3 year old son with MAJOR attitude- how do I break the attitude??

Krista - posted on 03/23/2010 ( 277 moms have responded )

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We have a 3 year old son. He will be 4 in July. He has a 24/7 attitude. If you ask him if he would like a drink or food he just screams no. He seems to always be angry. He picks up everything negative like all children.... Awhile back his uncle didnt seem to care about swearing around our son so now our son knows every swear word in the book and he uses them.

How do I get rid of this attitude problem? He seems to ALWAYS be on his timeout chair.

Taking toys away, time outs, redirections, smacks on the bottom, screaming, calm talking do NOT work with him..

HELP!!!!!

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Sheri - posted on 03/23/2010

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My youngest is 4 1/2 and we went through a milder version of this recently. After reading a few responses and your answer that he is in lots of activities I would say this -
1st - cut back on the number of things he is doing. Sometimes kids just need to time to sit and play with cars, toy animals, crayons, etc. and have a chance to do pretend play. When he is running from thing to thing to thing, it is all about performing to others expectations. Once he gets home, he has been so focused on doing what everyone else told him that he might be trying to get control over what little time he has that isn't scheduled. Maybe you get the comments from his teachers/coaches etc about how well behaved he is then wonder what is going on since he seems to melt down for you? That is a common response when a child is over stimulated. I agree with someone else though that it does show he feels loved and secure enough with you to let himself go.
2nd - Ignore him or ask him to repeat the request with a please and in a civil tone of voice. When the time-outs, removal of toys, etc doesn't work it means that he is still getting at least some of what he wants - which is your undivided attention. He won't starve if he misses a meal or a drink. If he refuses to ask nicely or throws a fit put him in his room or on the couch then go about whatever you were doing and don't respond. This is one of the hardest things I had to learn with my kids (I have 5 of them, 4 of whom are adults now). While I wanted to scream back at them in frustration, that never worked. Lack of response almost always did the trick. You may have to put him to bed without dinner one night, but when you follow through on that and he spends a night hungry, he will be less likely to push that far again. Remember also something I was told when my oldest was this age. Whatever attitudes they have and the patterns of response you establish when they are 3-5 you will get to revisit in larger doses when they hit 13-15. Establish now that he won't get what he wants by throwing tantrums now and you'll have better luck once he hits the teen years.

[deleted account]

First of all you need to establish your authority over him. A little fear is not unhealthy for a child who challenges rules. I too have a three year old and she knows what her limits are. Children want boundaries and parents need to not fear being parents. When he gets out of hand, isolate him from everything and everyone. He has to know that YOU and everyone else will not tolerate it. AND there is nothing wrong with a good swift kick in the butt!
As for your son's anger..there are two things that should be addressed. Finding anything that may be an underlying reason for the anger and helping him learn how to work through it. He may just be stuck in his Id mode (remember Freud). No matter what as his mother especially he needs to KNOW that you are the LAW and to defy you will bring the wrath of God upon him.
As for his vulgar mouth...that's why soap was invented.

Wendy - posted on 03/23/2010

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He is after attention and he is getting it for the wrong things. Never ask a young child what he wants to eat or drink as they really do not know themselfes, just give him a drink if he puts on a tantume just walk away not to far but live him alone he will get sick of it when he sees he is not getting attention.
When he does things that are good give him a hug and praise him after a while his beheavour will change.

Karen - posted on 03/23/2010

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I have 3 boys aged 11, 8 and 3 and have found 3 yearsd old the hardest age with all of them. I have spoken to Occupational Therapists, child care workers even a psychologist with one and all beleive that it is developmental and about them testing their boundaries and they will do this with the people they feel most secure with. My 3 year old is a handful, he often tells me no and stomps his feet but I find if I stay consistent and calm and sometimes if appropriate distract them his behaviour improves. As with all of us they have their good days and bad but aslong as you are consistent and dont give in to their demands with time they improve.With my two older boys by age 4, 4.5 they calmed down alot and I honestly beleive boys developmental stages are slower than girls so hang in there it gets better!! : )

[deleted account]

I would totally ignore his bad behaviour and ignore him, to the point where I would turn my back on him to show him I am not paying attention to him and his bad behaviour. When he gets no attention, he'll try to go to worse extremes at first, but keep with it. When he breaks and comes to you for attention, do a fun activity and share a good time with him with lots of praise. The moment he acts up, do not give any ultimatiums or threats, get up and put him away from the toys/fun, tell him he is acting badly (once) and then ignore him.

This is really hard at first and you will need to get others on board with you before you start because it needs to be consistent. This is called behaviour modification and can work wonders if you can stick with it. Some people think it's mean, but it's easier to get control of a 3 year old than a 15 year old with an attitude problem. Good luck!

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Ivon - posted on 03/27/2010

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Hi Krista,

Raising a child is not easy but remember they learn from example. I have two boys 4 and 6. What works for me is getting down to their eye level and w/ a firm and low tone I tell them that their behavior makes me sad and I won't tolerate it (kids love to test boundaries) if you are not consistent you have lost half of the battle. Always follow through w/ your discipline. Also, before I get to a place I give them the rules and expectations before we live the car and if they don't obey, I leave. Last thing; I threatened them w/ soap when they told a minor lie and I follow through; Good news so far I only used it once. I address the issues before it gets bigger; however I reward all their good behaviors w/ love and kisses..... I hope this help!!!

Tina - posted on 03/27/2010

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Rather than looking at your parenting, have you thought to try a developmental paediatrician.

