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toddler answering back how to cope am at wits end

(42 Posts)
blueberrysorbet Sat 27-Nov-10 11:39:48

me and dh are having a dreadful time with ds and its been going on for ages. ds is 3.5 and answers back all the time, shouts no i won't, and just seems to take every waking moment as an opportunity to drive me and dh crazy. he wasn't like this til about 2 months ago- but now he is constantly at us.

for example , he will shout get me cornflakes and i say, ask nicely " mummy, please may I.." and he shouts NO, RIGHT NOW. iF i ask him to wait for any reason, he goes berserk, shouting "no, you wait, you skunk" and don;t speak to me like that and is really quite impossible. When I say. ok, in the corner/ sit at the table quietly and think how rude you are, this sparks more abusive shouting from him.

dh either explodes with don;t speak to mummy like that or ignores it. he is working 16 hours a day so contact is short and dh is so tired - it does seem that ds is worse when dh is there. another issue for us.

we have a dd who is 17 months and ds is v nice with her and always has been, i donlt see why suddenly he would feel the need to behave like this.

i cry a lot as i must be doing something wrong, i often end up shouting at ds as the constant back chat as my mum says drives me crazy.

I ask ds why he is like this and he says he doesn;t know, he seems to be influenced a bit by unruly kids at nursery as he talks of their behavior and then how they are punished, ut he gets stickers at nursery for his good behaviour and his teacher says he is great at school.

sorry about the long thread but i don;t know what to do. nothing works or changes. any advice welcome...

CheerfulYank Sat 27-Nov-10 11:56:07

My DS is 3 too and we are going through this as well! Must be the age

For starters I would not give him anything unless he asks for it nicely. If he demands things and says "no right now!" I would just say "it is not ok to talk to me that way, and you can have cornflakes (or whatever) when you say, 'mummy may I have cornflakes please?' " Then absolutely do not give in!

We also put DS in his room and tell him he can come out when he is calm and speaking to us nicely. Sometimes we have to hold the door shut, which I hate , but I know he can't hurt himself in his room and it's not going to harm him to be in there.

I also make sure that DS gets some undivided attention from me every day and gets lots of sleep; he's horrible when he's tired! I try to stress that it's his behavior I don't like. I love him very very much and always will.

Hang in there! It's hard, I know.

BEAUTlFUL Sat 27-Nov-10 12:04:09

Oh God, I remember 3.5 all too clearly! It's a horrible age. I'm sure your lovely DS is adorable but the age is hideous. My DS1 went from angelic to satanic, and now I'm dreading it'll happen to my adorable DS2 who is nearly 3.

There was a little boy in the par the other day shouting at a dog, "Dog! Stop barking! Stop barking right now!" I caught the eye of his weary-looking mum and said, "Three and a half?" She said, "Yes..."

Just hang in there, take each day as it comes and fo the love of God, follow through on every punishment so he knows you mean business. If you say he's going on the naughty step, make sure you do it or you'll be adding months of this.

It gets a lot better very soon. Four is a sweet age... And they go to school!

CheerfulYank Sat 27-Nov-10 12:10:22

They don't go til 5 here, beautiful, sometimes 6. Sigh...

I know it's a normal stage; he's just trying to be an idividual and have control and all that. But it drives me up a wall, it really does!

SkyBluePearl Sat 27-Nov-10 12:21:12

time out in a room away from everyone - so he is on his own and bored. Be calm and don't loose your rag. Little attention for bad behaviour. Play with him lots and praise. Have fun together. I like the way you give him the right way to ask for some things by the way. Dont do anything/give anything unless he asks nicely.

Maybe read toddler taming book.

Will pass i promise. I think most kids try and push the boudaries but stand firm.

BEAUTlFUL Sat 27-Nov-10 15:47:17

Have you tried giving him loads of choices? So he doesn't get to choose whether or not he has lunch, but he can choose whether it's on the blue plate or the green plate, etc?

This is currently working brilliantly with DS2, but I can't remember if it loses its power once they hit 3.5. I think it might...

CheerfulYank Sat 27-Nov-10 20:04:10

Yup, it does lose power.

Me: DS, do you want to wear the blue pajamas or the green ones with the aliens?

DS: No thank you.

Me: Well, it's nice that you used your manners, but you need to choose one.

DS: No thank you, I'm not going to bed.

Me: You are. So I will count to three and then you need to choose or I will choose for you. 1...2..


Me: <grimly> Right then, blue it is.

<cue full on wrestling match that ends with DS wearing his blue jammies and sobbing hysterically "I wannnnt the alien jamas...this is not my choice...."

FanjoKazooie Sat 27-Nov-10 20:36:29

DS2 is 3.5 and exactly like your son. It is unbearable sometimes.

I have today decided to try a new tactic with him, as telling him off / reasoning with him / saying anything at all when he is in a strop is guaranteed to make him go mental.

