I need help

Sierra - posted on 03/27/2014 ( 1 mom has responded )

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I have a 3 year old that completely disrespect me he want do nothing I say. He go behind my back and does it anyway. He tells me no and when he get in trouble it's all about I want my nana. All I do is cry anymore because he wasn't listen to me and then people always telling me I need to fix it but how. How do I fix it when I've tried everything but whooping his butt. He back talks me All the time. His father passed away a year and half ago and I'm not sure if that has anything to do with it. I'm so ready to give up as a mother since I can't do nothing right he never want to be with me anyways what should I do.

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Guest - posted on 03/27/2014

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His behavior sounds like an exaggerated form of normal development for his age, which could be caused by the loss of his father, but it could also just be that you haven't found the right discipline style for him yet. Is he in any form of therapy to deal with the lost parent? If not, it would be a good idea to take him to see a mental health professional, such as a licensed psychologist if you can afford it. If not, clergy are usually trained in grief counselling and will help for free, or if you are not religious, a licensed therapist or counsellor. Just steer clear of psychiatrists.

Going behind your back to do things he isn't supposed to is actually a normal and healthy stage in development. Of course, that doesn't mean you should let him do it--he is testing the waters to see what you know and what he can get away with. His frontal cortex is developing and he is learning to fabricate untruths, and to predict future events, then he is carrying out the event to see if his prediction is correct. For example, he can now think "If mom sees me climb on the counter, she will get mad. But if mom doesn't see me, she won't get mad and I can still climb." (He's not thinking this in words, of course, but he is seeing the images in his mind's eye). Then he goes to climb on the counter when you are not looking.
When you catch him, it is very important that you discipline him right then. Even if you don't catch him in the act of climbing, but find evidence that he has climbed later, tell him you know he was climbing and he will be disciplined. He will tell you he didn't climb on the counter--again, normal stage of development, but must not be ignored. When he does, you don't have to tell him HOW you know he was climbing (because that will just teach him not to leave evidence in the future, which he'll figure out on his own, but there is no need to give him that info early), just tell him that you KNOW he was climbing and you will not hear any excuses. Any normal 3 year old, at this point will probably give you a little back talk or cry. Just ignore him and dole out the discipline. The discipline can be just about anything related to the offense--if he broke or spilled something, make him clean it up, if his dirty shoes or feet were on the counter, make him wipe it clean, etc. The more closely related to the unwanted behavior the consequence is, the more effective it will be.

For the back talk, ALWAYS keep your own words and tone calm and polite and send him away from you. For example, if he is angry that you won't let him have a candy and decided to speak out of tone to you, you can say, "I understand you are upset, but I will not tolerate anyone speaking to me without respect. I respect you, you need to respect me. Until you can speak politely, you need to go to your room."
If he wants to play in his room, that's fine. The point of sending him away is not punishment, it is discipline--to teach. Being alone allows him to figure out his OWN way of dealing with his anger without lashing out at others, and it also teaches him that if he is rude, he will be alone, if he wants social interaction (which is a basic need ALL normal children desire, even if they have every toy imaginable in their room), he will have to be polite to others. There is no need to set a specific time he needs to stay in there, just let him come out when he is ready to be polite. If he comes out and is still rude, send him back. Do it over and over and over again, and eventually, within a day or two, he will get it. If he refuses to go into his room, physically pick him up, put him in the room, and close the door. Remain outside the door to put him back everytime he opens the door. The first time might take a few hours if he is especially stubborn or if he is used to getting his way after a bit of a fight, but stick with it. Each time will become easier than the last one, and eventually, he will be conditioned to just go into his room to cool off whenever he is upset.

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