An inability to communicate can be helped by a speech therapist, but could also be a sign of other issues. A developmental paediatrician can help diagnose. then they refer you to a speechie, who can help address the problems.

My son has an autism spectrum disorder, (communication problems are common with kids like him!) and the speech therapist does a lot of play based learning to help with social interactions, using words 'Nicely' to express how he is feeling etc....

Pattie - posted on 03/27/2010

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Have you shared this with your pediatrician? Is the attitude really 24/7? You might want to chart his behaviors. A simple sticker chart showing the times when he has been nice might help. Are there times when he not having angry outbursts. Does he attend preschool? Does he demonstrate the same behaviors there? Does he talk to all adults like that? When he screams NO try walking away without any response or reaction and do something else. Same thing with the bad word usage. Do not acknowledge his rudeness. Any time he responds to you appropriately lavish on the praise, " That was a vey nice way to answer mommy." YOU cannot get rid of the problem. He will have to decide what kind of attention he wants from you. sometimes the terrible Twos carry over into the Trying Threes. Hang in there.

Candice - posted on 03/27/2010

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try www.amenclinics.com

Maybe there's something chemically going on in his brain to make him not be able to control his emotions. I'm sure that you've tried ignoring him unless he uses a nice voice or nice words, whatever. I also tell kids, "You may NOT say hurtful things to me!" And then ignore them. Or, "I can't hear you when you (whine/scream/swear)."

Maree - posted on 03/27/2010

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You will get through this. Remember that. My chidlren are adults now but have gone through this (when they were young) and I now work with young children. You have had lots of good advice but I agree with those that say just Ignore behaviour that is not going to endanger your child or you, any type of reinforcement (attention etc) will only support the negative behaviour pattern. You obviously already use consequences for totally unacceptable behaviour so continue this when the need is there (make sure you pick the right things to give consequences for ;-). Lots of positive reinforcement for the acceptable behaviour is the best way to change it. This does not need to be 'material' rewards but praise and time doing something they enjoy together work well. Make sure they know what you are praising i.e. I like the way you... . Most of all keep your head up, count to ten(or more) when you need to and stay consistent with your behaviour management so they know that you won't be worn down. Also give yourself encouragement, raising children is challenging but soooo rewarding so pat yourself on the back when you do well. All the best.

Kate CP - posted on 03/27/2010

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Thank you ladies for all your help with this topic!



Kate Capehart

CoM Moderator

[deleted account]

This is s a very INDIVIDUAL thing, and if nothing works, just love and accept your son. (note that accepting him does not mean you validate his bahaviour).



My daughter was exactly the same way. You can try the sports thing to use up excess energy, but sometimes that does not work. I went to a workshop were the speaker was a behaviorial specialist. I tried everything she suggested. The reward system did not work with my daughter niether did the consequence system. ... I could fill up garbage bags with her stuff and store it away in the basement . 6 months later I'd pull it out, but she never missed it, and did not want the stuff anymore. It was not until I broke down...my husband came home to find me scouring the house as I bawled my eyes out...from that point forward I refused to acknowledge my daughter except for good behaviour. It sounds nasty and cruel, but my daughter is now 15 and I haven't seen a real tantrum since my break down. Please understand that I'm not saying she's an angel, or that what I did is the right thing, but she tries harder to keep her temper under control now.



You need to know that for some kids this is a stage, for others it is part of their personality. All YOU can do is pray, try different things to see if anything will work, do what you feel is best,and just LOVE your son.

Kathryn - posted on 03/27/2010

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I have 5 boys and 1 girl. I have faced this problem.

A three or four year old does not want to make decisions. ok (name of child) time for lunch- at the same time every day- a drink and small snack every two hrs. Just like us at work. They become out of control with making their own decisions too early!

The decision making process of their brains arent even developed for ages yet.

He is angry because there needs to be calm and certain boudaries.

If YOU behave hysterically then he behaves hysterically.

Children are like parrots from the earliest communication.

We know what is happening in the home by what the parents do. YOU scream, he screams. Your calm, HE is calm. I have 6 kids with 5 boys, I know about irresponsible adults around my boys. As hard as it was I was the one who had to calm down. He had been on the planet a scand three yrs. He loves you and learns EVERYTHING from YOU. So muscle up. Once you start one step at a time it becomes habit then your little man - who will love you unconditionally forever- will reward you with the most sweet and innocent smiles you will ever know,

Chin up. If i could do it so can you. One step at a time. Suprise him with a big hug and swing around one morning.

And never NEVER call him bad names. behaviour is not the person.

Melissa - posted on 03/27/2010

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First let me say that since a smack on the butt didn't work let's move away from the corporal punishment. The bad language...well I think the person who said "that's what soap is for" is COMPLETELY wrong. Soap is washing the body, NOT for abusing children with. I just had to reframe my own outlook to seeing that they are only words (no, that doesn't mean I like it anymore) and I started ignoring it after telling her once or twice that those are 'bad' or 'not nice' words and she eventually stopped when she got no reaction form us.



My 3 1/2 yr. old girl is very stubborn and throws things as well. She HATES being told what to do. What I have found that works best is simply sticking to my guns, she is put in her room (whether I put her there or she decides to go on her own is her choice). She decides when to come out. This has worked fairly well for me in part because I have been consistent with it's enforcement and also because she still has some control over the situation, which is what I think they are looking for at this point.



Good Luck.

