What to do when time out and all else fails?

Jenna - posted on 09/21/2011 ( 9 moms have responded )

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My almost 3 year old boy can be very mean sometimes and I have exhausted myself trying to correct his behavior. He is very energetic and emotional! Simple and ridiculous things can set off his tantrums, he can get really wound up and starts hitting or throwing toys, he doesn't listen at all and his 1 yr old sis gets in the middle sometimes! Time out does not work with him, neither does sending him to his room or yelling. Getting down to his level and calmly but firmly talking to him about the problem doesn't seem to do anything either. I get so frustrated I have to walk away! Any advice would be helpful as I have no clue what else to do! Also am freaking out because my husband will be going on a business training trip for a week and this will be the longest we have gone without him home!

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Jo - posted on 09/22/2011

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Hi Jenna, I have another idea for you to try in addition to time out.
My now nearly four year old son was perfect right through 1 and 2, then turned rotten and mean and bullying to smaller children when he hit three (especially to his little brother, 2 years younger than him exactly).
We tried time out, confiscating toys (both of which we still do now), and even the odd spank if he was really bad (like when the boys were at the library with my husband, and Joel pushed Jamie, aged 1, who had just stood up by himself, over flat on his face and then jumped on him. That earned him a spank!)
However, none of these things were really working. He'd throw a tantrum in time out, but forget about it as soon as he got out. Same thing with toy confiscation. He was in his brother's face all the time and always pushing him over and starting fights.
The thing that got him out of it was, surprisingly, a sticker chart! He has always been a words boy (and if you know about the 5 love languages, his primary one would definitely be words of affirmation), and so as soon as we started making extra effort to notice good behaviour, and reward this with affirming words and a sticker on his chart, his behaviour improved dramatically. I think part of it is that we were giving him more attention for a good reason (so he didn't feel he had to act up to get our attention!) He also will say things now like "Mummy, I'm being such a good helper today" and "I'm going to be really good today" - cos he loves the attention being on him doing the right thing.

Anyway, I got the idea for the chart from my MIL. Joel's chart is called a JOY chart (we're christians, so it stands for putting Jesus first, Others second and You last), but the chart could be called anything you like! When he gets 10 stickers, he gets to go on a special trip to a toy shop to choose a little prize (he almost always chooses a new matchbox car - which costs about $3 here in New Zealand).

I would never have believed that this would have made such a difference, but he truly is back to being my little angel now. I think he just went through a stage where he didn't feel like he was getting enough attention (because of his little brother), and thought that bad behaviour was the best way to get it!

Hope this helps.

Kathleen - posted on 09/22/2011

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I know exactly how you feel. It was like a switch on my son. It was NEVER terrible two's it was the three's. What's worse is my hubby ended up on a trip as well when he started all this. It is exhausting and annoying and very frustrating but keep on track. It does not matter where we are my son always knows his behavior is NOT tolerated. Time out can be done in the middle of a store does not matter. Consistency really is the key. Time out, if you need a moment his room. Let him scream you know when your son is hurt or something truly wrong. Right when he does wrong he is in time out, after he is there for three minutes I go and talk to him. I ask him why did I put him in time out. He usually will tell me lately it has been throwing and hitting as well. He will tell me because I hit the puppy, or I threw the block at you. They do understand. It takes awhile, but he will learn that it will not be tolerated. Also if you need a moment it really is ok. Put him in his room for a few minutes (so you know he is safe) go into the other room and cry, scream into a pillow. I myself have locked myself into the closet or the bathroom and cried for five minutes.

Tara - posted on 09/22/2011

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Hi Jenna! I can relate for sure. My son will be 3 Oct 2 and I have had posts on here about how to deal with his anger. Have you ever seen Nanny 911 or Super Nanny? As far as time outs go, what does he do when he is in them? if he keeps coming out of it, pick him up and put him right back in it without saying a word and restart the timer (3 mins for his age). If you find that you are putting him in a time out over and over again send him up to his room and do the same thing or take away a favorite toy. With Sidney, a lot of the time he is good in a time out and doesn't really come out of it however there are days once it's over with he continues the bad behavior and goes right back into a time out. After doing this 4 or more times in a row I get tired of hearing him scream and throw things that I send him to his room and tell him to stay on his bed until he is ready to behave. It gives him time away and me time away as well. This has worked for us. What does he do when you send him to his room? When Sidney is having his tantrum, getting down to his level and calming talking to him doesn't do a thing! I have to wait until we are both calm. Walking away is just fine! I have even locked myself in the bathroom with him screaming on the other side, just to step away and gather myself. This age is so trying!!! consistency is definitely the key even if it seems you are doing the same things all day long. I do agree with another post that when Sidney is really tired things can be worse. Hang in there you are not alone!

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Peggy - posted on 03/05/2013

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I can relate and agree on all of the helpful tips that have been posted....if you are at home. What if you are out? My 3 1/2 y/o is relentless at the store, parties and at church. How do I get her to listen to me without having to always remove her from the situation? Thanks

Keri - posted on 10/01/2011

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Our son is almost 5. He acts the same way. A swift swat on the butt usually stops it; or even the "promise" of one or the promise to be sent to his room. Sometimes we just ignore it. He's an only child so there's no one to trap "in the middle". Sometimes we go as far as to just ignore it. He gets mad and eventually wears himself out.

Julie - posted on 09/23/2011

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My three year old is going through the same thing. When he gets mad he pushes his one year old sister even when she has nothing to do with his anger. We have tried time out with no luck. I've noticed that he is worse when he's tired or sick. We're trying out quiet time instead of time out and if that doesn't work i get up and move to another room. Their emotions are not in their control and sometimes the best thing is to go for a walk or a change of scenery.

Jenna - posted on 09/22/2011

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Yes he gets worse when he is tired, but he doesn't just go and lay down for a nap, it is a hit or miss if he settles down and fall asleep during his TV time. He does not really have a schedule and I know that would be helpful, but how do you get a 3 yr old to go with a schedule? I know he gets worse when he is hungry too, but it is hard to get him to eat a lot of the time!
I do watch Supernanny and have tired her time-out method. He gets up constantly or just sits there and screams and kicks! If we try to send him to his room he just comes back downstairs, over and over. It is just really hard with his 1 yr old sis running around also, she gets upset when he is so upset, so they are both crying and screaming! I am trying to be consistent and hopefully he will improve. Just got to stick to my guns whether he screams and cries the whole day!

Kathy - posted on 09/22/2011

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is he hungry? tired? bored? my nephew went through a 2yr "reign of terror" but i really think that he was tired most of the time because my sis and her family were always so busy but now that he's older (he's 4) he can handle the long wake times and he's so different and calm now!

if your child not sleeping well, that would certainly contribute to his tantrums as overtired kids act out more because they're so exhausted (same as when we're tired, we have zero patience for anything).

Kristen - posted on 09/21/2011

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I would probably just send him to his room until he could calm down. Be consistent with it. Doesn't mean he'll stop throwing tantrums overnight but atleast he'll know you won't put up with it. Also you might want to check in with a behavioral specialist or your doctor just to make sure there's nothing else that could be causing him to have meltdowns over such small things.

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