Coping with a defiant 3 year old

(15 Posts)
Muppet7410 Sun 20-Oct-19 08:04:39

Terrible twos were nothing, since turning 3 my ds has been horrendous.
-won't get dressed in the morning
-won't wee in potty before we go down for breakfast
-won't do any reasonable request I.e finding shoes or putting coat on
-won't eat dinner
-wants to eat dinner in a different room
-won't get in the bath / out the bath
-kicks and hits me whilst trying to dress/undress him
-nothing is ever good enough i.e. Get him a snack but then wants another one or a different one.
-won't stay in bed if he wakes in the night and frequent early starts.

The list is endless. Everything I try is met with opposition. I've tried being gentle and saying things like 'I know it makes you sad when we have to get out the bath but you can choose a book and we can cuddle together once your in your pjs'. I've tried threatening with taking toys/privileges away. His response to it all is screaming, tears and lashing out.

I'm regularly only getting 5 hours sleep so my patience is wearing very thin and to be perfectly honest I don't enjoy his company and dread weekends or spending time with him. I feel like I tiptoe around him which is ridiculous as he's 3!

Any advice on how to handle such an unruly horrible child would be appreciated. Also advice on how to cope myself as I feel as if it's affecting my mental health as I'm permanently miserable.


OP’s posts: |
NoKnit Sun 20-Oct-19 19:30:47

You have just called your child horrible, honestly read it all again and think about it. He is just 3 years old, his brain isn't developed enough to understand you want him to go for a pee in the potty (why I mean if he doesn't want to go just leave it), leave him go hungry or eat in another room, making a big deal of it is giving him the reaction he wants I don't see what the problem with these things is and I don't see why that makes him horrible.

Be kind to yourself and give him clear instructions, tell him to put his shoes on, tell him again and then if it comes to a third time just put them on him, if he resists just keep calm and deal with it.

lookingforahappyplace Sun 20-Oct-19 21:56:20

Mine is the same @Muppet7410 ignore the other poster, I know what you mean. I don't have a solution it's a constant battle. I also try options and "we do this, then we can do that" ( nice thing), still doesn't work. But it's defiance to everything all day long. And yes it's from first wee of the day to getting into bed. I don't really believe in calling kids naughty, but it is pushing boundaries. It makes the days a grind. My patience is in tatters and I start hearing my uptight voice.

I was wondering if my DS is over tired or just a bit bored and it's contributing to his stubborn behaviour. If he wants to do something he can go use the toilet, flush, wash his hands and have his shoes on in 2 minutes. If DS doesn't want to do he will mess around in the toilet taking 20 minutes just to wash his hands.

I'm sorry but @NoKnit I can't compromise on certain things like basic hygiene, they are not things I can just leave. I do agree you should choose your battles, but once you start with letting them have their way like eating in front of the tv instead of at the family table then it's going to be harder to change.

kmn08 Mon 21-Oct-19 06:30:37

Only usually read on here and never posted but I related to what you said so much that I had to comment! My DS is very much the same as you describe. Some days he's great others it's awful and on the bad days I actually dislike being at home.
He is 4 in March and if I can offer any hope it's that the bad days seem to be getting a bit less. Currently in a bad sleeping phase so he's messing about at bedtimes and up ridiculously early (I'm already dreading clocks changing next week!) but I do feel with persistence at keeping his routine he will eventually come out of it.
Just keep in mind it's a phase and typical for his age. I know it doesn't make it easy to deal with on those crappy days but it won't last forever. One of the best tactics I've found is distraction - I would have a daily battle with putting shoes on so my day was starting out on a stressful note but then started making it a game by getting him to come to my 'shoe shop' and choose a stair to sit on. Sounds daft but it did the trick!

Just wanted you to know you're not alone in how you're feeling. I totally relate to everything you said. Xxxx

tempnamechange98765 Mon 21-Oct-19 10:18:22

Oh I like that shoe shop idea, might try it.

I'm with you though OP, I call my DS (behind his back of course) all sorts of words like horrible, and many more! He is 4 at the end of the year. If it's any consolation he's much better now than when he'd just turned 3, but he goes through little phases. How you react definitely has potential to make things worse too, so the only advice I can give is keep your cool in front of him, and pick your battles.

lookingforahappyplace yes my DS is the same, yesterday he'd gone upstairs to get his swimming bag and gotten his shoes on in about 2 minutes flat. Because he loves swimming. Anything I'm asking him to do on the other hand, takes forever and ends in a battle.

Notodontidae Mon 21-Oct-19 18:33:45

I'm all for making it a bit of a game if possible, but what your aiming for is a child that does what it is told, by both parents and teachers. Noknit wasn't suggesting he stays in a dirty nappy, You can lead a horse to water but you cant make it drink, you can lead a child to a potty, but you can't make them pee. As for muppet, all those things he wont do at 3YO, is poor parenting, you must be firm and assertive. Wont get dressed? Well then do it for him, act a bit cross. Won't find shoe's help look for them, unless you know where they are then you are cross with him for not doing what you asked. won't eat dinner, thats all your getting? You eat where I say, or get nothing? He goes in the bath cos you put him there, he comes out when you say, help him out. Kicks you, & you allow it "no way" You show him your cross sit him down, he's not to get up until you say, or 3mins, ask him what he did wrong and to say sorry. If he doesn't say sorry, nothing you can do about that. Warn him not to do it again, or his favourite toy will be taken away, you must carry through anything you say.

tempnamechange98765 Mon 21-Oct-19 19:05:23

Wow Notodontidae are you parent of the year? It's quite harsh saying it's down to poor parenting!

