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Advice for dealing with difficult 3 year old

Started 1277733988.113 in Among Friends | Last reply 1278087919 by jewelfool

My precious granddaughter is going through a very difficult stage. I feel so sorry for my daughter as I watch her try to "handle" this little high spirited girl. She only acts like this when she's with her mom and her other grandmother that has been her caregiver during the day since she's been born. With me, she's an angel. It hurts my daughter if I say "she doesn't do that when she's with me." She throws tantrums, she screams, she's rude to other adults and will not play with other children. She makes faces at people and says ugly things. How can I help my daughter through this very difficult phase?

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LImom1277734207.3071383 PostsRegistered 9/1/2008The Gold Coast

hire her a nanny!! just kidding. let it run its course. this is typical of some 3 year olds, and i am going through this myself. a certain little man here gets alot of time outs. its all about control, and attention with them.

beach-mom1277734862.6079710 PostsRegistered 8/1/2007Mid-Atlantic

I'm no professional, but here's my two cents: This seems like a little more than the typical 3-yr. old tantrum, stubborn stage. If she's actually rude to other adults, and won't play with other children, you all have to intervene. Are there other children with her other grandmother or is she the only one? They are learning to be social at this age. If I were in this exact situation, the first thing I would do is try to get her in a daycare or preschool program so she does interact with other children. If she doesn't now at 3, she's going to have a harder time when she is actually in a preschool enviornment at 4 and 5 - and getting ready for kindergarten. It also sounds like she's "pushing her mom's buttons." She may be acting out just to get more attention. Does your daughter spend special one-on-one time with her? Is she the only child?

When it comes to the tantrums and screaming, I think the best thing is just to remove her from the situation as soon as you can. I was pretty lucky with my kids most of the time, but when my daughter was 3 she had a tantrum in the middle of the mall and threw herself on the floor, kicking and screaming. I somehow picked her up. Of course everyone was looking at us, and took her to the car, got her in the car seat, turned the radio on high, and drove home. Her arms and legs were flailing, but eventually she went to sleep! Later on, my pediatrician said I had done the right thing. It was sure hard at the time to carry her out like that. And I was lucky - it never happened again.

If nothing else works, I would advise her to talk to her pediatrician. I have a very close friend who is a child psychologist at a school. She might need help from a child psychologist or psychiatrist. Good luck!! Your daughter is lucky to have you to help her through this!!

cherry1277734875.9416348 PostsRegistered 1/8/2005

My guess is because she is allowed to get away with it....She should be punished when she begins this...I am betting you set down on her, and she knows she can't behave like this, and that is the difference

You don't have to be mean ,but you do have to be firm, and consistent

brii1277734936.2524226 PostsRegistered 7/14/2008

If she only acts like that with her mom, she knows she can get away with it with her mom.

EEEJ1277735145.01248 PostsRegistered 9/20/2008

I don't recommend "letting it run its course." I just don't see how things will magically turn around, here, if she's allowed to get away with it now.

I can't see how you are going to tell your daughter or anyone else that they need to punish their little girl. If your daughter is ready to start giving consequences for bad behavior but just doesn't know what consequences to use... then you can suggest some.

For tantrums, I would suggest time-outs in the corner or in her bedroom if at home. Three or four minutes ought to do it for a three year old. If she's still throwing a tantrum after this amount of time, go pay her a visit and explain that she needs to calm down and her time out will be over when she does.

For rude behavior, I would start by having some conversations about what is "not allowed" when she is calm and happy. These conversations don't work so well when you're in the moment. When she makes a face or says something inappropriate, pick her up and move her to the time out place. She cannot come out until she is ready to say "I'm sorry." A three-year-old might not actually FEEL sorry, but she should still be taught that that is what you do when you behave rudely. Learning to swallow your pride is a bitter pill at any age.

She's too young to really expect her to play with other children. This is the age when kids "parallel play," if they get along well with others, at all. I wouldn't force getting together with other kids right now. Sometimes it's unavoidable (siblings, cousins, preschool). In these cases I'd treat it the same as with saying/doing rude things to adults. Back off and give her space ~ don't try to intervene all the time and force her to play with the other kids around her.

It's obvious she's really attached to mom and grandma. She's trying to manipulate the situation so attention is focused on her at all times. This is natural, but shouldn't be allowed. So while the immediate consequence is a time-out (separation, which is exactly what she DOESN'T want), she seems like a child who is more needy for attention, in general. If she's not misbehaving, give her lots of it ~ as much as you can. Some kids are just emotionally needy. That's just their nature. They are difficult to parent, but that doesn't mean you have to deal with misbehavior.

jewelfool1277735216.3031390 PostsRegistered 12/26/2009
On 6/28/2010 beach-mom said:

I'm no professional, but here's my two cents: This seems like a little more than the typical 3-yr. old tantrum, stubborn stage. If she's actually rude to other adults, and won't play with other children, you all have to intervene. Are there other children with her other grandmother or is she the only one? They are learning to be social at this age. If I were in this exact situation, the first thing I would do is try to get her in a daycare or preschool program so she does interact with other children. If she doesn't now at 3, she's going to have a harder time when she is actually in a preschool enviornment at 4 and 5 - and getting ready for kindergarten. It also sounds like she's "pushing her mom's buttons." She may be acting out just to get more attention. Does your daughter spend special one-on-one time with her? Is she the only child?

