help us deal with our 3 year old

Stacey - posted on 03/26/2012 ( 10 moms have responded )




DS has always been a good kid..he was a handful as a 2 year old, but once he hit 2.5, he seemed to hit a good groove.. Now that he's 3, we're having a rough patch again. He turned 3 in December, and while he's a good kid, we are having a hard time with him listening to us. It used to be fun to help mommy with the dishes, or fetch a diaper for the baby, etc., but now he just tells me no. And lately the thing that's been the worst is bedtime. We tell him to put his jammies on(with our help), he says no, and runs off..brush his teeth, same routine..he asks for drinks and food before bed(when he ate a full meal and had a snack already), and picking up his toys is like pulling teeth. I even tell him I'll get down on the floor and help him, and he just non-chalantly says "no. I don't want to." He doesn't throw alot of fits, he just flat out refuses to do things. It's like when we're talking to him we're talking to a wall. He just doesn't listen. I don't want to raise my voice, and honestly that doesn't even work at this point. It's like he's learned to tune us out. I need a new approach that works. Can someone who has BTDT enlighten me? DH is fed up as well, as he is usually the one dealing with him at night for the bedtime stuff.


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How are you responding to him?

For not picking up the toys, give him 5 minutes. Say "Time to pick up the toys. Anything left on the floor when the timer dings goes to charity." Then follow through. (Don't just take them for a week--GIVE THEM AWAY).

If that is too extreme, use the "One Basket Rule". Divide his toys into several small baskets and store them up high. When he wants to play, give him one. When he is bored with those and asks for another, tell him he can have another when he picks up the first one.

For the bed time issues, giving choices should help tremendously, but if that fails...

The bedtime antics are likely just a ploy to get more time and attention out of you. Most kids act this way because they want a little extra attention. When they are being good, we smile and move on, but if they are being little terrors, we have no choice but to pay attention to them. Try setting a timer for 15 minutes and spend the entire 15 minutes doing exactly what your kid wants to do, and stay entirely focused on him. Try to do it when baby is napping or your SO is home to tend to it so you are not interrupted. Name the time something special (ours is "Special Mommy J Time". Do it EVERY DAY. When he is getting these regular doses of attention from you, without acting out, he will crave it less. Also, by doing it consistently, he knows to expect it, so he won't be so annoyed when you brush him off to tend to baby.

This was suggested 4 years ago by our psychologist and has made a bigger, and more immediate, impact on J's behavior than anything else we tried. Look at the big picture. When we started doing this, all the little problems started to dissipate because they were all caused by the same root cause--he wanted attention.

Brittney - posted on 03/26/2012




I have always heard of people giving a choice instead of saying put your jammies on, say which jammies do you want to wear? basically instead of giving a yes/no question give him a choice. Thats what I learned in parenting class.

Lisa - posted on 03/26/2012




I went through that with my 3 year old who is now 5. Worst year of my life 3 - 4 year age. Best advice. Ask nicely and if they say no, take a breather. They are trying out independence and some are worse then others. I even went to my DR for advice and he said you have to ride it out. Another idea is to help they understanding consequences (only worked some times). If you don't pick up your toys, they will go in the bin and put in the garage for 1 week. Or no TV. Mine was no dessert - that seemed to work best or no stories at bed time. Mine talked back too and threw terrible fits. Just awful. Thought I would loose my mind. Learning to ignore them helps but I usually had to ask 3 - 4 times and they give them conseques or I also tried some self help books that said. It is now bed time. We need to get your jammies on, brush your teeth etc. Which would you like to do first. Giving them a question where they can't say no helps and gives them some choices. Hope it helps - it does get better but I understand your frustration!!!!


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Mandie - posted on 03/28/2012




I totaly understand you we are going through the same thing and now he has a habit of pulling his pants down and peeing in the lawn and on doors and stuff like that as if he were a dog

Bonnie - posted on 03/28/2012




Providing him with choices is good so he can make decisions. He is at the age where he can and understands you. I have a 3 year old, 5 year old, and another on the way and I can tell you with my second child being 3 years old now, 3 is worse than 2. They call it terrible twos, but really I find the age of 3 to be worse. It is just a phase and he will get through it.

Jenni - posted on 03/27/2012




I have 4 kids. I am sorry to 3 yo is wonderful! Light of my life. I will tell you a trick that we use. I tell her stories of imaginary other kids. "Oh, DD....did you hear about the girl who didn't brush her teeth? Well, all her teeth fell out because they got rotten from all the yucky food that needed to be washed off her teeth." or "DD, I wish you could be the mom so I could go to bed. Would you read me a story so I can go to sleep? And tuck me in." So we do a lot of roll playing or reverse roll playing. Or we talk about how I feel when she doesn't listen to me. My 15 yo laughs about thinking back to the stories I would tell her. She loves to relive the story telling. Or sometimes we watch Super Nanny together and they say, "Mom, I don't want to be like those kids. They are mean to their parents." I think we need to remember that our children are small people and understand more than we give them credit for. We sometimes tell them Jesus would be so happy if you do as you are told. Or God is watching....and we love to please God. We also take away priviledges if things get out of hand. Toys have all gone to storage....that is more work than I like, but it does work sometimes. My dd still breastfeeds at 3.5 so I just have to say no mama at bedtime....THAT really gets her attention. Pick you battles and remember, they are sooooo cute! lol

Stacey - posted on 03/27/2012




I have been there, where you are now, and am still dealing with my 3 yr old little man :) I bought a timer with a light to sit infront of my son when I would place him in time out for 2minutes. The timer with a red light is the key to success. Your son will be able to "see" how much time he has left to be quiet. If he makes any noises in time out you must reset timer!! Now, Put that little rascal in time out, facing that wall u talk to everyday, every time he sais "no" to u or anyone else in charge. Be sure u ignore the pleas for help or constant mommy calling! Believe me a few times of time out will do the trick. He will be willing to clean up and do simple chores when asked. But, continue the time outs when he does misbehave even after he is good for a few days!!

Tinker1987 - posted on 03/27/2012




Yep, always give them a choice. they like to run the show most of the times lol

Sarah - posted on 03/27/2012




Sometimes making a game out of it can help. Set a timer and have him race against the timer or see if he can beat his last time. For the picking up the toys have him race you, but you can also add in learning things. Like how can pick up the most blue toys and put them in a pile. Then once in the pile see how can put them where they need to go the fastest. Giving choices can also help, like saying do you want to put on your pjs or brush your teeth first? Makes them feel they are in control and it also does not give an option of a yes or no. Also somethings I don't ask in a question. If it is time for bed I will just say it is bedtime instead of asking if he wants to go to bed (what kid wants to go to bed ;) ).

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