Lois - posted on 03/27/2010

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When my son lipped off to me I would tell him that I don't talk to him like that and you will NOT talk to me that way. A time out was give if the attitude continued, it is recommended 1 minute per year so your son would get 3 minutes and he would be told why he was in time out. You may have to do this throughout the day in the beginning. Make sure to praise his good behaviors too. Follow through and let him know his uncle was naughty for swearing and try to ignore your son if he curses. Is your son still getting a nap? He should be. Eventually this will pass.

Colleen - posted on 03/27/2010

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Kids do things to get a reaction from adults. Unless he's in danger or endanger someone else, try ignoring him when he has a tantrum. It's worth a try.

Sharon - posted on 03/27/2010

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You sound like you are raising our son! He was the same. Time outs seemed to make it worse! We would try so hard, and would try to not get angry, but it is almost impossible! Talking was useless, he would not stay in time out unless you held him kicking and screaming. We could not get two minutes out of him. At school it was almost as bad, and they kicked him out because he was so disrespectful to the teachers, kicking, biting, ect. We had to change preschools/daycare. We found one that is more nurturing and knows more about what boys are all about. It has been a magic change! He is so much happier, listens so much better to us, too. No problems at school, and at home I make sure to use the "can't untill" with him. Okay, you want a drink? We can't go get a drink untill we get your clothes on. You want a snack? We can't have a snack untill these toys are picked up. You want to go outside? We can't go outside until you get this done. It works great with him! We can enjoy him again, but he still needs direction, and for us to spend a lot of time every day playing with him, reading to him, doing crafty things, taking him to the park, and helping him get his energy out, but he has learned soooo much better how to handle himself. Part of it is the age, that's he's gotten a bit older (he;'s 4.5 now), but most of it was getting him out of a situation that we did not know was so bad(his old preschool) We thought it was all our kid.

Roma - posted on 03/27/2010

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See a doctor , he seems to have more than a bad attitude, find out why he is angry, there ia always a reason, the sooner you find out the sooner it is repaired, he seems to me to have an anxiety problem,Better for your peace too.

Julieann - posted on 03/27/2010

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Krista,



In addition to what I've seen in other responses, I'd ask yourself a few questions: Do his days have a predictable rhythm? It helps. Alot. Consider going to 5-days a week at preschool if not. Set times for naptimes, mealtimes, snacks, no TV after dinner, bedtime routine.... putting each of these in place made our home happier.



In choosing activities to keep or quit, see if there are some that are at the same time on those days they happen - and fit well with the rest of the routine. If they throw off other things, best candidate for 'quit'.



Another thing is that it helps to sort out the specific difficulty in a given situation, and teach better ways to handle them. The standard does not change - the kid does not get what he wants until he is behaving and asking politely. So stop his drama and just say, "OK, here's how you ask (or do whatever.)" You can rise above the interaction. The response may not be perfect, but if he's attempting to comply then don't worry if he has things you just taught him down yet.



There are even times when you might ask (or suggest if you have an idea) what could be happening for him. Sometimes mine is afraid or confused or tired. When we bring that out and give him more information, the problem goes away. Three nearing 4 is NOT too little to learn from this - but a step at a time. Also include hugs, kisses, complements, where they fit.

Terri - posted on 03/27/2010

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Is he uncooperative no matter who he's with? If so, there could be a medical problem, such as Oppositional Defiance Disorder. If he just has these issues at home, then you need to look at yourself (which is hard to do). Screaming NEVER works; calm talking & reasoning do not work as a 3 year old does not have the cognitive skills for that yet. If he picks up on negatives all the time, try switching things up...kindness overload. Instead of "If you don't quit yelling, you get a time out", try "When you quit yelling, we'll read a story together" (or go to the park, or have some ice cream, whatever...)Then ignore the fit throwing...as soon as he's done, give him the reward. Time the tantrum so you will be able to tell if it's shorter the next time...Even it it's only shorter by 10 seconds, that's an improvement...Hopefully, it will be shorter and shorter until you can say "No tantrums all morning and we will go xyz this afternoon" And then to going all day. You should be able to eventually weed it out altogether. When my own kids were little & we went to the store (they were awful in the stores), I used to give them each 3 pennies. Every time they did something they knew they were not supposed to do, they had to give me a penny. Each child who still had at least one penny left at the end of the shopping trip got a little treat at the end. Worked GREAT!

[deleted account]

You should get rid of the uncle since he has no respect for you or the child.

The child is three years old for goodness sake. Don't ask him if if wants anything, don't give him a choice. Just give him what you know he needs when it is time for meals and/or snacks. How often are you asking him these questions? Does he feel badgered by them? What kind of atmoshpere does he live in? Is it loving, nurturing, and quiet? Or is it loud and chaotic? The question you ask has too many variables to provide a good answer. Do yo give him sugar, candy, soda,...anything that would cause him to be hyper? Does he have allergies to food? You mention he picks up everything negative. Are there more negative things in his environment than positive? Maybe it is not him at all but his environment he is reacting to. Ask yourself the questions I posed and then repost. Changing you might change him. Good luck and God bless. P.S. Yes I am a mom, my son is 24 and he is awesome. I raised him alone and I never put up with shenanigans. Also a good splash in the face with about 2 oz. of ice water with no warning during a tantrum, did the trick with mine. The element of surprise is priceless. I even did it when he was 16. It still worked!

