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How to get a three yr old to leave without having a meltdown

(27 Posts)
mewkins Sat 15-Feb-14 21:24:08

Wondering if anyone has a magic solution... 3.5 yo dd is terrible at leaving a place eg. Will have a lovely time at a friend's house/ play session but absolutely go into one when told it is time to leave. I have tried pre-warning (both giving her 10 mins, 5 mins countdowns, last play etc) which she takes fine but when in comes to the crunch- getting shoes and coat on- she starts crying, tries to runn off etc.

I have also tried warning before going to the activity eg. Remember that when it's time to go, we put our shows on nicely etc. No real improvements.

Has anyone got any good distraction techniques/ bribery I could use to make it less painful?

Beamur Sat 15-Feb-14 21:27:26

Bribery or positive incentives worked well for me (I'm sure other people will have better ideas than this) Explain what is happening next - I think your signposting techniques are spot on, but add to that what's happening next (and make it sound good!) - or even plain and simple - lets get our shoes on and you can have a sweetie/toy/magazine on the way home for being good. Not every time, but maybe have something up your sleeve if you sense a big melt down coming up.

mawbroon Sat 15-Feb-14 21:35:44

I had this with both of mine. I was at a bit of a loss until I tried this:

I used to give them a choice. Not a choice about leaving, but a choice about whether they were going to leave with a fuss, or leave with no fuss.

I don't know why, but it worked every time they had chosen and actually said the words "no fuss". I think there was something about them saying "no fuss" that registered in the brain or something!!

If they said "fuss" then I would say "ok, you've chosen fuss, lets go". More often than not, the fuss would fizzle out really quickly, probably because it wasn't getting any reaction from me.

catkind Sat 15-Feb-14 21:39:26

Could focussing on the next activity help? e.g instead of "time to leave now", "time to go and find daddy/lunch/...".
I'd also be quite matter of fact about the consequences if they don't join in. "Are you going to put your shoes on or am I carrying you to the car?"
Thus far the threat of taking DS to school in his pyjamas has worked in time, we'll carry through if we have to!

MoreBoober Sat 15-Feb-14 21:55:49

We regularly have the same issue so I feel your pain. The only time we have success and an easy exit is by making whatever is next more appealing than what your finishing. "Oh shall we go see some trains on the way home"?

mewkins Sat 15-Feb-14 22:00:48

Thanks all. I may try the fuss/no fuss option as perhaps it's her not feeling she has any control that is causing the upset. And yes the only times I have managed to avoid is when there is something good coming next eg. Someone else to visit or the promise of a treat at home. My life revolves around petty bribery these days! Good to hear itnot just mine who has these issues though!

MrsCosmopilite Sat 15-Feb-14 22:19:22

Keeping an eye on this thread. DD has just turned three and we're getting all of the above. I try the forewarnings, I break everything into stages, and praise getting shoes/coat etc on. We still get tantrumming and running off. My most successful attempt at calming things down has been to say "If you don't stop that RIGHT NOW then I'll take all your toys away for a week". Harsh, but it worked. However, I really don't like being that mean.

PeppaPigStinks Sat 15-Feb-14 22:25:05

Our dd is 2 and a half but for tantrum causing "endings" we have found an egg timer works! Not sure how it would work while out as not tried it though grin

confusedofengland Sat 15-Feb-14 22:30:34

If you are going in the car, you could say that it's time to go now & would she like to choose which song you have on on the way home? Or if walking shall we see how many cats/trees/trucks/whatevers we can spot on the way home?

LongDivision Sat 15-Feb-14 22:34:54

I gave my 2yo an option the other day - would you like to leave in 10 minutes or 15 minutes? he (randomly - i doubt he knew it was the higher number) chose 15 minutes. and for some reason made no fuss when it was time. not sure if it'd work again but i will certainly try.

CouthyMow Sat 15-Feb-14 22:36:04

Um, in my experience, if you have a 3yo that doesn't respond to distraction, then you CAN'T leave somewhere they want to stay without a meltdown.

You leave, and cope with the meltdown, whilst hissing to yourself "This too shall pass, this too shall pass".

And it does. Which is good, as I have a 3yo that doesn't respond to distractions. Again.

missmagnum Sat 15-Feb-14 22:43:42

Sticker charts have worked brilliantly for us. Its amazing what he will do for a sticker. We have let him pick a cheap toy and he knows when the chart is full he will get it.

