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(64 Posts)
RedRobinBreast Thu 29-Dec-16 18:30:47

Ds2 (3) is such a handful, and that's putting it politely - he ignores literally everything you say if he doesn't want to do it purposefully goes out of his way to disobey, disagree and argue, is unbelievably stubborn, has between 20 and 30 meltdowns a day (this is not an over exaggeration) and is just generally a nightmare. When he is lovely, he is really, really lovely but when he is a terror Satan himself would be terrified. I don't want to break his spirit, I adore his fire, but I do need a way to help direct it! Giving him direct instructions doesn't work, giving him choices doesn't work, consequences doesn't work, we even tried time out and that doesn't work - he literally says he doesn't care and doesn't seem to give a hoot - unless everything is his way he is a nightmare! I end up with a raging headache at the end of every day and if I'm honest I dread whole days with him as it is such hard work. Please don't get me wrong, I love him and would literally go to hell and back for him, but I am at the end of my tether - AIBU to ask how do others cope with determined and difficult toddlers? Ds1 was a breeze in comparison!

Trifleorbust Thu 29-Dec-16 18:41:51

Can you give some examples of how things need to be 'his way'? I have to be honest and say I struggle to see how a toddler can get round an adult in this way. Surely you just say no to things you don't want him to have/do?

Have you tried putting him in his room?

IHeartKingThistle Thu 29-Dec-16 18:45:42

You say you 'even' tried time out like it's an extreme punishment. Time out is a standard, isn't it? I wonder if you are being firm and consistent enough.

It is exhausting though, I found 3 the hardest age by a long way!

MrsNutella Thu 29-Dec-16 18:48:54

OP I have huge sympathy for you! DS (turns 4 next week) is extremely hard work and demanding and very sly about getting his own way bright little bugger we are exhausted by him and the Christmas holidays have really thrown his routine out which isn't good for him either.

I find giving DS a choice sometimes works, sometimes it is too hard to come up with decent options. My best ever was "DS you can cycle into that puddle, but then you will be wet and we will have to go home. Or you can stay dry and we go to the thing we are going to and get chips/sausage/some small treat never ever chocolate

DD is difficult in other ways. She is so absolutely stubborn to the core and will go out in the freezing cold without her coat on (not quite 2 and a 1/2) but we know it isn't worth the fight. Sometimes she can be successfully distracted or bribed but it takes immense skill to handle it all the time. So sometimes she goes out and will wear her jacket once she is cold.

I don't have answers. But you're not alone!

Iwasjustabouttosaythat Thu 29-Dec-16 18:53:44

Trifle, just saying no will result in another meltdown obviously. Which is what the OP would like to avoid.

Putting a child in their room and wandering off is cruel. The kid is only 3.

OP, my 3yo has become quite difficult but 20-30 meltdowns per day sounds beyond normal 3yo behavior. I would consider talking to a GP about it if that's really no exaggeration.

Crumbs1 Thu 29-Dec-16 18:57:14

No, putting a child in their room is not cruel, it is far better than getting in an end of tether rage and lashing out. If planned, time limited and in response to specific behaviours it is highly effective. Children need adults who set clear boundaries to feel safe and learn about the world. You cannot negotiate with a three year old. Kind firmness early on saves a multitude of problems later.

MiaowTheCat Thu 29-Dec-16 19:00:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

shiveringhiccup Thu 29-Dec-16 19:05:14

Sorry you're having such a rough time, that sounds hard.

Do be careful following advice from posters like Crumbs1 - substantial amounts of research say punishment of any kind, including time out, is ineffective and damages your relationship with your child. (Alfie Kohn's books have lots of explanations and references to the research.)

Meltdowns and 'behaviour' are red flags that your child has either unmet needs (eg more control and autonomy, more connection with you, hungry tired overwhelmed etc) or big feelings that they physically don't have the brain development to manage without your help.

Have a look at Laura Markham's book 'How to talk so children will listen and listen so children will talk' (or something to that effect!) or her website ahaparenting. Her stuff is sound and based on scientific research, and practical too.There are other good books around as well if you're a book person.

Hope that helps, wishing you improvements for a peaceful family life! smile

Trifleorbust Thu 29-Dec-16 19:09:35

Iwasjustabouttosaythat: No-one said wander off. My nephew is 3 and when he has a tantrum he is out in his room for a short period with his mum outside. He will calm down and then come out and apologise.

And if you live your life just trying to avoid toddler tantrums, of course they will get their own way.

Iwasjustabouttosaythat Thu 29-Dec-16 19:11:52

Advice is not to put kids in their room as punishment until they are school age. The child is only 3 and would just feel like they've been abandoned. My patents did this to me and I still despise them for it.

CigarsofthePharoahs Thu 29-Dec-16 19:14:53

All I can offer is sympathy.
My eldest was a dream and then he turned three. I swear it was like he woke up a different child. He pretty much stopped eating, argued over every little damn thing and pushed every boundary possible.
I knew that what I needed to do was keep my cool. Much easier said than done. I always said I didn't want to be the shouty mum, but I failed.
If it got to "time out" situations I would give him a choice. He could spend it in his room or in the front hall. He usually chose the hall. I have no idea why.
Is there a health visitor drop in clinic near you? It might be worth popping in to ask for some advice about the meltdowns, as that does seem excessive.
Mine is 6 now. School has really made a difference.

Trifleorbust Thu 29-Dec-16 19:14:59

Iwasjustabouttosaythat: Whose advice? Children aren't all the same. I don't know many 3 year olds who don't understand the concept of being able to come out after a few minutes tbh.