Leslie - posted on 03/27/2010

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My son was just like that at 3 and get ready, it happens again as I'm finding out since he's almost 12. As my father told me and so many people have replied here is: consistency, consistency, consistency.



I also found that every child is different. Time out changes did not work for my son at all. He didn't care. What worked for my friends kids did not necessarily work for my son. You will need to find what works best for your child. I know that sounds vague but it's true. My son was also a biter at that age. I tried nearly all my friend's and family's advice. NONE worked. Then one day he bit me in the shoulder for no reason when I was carrying him to another room. I set him down, very calmly looked at him and said "mommy will not play with you if you are going to bite me and hurt me. When you want to play nice and stop biting, you come say sorry and I'll play with you." For him, this was torture!! He never bit again. To this day, I still use the same type of action which is basically, this behavior is unacceptable and I don't want any part of it. It still works. He's a great kid and we have a great relationship.



Again, consistency and know what 'works' for your child.

Maria - posted on 03/27/2010

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I am mom to 4 boys ages 7, 4, 3 & 6 months. I am not a perfect parent but I do get compliments on how well behaved my boys are whenever we are out in public. My 4 year old is the most trying when it comes to his outright defiance to my authority. He's tried everything to see if I will react. I believe my boys are growing up to be fine young men because of my constant time in prayer to God. All my knowledge of raising these boys is from God as I know I couldn't have come up with it on my own. When my four year old acts up particularly mean and defiant I give him a quick hug, look him in the eye and tell him I love him, and then proceed to tell him to please keep screaming or whining, but do not laugh!! He starts laughing - at this , I immediately look dismayed and say, what, no screaming, you can't stop now, please, no laughing and I proceed to pick him up and thank him for helping me laugh. He calms down a bit and I look at him again and I tell him ,no matter how mad or angry he gets at me I will always love him. Other times he's acted up I put him in a corner (no beds, no chair, just a plain corner) for 4 minutes - I do not speak to him nor acknowledge him when he talks to me from the corner. The very minute he puts up a bad attitude I quietly and quickly put him in the corner and set a timer. After the timer is up, ask if he's ready to apologize for his bad attitude, if not, put him the corner again for another minute or until he calls out that he's ready. I hug him and tell him how much I love him. I once had to put him in the corner 15 times in one day. The consistency of me doing this has paid off, for he is rarely giving me a hard time now. I always praise him when he gives me a good attitude. My other 2 boys require different tactics because they rarely give me a bad attitude. All my discipline is never done with anger in my tone (although inwardly I may be so angry) So try asking him not to crack a smile or laugh when he's throwing a tantrum and you can't put him a corner (this works for me when I'm in a car or public place) works all the time, it never fails.

Leslie - posted on 03/27/2010

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My son was just like that at 3 and get ready, it happens again as I'm finding out since he's almost 12. As my father told me and so many people have replied here is: consistency, consistency, consistency.



I also found that every child is different. Time out changes did not work for my son at all. He didn't care. What worked for my friends kids did not necessarily work for my son. You will need to find what works best for your child. I know that sounds vague but it's true. My son was also a biter at that age. I tried nearly all my friend's and family's advice. NONE worked. Then one day he bit me in the shoulder for no reason when I was carrying him to another room. I set him down, very calmly looked at him and said "mommy will not play with you if you are going to bite me and hurt me. When you want to play nice and stop biting, you come say sorry and I'll play with you." For him, this was torture!! He never bit again. To this day, I still use the same type of action which is basically, this behavior is unacceptable and I don't want any part of it. It still works. He's a great kid and we have a great relationship.



Again, consistency and know what 'works' for your child.

Pam - posted on 03/27/2010

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Please take control....HE is NOT the one in control YOU ARE!!! If you continue to whimp out it will only get worse....He gets NOTHING until he complys with you and your husband...period. DO not LOOK at him just enforce the decision....

Tanith - posted on 03/27/2010

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Read Parenting with Love and Logic AND put it into practice. Most of the time, with children this age, your don't need to look further than the mirror to figure out where the change needs to happen. If you are parenting based on what everyone else does, then you are likely to fall into the trap of trying to make your child happy instead of setting the solid boundaries he needs. It is always good to remember that you are not raising a child...you are raising an adult. Focus on teaching him what he needs to survive and thrive as an adult: humility, self control, put others first, work hard for the rewards, etc.

Tanith - posted on 03/27/2010

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Read Parenting with Love and Logic AND put it into practice. Most of the time, with children this age, your don't need to look further than the mirror to figure out where the change needs to happen. If you are parenting based on what everyone else does, then you are likely to fall into the trap of trying to make your child happy instead of setting the solid boundaries he needs. It is always good to remember that you are not raising a child...you are raising an adult. Focus on teaching him what he needs to survive and thrive as an adult: humility, self control, put others first, work hard for the rewards, etc.

Bev - posted on 03/27/2010

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Have pediatriacian do blood work to rule out high/low blood sugar / might try stool samples for parasites, yeast,etc and then hair samples for heavy metals, or deficiencies. Then work on behavior modification . restrict the uncle./ how much sleep does he get? May be too tightly scheduled.

Rosa - posted on 03/27/2010

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I want to know too! My 2 and 3 years old kids are always hitting or biting each other. My 2 years old son also do not seem to understand my angry expression. He'd smile if I made an mad expression at him. They both tend to do the opposite of what I want them to do. If they decide they want to walk over to next door to play and I tell them NO! they keep going anyway! I have to physically go get them and drag them back. Jokingly, I think their brain nerves are damaged.

