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To say I am finding this hard is probably the understatement of the century.

(48 Posts)
FoghornLeghorn Thu 02-Aug-07 09:43:07

I feel like I can't cope with DD1 anymore

DD1 is 3 (also have DD2 who is 8 months) and I really struggling at the minute with discipline. I am quite strict, I don't let her get away with some of the things DH does where he says "she's only 3".

I have tried the naughty step - doesn't work. I have tried removing favourite toys & books for a certain amount of time - doesn't work. I have tried no DVD's for certain period of time - doesn't work.
I always give her 3 warnings before one of these happen and I always tell her if she keeps ignoring me/doing whatever it is she is doing that I am trying to stop then one of these things is going to happen. As they don't work it usually ends up in me shouting or smacking her - which again don't work, just make me feel like shit for making her cry

I'll give you some examples of what she has done just today, bearing in mind it is only 9.30ish - tried playing her Brum DVD on my laptop when I asked her not to touch it (I literally went into kitchen to put plate in dishwasher), threw Shrek DVD on floor so I asked her to pick it up to which she just replied No continuosly for about 2 minutes eventually she did after I threatened her with one of the usual things. She then apologised, gave me a hug and said she wanted to go and sit on her bed for a rest and play toys, she had been upstairs about 2-3 minutes before i came up to find red paint all over the wall of her bedroom and her telling me she has painted sparkles !
She was smacked and is now sitting on her bed playing, while I am feeling shit because I've smacked her and feel useless because I just can't seem to deal with her.

She blatantly ignores people - you could stand right in front of her calling her name and if she doesn't want to answer you, she wont, she will just act as if you aren't there.
She may be bored but it is 9.30am and I have a 8 month old to sort out too - we go out every day so she is always kept busy, whether is visiting people, park, picnic, swimming - there is always something we are doing.

She is such a gorgeous little girl and is at times the sweetest thing I have ever seen, she is funny and smart and I love the bones of her.
Me and DH argue all the time, he hates me shouting, his answer is "she's 3, she doesn't know" or "We were just as bad at her age". My Mum & MIL think she is bored and playing up because she needs to get to school and be more stimulated for longer.

I don't know what I expect from posting this, I just feel like a bit of a failure not being able to cope with a 3 year old

oliveoil Thu 02-Aug-07 09:45:43

dd2 is the same (ish)

pick your battles!

do not leave the laptop where she can find it

do not leave red paint where she can find it

do not smack, really truly, it makes you feel shit and her also

I will link a book for you in a minute


FoghornLeghorn Thu 02-Aug-07 09:48:08

Thing is I know this OO and maybe DH is right but surely if I have 2 seconds previously told her not to touch my laptop then she should know not to touch it.

Maybe I am expecting her to know things she doesn't know yet.

oliveoil Thu 02-Aug-07 09:49:17


I have linked this tons of times but it is fab

with dd2, she could have an arguement in an empty room. Seriously. Soooooooooo different to how dd1 was.

I move anything away that she could make a mess with - paint, juice, pens, etc etc etc. The way I see it is she likes making a mess, so I remove the stuff so she can't. Simple!

I pick my battles. I think "am I really arsed if she wears that hideous top instead of the lovely one I picked out? No, it will cause a tantrum"

then she doesn't feel like I am moaning all day (which I often do)

binklehasflipped Thu 02-Aug-07 09:49:39

I think there's something to be said for cutting down on all the trips out of the house and just making time for her in the home.

ie Settle dd2 and putting your stuff aside and just saying to her "do you want to play? what shall we do?" and give her an hour of your completely undivided attention just you and her.

Saturn74 Thu 02-Aug-07 09:50:03

You're not a failure - you've got a lot to cope with.
It might be helpful for you and your DH to discuss one method of discipline, and stick to it, come hell or high water.

eg: her saying that she wouldn't pick up the DVD for two minutes - ask her once, then ask her again, saying that if she doesn't do it, she will go to time out (or whatever you have chosen). If she still refuses, take her to time out. No discussion, no chat. It's as much to give you a chance to remain calm, as for her to see that she needs to do as you ask.

Encourage her to play alone - start off playing with her, then leave for a couple of minutes, come back and praise her, then leave again.