I have decided to say 'When you are ready to speak to me nicely I would love to talk to you'.

I tried it in the car earlier, he screamed and screamed and was furious. But after about 4 loooooong minutes he said in a calm voice 'Mummy, can we listen to xyz CD please' at which point I answered him nicely, put the CD on and we carried on in nice mode.

So am going to try this tomorrow.

This age is hellish to deal with at the moment, you have my sympathies.

FanjoKazooie Sat 27-Nov-10 20:37:49

PS I said it once and then remained in total silence until he spoke nicely.

jooseyfruit Sat 27-Nov-10 21:09:37

god. my ds2 is only 2.9 and like this already.
just had awful visit from MIL with ds shouting "go away granny" at her constantly.

he did shout "go away wind" today when a gust blew his hood over his eyes grin.

He's fairly vile and difficult to like at the moment. sad
finding it difficult.

Gargula Sat 27-Nov-10 22:15:17

jooseyfruit your post made me chuckle. My son is 3 and says exactly the same thing to things he doesn't like. So going for walks is a constant chorus of:
"go away wind, go awaaaaayyy!"
"no sun, I don't like sun in me eeeyyyes!!!"
"no dog, I don't like dog.. noooooo!"
"stay there, don't move. STAY THERE!" (at leaf being blown by the wind)
Very relaxing. Not.

notimetoshop Sat 27-Nov-10 23:07:23

Mine is 4.5 and I just can't get it. Why does he do this? He seems to be some kind of meglomaniac. If I tell him off, I'm the one being bad. He spits. He throws stuff. He is such a lovely child but ... you know actually violent.

notimetoshop Sat 27-Nov-10 23:08:01

When I say violent, I don't mean violent. I mean aggressive. or something. just too much temper.

jooseyfruit Sun 28-Nov-10 09:32:20

sounds familiar Gargula grin, not relaxing at all, ds has always been a bit like a ticking bomb, you never know when he's going to blow.

Goblinchild Sun 28-Nov-10 09:47:21

Cheerful Yank, we used to call it The Siberian Wrestler's Leglock.
When you pin your child down and dress one half at a time, whilst giving reassuring comments like

'Next arm darling, it's -10 outside and you will have to wear your lovely snowsuit.'

I know that others will be offering more nurturing options. My sister decided that she would never use the word 'no' to her daughter, just channel the negative energy into positive pathways.
I think that stopped when said child reached around 3 as well. grin
And enough with the crying and guilt trip, you are dealing with a toddler, it's no one's fault.

colditz Sun 28-Nov-10 09:52:03

When my children are rude, I don't engage with them or move towards doing what they have demanded. I repeat back to them what they should have said, and when they finally get it right, I explode with nice-mummy-ness and generally give them what they have asked nicely for.

Any attention is good attention, remember. Watching daddy explode with rage just because of words that come out of your own mouth must be really satisfying when you are three.

Showaddywaddy Sun 28-Nov-10 10:04:50

This is why I'm never having more. My 3.5yr old is just lovely. She doesn't shout/tantrum. One, I'm not convinced she's entirely human and two, it's a helluva lot of good luck. Am not having another and risking it. grin

Anyway, my friend's little boy is the same age and was similarly behaved for a while. My friend found a number of things worked. One, never shouting back. If she spoke quietly and calmly it kept a calmer atmosphere and her ds had to be quiet to hear her. Two, no recriminations and punishment except to ignore him. If he shouted 'GIVE IT TO ME NOW' or 'I WANT XYZ', she would calmly say that wasn't the way to ask and get on with whatever she was doing. Quite quickly he'd cotton on to it just not being worth it. She'd then thank him for asking so nicely and go back to positive interaction and chatting. The behaviour lessened and lessened and is largely disappearing.

Oh and I witnessed her ds doing the 'STOP MIAOWING CAT STOP NOW STOP STOP' thing and she diffused it by asking him if he thought cats all spoke the same language. If 'miaow' 3 times means 'fish please humans' etc etc. She prattled on making a joke of it and her ds was soon joining in and arguing that cats speak martian.

I don't think you can win every battle but just be consistent.

BertieBotts Sun 28-Nov-10 10:21:25

The thing about the cats has reminded me of something I read in How To Talk... - where you listen to your toddler's irrational demands and first "validate" (where you say "I can see you're feeling really angry about that") and then "give them their wishes in fantasy" so you state what it is that they want (ice cream, to stay in their pyjamas, etc) and then say "I wish I could give you that!" and go really over the top - so with not wanting to get dressed you could say "Wouldn't it be fun if we didn't have to wear clothes ever?" and then go off on a ridiculous tangent like how if we didn't have clothes maybe we'd have armour to protect us from the cold and from getting hurt etc. Then start describing the armour and all the handy features it might have. Be silly with it. By this time your toddler should have forgotten their tantrum and get involved in the fantasy.