RedRobinBreast Thu 29-Dec-16 19:18:20

Thanks all, I'm aware we all have very different parenting styles and my commenting as 'even' tried time out probably reflects that I see my sons behaviour as feeling overwhelmed and time out is a more extreme punishment for me and one I was unhappy with. I will take him out a situation and hold him till he calms down or we go for a quiet time to calm down but this timed or as a punishment more as a management of feelings and behaviour.. He is intelligent, articulate and very loving - nursery have commented that they feel he gets so much of the world but not sure what to do with it and becomes frustrated - he sees what he wants to be able to do and lashes outs when he can't do it. He will basically have a tantrum every time we say no, so this can vary to a few times in the day, or to 20-30 if he has been particularly challenging in pushing boundaries like today. He will hit, lash out, call people 'stupid' (not language we use in our house), scream, break whatever he can find, etc. He is very aware this causes upset and is genuienely sorry if he breaks something someone cares about - e.g he broke a pot I'd made for DH last week and was really upset and sorry once he'd calmed down. I want to deal with him in a calm way - help to channel these feelings and frustrations positively but it is hard, especially when I have ds1 to consider as well. I'm just exhausted.

Iwasjustabouttosaythat Thu 29-Dec-16 19:19:52

Have a little Google, Trifle. Pretty much everyone advises against putting kids in their room as punishment.

Trifleorbust Thu 29-Dec-16 19:22:08

Iwasjustabouttosaythat: 'Everyone'? Strangers on the internet everyone? Look, I don't doubt that some people don't find that this works, but I am telling you that for some children it does work, if time limited and if used as a calming down period rather than a punishment. You don't have to agree with that but it is as I have said, in my experience.

Trifleorbust Thu 29-Dec-16 19:24:59

OP, I am going to say the unpopular thing - it sounds like you are too soft with him. Time out for a 3 year old is a perfectly standard mechanism for dealing with bad behaviour. It isn't extreme. Cuddling him doesn't seem to be working. I think you need to put your foot down and tell your DS in plain English how you expect him to behave. Good luck.

Crumbs1 Thu 29-Dec-16 19:32:08

Shivering hiccup I would be interested in that research because I am very aware Most gold standard research suggests parentscsetting boundaries is a positive thing. We all do it differently but I do have the advantage of having reared six to adulthood whilst maintaining very good relationships and with very successful children.

Iwasjustabouttosaythat Thu 29-Dec-16 19:34:37

OP, please find some evidence-based advice from someone who knows what they are talking about before proceeding. "Strangers on the internet", AKA carefully considered advice from child psychologists with years of experience being recommended on government websites all around the world may be preferable to a random "it worked at my house".

Trifleorbust Thu 29-Dec-16 19:36:35

Iwasjustabouttosaythat: The OP was asking people on the Internet - I am happy to help. No-one has to take anyone's advice, but it was asked and answered.

Areyoufree Thu 29-Dec-16 19:39:37

Sounds like my daughter. Being firmer with her makes her worse. I find the best thing is to avoid direct commands - I can almost 'trick' her into doing stuff by making it a competition (she is insanely competitive), or asking indirectly ("I wish someone could..."). Problem is, once the bad behaviour starts, any punishment makes it worse and then everything escalates. Maybe try backing off for a few days - ignore bad behaviour, and praise good behaviour. If nothing else, it might give you a little breather!

Squeegle Thu 29-Dec-16 19:43:49

I agree with going to GP, this behaviour does sound OTT, could be caused by ADHD, or any number of possibilities, - doctor will be better able to advise than us who don't know your son at all.

Tallulahoola Thu 29-Dec-16 19:44:16

I've never understood the thing about sending a child to their room as a punishment. DD loves her room. She has toys and books in there. If I tell her off now (she's nearly 4) she takes herself off to her room, gets out one of her books and sits there ignoring me blush

Crumbs1 Thu 29-Dec-16 19:45:38

shiveringhiccup Thu 29-Dec-16 19:53:13

OP, it sounds like you are doing great. It's hard work but you are doing great. His brain isn't yet developed enough for him to be able to calm himself down and control his feelings and impulses. That's your job - help him to find ways to express those big feelings and overwhelm in a safe way, and making sure he always feels loved. Eg. You seem very cross, I know you really wanted to keep playing, it's ok to be cross, I'm right here with you, I won't let you hit me, hit the sofa instead, I'm here for a cuddle when you need me. Do check out the book I recommended, it's fab. Are there any unmet needs you can identify? Has he had any big change or anything lately? Does he get enough quality time with you? What about something like a punch bag where he could safely let out the rage? Also what resources do you have to look after yourself, as it sounds very draining?

By the way, ignore Trifle's silly post. You're not being too soft and of course he needs your love and empathy more than anything in the world. Being authoritarian will do a lot of damage. Empathic limits for the win!

Crumbs - as I said, Alfie Kohn and Laura Markham are a good start and introduce lots of up to date scientific research, so I would recommend you start there if interested. (And to bounce your question back - what's your 'gold standard research'?) To be clear, I never said no boundaries - empathic limits are of course needed. I said no punishment or time outs.

Trifleorbust Thu 29-Dec-16 19:58:04

Yeah, I'm being silly suggesting that 3 year olds need their parents to be firm in guiding their behaviour confused

By all means, OP, keep doing what you are doing if you think it is likely to work. Doesn't sound like you do, though. I hope something works in the end.

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