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Out of interest, does your 3yo understand "If you do X, THEN I will do Y"?

(23 Posts)
allhailtheaubergine Fri 09-Sep-11 16:09:30

I can't decide if my 3.5 yr old understands perfectly but is a stubborn little chap and refuses to play my game, or if he really doesn't understand the concept. I know dd understood it and responded at this age.

Him: I want a snack.
Me: I will get you a snack, but first you have to wash your hands.
Him: NOOOOOOO! I want a snack NOW!!
Me: Yes, you can have one now. You can have it as soon as your hands are clean.
Him: RAHHHHHHH! ARRRGGHHH! What torture you beset me with you tiresome woman. I want it NOWWWWW!
Me: Here is the snack. Here is the warm flannel. Wipe your hands and I will give you the snack.

Repeat for ever and ever about every single issue, large and small, from morning 'til night, and often at various intervals through the night too

olibeansmummy Fri 09-Sep-11 16:14:46

My 2 year old has understood this for a long time, I sounds like he's being stubborn! smile

PeggyCarter Fri 09-Sep-11 16:19:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MamaChoo Fri 09-Sep-11 16:19:54

Lots of posts on here today about 3.5 yr olds who are displaying defiant, stubborn or one (annoying) track minded behaviour! Certainly my 3.2 year old is considerably more aggressive and demanding than she used to be. I think in the vast majority of cases its just a 'stage', and carrying on with boundaries and calm responses seems to be the way to go. We can certainly have ridiculous conversations like the one you outline - she is just testing me I think, to see whether rules are rules or just some crazy notion i've taken into my head, which is fair enough. She understands it clearly enough when i say "if you don't do X, then i won't do Y" (eg, if you don't help me when I ask then maybe I will not want to help you when you ask.")

plipplops Fri 09-Sep-11 17:47:33

DD2 will be 3 in Nov and would understand. It sounds like he's just pushing (and pushing) the boundaries - in the example you give, if he ever even once got the snack without washing his hands then he probably thinks it's worth a go every time? Not that I'm any good at this (see my pp about a week ago about how my kids never listen), but could you try "of course you can have a snack, let's just go and wash your hands first" (whilst gently steering him towards the sink)? Or just wipe them for him (sometimes life's just too short for every little battle...)

allhailtheaubergine Fri 09-Sep-11 19:44:33


So as I suspected he is just being a bit bratty. Ahh well. As I have sown so shall I reap.

He is a bit spoiled because for a long time he wasn't very well and we tended to overcompensate for that. He's fine now but I find it hard to judge sometimes what it is reasonable to expect of him.

Thanks for the replies.

notcitrus Fri 09-Sep-11 20:12:07

Ds understands as long as things are in the right order, and repeated in the simplest possible terms: "Hands then snack. Hands then snack." He's just turned 3.

Apparently children don't have a firm grasp of clauses the 'wrong' way round until 4 or so, so they sort of get it but get confused if you say 'snack after washing hands'

He's turning into a right threenager though...

flack Fri 09-Sep-11 20:13:02

No, not really, to Q in OP. But mine was speech delayed, still a bit behind.

rhetorician Fri 09-Sep-11 21:39:56

yes, pretty much: she's 2.7. But understanding is not at all the same thing as compliance <sigh>

petisa Fri 09-Sep-11 22:06:37

My 3.4 year old is driving me potty atm. She pushes the limits relentlessly all day. And she used to be so laid back! OP he sounds like he's testing you. Repeat after me: It is a stage. It will pass. I will not go insane.

skybluepearl Fri 09-Sep-11 22:12:57

have your tried 'if you ask for a snack once more, you won't get anything at all. Now wipe your hands?'

allhailtheaubergine Sat 10-Sep-11 05:19:05

Skybluepearl. Weeell, yes, but taking that approach results in a bells and whistles tantrum complete with screaming, hitting, smashing, destroying, pinching, scratching, snotting, occasionally vomiting, often weeing, and takes about 25 - 40 minutes and I don't always have the time (or the energy).

To a degree he holds us all hostage because the slightest provocation can set off one of these furies and I know I try and avoid them if I can - hopefully not by giving in to him, but by steering around definite trigger points.

