How to get a defiant/head strong toddler to not be aggressive and defiant?

C - posted on 09/19/2012 ( 3 moms have responded )




Im a nanny for a 3 yr old whose parents work long hours (recently the dad is working from home). They are very open to me implementing discipline because they have been very lax on it. the little boy is a very head strong little boy who hates losing control and has gotten his way too many times. One minute he loves you the next you are down in the dumps. I need some advice on some behavior that is an issue. His new negative behavior is when he's frustrated or not getting his way, to yell at the person (me, daddy, mommy) and say, "Me no like you, me no like anybody". If you ignore it or try and distract it sometimes works but most days it gets him more mad to where he gets aggressive and then will try to scratch, hit and sometimes (not lately) bite. What should we do? Do we address it with threats of taking toys away or timeout or do we continue to ignore it. My concern is that he may do this in school with the other children if he becomes frustrated. He also has been laughing if I get hurt (bunk my head or stub my toe) and once did it at the playground when a child fell. They think i'm doing a wonderful job and are open to my suggestions. I need help.


Sarah - posted on 09/20/2012




Not sure which route I would take....but here are two options I would maybe try. You know the child better so might know which one would be the better one to try. First option would be to continue on the ignore route. When he throws a fit either put him in a time out spot or walk away from him (which ever one you feel will be more appropate at the time). When he starts the fit let him know that you will talk to him when he is calmed down. Then just walk away. Don't respond to him while he is throwing his fit. Once he has calmed down then you can go from there....either moving foward or talking about the situation (sometimes moving forward onto the next thing is better then going over what just happened as it will create another melt down, but sometimes they are ready to listen and are ok with talking about things and you can get more info. about how they were feeling about the situation and help them learn how to handle it in a better way). My rule for the time out or calm down time is that you are allowed to cry, but it you are screaming at the top of your lungs for attention then you are picked up (without saying anything to them) and put in your room until you have calmed down. If they are not used to being told "no" or having limits set then sometimes there is a BIG tantrum that gets thrown, but if you can hang in there and last it out in the end you will be rewarded. They then realize that there is a limit and they start to listen. Not to say you still won't have tantrums...just won't be as BIG as that first one.

The other option is to work out teaching him to count down from 10 when he gets angry or frustrated. This helps to calm them down. Big thing is to get down to their level and right in their face. Holding their hands can also help as touch can be a calming factor too. Look at him in the eyes and start to count down slowly. You want him to count with you, but you may have to start the count down first. Big thing I would say is to judge your situation. Will he become more frustrated or angry if you try to get close to him or touch him? This also might be something you do as he gets more used to being told "no".

For the empathy part I would try to find books that talk about emotions and feelings. Then do some role playing with his toys. At 3 yrs old they are very self asorbed and the world revolves around them. They are just learning to share and that there are others in the world besides them. Playdates can also help teach sharing and empathy. Start out small with just a friend or two for like an hour....with having a snack sometime during the playdate.


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Tami - posted on 09/23/2012




hey sweetie sounds like he's a handful, This needs to be addressed. he needs to know right from wrong. I've always used time outs. my daughter has to stand with her nose to the wall till she is done with her tantrum (she goes into a hysterical cry and stops in an instant ...DRAMATIC! lol ) It's important to disciple the boy and be persistent. Ones he learns there are reprecutions of bad behavior he will back off. I would also suggest to the parents to spend more time with him. even if its as simple as a book before bed. an hour at the park. If his parents are working long hours chances are he needs extra attention from them.He still isnt at the age where he would realize mommy and daddy HAVE to work. My daughter is two and i'm always home with her. her father works long hours and for a while he was only working 5 days a week some times less, he's been working 6-7 lately and i'm telling you my daughter is two different children when she sees her father and when she doesn't. I'm very strict with discipline either way. but weeks when she doesn't see her father I make more of an effort to comfort her. ex. I may sing her to sleep. read extra games, a few nights when i knew her father was not coming home i let her sleep with me. read extra books. or have her help me "cook" , etc. I've seen improvement in general but is still nasty to my mother and sister and even her father at times. but major improvements... good luck sweetie id also consider trying a discipline and reward system. since he is slightly older and wasn't taught from the start giving rewards for good behavior may show improvements quicker.

also once he starts showing improvement i'd explain to him why its not funny when people get hurt. I've tried showing my daughter how it feels method a few times. she punched me in the eye (i saw stars...little girl has muscles) I expressed how much it hurt vocally then tapped her hand not hard enough to really hurt and said to her "that didn't feel good did it? that's why we don't hit because it doesn't make us feel good. are you going to hit again? she said yes the first time(she's uhh a lot like mommy) but since then she's giving a few accidental booboos and when she hits its straight into time out with her nose to the wall . I never let her lay on the floor i will hold her up to stand till she finally stands.

Katherine - posted on 09/19/2012




I have a 3 year old too. I do the 123, counting. Threatening never did any good. Try a rewards chart with him. Turn it around. For every positive thing he does he gets a sticker. For every negative thing he doesn't. Never take one away. At he end of the week do something special with him.


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