My 3 year old doesn't listen to a word I say. Need Advice.

Corinne - posted on 09/26/2012 ( 10 moms have responded )

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My son turned 3 in June and he is a great kid but recently he's been intentionally doing just the opposite of whatever I ask him. For example, if I tell him to hold my hand in the parking lot, he bolts (this is my biggest concern. He knows the dangers of not holding hands in the parking lot, street, etc.) He will do the same thing if he is not in a stroller or shopping cart at the store. He isn't scared of getting lost or of strangers.



It's not just that. I put him in his carseat and buckle him in. He unbuckles himself. We sometimes sit in the car for 30 minutes before I can get him to stay in his carseat. We are late for everything. Today I had to return something at the mall and he had the biggest screaming tantrum about getting in his carseat. People in the parking lot were staring at me like I was beating him. I was so embarrassed. I seriously thought this guy was going to call social services on me. He was just staring at me while I was trying to wrestle my kid into his carseat. It was horrible. I had to pull over twice to buckle him back in his seat before he just stayed there.



I have many more examples but these are the 2 big ones. Any suggestions? I don't know how to discipline him out in public and he doesn't respond to anything but time out at home (which is fine with me. He HATES time out). He won't stay seated anywhere if I tell him to. I usually buckle him into one of those booster seats in my dining room.



Any advice is appreciated. He had me so worked up today after the episode at the mall. I lost my temper with him and I don't want to be that kind of mom. I want him to grow up to be a well adjusted adult, and situations like this make me worry...and he's only 3!!

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Sarah - posted on 09/26/2012

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Try giving him "jobs" to do. I am a firm believer in setting the limits and then following through with consequences if broken. So the holding your hand would be a no option....you can either hold my hand or I will hold your arm with or without you crying. But in saying that sometimes giving them something to do while walk/shopping or etc. helps divert their attention. So if walking in the parking lot he has to hold your hand and count the cars, or find all the blue cars, or something like that. In the store he has to help you find something on your list that maybe he can grab and give to you...but still holding your hand or the cart. Or maybe it is carrying the bag into the store if returning something. While in the car if he likes music try to get some sing along tapes.....tapes are only played when he is buckled....or a favorite toy that only stays in the car. You can also have him help you with the stop lights......he has to tell you to stop if he sees a red light and go for a green light.



I know this sounds crazy.....but I would do the time out without buckling him into the booster seat. I know this makes him stay in one spot for the time out (which is what you want and a good thing), but it takes away the listening and obeying part (which is the part you are struggling with). He is going to be up a MILLION times that first time and it will be A LOT OF WORK, but if you stick with it he will start to listen. First if you give a time out for something then you need to be consistant EVERY time he does that action that you respond with a time out...or you are giving your child mixed signals and why should he listen if this might be a time he does not get disciplined for it. For the time out it is given after the first warning....don't give multiple warnings or again why should he listen. There are some things that I feel don't need a warning such as running off into the street...that is an immediate consequence. So after first warning if behavior continues then time out is done in a spot where there are no toys, tv, or something that can become a toy at that moment. I will briefly tell you why you are in time out....ex: we don't throw our toys. Then the timer is set to 3 mins. If you get up from your spot before that timer goes off I bring you back to that spot...WITHOUT SAYING ANYTHING and TIME IS RESTARTED. This CONTINUES UNTIL YOU SIT FOR 3 CONSECUTVE MINS. The first time you will most likely be putting him back in that spot for hours, but he will get it....you just have to stick with it. Right now he is the controller....he calls the shots. You have to take back the power and let him know that you are the one that calls the shots. Once he realizes that you are not going to give up or give in then he will start to listen. BINGO then he sits for 3 mins. without getting up. Then your job is to be consistant both with behavior and with discipline. It is easy to let something slide because we are tired or sick or such, but then we just create more work for ourselves later because now we have to start all over and instead of the getting up from time out lasting 3 hours it now lasts 5 hours because he knows the routine.

