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3yo is breaking me...

(16 Posts)
violator Mon 03-Nov-14 20:35:31

I need some advice from BTDT mums because I'm at a bit of a loss.
DS was 3 during the summer. He has always been a very strong willed, bright, funny, demanding boy and we love him for it, but he is exhausting.
That bit I'm OK with, he's 3, loads of 3 year olds are hard work. He's always been bloody hard work.

However, lately he has taken it all up a notch. He will argue with me from morning til night, if I say it's black, he says it's white.
99% of his sentences start with "I don't want to" (insert as applicable here - go for a wee, get dressed, go out, stay in, go to the park/shop/gran's) and so on.
I want it NOW is another late addition to the demands.

I don't take any cheek and will pull him up immediately, which results in floods of tears and I'M SORRRRRRRRRRRY.

So that's the baseline.

He has refused to eat dinner for three weeks now. Not just refusing but throwing himself on the floor, roaring, crying, screaming and shouting over and over again that he doesn't want it.
Right at the start of this, I decided to play tough so I take away his dinner, make no fuss and do not offer anything else. Nothing else.

So for three weeks now he has not eaten anything between his lunch and his breakfast the next morning, and even lunch is hit and miss.

He is not ill, he is a very tall and strong boy for his age and I know he will not starve himself.

He is not interested in star charts or rewards. At all.

Am I missing some trick that I could use to encourage good behaviour?

BlackbirdOnTheWire Mon 03-Nov-14 20:44:55

If you are, I'm missing it too. With both my 5yo and 2.8yo.

On the other hand, it's soooo lovely to go to parents' evenings and hear "your DC is so independent... Determined... Single-minded... Confident... Doesn't give a shit about what the other kids think, so they all want to play with him/her / be him/her"... Not! But apparently lots of other parents think it must be.

They do develop a bit more of a conscience as they grow older. They also get more manipulative. It's still bloody hard work and now they argue with each other and then side with each other when I tell one of them off! Only 11 years to go till we kick DC1 out ;-)

Totally unhelpful but you're not alone. And on the (serious) plus side, all that bloodymindedness serves them well at school. DC1 is determined to be the top of a mixed year class despite being the youngest of the younger year, and is doing really well, certainly above average for the year above in literacy and numeracy. Not that we'd ever let the children know that we might be proud of them for something, they'd use that as ammunition too.

hiccupgirl Mon 03-Nov-14 20:48:19

My DS was very like this at 3. Everything was a battle and every sentences started with 'I don't want to...' to the point that I nearly fell over one time when he actually said he wanted to do something. He wasn't interested in making a choice when offered and stickers or rewards did nothing at all. He was only focused on fighting everything for control.

I have to admit I ended up with a quite a hard line approach which in the end paid off. Rudeness or hitting/kicking etc meant he sat out in the kitchen which he hated. 'I don't want to...' was met with 'I know you want to but it's not a choice.' If he didn't want to eat anything then he didn't eat anything.

He started to improve at 3yrs 8 months. He suddenly stopped fighting with us all the time and started wanting to co-operate and want us to be happy with him rather than cross and frustrated. He's nearly 5 now and although still stubborn, strong willed and high maintenance, he understands when he can choose and when he can't and he is a lovely boy to be with most of the time. He will still fight to control things especially if he's tried or had a stressful day at school but I can generally win him round now.

evertonmint Mon 03-Nov-14 20:48:23

What's BTDT?

violator Mon 03-Nov-14 20:50:10

BlackbirdOnTheWire thank you so much for that.
I know deep down this iron will will benefit DS as he gets older, he's already a popular child in playschool and is extremely sociable - he will walk up to and chat to anyone, anywhere.

I also know he's really bright. Yeah all mums think their kids are Einstein but he is wayyy ahead of where he's "supposed" to be. I do try to keep him challenged but his behaviour is so challenging I'm knackered just keeping tabs on that let alone much else at the minute!

hiccupgirl Mon 03-Nov-14 20:50:24

Yes blackbird has it perfectly! bloody minded and completely doesn't give a shit whether the other children like him or not. If they don't want to play his games then fine, he plays by himself.

