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Help with DS refusing to do anything

(17 Posts)
mamster Thu 29-Oct-09 21:45:04

My DS (3.4) has started refusing to do things he is asked (it starts with getting dressed in the morning and ends with getting his pj's on). He won't do a thing unless he wants to. It's really getting me down. I cry a lot in the other room. I can't get him to come to the table, wash his hands, have a wash when in the bath, have a dirty nappy changed etc etc. The list is endless. I tried stickers but he only wanted one a day ("I already got one mum"). I've tried the praising the good which he accepts like it was no trouble. When we are out and about he is as good as gold. When we are home it's a different story. Any advice?

Anste Thu 29-Oct-09 22:20:59

Just an idea, have you tried making the things you want him to do into a game?

What about letting him set the table, buying some of that fun hand/body soap. What about letting him go out in his PJ's - I wonder if he'd get to the front door?

Try not to cry, its probably a phase, he can do it really which he proves when he's out(better that way round I suppose).

Good luck.

mamster Thu 29-Oct-09 22:29:17

Thanks for your support. I tried the making things a game suggestion once. It worked now and then. I found it exhausting!

He did set the table two or three times in a row. Received much praise. Then it was 'no'. As if he was saying 'I can do that so I don't need to do it again'.

I will try letting go out in his pj's. I like the sound of that. He will have to keep his night nappy on though. I put him in the bath once with his clothes on as he wouldn't take them off. That was a mistake. Seriously, don't try it. He was traumatised and he didn't get clean.

I hope it's a phase but it doesn't seem like it. I think one of the big issues is potty training. He's in denial. "No poo poo, no pee pee' even when there is.

Anste Thu 29-Oct-09 22:54:07

If he goes to playschool/nursery, how do they deal with the potty/toilet. Have they any ideas re. his behaviour?

Once you've asked him to do something you must persist until he does it, no matter how long it takes don't give up. I know its very hard but you are in charge not him.

Just had a thought, have you tried undressing him/dressing him yourself, perhaps 'pamper' him. Not saying you don't its all just ideas.

mamster Thu 29-Oct-09 23:06:05

Pre-school (key worker) said not to worry, that he was in denial and they see that a lot. I'm not sure how they treat it but he doesn't like them changing him much as if I'm still there he asks me to do it.

But I can't force him to do it and I don't have all day to wait around til he feels like complying. I've tried it a few times (holding his hands under the tap to wash them, fighting with his to change his nappy while he kicks me etc). I doesn't work and just upsets us both. But he gets over it in a few minutes whereas I'm upset about it for ages after. I also have a DS who is 14 months and a part time job. I am patient with his as much as I can be but I can't wait for everything. He has to get to school and me and DH have to get to work.

Yes, I help with his undressing/dressing. He can't do it all himself (buttons, getting tops over his head and trousers over his nappy). Thanks I need ideas....

Anste Fri 30-Oct-09 08:59:59

Poor you. In an ideal world you need more time to spend with him and your little one. I think he trying to show you he needs you and is using delaying tactics to keep you near him.

None of my business really but is there any way you could cut down on your working hours?

Hope its a good day!!!

TombliBOOOOOObs Fri 30-Oct-09 09:09:06

At this age, choices work really well. By not asking him to do something and giving a choice, it gives him less time to think about not doing and sets his mind on making a choice.

So in the examples you have given, getting dressed would be do you want to wear a blue or green socks, This top or this jumper.

Eating. Do you want to sit here or there.

Do you want this plate or that one.

Initially it may seem like a fuss, but it is easier than having a battle and really does work, especially when you say you have got a choice.

Hope things ease off for you, they can be so challenging at this age, try not to take it personally, the fact that he is good else where shows you must be doing a good job smile

Fennel Fri 30-Oct-09 09:13:34

Things I've found which work with truculent 3 year olds:

Tell them firmly "In 1 minute we will be doing X...", so they have warning, and they know it's not negotiable. And don't cave.

Give them the choices Tombliboo suggests "do you want toast or cereal for breakfast".

For the things you don't totally need him to do, say like coming for a meal, let him not come and eat but then don't feed him so he realises that if he doesn't come for a meal he'll get hungry. Even a 3 year old can work that out in time.

In my experience 3.5 is about the low point of parenting, they get better after that, mine all did anyway.

TombliBOOOOOObs Fri 30-Oct-09 09:21:46

Love the word truculent Fennel grin

I also agree about the timed warnings, that works really well.

BertieBotts Fri 30-Oct-09 10:37:49

You have probably already tried this but phrasing it as a statement rather than a question - "It's bath time now" rather than "Will you get in the bath please?" can help.

mamster Fri 30-Oct-09 12:49:19

Thanks for your suggestions. I do try to offer choices but I think that has slipped recently as all I feel is that he's trying to get the better of me and I feel like I'm pandering to him,. If I ask him to choose his clothes he takes ages saying this one, no that one etc etc. I don't want a spoilt child!

I only work 2 days and week and he gets to spend the time either with his dad or nanny (who he loves spending time with) so it's not like he's not getting attention.