Showaddywaddy Sun 28-Nov-10 11:50:05

I like the fact that it's in How To Talk, I always just assumed it was a normal parenting tactic that we all adopted.

Can I have a biscuit?

Ooh they do look good don't they? I'd like a biscuit too but perhaps wait until after dinner. But you know what if we ate nothing but biscuits, do you think we'd all end up biscuit shaped and not fit through the door anymore? <conversations about becoming food-shaped ensue>

Don't we all come out with bollocks like this or is it just me?

BertieBotts Sun 28-Nov-10 12:33:34

I don't know, I don't know that most people do think to do that. It doesn't really come naturally to me although it makes sense to me and I find it flows easily once I've started it (DS is a bit little for it to work yet. But I'll keep the silly distractions ie cat thing in mind!) We're always told to reason with children and explain everything and while simple explanations can go a long way with toddlers, reason usually infuriates them more because they haven't really developed logic and reason yet (and their emotions are also extremely overwhelming). We're also told how important it is to be consistent and I'd guess there's a fear that if we say "Oh yes I'd like a biscuit too" that that can lead to anything from showing weakness which your toddler will exploit immediately, to confusing the message because you're saying that you want to, but no, which isn't so logical as a flat no. Interpretations vary depending on how manipulative you think 3 year olds are.

mumbar Sun 28-Nov-10 12:57:57

I agree with distractions to a certain extent but echo bertiebotts that sometimes a flat 'no' is a good lesson to learn. I did a mixture of both (altho DS never really tantrummed either) and DS excepts 'no' although I do explain why if he asks which I know many do not agree with.

Friend has done only distracting then it kind of stopped working, they became wise to it so she started saying 'no'. Could they deal with it? Er 'no' they can't, my god the tantrums a 5 and 7 yo can have about not getting a biscuit is quite alarming. shock

OP you sound like your doing a great job, it is a hard age but he'll eventually become mature enough to realise when he is and when he's not getting attention and what he wants. Thats the moment they can refine their behaviour to the expectations.

Showaddywaddy Sun 28-Nov-10 13:14:04

I just don't think about it. I just talk to dd. I say no straight out regularly and dd accepts it, sometimes it's waffly bollocks, sometimes I say yes, sometimes I say maybe and talk about options. Occasionally I even change my mind. It's hard to explain. I know her. I talk to her like I talk to anybody else, according to my relationship with them and the situation.

It just surprises me sometimes that the natural responses are also 'methods'. Like acknowledging your child's feelings. I acknowledge everybody's feelings. It's polite. I have to do it more literally with dd as she's 3 but it's basic empathy.

Of course 3yr olds are manipulative. Babies are manipulative. Old people are manipulative. I'm manipulative. We all control the world around us. It's normal isn't it? It's when there's manipulation without negotiation or adaptation when there's a problem. I suppose at some point a child perhaps can't use all three.

FanjoKazooie Sun 28-Nov-10 15:49:55

These 'methods' worked brilliantly with DS1 but fail horribly with my DS2.

Offering options sends him into a rage, he's infuriated that our response to 'I don't want a cardigan' is 'oo, do you want the blue one or the red one'. He is clearly thinking 'Are you people stupid? I said NO CARDIGAN'

Also, the giving them the wish in fantasy pushes all his buttons! He just sees through it! I picture the How To Talk style thought bubbles above his head as saying 'Stop talking about that fantasy crap mummy and GIVE ME THE DAMN BISCUIT'.

blueberrysorbet Sun 28-Nov-10 17:41:34

this is all very helpful and cheerful yank sorry, but you did make me smile with the pj story as that could have been me and ds. although I don't smile when it is ds and me.

He doesn't tantrum, ie roll about or lose his temper. he just talks and tries to negotiate endlessly.
If I do try to babble on and or change the subject, he waits til I am done or says excuse me mummy... and tells me I am not listening he just wants a bit of chocolate or something just before tea. sometimes he says, yes yes mummy, stop talking now, and can I have the whatever it is. I feel wrong footed most of the time.

I usually just say no, its teatime or no, your day is over, its bedtime, come on what story etc. I have read toddler taming, which was helpful in that I realised I am doing what I can its just that ds seems to have a copy of mummy taming which is much more effective.

colditz, i am very good at not giving in and waiting for apology etc, and agree its quite an acheivement for ds to get dh to get angry- ds is in a v stressful job and he never loses it at work with anyone. ds, if dh says anything, says daddy, i was talking to mummy, you sould say excuse me.....

the most positive thing is that it happens to most, and its a phase

Jacksterbear Sun 28-Nov-10 18:43:04

grin grin at "mummy taming" - I think my 3.10 yo must have a copy of this too!

This all sounds very familiar, have no further advice than what's already been said really, but just offering my empathy!

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