my kids are real misbehaved what do I do?

Brandi - posted on 05/18/2015 ( 3 moms have responded )

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I'm getting really stressed out because my 2 year old and 3 year old are really misbehaved. neither of them listen to me at all, if I put them in the corner they will scream the entire time and then 5 minutes after they get out they will go do whatever they did to get in the corner the first time again. The 2 year old hurts my cat all day long....and he will go stick his hand/arm in my dogs mouth PURPOSELY to make the dog bite him (not hard bites, just chewing soft bites) then he will scream but he won't move Away From the dog. And the 3 year old thinks he can do everything and what ever he wants whenever he wants. Yesterday he ran out the front door towards the road because he wanted to go outside (even though we were outside in the fenced in backyard when he did that) we take them to parks and play places all the time and all they do is go where they're not supposed to and do what they want. They don't deserve to go places fun like that but I still bring them anyway....I don't know what to do to make them be better, it's so hard. they don't play with toys, they THROW all their toys out of the toy box and then sit in the toy box For a minute then do something else. The 3 year old WILL NOT eat for me or his dad, he only eats for the babysitter and grandma....he usually won't even take a bite of his favorite food. I make what HE wants everyday so he will eat it but he still won't eat. Then 5 minutes later he will want a snack. But I don't give him the snack cause he refused to eat his meal. it's draining me so bad, they think it's funny when they're being bad, or when they go in time out it doesn't even phase them. Idk what to do :(

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Ledia - posted on 05/18/2015

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Unless his doctor is concerned about his weight, you don't need to worry about it. Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters--about half of them are good eaters like your 2 year old, and the other half overly picky like your 3 year old.

My son is a very picky eater, and always has been. Forcing him to eat will turn eating into a power struggle. If that happens, he will refuse to eat even when he is hungry just to exercise control over the situation. In other words, he gets more satisfaction out of not eating because he knows you want him to eat, than he does from actually eating and getting his tummy full. To reverse this, offer him food at each meal, but leave the choice in whether to eat it or not completely up to him. Explain that unless he eats at least half of his portion, there will be no snacks until the next meal time.

(I was advised to say "half the portion" rather than all of the food because toddler's tummies can be smaller than we think, and we often think they can eat more than they should. We do not want them to feel like they need to eat beyond the point of feeling full just to make sure they can have a snack if they get hungry later--That leads to them learning to ignore the "full" signal in the brain, and leads to obesity later on. So half is good: It sets a goal, but is still well below the amount that will make him too full)

At the end of the meal, put the remaining food away without comment and excuse him from the table without any consequence other than knowing he will not receive a snack later. If he asks for a snack before the next meal time, he can either finish the food from the last meal, or wait for the next meal. He'll argue, but do not argue back, and do not get mad, just repeat the two choices and emphasize that the choice is completely up to him. This will force him to take responsibility for his decisions and their consequences.
If he decides to finish the food from the last meal, and you go through the trouble to get it out and reheat it for him, and he refuses to eat, toss the food out. Now he can have no food until the next meal. Again, he will argue, but just remind him that HE made the choice to throw out the food.

Over time, he will see that there is no longer any satisfaction to not eating because you no longer care/get mad when he refuses to eat, and he will start to eat when he is offered food unless he truly is not hungry.

Ledia - posted on 05/18/2015

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They are not learning anything about why their behavior is unacceptable or what behaviors are acceptable by sitting in the corner and screaming. They need consequences that are directly related to their behavior.

Next time they dump all of their toys into the floor, get a kitchen timer and set it for 5 minutes. Tell them any toys not in the bin when the bell rings in 5 minutes will go in the attic until they earn them back. At the end of the 5 minutes, pick up the remaining toys, toss them in a bag, then put them in the attic (or garage, or wherever you can store them that the kids cannot get to). That was the warning--they now know how long they have and what the consequence is like. Next time explain that any toys not in the bin when the bell rings will be given to charity and cannot be earned back. When the bell rings, collect any toys still out, toss them in the bag, and take the children and the bag of toys to a Goodwill or Salvation Army drop site.

Any toys that are thrown or treated without respect go directly to charity. You'll make a lot of trips to the drop off site the first month, but eventually, they will learn to pick up their toys and treat them respectfully, or they will run out of toys, and if they don't have any toys they can't throw them or dump them out--problem solved :)

If the child puts his arm in the dog's mouth (and you know the dog is not biting hard), let the dog bite him. When he cries, VERY BRIEFLY check the arm to make sure he is okay, then let him cry. Do not give him ANY attention until he stops crying.

If they keep hurting the cat, the cat will eventually learn to stay away. They are most likely just hurting the cat to get a reaction from you....which brings me to phase two.

Most of the behaviors you are describing are kids' ways of getting attention from mom. You've fallen into this cycle where you are too busy to really play with them because all of your time is being spent disciplining them, then you have to use what little is left on housekeeping and other non-child related tasks. So they are conditioned to think that the best way to get your attention is to so something that DEMANDS your attention, which is usually something bad.
To reverse this, you need to do 3 things.
1) Do not give them any attention when they are doing something bad (except the necessary attention to keep them safe). When you stop them from doing something, calmly, and briefly explain the consequence of the behavior, and implement the consequence. Remember, the consequence should be DIRECTLY related to the behavior, and should teach them something about why the behavior is wrong. Let the consequence teach them, not your anger.
2) Praise good behavior. At first, you are going to have to look really hard for good behaviors to praise, so make sure to note even the tiniest things. Make sure the praise is directly related to the behavior. If you see one of them nicely pet the cat, say "That was so sweet of you, I bet the cat really enjoyed that." If one of them comes up and gives you a hug or shows you a toy, be attentive, say "Aww, I just love your hugs, they make me feel so loved!" or "This is a great toy, thank you for sharing it with me!" and so on.
3) Special Time. This is the hardest part. Carve out 15 minutes twice a day to spend entirely focused on them--no phone, no tv, no computer, no chores, just play with them. Let them decide what they want to do, and you play along. Try to do it at the same times everyday, and this will establish a routine where they know and are confident that they will get some attention from you every day whether they are good or bad, and they will not feel the need to act out in order to get your attention. It will take a couple of weeks to see results, a little longer if you can't be very consistent, but you will eventually see them acting out less.

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Brandi - posted on 05/18/2015

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Thank you, I will try it. It's so frustrating! I love them with all my heart but they're the worst kids I've seen and it makes me feel like I'm doing everything wrong :( I'm a young mom and it's hard. Do you have a suggestion on what to do about my 3 year old not eating? He's so tiny, the 2 year old is bigger and stronger than him, I'm think 90% because the 2 year old eats like a cow and the 3 year old will eat one bite a meal. I dont know how he's not starving all day everyday! I need him to eat so he can grow :( he's very very little.

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