Also there is a time out spot where ever you go...store, park, or even if you are on the phone. They are going to test the limits. If they realize that no matter where you are the same rules apply and the consequence is going to be given no matter what, they will listen. Don't worry what others think....many times they are thinking "oh I remember when my child did that" I am a parent and I am going to parent my child no matter if I am at home or in a store. At first you are going to feel like all you do is put him in time out for not listening to the warnings....but if you are consistant eventually it works.

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Shyann Christa - posted on 09/29/2012

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Be firm with what you say and when you say no stick to it. As soon as he Acts out in public if he doesn't listen after the first time tell him we are going to leave If i have to tell you again and if you do have to again u simply stop what u are doing go to the car and leave when you get home put him in a time out ... Always explain why u are putting him in the time out so he knows ... If he doesn't stay put where u put him u simply keep putting him back ..will take a lot of time and effort but it will work eventually ..don't reward him if he is having tempers in stores ..and if he has a temper because you won't buy him something stick to no cus that will bring more problems ..

Katrina - posted on 09/29/2012

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Ahh yes, this sounds familiar. My daughter, now11, used to do that when she was 2 until she was about 4. Eventually she did grow out of it. Also my son who has his special needs, screems and struggles for just about anything. Car seats are no exception and he3 likes to take his belt off. I did find a car seat that he can't unbuckle or slip out of, because he's a"regular houdini LOL Be as patient as you can (I understand how frustrating it is though) as it only makes it worse when we crack. Sticker charts work for many of our issues we had with my daughter. After she got a certain amount of stickers, she received a reward - doesn't have to be a toy (because eventually they work out they can misbehave, then get stickers for stopping, then a reward, hmmm kid logic), even just a trip to the park etc. You've been given lots of encouragement and awesome advice already ust to add onto Sarah's idea for giving him jobs, I used to have a clip board for my daughter in the shops, with paper clipped onto it. Before we'd go shopping, we cut out pictures to make up her 'list' of things to locate for us to buy. So she was busyther whole trip and we'd take it in turns to find an item and helped each other. Soit was still a lengthyshop, and preparationtook muchlonger, but she never felt left out and we never had anyone stare at us like I was an awful mother. Also, after 3 children I have come to find it easier to choose not to look at anyone when we're out. Too hard some days, but I'm ever so greatful that I managed, on the days I could look the other way. Sounds like you're making good progress and even if it's only small progress some days, congratulate yourself on that. Parenting is full on and very challenging, so don't beat yourself up. Keep up the good work!!! xxx

Fred - posted on 09/27/2012

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hav eyou had his hearing tested by an audioligist it could be auditory processing disorder.

more so if there has been any head trauma or injury in the ear area as well as ear infections or tubes

apd is where the person can hear you are speaking and knows you are speaking with them but only a few word out of 20 are registerd in the brain for a person with this disorder it may take sayong short commands 4 to 10 times to have the entire command understood

this has no affect on iq or inteligence espshly once the individiule has learned to read and eventuly will use othe body language cues to compensate

Corinne - posted on 09/27/2012

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@ Sarah-Thanks for the advice. I never thought about that with the time outs. I just found a way to keep him there because he wouldn't stay seated. He is really antsy and just keeping him in the chair for 3, 4, or 5 minutes is like torture for him. I will try to get him to stay there without buckling him into the seat. Wish me luck because I know it will take a while to get him to do this. It is very similar to what we had to do with him to get him to stay in his big boy bed all night. Now he's sleeping there all night like a champ. This will be better because it won't be at 2am. We have been working on giving him jobs at the store and at home to keep him occupied. It usually works at the grocery store for a while, but not the whole trip. We are working on it.



@Sally-Thanks for the support!! I had such a rough day yesterday and I was really feeling like a horrible mother. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who loses her mind! ;-)

Sally - posted on 09/27/2012

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Congratulations you have a perfectly normal little boy. Do your best to be patient and consistent and he will eventually outgrow it. I say try because no mommy is perfect and he will drive you nuts until he gets it (which unfortunately could take years). It's developmentally better for him to see you occasionally screw up and apologize for it when you cool down than to grow up thinking you're perfect.

As hard as it is, just completely ignore he people who stare at you. The ones who have kids are sympathizing and the ones who don't can't understand what you're going through.

