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Daily battles with nearly 3 year old, I'm at the end of my tether, please help!

(15 Posts)
RosinaCopper Wed 10-Apr-13 09:35:27

So, I have 3 children, ds1 aged 7, and twins ds2 and 3 who are nearly 3.

I have been through the not wanting to get dressed, or in the car seat stage with ds1 a few years ago, but at the moment ds2 is being especially hard work and I'm struggling to cope. Yesterday we had a meltdown over shoes, then I let him watch his dad do something before gettting him in the car and then there was an almighty battle because his dt brother had already got into the car, in the carseat that HE wanted. I ended up having to walk away because I was getting so wound up, and then manhandled him into the seat, which meant tears all round.

This morning, all was going well until it was time to get dressed for nursery and he didn't want jeans, socks or shoes on. In the end I had to just get on with it, but it felt wrong to me to be basically forcing him into the clothes because I'm bigger then him. He was got upset by it and took his shoes and socks off while I dressed his dt brother, who thankfully was being as good as gold (this time, anyway!). We then had a cuddle and the shoes and socks went back on without issue.

My feeling is that it is a stage where he is pushing boundaries and I have to stand firm, but I hate that it is so stressy and tearful, and that I am finding it difficult to stay calm when I'm in the middle of it. I try not to shout (they are still so very young), but it does happen, which it never did with my eldest. Please try not to judge me, it is far harder with twins than I could have imagined (and I thought the early weeks were hard, I clearly knew nothing!!!)

Do you have any coping tips for this stage with a nearly 3 year old? Apart from these episodes, he is the most cuddly child I have, this seems almost out of character for him. Any advice would be very welcome.

insanityscratching Wed 10-Apr-13 10:29:30

Offering choices worked here, "do you want the red socks or the blue socks, jeans or joggers?" or maybe a star chart with a sticker for him to stick on when he's dressed.Or pictures of socks/shoes etc and a postbox that he can post them in as he puts them on.

Sirzy Wed 10-Apr-13 10:32:41

Pick your battles!

Perhaps now it would be easier if each twin had their own seat to stop arguments about who sits where?

With the getting dressed I let DS (3) pick his own clothes, or give him a choice of a couple of items he is much more accepting when it's what he wants!

mistlethrush Wed 10-Apr-13 10:39:23

Choices are good - this or that (only two choices, no other options).

I found the consequences quite helpful... "DS, please don't take your shoes off, we're nearly home... OK, as your shoes are off, I will take off your socks too so that they don't get wet as you walk into the house" - resulting in many tears and tiptoeing into the house (even though he was quite happy to run around on the driveway in barefeet normally). "DS, please can you put your coat on, its cold outside and I don't want you to get cold.. OK, well don't blame me if you are cold, come along out (rapid reclamation of coat and putting it on very quickly... "DS, get off the ground and come along (when in park), OK well, I am going to go on as the dog needs her walk, bye" (I hasten to add that he was never out of sight and it was not a busy park!). "If you want a nice pudding you need to eat x amount of your food - otherwise I will know that you're not hungry and therefore don't need a nice pudding" (yoghurt and something on top or fruit). At 3 I think that they can start to work out cause and effect and consequences and soon work out how things go - you need to make sure that you only suggest consequences that you can and are prepared to follow through though, which might be more difficult with 2 other children as well!

With car seats I would either keep them in the same one each time, or if there is a specific reason why one is 'best' I would make it a change every time.

Good luck!

RosinaCopper Wed 10-Apr-13 11:36:30

Thanks for the tips (I just lost a long reply, so I'll make this one brief!).

Car seats - almost identical (ds1's old one and the latest version) so it would become a fight over who sat on which side of the car. I might try a strict turn taking there.

Clothes - ds2 does get choices, but when it got to socks today he chose 'no socks' (which wasn't an option!). His shoes are definitely his, ds3 has the same size but a different style and they both chose what they wanted at the shoe shop, so there is no compromise there.