Re the statements, I've been trying that a bit (and giving him warning) and also asking him 'what do we do next' say in the morning he knows he gets his nappy done, gets dressed and has his teeth cleaned and then comes downstairs for breakfast. It doesn't work. His other favourite word is 'nothing'. Do you want cereal or toast = nothing.

I just feel down about it all. I thought things would get better at 3 and now people are telling me 4. It's seems to be a moving goal post. We went out this morning and he was good as gold. Back home it's 'I want' 'no' 'nothing' etc. Maybe he just dislikes being at home and finds it boring?

mamster Fri 30-Oct-09 12:59:03

Take this morning as an example, I got up at 6.30 and dressed/fed DS2. DS1 got up at 7. Was wet (even though still in nappies). I said 'time to get dressed' he said 'no, don't want to' and went back to bed. I said he mustn't sit in bed as the bed was wet. He said he wnated to. So I left him there (he was wet anyway). Eventually (10 mins later) he came out saying he was ready now. So progress already? However, I was still upset that he wouldn't listen to me when I asked him not to get into a wet bed.

I think potty training (or lack of) may be part of the problem. He just says 'i don't want to mum'.

Fennel Fri 30-Oct-09 13:13:27

I DO think that many of them are at their worst at this age, and get better by 4 or so. I look after my 3 year old nephew a lot (I have 3 primary aged children all mercifully past the 3yo stage). He loves to say no and do the opposite of what he's asked/told. What I do with him is be absolutely firm, on the things he has to do, I just don't give him any choice.

E.g. my nephew HAS to walk home from preschool with me, 1/5 mile, he refuses for his parents and they carry him, but he's enormous and nearly 4 so I won't carry him, if he won't walk, I hold his wrist and say Right, we're walking, NOW. And he does. or if he doens't, I will drag him if necessary (I have 4 other children running ahead I need to watch as well so am not in the mood for pandering), but it rarely comes to that.

HerbWoman Sat 31-Oct-09 15:20:17

I remember DD at that age doing the opposite of whatever I asked her. Once I wanted her to sit down while she was eating a banana, so I ended up telling her to go and run around while she was eating - she sat down straight away! Problem with doing that would be that she would have cottoned on pretty quickly that it was OK to do the opposite and ignore me, so wouldn't have actually worked long term, but it made me laugh at the time.

Something that has worked with both DS and DD is turning it into a timed event - "can you wash your hands by the time I count to 60? On you marks, get set, go", then start counting without giving them a chance to argue. 9 times out of 10 that has worked, sometimes I have to slow up as I count or add extra numbers (eg 9 and a half, 9 and three quarters), just as long as they are trying to do whatever it is.

mamster Sat 31-Oct-09 15:33:11

Yes, I am trying to be firm (esp on the important stuff - pick your battles, right?).

I will try the timed event suggestion. The only thing that really works at the moment is saying that he can't do something he wants (ie going in the car) unless he does xyz. I know it's not the best way of doing things but things need to be done (like changing a dirty nappy).

Today he was put back in bed again because he wouldn't get dressed. He came out 15 mins later or so ready but it's ok, it's a Saturday and he wasn't wet. next week is going to be tough since he has to get ready for pre-school 3 days.

navelgazer Sat 31-Oct-09 16:09:18

I have a stubborn one at home too. Good as gold outside the house but will never do what's needed at home. She can be quite timid at school and her teacher says she's really well behaved, it's almost as if she is making up for her lack of confidence outside the home, when she's at home.

She is a bit less stubborn when we spend more time together but that can't always be the case and she does get a lot of attention already. I tried all the suggestions above and more but she is always one step ahead of me and in the end I had to resort to withdrawing privileges just to get the basics done e.g., take a bath at least once a week, get dressed, go to bed when asked, leave the house when necessary. I would take away one of her favourite toys (with a warning), she would always get it back at a later stage. It annoyed me really to do that but funnily enough DD seemed to act like it was a reasonable punishment.

Age 4 was definitely the worst but surely that varies form child to child. She's still stubborn now (6) but to a much lesser extent. I shudder when I think of how she was when she was 4.

mamster Mon 02-Nov-09 22:22:06

At least I'm not the only one! Thanks for your response. Things were pretty bad today funnily enough when we were out;. I had to drag him home but his wrist. He just wouldn't go - kept saying he didn't want to go home after I wouldn't buy him a comic. I put him in his room and he slept for THREE hours. So he was tired, or the battle made him tired. He never sleeps in the day normally. I am just getting through each day and counting down the days til he's four.

I tried taking away his toys like that but he wasn't that bothered and it didn't improve his behaviour. Only thing that really works is turning off his Wiggles dvd. So I do that when I really need him to do something but it only works when he is actually watching it so it's only effective for half hour a day.

Right now I'm trying to make the next activity sound interesting so he gets through the basic stuff without thinking about it. Is kinda working (a bit).

If you can suggest how I can keep calm during all this I would be grateful!

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