When it comes to the tantrums and screaming, I think the best thing is just to remove her from the situation as soon as you can. I was pretty lucky with my kids most of the time, but when my daughter was 3 she had a tantrum in the middle of the mall and threw herself on the floor, kicking and screaming. I somehow picked her up. Of course everyone was looking at us, and took her to the car, got her in the car seat, turned the radio on high, and drove home. Her arms and legs were flailing, but eventually she went to sleep! Later on, my pediatrician said I had done the right thing. It was sure hard at the time to carry her out like that. And I was lucky - it never happened again.

If nothing else works, I would advise her to talk to her pediatrician. I have a very close friend who is a child psychologist at a school. She might need help from a child psychologist or psychiatrist. Good luck!! Your daughter is lucky to have you to help her through this!!

She started 2 days a week last year at a Mother's Day Out program and will be going 3 days this year. She goes to sunday school every week. The teachers say she's an angel and gets along fine with everyone there although she doesn't "get right in the middle of things" socially. I've never been an advocate of day care but I'm beginning to wonder if all day structure isn't exactly what she needs. She's definitely pushing her mom's buttons.

jewelfool1277735981.6531390 PostsRegistered 12/26/2009

She IS an only child.

cherry1277736175.02716348 PostsRegistered 1/8/2005
On 6/28/2010 jewelfool said:

She IS an only child.

Let me ask you a question..If your GD tried this stuff around you, what would you do?

GoodStuff1277736269.74315154 PostsRegistered 11/11/2008

If this child is pulling this stuff only with her mother (and the other grandmother) and is well-behaved in other situations, there are problems with the way the mom and/or other grandmother are handling (or not handling) things. I think your daughter has to help herself through this situation by recognizing that there is a problem and deciding to solve it. She could take a parenting class to learn how to better deal with this and consider changing the child's daily care situation, since things don't seem to be working well with the other grandmother. Maybe it's time for this child to be in daycare or preschool every day. Your daughter must learn to expect to be treated respectfully by this child, and that includes learning to act like a parent who deserves the child's respect. If she allows the child to run over her and mistreat her, that's not good.

Your daughter might look into some of the parenting materials published by author/psychologist John Rosemond. Tough, old-school parenting that makes sense, IMO.

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Last edited on 6/28/2010

saversmom1277736746.095636 PostsRegistered 5/10/2009

It seems as though this little child has figured out who will accept her poor behavior and who will not accept it.

She needs consistency with easily understood rules and consequences. She needs to see acceptable behavior being modeled by the adults in her life.

She is old enough to be screened for a preschool early intervention program. There are times when children simply cannot help themselves to better behavior. Behavior modification can do wonders for children and their families.

I have been a teacher of young children ( preschool and kindergarten) for a long time. I always hold out hope that the children will get the help they need. i do not believe in letting the situation run its course. If this child could not see or ran high fevers it would be easy to see that running its course is dangerous. Intervention is needed now.

I wish this family good luck in getting themselves to a more serene place.

12andcount­ing1277736834.274582 PostsRegistered 2/16/2009
On 6/28/2010 brii said:

If she only acts like that with her mom, she knows she can get away with it with her mom.

Exactly!!!!

jewelfool1277737041.1271390 PostsRegistered 12/26/2009
On 6/28/2010 cherry said:
On 6/28/2010 jewelfool said:

She IS an only child.

Let me ask you a question..If your GD tried this stuff around you, what would you do?

I get right in her face and look straight in her eyes and tell her in a very firm voice that she WILL NOT act like this. It is not acceptable. That's all it takes. She tells her mom that Nana looked at her with her mean eyes.

curlywhite­dog1277737067.6036537 PostsRegistered 6/2/2005Central NJ
On 6/28/2010 jewelfool said:

She IS an only child.

Yes, she IS only a child but that doesn't mean she should be allowed to act out in this matter. With all due respect to your opinion, it's because some people think this way, that's she's only a child, that these children grow up to be unruly adults with no self discipline.

Maria

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says "oh crap, she's up".

duke mom1277737144.551442 PostsRegistered 7/12/2009

I don't think this is a situation where you should let it run it's course. Before you know it she will be ready to start school, have serious problems, and then where will you be? Children of all ages need a structured day. Because she doesn't act like this with everyone, everywhere shows that this is bad behavior that can be changed.