Brenda - posted on 03/27/2010

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Mom you need to get a baby sitter and you need a massage.Give your self the time out you need it then get ready to take him on.By you staying calm and keeping that why will help. Look in to music therapy for him.Then look at whys he too can destress may the pool.If it was me I would look for a good chiropractic care.Look at his dieit it to may need to be cleaned up.And maybe a good church that will work with you and help make him feel good about his self.Try an early child school testing and class for you.Most import talk to HIS DR. there might be more going on then what you can see.I'm 46 and raised 3 .Everyone gose thuoght good and bad days just know you can do it.He is looking to you so alot of hugs and kisses love goes a long why.TAKE CARE

Ginger - posted on 03/27/2010

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I have to agree with Sheri Lindsey, you may want to cut back on some of the activities that he is involved in, He may just be feeling overwhelmed by everything he is being ordered to all the time.

My daughter, who is now 5, used to act out the same way to get my attention, untill she was almost 4, I was working 12 hours per day, and she would act out to get whatever attention she could from me.

The best thing you can do when he starts to act up is to not give in, and make it clear to him that it is not propper behavior. Reward him for good behavior with something he likes, ( for my daughter it was stickers), but you can also try using time outs, (never worked for my girls, till they got a little older) . The most important thing is to make it clear to him that you are in control, and he has your love no matter what. It can be nerve wracking, but it will get easier.

Nikki - posted on 03/27/2010

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hi krista i have my son on eye q its fish oil and virgin evening primrose oil he has the capletts at breakfast and dinner and that seems to help him and me .. he was bouncing off the walls not wanting to do as he was told being nasty to other children ..... it takes about 2 weeks to start working but i have noticed a big difference in my son....

Delreith - posted on 03/27/2010

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I Know this Might seem mean or anything but i dont mean it in that way so sorry if it seems that way but i dont mean it like that.

i would get him tested for something like dhd or somthing.

i am getting my son testsed on wends has he hits and that and gets up set over the littles thing sorry if i offerd you but i dident mean too i am sorry that i can not be more help than that.

Samantha - posted on 03/27/2010

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you are not alone and i am unfortunately with you on this. ignoring seems to work the best, even though it's nearly impossible. buy ear plugs and let him scream

[deleted account]

ps we also had the same trouble with my swearing sister and my oldest used a couple of colourful words but we just calmly told her those were naughty words for adults to use but that even adults shouldn't say them - she now tells anyone if they have said a naughty word! good luck! K!

Julia - posted on 03/27/2010

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actually quite easy.. :) (and do not take this as an offence!)

it is quite normal, that children in that age act a bit out of the limits (please don't mind my language i'm a socialworker - child welfare from austria and my english has become quite rusty over the years of not using it)

see, in fact if a child acts that way it shows its desperation for attention. you have to ask yourself if you spend enough active time with him. by using the word active i'm not talking about having a family dinner or watching cartoons together. we adults pay attention to kinds in several ways.. there's positive attention such as baking a cake together, going on a hike, riding a bike together, going swimming and playing in the pool, playing board games, singing songs... and so on and there's also negative attention by giving a child time outs, smacks on the bottom... both ways demonstrate a child that you care - and the most effective way is the one mainly chosen! in your way screaming and swearing.

so you have to put up strict rules in your home about acting out AND show your kid positive attention - go out, bake a cake, ask him how his day was, play in the mudd, prepare dinner together.. let him slice an orange by himself - the positive side effect then would be also that he is going to gain more self confidence and he will not neet that much attention of yours some times later!

good luck,

julie

[deleted account]

