please help me with my defiant 3 year old :(

(25 Posts)
heidiplait Wed 30-Jul-14 20:32:51

Please, please please can anyone give me some tips on how to deal with my articulate but defiant 3 year old DS? His behaviour on the whole is good - he's gentle and affectionate mostly - but he's becoming increasingly defiant and refuses to co-operate e.g no you tidy my toys mummy, I'm NOT doing it. No I WON'T mummy, No I WON'T, said in ever loud voice (when asked to come upstairs, stop running off, whatever it is). Now he's saying I will SMACK you mummy (we've never hit him so I genuinely don't get this), I don't LIKE you mummy, i want DADDY, not YOU mummy, NO NO NO etc etc. He can be a complete monster and I'm struggling.

Bed time is worst - he fights sleep and gets more and more tired and therefore badly behaved - but it's happening more and more in the daytime too. He seems to have a knack for saying things that are quite astute but nasty too e.g: I WILL spoil things mummy (if I've said we've had a nice day together for example, and let's have a nice cuddle, bedtime story etc) or I don't WANT you mummy, go away etc etc.

I've tried ignoring, distraction, shouting, getting angry myself (just escalates things) and I don't know what to do. Apparently he behaves very well at nursery and it's really just with me.

I'm not quite at my wits end but 1) I want to nip things in the bud so I don't have a stroppy unpleasant six/ten/fifteen year old and 2) my strategies clearly aren't working so I'd like to know how to handle it and if it's just a phase ( oh god, please let it be this). Does anyone have any advice?!!

Honesttodog Wed 30-Jul-14 21:12:16

Going thru something v similar, mine is 3 in sept. He is hitting and fighting with his sister. Very draining. From what I've read it's just the age. Making sure they get enough exercise, sleep and love and attention are important for us. I am trying to be less distracted by life during the day and play with him when he asks. Being loving when he seems to be cross with me. This morning he was irrationally angry because he was still hungry but too cross to eat (!) and after he told me to go away I walked out and twiddled my phone for 5 min. He sat and ate calmly! So that showed me that perhaps he is fighting me sometimes because I represent the boundary he wants to push. Without me he could just get on with his day.

Anyway do try with the more love. Get outside if it gets too much, buy a baguette to keep everyone happy amd let him burn it off at the park. Hope it gets better soon.

spanky2 Wed 30-Jul-14 21:25:12

Ds2 was awful at 3. I looked at him and told him I really love you. He slapped me so hard round the face he knocked my sunglasses off. He had a tantrum so bad on his third birthday day out , he snapped the back of his pushchair. He is now 7. He can still have his moments now but generally lovely, so don't worry about visiting him at the young offenders institute! I used to. Get the book Raising A Spirited Child. So helpful. I also have introduced a squashy ball called angry ball that he can take his anger out on, he is older, we started at around five. We do talk when he's calm about healthy ways to get anger out, bouncing on the trampoline, angry ball, recharge your batteries time ( before tantrum, look for warning signs.) But the book really helped. We also went to CAMHS for advice, but I realised I had the problem supporting him as I had an abusive childhood. So it might not be suitable for you.

heidiplait Thu 31-Jul-14 08:52:31

Thanks Honest and Spanky. Helps to know it's not just mine but you're right, it's all very draining and demoralising. Spanky, thanks for the link, I'll investigate. Anything that can help....!!

fififrog Fri 01-Aug-14 09:45:49

I find Dds behaviour is really dependent on how tired she is. Getting enough sleep repeatedly is very important, not just days she seems especially tired. Nursery seems to be knackering, so getting her to bed before she seems to need it is very helpful, though tricky - working hours and all.

MiaSparrow Fri 01-Aug-14 18:42:18

You are not alone Heidi - same here with DD. DM said she's just being very three at the moment, so I'm clinging on to that and hoping it'll pass.

whyhasmyheadgonenumb Fri 01-Aug-14 20:19:52

Watching with interest, DD hit 3 and is like a different child. My DS is 18 months and is starting to copy her.
Feel like I'm fudging the whole parenting lark!!

Jaffakake Fri 01-Aug-14 21:00:24

Ds is three next weekend & is doing the same. I bought cakes for dh birthday & he effectively stole mine which made me cry cos I'm 5 weeks pregnant!

Sweetasstevia Fri 01-Aug-14 21:14:30

I feel your pain - my DS turns 3 I'm September and he hits us and others including children with little or no provocation - we are at our wits end at how to stop it. He is going to have a development assessment soon - unlike your son he isn't talking as much as he should so we wonder if frustration at not being able to communicate is a cause.

StokeyEmma Sat 02-Aug-14 20:50:05

Such a relief that I'm not the only one with a jekyl and hyde 3 year old! Ours is an angel at nursery, but can be SO challenging with us. He's also got a new 4 month old sister, who sometimes he kisses and cuddles and tells her he loves her, and other times throws things at her head! We've found taking him out of the room when he's getting angry, sitting with him and counting until he has calmed down and is ready to say sorry helps. We've also started asking him what made him cross - sometimes it's because 'Daddy said I couldn't...', other times he realises he's hungry or tired and sometimes he just doesn't know. We've also started really over-praising positive behaviour - 'you were so good earlier, it would be lovely if that could continue' etc. Going to look up that book now.

newnamesamegame Mon 04-Aug-14 17:51:35

I've got a three and a half year old who is what it politely called "challenging" in other words a total pain in the arse and is specializing in pressing all my buttons at the moment, so watching this with interest.

