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I just wanted some advice if possible. I have a 3 year old and her behaviour is particularly poor at the moment. She seems very angry a lot if the time, shouting, hitting, pinching even. More to her sister who is 18 months older but also to both me and her dad.
We've tried lots of tactics, reasoning, talking, explaining, naughty step, taking things away. Even tried being very harsh. Nothing seems to get through or change her behaviour, she genuinely doesn't listen or seem to care when we tell her off or anything.
Any advice on best way to change this... I know she's 3 but my eldest was never quite this bad and it is making parenting difficult.
If nothing you're doing is changing her behaviour then perhaps it's not in her power to change her behaviour.
Look to the cause of it.
Is she tired? Hungry? Overwhelmed? Looking for attention? Worried? Picking up on anxieties?
Three years olds are not in full control of their emotions or behaviour. Sometimes they can't help it, so you can inflict any number of punishments and it's not going to change what she's doing. Look to the cause instead.
It can help to keep a diary to see if you notice any patterns. Does the behaviour occur after a bad night? When she hasn't eaten well? When you've been busy? When she hasn't been outside? Is it in the morning/afternoon/evening? Etc.
We did think she was tired but doesn't seem to be that. The only correlation is that it's when she doesn't get her own way and gets cross!
We have spoken to her and she says she tries but she just gets angry. So I get she can't always control it but we can't keep going on like this as it's really tough!
I would continue to keep a diary and look for correlation.
And then work on her not getting angry in the first place. Obviously don't just give in to her all the time, but find ways to minimise wherever possible.
- pick your battles - ask yourself does it really matter? Is there anything you can give on?
- pre-empt a tantrum where you can, with explanation and warnings. They will work much better as a pre-emptive measure than during/after a meltdown. So always give a warning when something is going to happen that she's not going to like e.g. 'you've got 10 mins of screen time left', '5 mins' '2 mins' etc.
- tell her the plans for the day so she's know what's coming next.
- alter your language if that's causing an issue. Avoid 'no' if that causes friction. You can say 'no' with other, gentler language and redirect. So instead of saying 'No DD stop jumping on the sofa' you can say 'Dd come here and look at this/help me with this'.
- teach her other methods of calming down. Maybe she needs to walk in the garden, hit a pillow, count to ten, take some time out. You can make her a calm down bottle/jar, get her to help and explain to her what it's for.
Ultimately, you can only wait for her to mature though. Just remember that feeling angry is really horrible. As much as her behaviour is a nightmare for you it's not going to be great for her either. No-one chooses to feel anger as their predominant emotion.
In terms of punishment, I would go for an immediate and calm method, so ideally time-out. As tempting as it is, it's just cruel (and ineffective) to take toys etc. from her when it isn't behaviour that she isn't choosing or in control of. It would be like punishing someone for sneezing.
*isn't behaviour that she's choosing or in control of.
The thing is the naughty step/time out doesn't seem to be doing anything. And we can't just use the distraction technique when she's trying to actually hurt her sister.. And succeeds, she's left bruises and scratched her quite badly before. I know she's young but it does worry me.
It won't work immediately because, as she's said, she can't help it.
It's a tool to use alongside prevention (all the methods above) and just waiting for her to mature.
Distraction to be used before she loses her temper, not during. So before she gets to the point where she's lost control and is lashing out. Once she's lashing out, then it's time out until she cools down.
I guess we just have to keep persevering with the naughty step then and talking to her about it.
I know her older sister isn't innocent in it all either... She will do things she knows annoys her! But I'm not always there to intervene before it escalates
Yes, it won't change overnight. She'll age out of it, like they do with all these annoying phases.
Look up the calm down bottle/jar and see if it would help. Try kids mindfulness app etc. All you can do is try and speed up the process by giving her the skills to cope with these big feelings she's having.
My DD who is 3 too is the same. I was actually about to post asking for advice but saw your post.
Sometimes I worry so much because I used to think this was an age thing but now at 3 I wonder...is this normal?
She is wonderful sometimes, she wakes up in such a good mood and she says “I am not going to hit/pinch/push/yell today” but then she does...it is like she couldn’t help it! Sometimes she pinches me really hard and I look at her with a face that says “what have you just done?” And it is like she realises and says “oh, sorry, sorry!“ really like if it wasnt her who had decided to do that.
We give her time outs but to be honest I don’t think they work, I don’t like them either...sometimes I think she is looking for attention and in that case wouldn’t it be better just to ignore the behaviour altogether? I don’t know...I am so lost, lately I think we need professional help. I want to do the right thing but I don’t know what the right thing is.
I understand piscis, it's so hard to know what the right way to deal with it actually is sometimes. I often wonder whether this is normal behaviour for her age or not. My eldest was never like it although I try so hard not to compare them as they're so different in general.
We have tried the ignoring but that doesn't always work and it's hard as we don't want the eldest to think her little sister doesn't get punishment when she bites, hits etc.
We have tried love bombing too however very mixed results! Works for me on my eldest actually as we had a bit of a phase with her but seems to make our youngest angrier when my husband does it.... Like she can't stop herself.
Sometimes it's heartbreaking to watch as she has so much anger I just feel sad.
That’s more tricky if you have another daughter and you don’t obviously want her to see that you ignore bad behaviour. It is more straight forward for us as we have no other kids, but still don’t know what to do.
Now I try to ignore her a bit if she hasn’t done anything too bad, for example, I’ll let it go if she has pinched me but not very strong. But when if it is bad, she is getting time outs.
Lately, whenever she shouts demanding something, I tell her “oh I cannot hear or understand anything you say when you shout”
She is definitely not getting what she is asking for when she talks to us like that, ever. We think she should have gotten the message already, that shouting doesn’t work, ever, but she is still doing it.
This parenting thing is hard!
It really is!
We have the shouting too and she's never got her own way with it or tantrums but still continues with them lol.
Very hard work sometimes and do think being in lockdown hasn't helped, routine is completely different etc. I am hoping when she goes back to nursery it will help a bit