So your child kicks you, how do you "not allow it"? Physically restrain them? How do you make them sit in one place for 3 minutes if they get up? Again, physically restrain them?

FWIW I do use the time out step for really bad behaviour eg hitting, and it sometimes takes several attempts to get DS to stay.

Muppet7410 Mon 21-Oct-19 20:45:21

Wow some sound advice and some uncalled for harsh comments.

I asked for advice, not to be slammed as a poor parent. I think all parents wing it slightly. Perhaps my winging style needs to be honed in on. I wouldn't describe myself a poor parent!

Anyway, thanks to the helpful people who offered good suggestions!

**Notodontidae I don't like your poor autocratic parenting style!

OP’s posts: |
kmn08 Mon 21-Oct-19 23:15:17

Muppet7410 you're certainly not a poor parent just a normal one.

Worrywart21 Tue 22-Oct-19 06:55:49

I have a 3 year old girl and it’s awful I would say 60-70% of the time. Everything is an issue sometimes I feel like running away.

Today she woke up at 5am and I went into her bed to lie with her until a later time. She was angry as I wasn’t taking her downstairs so threw all her books across her room. Then started kicking her door screaming the house down.

Then breakfast time and she wants waffles. I say no you can have xyz. Another tantrum her throwing herself on the floor and head butting me.

Go into the dining room to eat breakfast and I put the lamp on as the big light is too bright. She wants the big light on. I say no. She throws a toy and headbuts me again. She throws a teddy and almost knocks my breakfast out of my hand.

It’s not even 7am and I can’t be bothered to carry on anymore.

So i totally get it.

lookingforahappyplace Tue 22-Oct-19 08:08:09

@Worrywart21 that sounds so tough. I wouldn't be on this thread if I had all the answers, but you could try a choice whenever possible. I find the issue is when a choice can't be given, like wash your hands.

Anyway so say your DD says I want Waffles you say "We've run out of waffles. Would you like porridge or weetabix ?" So she feels she has a bit of control, but you are controlling it by giving her options that are acceptable to you. I do struggle with this sometimes, as apparently "you can have this or nothing? " is not what I am meant to say winkblush

Worrywart21 Tue 22-Oct-19 09:27:30

Thanks @lookingforahappyplace. This morning it went “we have weetabix or shreddies for breakfast, what would you like?” Her “waffles”. Repeats until she throws a tantrum.

The saga continues past 7am, got ready fairly ok but then wanted to try on her Halloween costume. I said ok so she had that on til about 8:30 then it was time to go to nursery. Obviously she refused to remove it. I said you can either remove it yourself or I’ll do it for you. 1,2,3. Runs away hysterically laughing. So I get her and remove costume whilst being kicked, hit and scratched.

Now time for shoes. You can either put your shoes on yourself or I’ll do it for you, 1,2,3. Same sort of behaviour so I put them on for her. Then she kicks the shoes off so I just carry her out to the car no shoes kicking and screaming.

She can be in nursery til 3pm but I collect her st lunchtime to spend the afternoon with her. Sometimes I wonder why I bother and feel like leaving her there til 3pm

tempnamechange98765 Tue 22-Oct-19 09:31:17

Oh gosh Worrywart21 leave her til 3! I would! When I collect my DS from nursery (it's attached to the school and he only does mornings until he goes to reception next September) he doesn't want to leave and refuses to come sometimes (which is mortifying and I've made another thread about it!). He would love to stay longer!!! As the day he is in his private nursery 8-5pm, he's always super happy to come home as he's had enough!

Flo84 Tue 22-Oct-19 17:05:39

Sounds to me like you are doing a brilliant job. I know it's difficult but start by focussing on one thing at a time. Fix that then move on to the next thing. Consistency is the key. Like if you want to start with the top of the list (not getting dressed). Encourage him to choose the clothes the night before, in the morning get him to do what he can and then you can help. Rewards and praise are brilliant. If he wants to eat tea in a different room that's fine but he eats where you want today and then where he wants tomorrow. I know it sounds silly but let him tantrum but ensure he does what you want. If you want him to get dressed and he tantrums leave him to it and then when he is calm tell him we are going to get dressed now, if he tantrums again that's fine, you will get there in the end when he realises you won't give up. He just needs to learn that even if he isn't happy about doing something he had got to do it in the end whether he tantrums or not. Also if he kicks or hours tell him you will come back when he is calm because you don't like him being unkind to you Then make sure you praise lots when he does as asked. It will come eventually, I promise. Give him a choice of 2 snacks. He picks the one he wants and then that's it. He eats or goes without. It sounds to me like he wants a bit of control so give it when you can for example; you can get out the bath now and we can have 2 stories or you can stay in 5 more minutes (a timer on your phone could be good here) and have one story. Sorry if I have waffled but you might find bits of what I said useful.

lookingforahappyplace Tue 22-Oct-19 18:58:06

Sharing your pain fellow 3 year old wranglers.

@Worrywart21 the little sod winkwinkwink and I bet she's an angel at nursery. halo My DS is apparently super well behaved at preschool and even asks to help out and tidy up. Although he did cry the another day at pick-up when they tried to help him zip his coat, so maybe his facade is cracking. So I'm just lucky he saves his devil work all for mummy. Roll on bedtime ( it will only take 19 requests to stand still so I can help with his PJ's. ) I don't have time for multiple tantrums, he'd be up til midnight!

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