Doesn't quite always work though, he did scream at me the other week that he doesn't care about stickers anyway hmm. Was a bit worried he had realised stickers aren't all that, but he was back on it the next day. Phew.

sleepingdragon Sat 15-Feb-14 22:44:53

another thing that works for me when we are struggling to leave somewhere is counting/ making it into a bit of a race, as in let's see if you can get your shoes and coat on before I count to 10/20. I know it won't last forever but at the moment it is working every time (with an admittedly competitive three year old who shouts 'I'm the winner!' when she manages to do it each time within my slowed down count down!)

Iworrymyselftosleep Sat 15-Feb-14 22:44:56

I offer the hard way or easy way options. Which are kinda the same - DS has to do what I ask - but if he chooses the easy way he cooperates? If he choose the hard way I carry on but with a tone in my voice that says I mean business. He's very bad at getting out of taxis (car broken down right now) so I do the easy way : hard way with him and if its the hard way, pick him up, take him in the house and leave him. When he stops I explain that the hard way makes him sad and mummy sad and the easy way meant we could have done x y z by now. Toothbrushing, we often do the hard way hmm

overthehill74 Sat 15-Feb-14 22:49:35

Am watching this one with interest as my DS is so stubborn and unless something is his idea then it's a big meltdown. Distraction very rarely works with him. I feel your pain!

NK2b1f2 Sat 15-Feb-14 22:49:57

Easy. Announce you are about to leave. Pick up child, shoes, coat. Say you are leaving. And go. Do that a few times and they realise resistance is futile. I would never try to get into a discussion with a three year old. Of course they don't want to leave. Just be the parent and be done with it.

(Disclaimer: Wisdom arrived at after two fiercely independent dc who would not fall for stickers, bribery, threads, rewards or anything other than being picked up and carried out)

MostWicked Sat 15-Feb-14 23:04:31

Explain what will happen AFTER the activity.
So we will be here for 1 hour, then we will come home and watch TV and have dinner.
Reminders at 10 and 5 mins as you are, but add in what will be happening next.
it's obvious to you, iit'sts not always obvious to kids.

mewkins Sat 15-Feb-14 23:20:03

Nk I have done that in the past but pregnant at the moment and dd seems to get taller and stronger by the day and I find her hard to carry!! I may go back to sticker chart rewards. She can be persuaded to eg. Get dressed on time with the lure of a big present at the end of a few weeks.

Sometimes though several other friends will join in and all refuse to cooperate about lleaving etc which it makes it much more difficult and frustrating! !

gallicgirl Sat 15-Feb-14 23:24:51

I find bribing with food helps. I mostly have problems leaving nursery when DD is tired so promises of fruit in the car helps enormously.

NK2b1f2 Sat 15-Feb-14 23:27:37

mewkins Ah, that changes the situation. Suddenly remember being in that situation with a tall 2.5 year old and hideous SPD. My way of getting dd1 into her car seat on a very busy main road outside her nursery was to bribe her with biscuits/ sweets waiting for her in the car blush. Worked long enough to get dd2 safely born and my pelvis to recover a bit. Then I turned back into tough mummy grin.

NK2b1f2 Sat 15-Feb-14 23:28:10

Epic cross post gallicgirl

NK2b1f2 Sat 15-Feb-14 23:28:24


gallicgirl Sun 16-Feb-14 00:00:47


Pick your battles. Sometimes you need an easy life.

Flowerpup Sun 16-Feb-14 07:32:24

My DS 3.4 is exactly the same! My tactic is the really small lollies stashed in my pocket! I call them 'emergency lollies' - Even the suggestion of a lolly gets him out quietly and then he sometimes forgets! He brushes his teeth well so not a problem if it stops a whole lot of stress for me!

Bluestocking Sun 16-Feb-14 07:49:19

My DS used to do this at the same age. After trying all the methods described, I used to just pick him up and remove him, screaming his head off. What really helped was when one of my friends, whose DS was one of my DS's best pals, took him off for a quiet chat about how he would not be able to come and play again if he couldn't be sensible at going-home time, because it was too upsetting for everyone. My friend did this with my foreknowledge and agreement and it worked wonders, as a three-year old is quite mature enough to understand that he's upsetting everyone, once it's been pointed out to him. Do you have a kind friend, who your DS likes, who would do this for you?

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