Help! Toddler is defiant! What do I do?

Jennifer - posted on 02/01/2013 ( 5 moms have responded )

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My daughter will be 3 in June, and does a multitude of different things to not listen. It's mostly bedtime and when I tell her to stop doing things. I can give a few examples and of things I have tried.
Time out - she crys and says "i dont want to" and walks away from it.
Bed time - same thing walks away
Talking quietly - thinks its a game
Count to 3 - by 2 she only stops "halfway" (ei. Still has pencil to table but isn't moving it, just staring at me.)
Yell - throws pencil across the room screams and runs to the bathroom.
Tell her I am going to throw it away, she tells me to "throw it away". I actually do and she doesn't care. (this is if I ask her to pick something up and tell her that.)
At bedtime, she sneaks out of her room to stand in front of me. Then she sais she is hungry. If I get her something to eat, she is thirsty, if i get her a drink, she starts the sneaking out again. if i take her toys she doesnt care. if i shut her light off and shut her door she screams because she is so scared. i cant do that to her, its like torture, and i dont want that to be something she remembers later in life. i hate spanking, but i have dome that too, and still she will sneak out again and stare at me. its the same thing. Both my husband and I read her books before bed. We have a ritual, there is a bedtime, this isn't a structure thing.
SOMEONE HELP! I can't do this anymore. It's constantly telling her no, or disciplining her in someway, and bedtime isn't til midnight almost every night. (She gets up at 8, and this happens at napping to the point where sometimes she doesn't even get a nap.

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Gigi - posted on 02/04/2013

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Glad it has helped!
As for the toys - I guess covering up would work (as well as telling her that she can not play after bedtime). After few years of toy mess in my house, I started rotating them - so when I see that my daughter is not interested in some of them, I box them up and put them in a closet and then rotate the bathches every month or so. The favorite ones are always out, but I found that she plays better when she has less toys out.

Jennifer - posted on 02/03/2013

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Thank you! I am going to try the not talking thing and no eating thing. I however don't have room for toys anywhere else, should I cover them up? Great reply post btw!

Gigi - posted on 02/03/2013

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Since she is defiant in majority of the things (aka bedtime, cleaning, time-out etc) I would try dealing with one thing and then moving to the other.
For example, if you start with bedtime - you have a routine, so thats good, but once the dinner is over there should be no more food/drink. She is using that to prolong going to sleep. If she says she is hungry, tell her that dinner time is over and that she can eat again in the morning. She might actually be substituing dinner with her bedtime snack by now, but she won't starve by morning. It might take few nights until she realizes that you really won't give her food, but if you are consistent, it will pass. Secondly, if she is afraid of the dark (mind you, the screaming could be just a diversion too) you can get her nightlight that she can put on before bed - I had one for my daughter who also claimed she was afraid of the dark, but she lost interest for it in about a week. At the moment she walks out of her bed, walk her right back (with minimal talking), tuck her in again and walk out. If she is freaked out, stay there until she is calm. Every subsequent time she gets out of the bed, do the same. You can quitely tell her its time to sleep, but don't get into discussions and threatening with her. Also, you could make sure that her bedroom is without too many toys so its relaxing space which promotes "sleep" and not "play".

When you do a time out and she walks away, just walk her right back there. Its up to you to enforce it. When she throws something, take it away and put it out of her reach and explain to her that "toys are for playing nicely and she can have it back once she will play properly with it". I am against counting to 3 since I don't really see the benefit - I think it just gives a child opportunity to prolong activity until you finish counting. If she is doing something she shouldn't, I would tell her to stop doing that, but also give her alternative that is more positive. If she listens and starts with that positive alternative, that gives you opportunity to praise her. And I think thats very important.

Be consistent with every action you take and try to never say anything you can't/won't follow up with. And try whenever it is possible to turn a situation into a positive one, so she has opportunity to be praised.

Cleaver - posted on 02/01/2013

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it sounds like she wants your attention or maybe shes scared. i have a strict bedtime routine which ends with me reading him to sleep my trick is to whisper so he has to be quiet to hear it and (my 2 YO at least) is asleep in 15 minutes

Jennifer - posted on 02/01/2013

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Oh also, if I refuse to get her something to eat or drink at bedtime she will scream "I want milk" for laterally 2 hours. I have literally tried everything, if you ask me I can tell you the responses I receive.

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