Give him as much opportunity as possible to run wild in a safe environment, corral him as much as you can when it matters, and give yourself the occasional break from him to rest and recharge. It will get better as he matures and learns.

Good luck

Corinne - posted on 09/26/2012

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I know. It was ok to spank your kid in public when I was growing up. I would be arrested if I did that in public today. My son is still small enough to fit easily in the shopping cart but he is almost too big for the restaurant high chairs. We put him in them anyway. I don't want him running around the restaurant.



It's tough when you are sick because you can't really do anything. I just let my son basically trash the place and worry about it later because I don't have the energy to stop him. There's never a day off! I haven't had anyone stop him from running off from me but I've had people try to get him to listen when he won't listen to me. Totally embarrassing!



I think, for the most part, parents try their best and they take it hard if someone tries to tell them what they are doing wrong. Nobody has ever done that to me (unless I ask for advice), but I'm sure it will happen one day. I have a friend who lets her kids do whatever and they are actually pretty good girls but she gets comments often about her parenting skills. She has a pretty organic approach to parenting but I guess it's working for her because her girls are really well behaved.

User - posted on 09/26/2012

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haha! I know! What really stinks is that at barely 3, they are still smaller! I can't even fit mine in a highchair or the shopping cart seats and he knows how to unfasten EVERYTHING! He has even tried opening the car door while we're driving! I think that was the scariest thing ever. Thank goodness for child locks. I know they're trying to test our limits but what do you do?! And I agree about being in public. Remember the good ol' days when our mom's used to slap us? Heck I remember being scolded by strangers! I was talking to an elderly woman about a group of 12 year olds that were running around the mall screaming and cursing and she was saying that back in her day, it didn't matter who's kid it was, you could slap them upside the head for such behavior! haha sometimes I wish that were still the case! Now if you even look at somebody's child funny they get confrontational about "you have a problem with how I'm raising my kid?" Ugh. So frustrating when they know they can get away with things in public. Especially when they run and it's really hard to run around a store with a baby in a stroller or a shopping cart. I actually did have one old man catch my son for me as I was trying to chase him. That scared my son but didn't seem to have any lasting effects.

Corinne - posted on 09/26/2012

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It's like we are living parallel lives! LOL! My son also used to listen to anyone but me, but now he isn't really listening to anyone (except for my husband when he uses his FIRM voice). He's really pushing my limits. He does the same thing with the toys. I tell him not to throw them and he looks at me and does it again and laughs! I told my mom this and she said he isn't capable of being that devious because of his age, but I know he knows what he is doing. He totally wants to see what he can get away with. He knows he can get away with more when we aren't home because I can't really punish him. He doesn't throw stuff in a restaurant but he does run around if I don't get him in a high chair. Sometimes he cries when I try to put him in one, but I let him. He's usually ok if I give him my phone.



I wish you luck! I only have one so I can imagine how much more difficult it is with 2.



BTW, I was looking up articles on this and many people believe that the fours are worse than the threes... I thought I'd be out of the dark after the terrible twos! This is much worse!! LOL!!

Emily - posted on 09/26/2012

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I know what you mean. My son just turned 4 and he is the same way. It used to be that he was only this way for me, but now he doesn't even listen to my husband. I have a 1 year old, too and when I am busy with him, or if I am ill, my 4 year old definitely gets worse and takes advantage of the situation. If I tell him not to throw his toys, he looks me dead in the eye, laughs at me, and throws his toys again. I can't go anywhere with him. I can't even enjoy a lunch out with my mother as he will be sitting there screaming at the top of his lungs, throwing his food in protest, or even trying to run around the restaurant! He does the same thing as yours does about bolting when he's not in a shopping cart. When he is in the cart, he keeps trying to jump out. He constantly screams about wanting things and when I try to tell him not to, he screams like I'm beating him! It really is embarrassing. I know how you feel. I really hope somebody can shed a bit of light on this as I am beyond frustration. (Even my 1 year old has begun fussing at him and looks at him like he's crazy when he's going on one of his screaming fits)

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