And get her involved with looking after her little sister. Make a big deal of her being the eldest, tell her how that makes her special, and how her little sister thinks she is great because she is such a good girl etc etc.

The paint on the walls is annoying - but maybe you need to store it away from tiny hands?

Frizbe Thu 02-Aug-07 09:50:17

ELC do a good magnetic star chart, I use it on and off with my 3 year old, when she gets into a 'naughty' phase. Its helps that she can physically see something being given to her for when she's good and getting taken away from her when she's naughty, we add the stars up on friday and she gets a relevant treat, depending on how many she has. Hth's.

Rach35 Thu 02-Aug-07 09:52:08

unfortunately if you tell little ones NOT to do something (like Don't touch that) - all they can hear is 'touch that'. It sounds really frustrating and I daren't give advice as I don't have kids yet but have you read any parenting books (as I imagine 3yr olds can be challenging)?

oliveoil Thu 02-Aug-07 09:52:44

re laptop

say "I know you love playing with my laptop yes?" (she nods) "the thing is, is can get damaged very easily can't it?" (she nods) "so we will put it on the shelf and bring it down at special times when dd2 has her nap yes" (she nods) "then me and you can play specialy as you are a big girl" (she nods)

something like that

same with shreck dvd

"oh dear, I see a dvd on the floor, if it stays there it will get scratched and ruined. It would be so nice if it was picked up nicely so we can watch it later and have a cuddle"

etc etc

waffle on

oliveoil Thu 02-Aug-07 09:54:40

I don't believe in time out or naughty step or taking things away tbh for a child of 3

they just see the punishment and not the reasoning behind it

if you waffle on and explain (whilst losing the will to live), they get it imo

[weaves some lentils]

FoghornLeghorn Thu 02-Aug-07 09:56:13

That's a good idea Frizbe - but I'm not sure DD would really understand that, she only turned 3 last month.

I will look at book Olive

Binkle - we aren't out of the house all day, every day. We do something everyday so I know she is out getting some fresh air - sometimes it is only popping to the park for half an hour.

I don't really sit and play with her alot, she plays on her own most of the time as I'm usually doing housework or sorting DD2.

I know the paint was my fault for leaving it within easy reach of her - I am obviously expecting too much by thinking she just shouldn't touch it after being told not too touch paints without mummy or daddy there.

EscapeFrom Thu 02-Aug-07 09:56:13

It is because she is three.

And don't thgink for one minute that I am belittling how HARD three year olds can be, how exasperating, how sometimes by 7.45am you are thinking "It's a DAMN good job I love you, child, or you'd be under the blasted patio!"

They do ignore people. She will grow out of it, I never found anything that made my four year old REALLY listen when he was three... he listens better now.

The destructive behavior is mainly curiosity. Sling her out in the garden in all weather bar sleet, give her a bucket of water and a spade. Keep one set of outdoor clothes specifically for this. Keep a flannel by the back door and strip her on an old towel when she comes in. ALLOW her to make a mess, to stick her hands in mud, to cover herself, and she may calm down with stuff like painting the walls.

Smacking probably won't work, but I am sure you already know this.

I feel your desperation, I wqas there this time last year, had a baby and a three year old, and it is hard, and you have my empathy.

FoghornLeghorn Thu 02-Aug-07 09:59:20

This is what I am after OO because I know these things don't work with DD1 - have tried them time and time again to no avail just an arguement and tears.

There is no sibling rivalry yet - DD1 adores DD2 when she wants to, fussing over her, playing with her favourite sister, feeding her etc but when she's not interested in playing with her she just ignored her and doesn't bat an eye lid

bozza Thu 02-Aug-07 10:00:10

The red paint should not be left out if she will mess with it. I know my DD can be trusted so I don't worry. And I knew DS could be at that age, but he had a friend who couldn't so I always used to put things away before he came to play.

However I think at 3 she knows that she shouldn't have done it, so if she was my DD she would be sitting on her bed but not playing.

When you say that the step doesn't work, what do you mean? That she gets up? Or that she carries on with the same behaviours subsequently? Also I think 3 warnings is too many. I think you are dragging it out. I ask/tell DD (also 3) to do something. If she doesn't I say I will count to 3 and then she will go on the step. Obviously for some things like hitting etc she goes straight on the step.