Hi - We had a similar problem with our now 5 year old - at about 4 she was particularly bad with tantrums, fighting with her little sister, not sleeping in her own bed and not helping tidy up her gigantic messes. I went to a triple P parenting seminar and found I was not alone and this is a bit of stage that kids go through - pushing the boundaries to see what they can get away with and can also be out sibling rivalry(this was also the problem here) and is more about getting any kind of attention they can to make up for what they are now missing out on due to the division of your time with the baby(not sure if you have 2 so not sure if this applies to you.) Either way I learnt a couple of things at Triple P. First don't ask them what they want - tell them it's time for lunch, dinner or whatever meal or other activity it is. If you ask them if they want to help you tidy up for example the likely answer is going to be no and if you are going to ask them anything you have to be prepared for the no answer. By not asking and telling my daughter it was time to tidy up, have dinner or whatever it took the opportunity to choose not to do it away. Secondly it can be very easy to just see the bad behaviour all the time and not notice the good stuff they do when you are caught up in dealing with their bad behaviour. I learnt to try to watch for the good behaviour and praise that - my husband was better at it than me as he was not here dealing with her all day so that helped too and when he praised I did as well. Ignoring the bad can work with some kids/issues but not all. For example ignoring my 2 year olds tantrums is working where it did not with my oldest. We also had great success with weekly reward charts - with stickers each day and treats at the end of the week for good behaviour and this would be my suggestion for you. Focus on perhaps the worst 2 or 3 behaviours and come up with a spreadhseet with the days of the week along the top and the behaviours you want to see down the side - the idea is to state the behaviour you are after in a positive way and your child can probably even help you decide this - for eg you can show your child the chart and tell then what it is for. Put nice behaviour as a category(instead of no tantrums as this is negative) and ask your child what they think nice behaviour is - our oldest was 4 when we did this and knew exactly what was meant and said straight out - no tantrums. We also had play nicely with my sister, sleep in my own bed and help mum tidy up my mess(I have found that you can't expect them to do it all as it is all just too much and they dont know where to start so you have to say for eg ok it's time to tidy up now, you put away the blocks and I'll put away the puzzles then praise them for each job they do and keep encouraging them to help with the next job) I did the spreadsheets on word and imported some pictures and used their favourite colours and put their names at the top. We then gave our children 3 chances a day - if the oldest started having a tantrum for eg I would say something like - remember if you want to get a sticker and a treat at the end of the week - nice behaviour please. This would be her chance to pull herself out of it and mostly she would stop immediately. If she kept going and had a longer tantrum I would remind her that if she had 2 more she would not get her sticker for the day. 3 tantrums in a day she would not get her reward of the sticker in that category, if she did not she would get the sticker. Same for the other categories obviously. If though you have a kid who is biting or hitting or something really bad that you don't want to tolerate at all then you may want to give no chances for that category and if they do it once they don't get a sticker that day. As we had 4 categories going at once it was likely ours would get at least one sticker a day even if she failed to with the others so not all hope was lost at the end of each day and we could still praise the good behaviour and say something like try harder on the others tomorrow. We started it that if she got 3 stickers in each category for the week she would get a treat at the end of the week - this can be something cheap like a colouring in book, $2 crazy clarks toy, lollies - whatever your child really likes as it has to be something they want to earn. For our youngest we made it a really big deal when she slept in her bed every night for a week and she got a pony ride and I actually put a picture of a girl riding on pony on the chart that week as an extra incentive too. It's good to keep reminding them what they can get at the end of the week if they're good. As they got to each level we would increase it from 3 stickers in each category to 5 then 6 then 7. 3 was really easy, 5 was harder, 6 was even harder and 7 near impossible so we left it at 6 - good beahviour 6 out of 7 days is still pretty good and we all have our moments!!!! We did that for about 6 weeks and from the moment the chart went up it worked a treat. At the end of the 6 weeks we thought we had dealt with the behaviours but found that as soon as the chart came down the behaviours returened, so I put another one up and again the behaviours improved out of sight! We had to keep it up over a period of about 4 months but the last time I took it down the bad behaviours did not return. So I guess what I am saying is that you may need to do it for quite a while but it is worth it as we now have a 5 year old angel is who very well behaved at prep too! It also does take some energy and remembering on your part that when they are losing it you don't lose it and try to pull them out of it with the possibility of a sticker, lolly or treat! All the best~ K~

Melissa - posted on 03/27/2010

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Research ABA therapy and start using those techniques with him. I have 3 asd children and we have a therapist come out everyday to work with our children. But ABA therapy helps replace negative behavior with positive behavior. It's a lot of work and it is difficult, but very well worth it.

Jessica - posted on 03/27/2010

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Well at this age they are totally egocentrical....if he is constantly screaming i don't want to offend, but do you all scream around him. You may want to sit with him and "role play" with him different situations. For example, when asked if hungry, sit him down you sit down and ask him very matter of factly, "Son we were wondering if you were hungry?" When he screams there has to be immediate re-direction. "It makes me sad when you scream, let's see how daddy answers" Then ask and have your husband answer the way you want him to answer. Afterwards, you say " Thank you daddy for talking so nicely to me, that makes me happy." At this age you and your husband are his world believe it or not, he will feel sad about making you feel bad, but you need to be patient....developmentally he cannot yet grasp abstract concepts so a lot of role modeling and CALM redirection should be implemented....there are many strategies for different behaviors......Always remember that you need to remain calm, don't yell back, don't show frustration...he is also testing the waters to see what he can get away with at this age.....Check out Erik Erikson's stages of development online and you can see the stage he is going through....also Freud talks about developmental stages if you are interested....You'll do fine! Every parent goes through some degree of rebellion with their children between the ages of 2-5, some grow out of it, some need a little help.......it is all about rewards, consequences, modeling, redirection and a lot of patience

Shanna - posted on 03/27/2010

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never smack ur child, because they will use it as playing and start smacking back.

just time him out, and everytime he does something afterwards make the time out longer. but make him time out where he can't see you because he will draw ur attention.

mine is 1 year old and says no to even if he wants it. and he bangs his head onto the floor and drops himself, but i don't pay him attention and now he knows it isnt working so he doesnt do it that much anymore.

the swearing will run of later on when he grows up, we had that in our family too.

try treating him with a cookie or candy if he did something good.



I wish you the best of luck!!!

[deleted account]

My son was around 3 or 4 when he started experimenting with mouthing off. I would tell him I didn't like what he said, but I would give him another chance to say it again in a way that won't get him in trouble. It really worked and nipped that phase quickly. Sometimes he couldn't verbalize his frustration but didn't want to get into trouble, so his response was "I love you Mommy" or "I just feel cranky", which would get the request to not make other people cranky along with him, otherwise there's nobody left to help him feel better.



No matter what you do, though, do NOT reward his behavior. This is the foundation you're building for the next 15 years.



BTW - my son is now 16, and still doesn't mouth off to us at all, so I can attest that this technique worked brilliantly.

Ginger - posted on 03/27/2010

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KEEP HIM BUSY WITH A SPORT, THAT WILL BURN SOME OF THE ENERGY, ALWAYS TELL HIM TO SAY PLEASE THANK YOU AND I AM SORRY, GET HIM IN THE HABIT OF THAT TO.

