My 3 and a half year old will not listen to me but will listen to my husband!!!

Lindsay - posted on 08/31/2010 ( 8 moms have responded )




My son is 3 and a half, he will not listen to word I say, he is so stuborn and strong willed. I am a stay at home mom and as you can imagine i have very long days. He listens to my husband no problem, but when i tell him to do something he tells me no and does it anyway and throws fits. Taking him in public by myself is mostly a nightmare, he listens to everyone else and is an "angel" but he will not do anything i tell him to do. Time outs do not work, spanking do not work with him either. Nap time is terrible becuase he dosent listen. I follow through with punishments but when I punish him it dosent seem to affect him....PLEASE any advice will help.


Wendy - posted on 09/01/2010




I also have a 3½ year old boy (as well as a 6yo & 8month old). 3 is a tough age for sure. What you're describing is not at all uncommon. I've found the best way to get my kids to respond is by taking a step back and having a mutual respect. Trying to just be in control is not the end all of good parenting. Being firm (but calm), consistent and following through every time is KEY. If you tell them something and don't follow through EVERY time, then he knows he can get away with it and doesn't take you seriously. It's super hard and a lot of work for sure, but just know that if you keep that up, it will get better and pay off. Even if it feels like it will never get better, it WILL!

Even though it may really not seem like it at times, kids really want to be good and like structure, they just need guidance. Set (age-appropriate) expectations in advance! "If you do choose to do X, then X will happen. (In a positive explaining/non-threatening way, of course.) Time-outs are somewhat controversial because they only work when done right. If you send your child to time out, you should tell them one time clearly and calmly (and without insulting them) exactly what they did when you put them in timeout, so they know why. Even if it seems obvious to you and you think it should be obvious to them, it's often that they don't know exactly what they did wrong, so it's good to get in the habit of saying so. Explain/remind him that timeout is a time to calm down, take some deep breaths and think about what they did, and that you will talk about it at the end of time out. Use a timer that the child can see, so they can understand how long they're in there (1 minute per year old), because at this age time is still a concept they haven't fully grasped yet. Then when the timeout is over (and possibly when your child is calmer), discuss what happened (as calmly as possible) and figure out *WHY* they did what he did. It may take awhile for your child to identify things and be able to talk about why's, but it's a good exercise for both of you. You'll be surprised what you learn once he starts figuring it out too. Remind him of his expectations and let him know that if he CHOOSES to not follow the rules, that he's choosing to lose a favorite toy or timeout or whatever the expectation is that you set. Get him familiar with the idea of being accountable for his own decisions and that he is in control of having a good/fun time with mommy or not. Requiring an apology (looking in the eyes) when necessary is important too, and be open to giving big hugs. This can change behaviors to positives so quickly. Be aware of how you approach things too, and try not to be negative or accusatory. It's hard, especially if you weren't raised in a positive environment like many of us, but the more you practice positive talking, the easier and more natural it becomes. It does take time, but you will feel so much better about your parenting if you can master it.

On a separate note, it's good to let your kids make some (minor) decisions so they feel like they have some control in their life. Let go of some of the little things that you really don't need control, and even ask them preferences on things, and try not to not say "no" to everything without thinking about it first. Kids who hear "no" all the time tend to stop listening to it. This gives them something to hold onto and makes them much more laid back about you being in control otherwise. Also, just has anyone does, kids need to be heard, so always make sure you're listening!

Another thing to think about it rewarding good behavior. If you're only reacting to misbehaviors and not to good behavior, then he knows what gets your attention (whether it be good or bad).

The last, and possibly most important thing to share is that kids need GUIDANCE to what they SHOULD do and how they can react, not just told what they shouldn't do. We all come across adverse situations no matter how positive we are. There are many times when kids truly don't know the right way to handle them, so giving them steps to remember in specific situations or telling them good ways to respond is the way to TEACH them, which is ultimately what you're trying to do. Punishments only go so far and virtually solve the problem for the moment. Guiding and teaching your child will help them learn and grow.