He really is a lovely little boy (honest!!) but he's had a rotten time, and that combined with a naturally stubborn streak (inherited from his father) and a naturally wishy washy, lentilly mother has made for a few hiccups. He doesn't seem to want me to be pleased with him the way his sister does. I don't mean he seeks negative attention, I mean he doesn't mind either way; it's not a motivating factor.

flack Sat 10-Sep-11 06:46:52

have your tried 'if you ask for a snack once more, you won't get anything at all. Now wipe your hands?'

That is just way too complicated for my 3.5yo. I could try "Hands now, snack after". That's about the max words at once he could grasp.

Gastonladybird Sat 10-Sep-11 06:50:31

Yes like rhetorician - she understands but doesn't care

MayDayChild Sat 10-Sep-11 06:56:39

I remember this phase well! I couldnt understand what happened to my gorgeous girl.
Be very firm but quietly so. And walk away. ! Ignore all histrionics.
It will pass but I think how you deal with it now does impact them so to speak. Now 4:3 a count to 3 is very effective because I stuck to it religiously a year ago and followed through religiously.
My friends and I actually all once or twice did the discipling for each other, say at the swings, just to reiterate to each other and the child that everyone's response was normal and boundaries are boundaries!
We are a close NCT group so kids all very close in age.

olibeansmummy Sun 11-Sep-11 16:18:36

Notcitrus makes a good point. Thinking about it I would say "when you've washed your hands <then> you can have a snack' rather than ' you can have a snack when you've washed your hands' funny how the same words ina different order can make a big difference!

allhailtheaubergine Sun 11-Sep-11 16:35:03

I shall make a concious effort to say "hands THEN snack".

This makes me think of the HTT method of making your message simple. In fact I think I shall dig out my HTT and give it another whirl - I found it useful for dd.

Bumpsadaisie Sun 11-Sep-11 16:46:26

My DD is 2.3 and understands this sort of concept - "If you keep your Tshirt on, then it will get wet in the bath"! It is a good way to defuse a tantrum when she can't get her own way.

Or "if you don't put your wellies on you will get wet and cold feet!"

BsshBossh Tue 13-Sep-11 18:04:26

My DD understands and it worked until she turned 3.3 and now, for the first time, she's really testing boundaries. It's hard but my discipline remains the same even though the tears and hysterics are worse than at 3. It will pass...

BertieBotts Tue 13-Sep-11 18:29:07

Yes DS understands this at 2.11, but as others have said word order and simplicity is important. Also, I wouldn't get the snack out before his hands were clean, because if DS saw the snack, especially if he was tired/overexcited/extra hungry, it would just frustrate him even more and make him less likely to be cooperative.

Also if you stick with it and always keep the rules the same, he will soon take it for granted that he needs to wipe his hands before having a snack and you won't have the battle, if that makes sense. I do agree with avoiding battles in most cases, but it's okay to have the battles sometimes - sometimes they do need to fight it out (I am very lentily-weavery and probably a bit soft myself, BTW!) - in fact, you say he doesn't respond well to praise/pleasing you, so how about taking the "unconditional parenting" approach to praise? The idea is that instead of saying "Well done!" or "Good boy!" you highlight the actual achievement, so for hands you could say "Hands all clean now, now you can have a snack" or for other situations, say he runs up to you saying "I climbed it!" you can say "You did, I saw you. You climbed it all by yourself!" and I tend to say "Thank you" rather than "Good boy" if he does what I ask, and "That's right" instead of "Well done" if he's pointing something out, e.g. a number or something in a book.

The theory is something like you are still acknowledging their achievements but the ball is in their court to decide whether or not they are proud of it, rather than receiving a token "That's great" "Well done" or "Good boy" for everything.

StarlightMcKenzie Tue 13-Sep-11 19:14:24

Oh god, don't get into a negotiation, just put the snack out of reach and the flannel in reach and leave him to it.

Once he has used the flannel, give him the snack with lots of praise.

Lougle Tue 13-Sep-11 19:29:32

He isn't misunderstanding. He is trying to do things his way.

DD3 is going through this stage (2.5) She knows exactly what she wants, and exactly what she needs to do to get it. BUT she wants to get it without doing what she needs to do, so that she is in control. It takes a long time, but eventually she sees that she can't have it her way.

pedalpants Tue 13-Sep-11 19:50:47

my 3.4 year old son gets this concept. in fact X if you do Y is one of the main ways we get him to do something.

However, we don't wash hands before snack as a general rule (meals, yes, if hands dirty) so this wouldn't be a battle we would be having in our house.

call me filthy but i pick my battles and this isn't one of them at the mo

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