At least he'll never be easily influenced by others...

violator Mon 03-Nov-14 20:51:34

Thank you hiccupgirl. I'm hoping things improve before he turns 18.

BTDT - been there done that.

hiccupgirl Mon 03-Nov-14 20:54:27

Me too violater! It's a long way away though...

Quitelikely Mon 03-Nov-14 20:57:26

I could be you! It's draining isn't it? I ask what the heck I do to make my dd so grumpy!

She's also very bright and while once upon a time I thought that was a great thing now I'm not so sure!

My tips are 'if you haven't got anything nice to say, then please don't say anything at all' - yes it really can be constant negativity pouring out of her!

My other thing is iPad removal and also to not argue back. And if she refused food then I would absolutely refuse to serve up something different!

PseudoBadger Mon 03-Nov-14 21:00:19

DS is now 3 years 10 months. I would say he's been like yours OP since maybe 2 years 6 months, until about 3 weeks ago.
Finally he seems bothered by reward charts, cause and effect etc. Today he said "I'd like to play trains, I'd better tidy my cars away". I nearly fell over! A few weeks ago I would have been scooping the cars into a bin bag and removing them, today he tidied them.
It really does get better. He started preschool in September and I gunk the change is a mixture of that, and of maturity as he nears 4. He can still be very very challenging, but I've actually enjoyed spending half term with him.

Phalarope Mon 03-Nov-14 21:01:40

It sounds draining. But just a thought - could the dinner tantrum be because he's hungry? What if he had dinner a bit earlier, before the tired/hungry combo kicks in?

violator Mon 03-Nov-14 21:03:18

I have tried that too Pharalope, no joy.
I might give it a go again though, worth a shot.

LittleMilla Mon 03-Nov-14 21:14:24

oooooh, can I join in! DH and are at our wits' end with DS1. He's 3.5months and it's just getting worse! Latest thing is to join his 16mo younger brother screaming/emptying packets of pasta, water, whatever on the floor and generally looking to get a raise from mummy.

I must confess to occassional manhandling blush when he flatly refuses to get dressed/put shoes, coat, whatever on and we're running late in the monring.

I am SO tired of having to follow through on threats to bin books, DVDs etc but he'll only react to extreme things. It kills me and makes me feel so sad.

LittleMilla Mon 03-Nov-14 21:14:57

3.5 months? Obviuosly 3 and 5 months!

evertonmint Mon 03-Nov-14 23:57:40

Ah, thanks for the explamation. Not sure I'm BTDT so much as Am
There, Doing It! 4.1yo DD, fiercely bright, struggling hugely with not yet being at school (just days too young), playing up like crazy, and being ABYSMAL with food and table manners.

Being very firm but in a kind, light way works best with mine. Any sort of shouting, raised temper and she matches me word for word and all hell breaks loose.

Trying very hard to keep her busy too. She behaves so much worse if I let her watch telly or roam around unguided. A few guided activities and she can then entertain herself beautifully, but she needs lots of initial ideas and input first. She is really bored I think, desperate for more than being the oldest/most capable by a mile at nursery and being at home with me and baby DS.

Sigh. Not huge amounts of answers for you, but sympathy/empathy in bucketloads.

I also have a 6yo but he was never this strong willed!

MrsCosmopilite Tue 04-Nov-14 00:05:39

We're just looks round furtively for some wood to touch, even though not superstitious coming out of a month of this with DD.
Another one that is pretty well ahead with stuff (can read a few words, write a bit, construct complex sentences, games and argue until the cows come home), and has been pushing and pushing at the boundaries.
Worst bit was recently on holiday and I posted about it on here for some help as both DH and I were in tears with her one day. Thankfully, since we got home, things have mellowed somewhat. Plus, I can walk out of the room when she acts up and know she's safe.
I've found what works best for me is to not engage. Simply say 'ok then' and leave it at that. So, if you don't want breakfast, that's okay. If you don't want to get dressed, that's okay, but you'll have to go to the shops in pj's.

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