Remember, you are a great parent and you ARE doing the best you can, but you can always do better. Just keep trying. :o)

I hope something here is helpful for you. Take or leave what you will. I wish you all the best!!

Marcy - posted on 09/01/2010




He's not listening to you which means he has taken the "alpha" male role in your relationship. You need to figure out how you are going to take control of your position as the authority figure. Okay, so first off, I don't believe in physical punishment. I have never nor will I ever spank my child. He is 3 1/2 and this is a tough age. my son just turned 4 and for some reason I must tell you that I don't miss the 3's at all. I would sit him down and tell him that there are new rules in this house. Explain to him that you are like the Sheriff in town and that he needs to learn to listen to you. ALWAYS give him choices. For instance, you can finish watching you tv show while you brush your teeth OR I can shut it off and you can brush your teeth. Then, follow through either way. Think about the choices you are going to give him before you give them to him so that its win win for you either way. If he choices to not listen, shut the tv off, get down at his level and clearly tell him "I gave you a choice and you didn't pick so I turned the tv off". Continue to be VERY clear about your expectations. if you really want to get his buy in then make yourself a sherrif badge and make him a deputy badge and ask for his help in making sure that your town is running smoothly. Kids that age love to help. Also, just an FYI at 3 1/2 he may be growing out of his naps.....rather than punish why not really take all that energy that you use and focus on helping him move forward. its exhausting I know but in the end you end up with a child who is more focused on what he is doing right vs what he is doing wrong...isn't that much better for everyone?

Jenny - posted on 09/02/2010




stop giving into him. he knows what you will do if he acts up. and dont rely on dad to do the punishing. i have a 18 month old granddaughter and ask her to pick up toys and she does. plus i have raised 3 boys . be consistant about what u do for punishment. never give the child a choice. it is your way or the high way. and i never spanked my kids

Carisa - posted on 09/03/2010




The reason they don't call them the terrible threes is because the name was already taken. I swear when my daughter turned three she was replaced with an alien, and then returned when she turned 4. The reason you are having more of a problem than anyone else is because you are his primary care giver, therefore you are the one he will challenge the most. All you can do is be firm with the discipline. When you put him in time out, if he gets up or acts up during the time out, start the time may mean you are doing the time out for an hour, but it will teach him that you are in charge. Good luck!

Kristiana - posted on 05/02/2012




Hey thank you ladies for those ideas i got an 3 year old who doesn't listen to me but listens to daddy. after reading everyone's idea i am going to try some. wish me luck :)

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Astrid - posted on 09/18/2012




I have a 4 1/2 years old, at the beginning when I started sendher to a corner I choosed I used to stay there for a little bit so she could learn that she have to stay, after some time I just needed to say go to the corner and you stay there until I call u, I send her to a corner that she already know when she is misbehaving to much I tell her strong serious and on her face, im your mommy and you need to listen to me and behave I hold her then I send her to the corner, after she is done with her time I talk to her and make her clear why she went there.

When She doesnt want to pick up toys or wash her hand etc i ask her.. Honey who is mommy ? She said... You, and I said, ok so you know that you should listen and do what mommy said right ? And she answers "yes" so please be a good girl and do what mommi ask u to d and I explain why is necessary to do what I ask her to do, higiene(germs) etc.

My girl does listen more to me than to her dad, I'm a stay home mom, if daddy say something she does turn to me :-) we play, laugh have fun I do give her lots of love but she knows when I'm serious about something.

I think that it is the way you talk to them, they have to see the diference in your voice. Now the corner doesn't work as before so sending her to her room is been more effective hehe.

I do think that spanking is not exactly the right way to make them understand but there are special moments where can be apply (no to much), I was "spanked"(not sure if is the right way to write it) as a kid.

Sarah - posted on 05/25/2012




What does your husband do? Spank, time out etc.? Also try being more fierce. If any of my kids told me no I would put soap in there mouth so fast that they wouldn't have time to count too 3! I am pro spanking/hitting sooo maybe a slap on the mouth might help?. Send him to his room he is old enough too know right from wrong. Maybe even no dinner?? If it's bad enough. If you need anything else or just to talk please feel free too message me!

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