Ginger - posted on 03/27/2010

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KEEP HIM BUSY WITH A SPORT, THAT WILL BURN SOME OF THE ENERGY, ALWAYS TELL HIM TO SAY PLEASE THANK YOU AND I AM SORRY, GET HIM IN THE HABIT OF THAT TO.

Jenny - posted on 03/27/2010

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One thing is for sure, he wasn't born like this. Some things have come past him that have made him the way he is. I suspect that he's not seeing the right kind of behaviour from the male role models in your house - as is borne out by the behaviour of his uncle. If the guy can't watch his tongue around the children, then he doesn't come in the house. It's as simple as that. You need to be shown respect by those who share your house, in order that your son can learn how to behave.



You seem to have developed a cycle of anger. You mention that he appears angry and you also mention that you have reacted to him angrily, as in "smacks on the bottom, screaming". You have to remember that at the age of 4, he's not making his own decisions, he's just reacting to what's going on around him. If you're angry with him all the time - he'll be angry with you, because it's all he sees.



A good starting point (once you've got the rest of the house working right for you) is to set him down early one morning and talk to him. Tell him how much you love him and how sad it makes you feel when you fall out. Tell him that you don't want to be angry with him all the time, and ask him whether he likes it when you're angry. Presuming that he answers in the negative, tell him that you don't like it when he's angry, either. Tell him that, from now on, you're going to try very hard not to get angry with him - and if he can try very hard not to get angry with you, then maybe you can all be very happy together, with is so much nicer for everyone! Assuming that all goes well, round the talk off by sharing something nice to eat - or a milkshake, or something good. Then, be consistent. You can't blow hot and cold, you have to decide a course of action and stick to it. Remember, he is relying on you to show him how to behave.

Maree - posted on 03/27/2010

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Have you considered that maybe he is doing too much. I have a four year old little girl and when she has been doing far to much she gets attitude with me and my husband, but we then spend a couple of days were she does pretty minimal stuff and won't let her get anything unless she asks nicely with her manners. I have found on these days that she is far better behaved and still has attitude but more controllable.

Jeanie - posted on 03/27/2010

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I have a 4 year old. When his father and I divorced I had trouble on my hands!!! Didn't want to listen, would hit, punch, kick anything he could to show he was angry. I did time out, I spanked and even took toys away and yelled. I was so tired of doing it that way because he didn't need that he was going through heartache just like mommy. So, all I have done is give him a little more of my time. Talk to him and ask him to use his words to express himself. I have a boyfriend now and we have twins and he started back up again because I didn't have much time for him. Now that the twins have their routine I set time aside everyday or every other day to spend 1 on 1 time with him.



I have also used calenders or charts to show him how good he is doing! These REALLY WORK people!!! I did it for potty time, sleeping in his own bed the whole night, and even his attitude!!!! If he has a GREAT day he gets a sticker on the chart if a bad day no sticker. At the end of the week if he has 4 stickers he gets a "surprize" toy or something. If he gets the whole month a BIG surprize. I have started a chore chart also. trash "help of course" milk jugs small boxes things like that. clean up his own plate after each meal and put in the sink. clean his own room. and help with babies. throwing away diapers. things like that. It has been working! He sees that he is having good days with the stickers. And he really tries to have a great day. If I say he better straighten up or he is going to lose his sticker for the day he screams and says "NO" so he knows what it means!!!



I also dont pertray to be an expert but if it works!!! :)

Chloe - posted on 03/27/2010

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Wow I have just hit that stage in my 3 year old girl. it really hurts your feelings and gets you right in that frustrating state of mind when children act out badly. they dont really know how to control thier feelings they are just little balls of emotion sometimes! screaming like thier possesed! just get thru it best you can and relish those sweet moments that seem so far and in between. its nice to know that thier are other mums out there pulling out thier hair just as badly!!! give him a big hug when you can to mend frustation even if its when hes finally asleep:)

Courtney - posted on 03/27/2010

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If I were you, I'd pick up some child behavior books. One of my recommendations is "Parenting the Strong Willed Child" by Rex Forehand.



It's just my experience, but children behave and model how they see adults' behavior around them. Screaming, swearing, manipulation to get what they want, anger, hitting - usually we as parents and adults have created the behavior we see in our child. Don't be so quick to say, "Not me! I don't behave like that!" True, most adults do NOT behave like this all the time, but how do we behave when we're stressed, cranky and tired? What about when we're worn out at the end of the day and have a screaming, begging toddler on our hands or something goes wrong in a store? What if our spouse, friend, family member does something that makes us mad? Do we get angry or talk about it calmly, serenely and if a solution can't be reached shrug our shoulders and say, "Well, I tried, but I guess Daddy won't change his mind" and go on to another activity in a happy manner. Do we demande that the child clean up the spilled milk or mess, or do we politely ask and if we're told "NOOOO!!!" do we say, "Alright, Charlie won't help me clean up the milk, but I will clean it up for him" with a smile and a comment, "one day Charlie will help me clean up the mess!" Children are sponges for our own behavior and they are fantastic mirrors. If we use humor and remain in a good mood (even though we're running twenty minutes late and know our boss is going to reprimand us) while our toddler refuses to get ready for school and we find a way to calmly take care of a situation -- though it might take longer in the beginning -- our child will start to mirror our behavior and attitude.