FoghornLeghorn Thu 02-Aug-07 10:00:54

EscapeFrom - thanks, it's nice to know that people understand.
DD1 does lots of messy play, she's a real tom boy out in the garden digging etc but I will try and do more of this, see if it helps

EscapeFrom Thu 02-Aug-07 10:02:06

You need high shelves, to put things on. I still couldn't leave stuff like paints or a laptop in reach of my 4 year old - he would touch them. It's a given.

You are asking far too much to expect her not to touch paint left in reach, remember she is only just not two. Eight weeks ago she was 2.

FoghornLeghorn Thu 02-Aug-07 10:03:14

I am the same Bozza - if she is nasty to another person, i.e hitting or general nastiness she will go straight to sit on her bed or on the naughty step.

The step doesn't work because she gets up and I keep putting her back down but she doesn't get that it's a punishment. I've done the whole supernanny thing, explaining what she did and why she is on the step but it just goes straight over her head.

soapbox Thu 02-Aug-07 10:04:14

I think you have answered your own question in a way 'I don't really play with her, I'm busy doing housework or seeing to DD2'.

3 year olds need attention and play and supervision. I suspect she is bored and attention seeking too.

You need to make much more time for her in the day. How long can housework take unless you live in a mansion, and how much time does an 8mo really demand? Do you feel you are being fair in the way you allocate time between the children or are you devoting more time to DD2 because she is 'easier' to manage?

Generally though I think small children need to be helped to be 'good' and this involves putting things out of their reach that they shouldn't have, like laptops and paint and distacting them from unacceptable behaviour rather than going straight into battle.

I don't agree that 3 year olds (and newly 3 at that) should be expected to know what they can and can't do - or to be able to curb their inpulsive behaviours all the time.

You sound frazzled and fed up - is there the prospect of a little time off for you?

Smacking is a serious no no in my book. What on earth is that going to achieve! I can just imagine an excited and happy 3 year old who has just painted some fantastic sparkles on the wall showing mummy in an excited voice when 'wallop' reality comes crashing in on her

FoghornLeghorn Thu 02-Aug-07 10:04:20

This is what DH thinks EscapeFrom - he thinks I expect too much, she's still only little so doesn't completely understand whereas I always thought she should understand at 3

bozza Thu 02-Aug-07 10:04:27

Ah you say there is no sibling rivalry but I am not sure. DS was 3 when DD was born and although he adored her there was a downturn in his behaviour directed towards DH and especially me. I don't think that is uncommon in a child of that age.

FoghornLeghorn Thu 02-Aug-07 10:05:45

Helpfull post apart from last paragraph Soapbox - did you not get from my post that I already felt shit enough about it ? Obviously not

binklehasflipped Thu 02-Aug-07 10:05:56

I'm not being critical at all. I've learnt the hard way a few things about keeping a three year old happy and one lightbulb moment was that a short time of completely indulging what they want to do goes a long way to suppressing frustration and attention seeking behaviour.

It's really, really hard to drop everything, ignore the housework and really invest in a game of snap with ever changing rules or whatever but a three year old can tell right off whether you're really giving full attention or just fobbing them off. I've found that if I spend even just half an hour doing stuff that my dd wants to do (which can be mindnumbingly boring to me) then she is much more receptive to letting me get on with stuff afterwards without going on the rampage, so there's less need for friction and upset.

I'm all for getting fresh air, but sometimes going out can be the easy way out for us parents when all the kids want is some attention and the play with the stuff they've got in the home.

FoghornLeghorn Thu 02-Aug-07 10:07:02

Just feel like I am doing it all completely wrong now

EscapeFrom Thu 02-Aug-07 10:07:25

I must add I was the same with ds1, I thought that as he had been told not to do something s squillion times, and had repeated back to me, that he had heard and understood.

And he had but he simply did not have the impulse control to stop himsel.

soapbox Thu 02-Aug-07 10:10:28

I did see that Foghorn - but I also saw the same behaviour that you are fed up with your 3 year old not 'getting'.

Despite knowing you should not do it, you know it is ineffective, you know you feel shit about doing it - yet you keep on doing it! The difference is that your reality check comes from a stranger on an internet board, not via a wallop from a parent.

I really don't mean to make you feel more shit - but to point out that your behaviour is no more 'simple' than your DD's. Yet it is behaviour that needs to change.

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