I have just posted here about her screaming for minutes on end when she doesn't get what she wants which is the most distressing manifestation of this but there are also random outbursts of throwing things, telling me she hates me, stopping and refusing to budge in public without being bodily removed (leading to more screaming).

I really hope its a phase because it can take me to the limits of my tolerance at times. My gut instincts tell me she will come through it but I feel your pain.

What gets me about this is whoever named the "terrible twos" obviously had not dealt with a 3-year old. To my mind 3-year olds are infinitely more difficult.

HollyBen Mon 04-Aug-14 18:09:02

It is so reassuring to not be the only one! DD is almost 3 and a half. She is the sweetest, funniest most affectionate,little soul. Except when she isn't! Then she is an angry, foot stamping shouted. Generally finding the right thing to distract her helps (though this is by no means easy to dependant on the circumstances) or we send her to sit on her bed (or physically put her there) until she is ready to say sorry.

I really hope she grows out of it by the time DC 2 is due in March. Watching with interest for tips in the meantime

LittleLionMansMummy Mon 04-Aug-14 18:13:46

Just to reassure you, ds is 4 in November and seems to have come through the other side. Two was a breeze compared to 3. Just keep with it and keep reaffirming boundaries but choose which battles you have. I looked at ds the other day and was overcome with emotion, looked at dh amd said "it was worth all the effort. He's absolutely wonderful."

Eatriskier Mon 04-Aug-14 18:27:11

Another one with a threenager here. I have spent months on end trying everything I could think of to help curb this behaviour. What seems to have worked for us is making sure we follow through with threats - we had been doing magic 1,2,3 then threatening time out and then often giving her another chance/another 1,2,3 count. We stopped that and she now pays a lot more attention to 1,2,3.

The other thing we have done is realise how she wasn't in a sleeping pattern anymore - at nursery or GPs she would stubbornly refuse to nap and then was becoming overtired and would still be days later. She would finally equalise after a weekend with us as we would force a nap. That was a massive bit of enlightenment for us, and we realised that maybe the best thing to do was to not force her to nap but bring her bedtime forward an hour. Getting her into a regular sleep pattern again has really improved things. Eventually we're hoping she will push her bed time back to normal, but at the moment its a system that's working for us all.

I don't know if either of those things will help your situation, but if not then another 'you're not alone' from me.

littleraysofsunshine Mon 04-Aug-14 19:22:12

Here here x

waddleandtoddle Mon 04-Aug-14 19:30:12

A reassuring thread! My three year old has just started proper throw on ground tantrums from no where! All I get at the moment is, "I'm not going to do that, I am going to do THIS!" and if I say no he'll convince his dad to say yes. He is definitely on the path of divide and conquer! Fingers crossed it won't last much longer.

Lariflete Mon 04-Aug-14 20:54:29

I'm so glad I read this - it is pretty much exactly what 3yo DD is going through. There are days when I could cry with how stubborn she is because it feels like she is just making herself so unhappy.

CaramellaDeVille Tue 19-Aug-14 23:15:51

Another one who's threenager is about to turn 4 a d seems to have come out the other side. Hang in there - it does end!!

Mondayschild78 Thu 21-Aug-14 19:05:55

Ahh this thread is so reassuring as my lovely almost 3 year old has become a defiant little so and so recently (as well as being super sweet at times too). Difficult phase but having spoken to a friend about it at the weekend her almost 4 year old DS seems to have come out the other side of it too.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel it seems!

LittleMilla Thu 21-Aug-14 22:07:23

See my other post on dog behaviour. My poor nanny today messaged me to say that ds1 had wet himself (on purpose) then refused to speak to her for an hour afterwards, just woofed.

He's done very similar things to me and it is a sure fire way to drive me POTTY!

I think it's all control. They suddenly think they are the centre of the universe (although I'm sure that this has happened at SOOOO many development points) and just flexing things.

PonyoLovesHam Thu 21-Aug-14 22:15:44

Just wanting to mark my place to come back and read later, whenever had terrible 2's but a week before her third birthday my dd became "challenging" grin she's 3 and a half now.

PonyoLovesHam Thu 21-Aug-14 22:16:05

Gah, *we never not whenever

Bakeoffcakes Thu 21-Aug-14 22:21:27

Just wanted to say that I was always perplexed when people referred to "The terrible Twos" as my 2 DDs were delightful at that age.

By 3 however they were very, very hard work and really tested my patience and sanity

iamusuallybeingunreasonable Thu 21-Aug-14 22:23:19

Be strong and firm

Enforce time out

If that doesn't work start taking rewards away, be that treats, toys, TV, etc

Soon works itself out

iamusuallybeingunreasonable Thu 21-Aug-14 22:27:05

Ps - not wanting to sound like an ogre, I love my kids dearly but they respond best to boundaries and need help with right and wrong, they do learn quickly cause and effect and now I have two very polite little people grin

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