Don't expect a miracle to happen overnight. He's seen your behavior for 4 years. It will take awhile to change, but the change has to start with you. Remember he's a child, there might be days he regresses and gets angry -- you have to teach him that anger is a natural reaction to situations but that we can't let our anger get the best of us and react angry all the time. You have to teach him that anger needs to be channeled. If you don't know how to do this, learn because you can't teach him what you don't already know how to do.

Connie - posted on 03/27/2010

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Well. He is angry, that's for sure--and more importantly, he is unhappy. Three and four year-olds are typically a joy, and typically pretty cooperative and willing--even enxious--to be helpful. First: Stop the negative consequences. You can't win--and he can't either. Time outs, screaming (!!?::) smacking (NO), should all cease. How can he learn patience, and control of his emotions if they are not modeled by the adults in his life? Ignore the swearing, other than to say, calmly, that this is not language we use in our family. You seem to have a defiant child--so punishig will NEVER work in and of itself. WHen he is distraught, I would suggest you say "I see you' re very upset" or "I understand that you are sad/angry/frustrated. I would comfort him--or say "Is there something I can do to help you feel better?" I am not suggesting that there never be any negative consequences for bad behavior--just saying at this juncture there is SO much negative going on that 1) it is ineffective,and 2) it is harmful to him, you, and your relaionship. He needs to be co-opted--to feel that, in the main, you are allies, on the same team, not adversaries, which is what seems to be the case now. Find things to share. Find treats and bonuses to give. Work on a reasonable reward system. Say often--"I am so proud of you for...." He is not happy, and I doubt you could possibly be either. If these suggestions are difficult to implement--and it takes patience (but remember: Your are the adult), then I hope you will seek professional counselling. WHen you model good behaior, in the end, he will (slowly perhaps) learn to control his emtions and be less angry--therefore having less to control. Good luck!

Connie - posted on 03/27/2010

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Well. He is angry, that's for sure--and more importantly, he is unhappy. Three and four year-olds are typically a joy, and typically pretty cooperative and willing--even enxious--to be helpful. First: Stop the negative consequences. You can't win--and he can't either. Time outs, screaming (!!?::) smacking (NO), should all cease. How can he learn patience, and control of his emotions if they are not modeled by the adults in his life? Ignore the swearing, other than to say, calmly, that this is not language we use in our family. You seem to have a defiant child--so punishig will NEVER work in and of itself. WHen he is distraught, I would suggest you say "I see you' re very upset" or "I understand that you are sad/angry/frustrated. I would comfort him--or say "Is there something I can do to help you feel better?" I am not suggesting that there never be any negative consequences for bad behavior--just saying at this juncture there is SO much negative going on that 1) it is ineffective,and 2) it is harmful to him, you, and your relaionship. He needs to be co-opted--to feel that, in the main, you are allies, on the same team, not adversaries, which is what seems to be the case now. Find things to share. Find treats and bonuses to give. Work on a reasonable reward system. Say often--"I am so proud of you for...." He is not happy, and I doubt you could possibly be either. If these suggestions are difficult to implement--and it takes patience (but remember: Your are the adult), then I hope you will seek professional counselling. WHen you model good behaior, in the end, he will (slowly perhaps) learn to control his emtions and be less angry--therefore having less to control. Good luck!

Donna - posted on 03/27/2010

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hi i went to my gp and i have a 7 year old like that aswell he wil be8 at the end of may and the gp said try giving him fish oil tablets i thought it was werid but any way it has been proven that it acts a claming and so i did and it really does work my son has 2 a day in the moring before school and when he goes to bed u can get the ones that u chew my sonhas the ones u swollow just it really does workthe teaches at his school have notice the change in him so have other people that come over ...... good luck

Donna - posted on 03/27/2010

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hi i went to my gp and i have a 7 year old like that aswell he wil be8 at the end of may and the gp said try giving him fish oil tablets i thought it was werid but any way it has been proven that it acts a claming and so i did and it really does work my son has 2 a day in the moring before school and when he goes to bed u can get the ones that u chew my sonhas the ones u swollow just it really does workthe teaches at his school have notice the change in him so have other people that come over ...... good luck

Margaret - posted on 03/27/2010

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I can't believe Laura Shorb advised kicking your child and putting soap full of chemicals in his mouth. Tell him it is not OK to talk to you like that. Look at him in the eye and tell him he is never to swear or talk to girls or woman like that. Tell him you understand what he wants and you will let him do_____ or have_____ when he does whatever you want him to do calmly with manners,



Model appropriate behavior and focus on what to Do and say, rather than what not to do and punishment. Validate and encourage him when he says & does things positive. Power struggles will just escalate, you are on his side teaching him how to get his needs met, have friends, and be a happy person. Teach gratitude, helping others and limit toys, junk food & screen time. These things effect mood. Use good books as teaching tools and entertanment. Be sure he gets exercise, fresh air, sunlight, and laughter to boost his serotonin levels. Fish oil supplements may help as well as a good multi-vitamin from a health food store. Cut out artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors, too much sugar & white flour. Be sure he has enough protien even at breakfast.

Bethlynn - posted on 03/27/2010

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My children are well past this age now. All the post are very good and I did encourage positive actions, also it was also great to let them use up all the energy, they have so much! No accepting bad behavior, with non-negative reactions, i.e. ignore him, did work well too. Recognize, how very challenging it is to be 3 and try to help him find ways to deal with what ever it the issue, your job as a parent is to insure he is safe, secure, and will succeed in the world you brought him into. Good Luck!

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