Star chart is a good idea (if he is old enough to 'get' it). It's just so frustrating to be at this half communicating stage. I'm sure there were times when I just forced ds1 into clothes etc because we had to be somewhere and there was no time left to sit it out, but it just felt so wrong this morning, hence my post.

mistlethrush Wed 10-Apr-13 11:45:00

I like your name btw - really enjoyed that book.

MamaMary Wed 10-Apr-13 11:54:44

Hi OP no advice for you just wanted to say I like your name too!

RosinaCopper Wed 10-Apr-13 13:47:02

Thanks! I loved the book as a horse mad girl, and have still got a copy of it somewhere. No idea where, though!

mistlethrush Wed 10-Apr-13 14:01:12

I know where mine is wink

capecath Wed 10-Apr-13 14:03:52

Wow, must be sooo hard with twins at this age - respect for you!! Our DS1 is 2.8 and wants to do and explore everything for himself. He wants to help with everything and is interested in how everything works. On one hand I think it is great that he was to learn so much but it is also exhausting! He also pushes the boundaries and sometimes wants the opposite of what you want just to test the reaction. You can see when he is testing you - he gets that look in his eyes! We use the choices method and also simple consequences like someone else mentioned. If he doesn't want to get dressed and we have to go out, he can't leave his room in the morning (eg. to have breakfast or play with his toys) until he is dressed. That usually gets him moving... We do try to be firm and consistent - this choice or that choice. Nothing else. And we try to stay calm but firm, repeating request with eye contact until he responds. We do also try to pick our battles and give him space to explore at home, not always needing to be places in a hurry. It can trying at times and we have also resorted to force occasionally which is rather disheartening! He is generally a super little boy though. Smart and sensitive, and gentle with his little brother. These strong-willed kids hmmm... I think they will be leaders one day smile

capecath Wed 10-Apr-13 14:07:16

P.S. We also have started a "time out" when he has to go to his room until he has calmed down. Only need to use it ever now and again when he is so upset you just can't communicate with him at all. It seems to work great - he usually comes out after a few minutes saying "I've stopped crying now" - bless!

sammisatt Wed 10-Apr-13 14:07:52

No advice only to say i have two year old twins and am sstruggling with the same behaviour and the consequent guilt when I end up having to force them into buggy/boots/clothes etc as they lie in the floor purple with rage (actually they hardly kick off at the same time thank god!) and its a nightmare. I've been at the end of my tether a few times too! I shall be watching this thread with interest!

I think you need to keep your sights set on that wonderful day in the future when they will quietly go off and play together and leave you in peace. (When?!!)

sammisatt Wed 10-Apr-13 14:10:15

Just to add: when everyone is irate i find it best to just leave the room so the tantrums don't get any airtime and so I can calm down. Although when we are running late this of course isn't possible.

Metalhead Wed 10-Apr-13 14:34:49

I've only got one DD (2.8) but I too feel like everything is a fight sometimes. Getting dressed is definitely the worst at the moment, we had full-on screaming for about 10 minutes this morning.

I try and stay calm and coax her into getting dressed, but sometimes I feel she's beyond the point of no return and the only thing that helps is me manhandling her into her clothes, as once it's done she usually calms down and moves on.

gourd Wed 10-Apr-13 14:57:54

You do have to walk away sometimes as long as they know you are around if they want you that's fine. If you have to get out of the house to get to work/appointment you have to manhndle them a bit BUT COULD he go in PJs/not fully dressed and put on clothes when he gets there/to nursery? Is that allowed? Our CM is happy to take ours in PJs though we have never had to do this (yet) with clothes budled into bag. We have had to take her half dressed before though, with fresh nappy and top on but with trousers, socks, shoes and coat in a bag and carried her in. I'm sure the nursery staff are used to it and will not think you are a terrible parent or anything just because your child is minus trousers/socks/shoes or whatever. Might be better if fighting them into clothes every morning is gettign a but much. Ours flits between choosing own clothes (often this works if there is enough time - though her choice of outfit is usually highly impractical so alternative outfit is placed in bag in case of trip to muddy park/soft play etc) and being only top-half dressed some days, before we have to manhandle her into the car to get to childminder's with trousers etc in bag to put on once there.

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