EEEJ1277737196.74248 PostsRegistered 9/20/2008

I do feel for this mother.

Children like this (needy) can be very difficult to raise. It takes a lot out of you to be constantly disciplining them. My brother and his wife resorted to time-outs with their three-year-old in a locked bedroom! They kept the bedroom free of toys and distractions and literally locked him in, because he wouldn't stay there. I remember sitting in their living room on several occasions listening to my nephew throwing himself against the door and screaming.

Mom needs a break from her little girl so she can be fresh and ready to discipline when they are together.

cherry1277737880.34316348 PostsRegistered 1/8/2005
On 6/28/2010 jewelfool said:
On 6/28/2010 cherry said:
On 6/28/2010 jewelfool said:

She IS an only child.

Let me ask you a question..If your GD tried this stuff around you, what would you do?

I get right in her face and look straight in her eyes and tell her in a very firm voice that she WILL NOT act like this. It is not acceptable. That's all it takes. She tells her mom that Nana looked at her with her mean eyes.

Good for you..Your GD is running the house, whether her mom realizes it or not

I gave my kids the look, and they knew if they didn't stop ,worse would be instore for them

~bunny~1277738150.1339850 PostsRegistered 5/17/2010

My neighbor had a 3 year old just like that. She is now a 6 year old just like that. She won't grow out of it. This problem has to be adressed by the mother and reinforced by the other adults in her life. She doesn't act like this around you because she knows you won't tolerate it. My 6 year old neighbor was sent home from school and wasn't allowed back until the parents went in for a meeting. The teachers will be the next to deal with her. And she is an only child also. Some folks are afraid to dicipline and this is the outcome. Please sit your daughter down and explain that she is not being mean. For every ones sake especially for the development of your granddaughter, children need to know that there is an adult in charge. That's what I've come to see even in my own life. I wish you luck.

bunny can't wait for Spring!

LeslieR1277738198.33316 PostsRegistered 10/6/2004

While I consider it a natural part of development for a child to explore their power within their own world, this is one powerplay that needs to be stopped immediately.

I have no detailed knowledge of this situation, but I can tell you that I am familiar with so many variations as to why this particular drama is unfolding that I highly encourage you to do what you are doing and seek the help for your daughter. At three there should be ample comprehension, though patience will be needed. All parties need to be aware of the boundaries and consistency is key. Good luck - sincerely

Packaging is attractive, but never judge a book by it's cover - content is far more important.

EEEJ1277738842.063248 PostsRegistered 9/20/2008

I agree and I don't mean to be bashing your daughter when I say that this has less to do with being "afraid" to discipline, and more to do with being "lazy."

Parents who don't discipline (in my experience as a mother, friend, teacher) are not worried that they'll come off as too mean or too strict. They are not disciplining because disciplining is grueling, tedious work. You have to keep on it every second you are with a child like this, and never, ever let up. You have to haul your tired body off the couch after a long day and pick up a screaming, tantruming child and lock her in her room. You have to cut short your interesting conversations with other adults and deal with your obnoxious daughter as soon as trouble arises. You have to enforce the consequences you set... many parents have told me they don't like to ground their kids from video games or TV because they can't stand how their kids nag and pester them all the time when they do!

This is why I said I felt for this mom. She has a long row to hoe.

Melly1231277738978.892547 PostsRegistered 2/2/2008

I agree with EEEJ. It's tough being consistent, but completely necessary. Once a child realizes they can nag a parent into submission...it's ON!

nolimitsho­pping1277739429.7134221 PostsRegistered 11/7/2006
On 6/28/2010 jewelfool said:

She IS an only chilld

I'm an only child and so is my daughter. Neither of us ever acted like this. I hope it passes quickly.

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Last edited on 6/28/2010

"Don't mistake my kindness for weakness. I am kind to everyone, but when someone is unkind to me, weak is not what you are going to remember about me"-Al Capone

EEEJ1277739723.033248 PostsRegistered 9/20/2008

Being an only child has nothing to do with it. And let's remember... every firstborn is an "only child" for a while... often for several years. I know many only children who are just fine, and many big families with loads of unruly kids. It's all about the parenting.

cherry1277739875.47316348 PostsRegistered 1/8/2005

How about her dad, is he in the picture ,and if so, how does the child respond with him?

trixie1277739895.667449 PostsRegistered 4/22/2005

I have similar problem with my 3 year old DD. A friend of mine told me about the book Magic 123. It worked for us you just have to stick with it. DH has more trouble then I do now. DD understands now I mean business and will follow thru with the punishment ,no pool, putting a toy on time out. Its a stage. Good luck

midnight1277739935.83359 PostsRegistered 9/3/2006
On 6/28/2010 brii said:

If she only acts like that with her mom, she knows she can get away with it with her mom.

I agree

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