart.' He replied, 'OK, take it.'  I've tried giving him choices, but most of the time, he won't even pick, he just get mad that he can't do exactly what he wants. We have a 7 month old, too. We've tried making more big brother time, and that's curbed some of it, but not much.  I'm desperate for any help! Today, I lost my cool and ended up spanking him.  I felt so terrible afterward and I apologized for mommy losing her cool.  I know it's normal for kids this age to assert their independence, but I'm at a loss for how to deal with it anymore.  Thanks for reading this long! 

Re: Dealing with a threenager...help!

  • I feel your pain. That's a hard age especially with a young baby around and I bet the younger sibling is part of the problem. Your LO sounds like he's acting out for attention, albeit negative attention, it's still attention.

    I would just continue doing what you are doing. Stay consistent with time out's and any other discipline you decide on. If you threaten something, follow through. Don't allow him to get away with any negative behaviors. It's annoying for the parent that has to constantly be on top of the child that is misbehaving but consistency really is the only thing that works.

    One other thought is maybe a reward system for the good things he does? Around that age I got a sticker chart and my son earned stickers by being nice to his sister, cleaning up toys, eating all of this dinner, etc and then he got a reward for earning stickers. That got him super pumped during a time where it felt like all we ever did was punish him :(

    Good luck, it's not easy!

  • SLGILL1978SLGILL1978 member
    500 Comments Third Anniversary 100 Love Its First Answer
    edited May 2016
    Consistency is the key. Some days you may have to rinse and repeat. We do redirection/warnings, taking object away if applicable, taking away privileges and then lastly time out. Positive reinforcement is also huge. If my daughter has a great week, we go out for a treat or she picks out something small when we run errands. Her rewards are things like cooking her favorite dinner, Mommy making her a smoothie or milkshake, etc. 
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  • I was having a lot of behavioral issues with my 3 1/2 year old and it was suggested we made charts of what is expected of him and then a picture of the reward (10 minutes on the iPad or 3 M&Ms.) These have helped a TON. My son needs constant countdowns i.e. "5 more minutes, then we have to wash hands and eat dinner.....2 more minutes" etc.  We are also telling him what happen next in almost every situation. If I don't tell him what he needs to do, then there is almost always a tantrum or a fight to get him to do something. i.e.. "We are going to the playground, then when I tell you its time to go, we have to go, no whining."  All these have helped a great deal.  Of course we still have some issues from time to time, but they have decreased quite a bit.  Good luck!
  • Enroll him to a good preschool.
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  • kat029kat029 member
    100 Love Its 10 Comments Name Dropper Photogenic
    edited November 12
    My step-daughter is behaving in a similar fashion. We've tried various techniques, and since it's usually a method of her getting attention, we take attention away by placing her in her room, door closed, until she calms down. While it helps with the attention behavior, the NO isn't getting handled/addressed. 
  • My 2-going-on-13 year old goes through episodes of absolute defiance. For me, time-outs only work if she needs the time to emotionally cool off. Rewards rarely help since she just doesn’t care most of the time (and I’m not going to reward her for refusing to obey the first three to five times!). Countdowns and preparation seem to help a little, but she ends up trying to push the time a little further. I sometimes have success with taking things away, but that usually results in a tantrum. Honestly (and I know this can be unpopular), I do spank my DD when she is in direct defiance and disobedience. She knows that this is a consequence of her actions and we do it in a very controlled environment (I never spank her in anger or frustration, never more than three smacks to the bottom, and always with a hug and reassurance that Mommy loves her so much, but that she must obey). I know many people are anti-spanking and that’s fine if you prefer going another way. I see it as a tool in the arsenal of discipline which includes rewards, time-outs, sticker charts, and taking away something she likes. 
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