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Old 03-30-2007, 10:56 AM   #1
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3-yr old issues, should I be concerned

I've written before about my three year old, and I'm wondering if I should be concerned about his behavior. People keep saying he'll improve as he matures, but his behavior is just as bad as it was a year ago, and I'm worried he might have issues.

First - he is a very sweet little boy in many ways. He's smart. He's active. He loves being read to. He loves doing puzzles. In many ways, he's exactly the way a 3-year old is supposed to be. (he'll be four in July)

What I have trouble dealing with is his lack of response to discipline. My wife and I don't use physical punishment. Instead we rely on time outs. We sometimes raise our voices, but try not to constantly yell at our kids (we also have a 7-year old boy). I think we usually stay calm.

The problem with Evan is, when he does something naughty and is yelled at, or given a time out - he usually shows no response. Oh, sometimes he'll cry for a minute, but then he's right back to being chipper. I suppose this is good that he can bounce back so fast, but often it seems as if discipline has no effect on him at all. The other day, he fed the fish when we weren't there (something I've told him never to do because when he was 2 he threw an entire bottle of fish food into the tank, killing a goldfish we had at the time). I yelled at him, told him what he had done was very naughty, made clear to him that I was angry. And he cried. I thought I'd gotten through to him.

The next day, he did the same thing - fed the fish without supervision. My anger seems to have had no effect on him. He doesn't seem to respond to punishment.

Is this something anyone else has observed in their children? I'm worried that we're just not getting through to him. (He's had some trouble in preschool, by the way - his teacher told me recently that he's 'aggressive' in class).

Thanks.
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Old 03-30-2007, 11:28 AM   #2
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Re: 3-yr old issues, should I be concerned

Hi animal, how about putting the fish food up where he can't reach it? If he is scared from your anger he cannot listen to you and process the message that you are trying to teach. Fathers are scarier than mothers. I remember being more upset if my dad was upset than my mom and I see the same thing now. My children get so upset if their dad yells at them. Your son might not look all that scared but he still might be. I saw this with my oldest daughter. I am a reformed screamer and when I was at my peak she never looked scared but after I learned that children cannot process what you are trying to teach when they are scared it made a lot of sense to me then that this was the case for my daughter. I stopped screaming at my children and now I see when she gets scared. I think that there is a stage beyond scared when they don't show it. Sort of like freezing up I guess.

 
Old 03-30-2007, 12:34 PM   #3
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Re: 3-yr old issues, should I be concerned

I hope I didn't leave the wrong impression. I'm not a screamer. Neither is my wife. We usually stay pretty calm with him. He requires constant discipline - we can barely leave him alone for a minute without him getting into mischief. He hits, throws things, breaks things on purpose and even bites. When corrected, his response typically is, "I'm sorry. I forgot." But we told him it's not enough to always apologize. He has to start behaving properly in the first place, which means controlling his impulses, which he seems almost unable to do.

We don't want to constantly chide him, because of course that can have the opposite effect - if you're always disciplining, they stop responding because it's so routine. On the other hand, we can't let him tear our house apart.
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Old 03-30-2007, 01:26 PM   #4
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Re: 3-yr old issues, should I be concerned

I was spanked -- over the knee, 3 open-handed swats, just hard enough to hurt a little -- and I turned out okay. And my parents would even go so far as to say that I was a GREAT kid AND teenager.
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Old 03-30-2007, 01:33 PM   #5
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Re: 3-yr old issues, should I be concerned

I was spanked too. But I think it made me scared of my father. I also don't think that hitting my son will teach him that hitting is wrong.
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Old 03-30-2007, 02:27 PM   #6
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Re: 3-yr old issues, should I be concerned

Sigh, he's a toddler... Welcome to the club. DS is pretty much the same way. Every night that he has swimming lessons we tell him don't drink the pool water, don't spit water at people... When we ask him about it later -- were you spraying water again -- he tells us no, because he's afraid we're going to be upset. We WERE upset when he ate something -- a cheeto? -- off the lockerroom floor last week and wouldn't spit it out..

We, as his parents, just try to work on his behavior. Time outs when he really acts up, warning him that we'll put away his favorite toy or he can't watch his favorite video.... We also make sure we praise him for good behavior. Toddlers are just learning how to express themselves at this age, easily forget -- though I swear DS can remember things from YEARS ago --- yet can't remember hang his jacket on the hook by the door...

Think DH and I have had several discussions this week about dealing with DS -- he's such a sweet boy, but then he goes and does something naughty. Breaks my heart when he cries and tells us he's a good boy when we scold him.

 
Old 03-30-2007, 03:00 PM   #7
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Re: 3-yr old issues, should I be concerned

Thanks for the reassurance. I think it's harder the second time around, mainly because our older boy, at seven, is so much easier to deal with and we constantly have him to compare the younger one to. My wife reminds me that our first was also troublesome at three, but I don't remember him being quite as difficult.

We do try to praise our little one - we don't want to get into the trap where he only gets criticism and never praise. When he put his pajamas on by himself the other night, my wife and I both covered him with praise, saying what a big boy thing to do that was. But it is difficult when you tell him to stop doing something (hitting a tree with his wiffle bat, jumping on his brother, throwing his cup) and a minute later he's doing it again. I guess he's testing us.
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Old 03-30-2007, 07:24 PM   #8
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Re: 3-yr old issues, should I be concerned

Quote:
Originally Posted by danimal15 View Post
But it is difficult when you tell him to stop doing something (hitting a tree with his wiffle bat, jumping on his brother, throwing his cup) and a minute later he's doing it again. I guess he's testing us.
That pretty much hits the nail on the head. Toddlers are trying to explore everything and absorb as much as they can. The most insignificant thing can be so amazing to them. It's wonderful. But at the same time it is so frustrating to repeat yourself constantly and get the same response and then it all repeats itself again.

I remember when my dd was just about 5 and she did something (and I don't even remember what now) and my dh just reached his limit. He had her pack up all of her toys and told her she could earn them back one by one by showing her big girl behavior. She cried and was so upset. She was in her room talking to her pillow. I felt terrible, but it worked. She did earn the toys back and she is showing a lot more self control a year later. Don't get me wrong, she still has her moments, believe me! But when we remind her of the toys she knows that's a feeling she doesn't like.

Just keep doing what you are doing. It's seems like you are doing a fine job, he's just a little active. He'll grow out of it soon.

 
Old 03-31-2007, 08:26 AM   #9
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Re: 3-yr old issues, should I be concerned

Hi just thought I'd chip in.

To me this sounds like the typical defiant 'terrible twos', and despite the term, it can last longer than just at two years old.

You say you have another son, without trying to sound rude, do you think he is trying to get your attention? if you think about it do you give him MORE attention when he does something naughty? the reason I ask, is that many parents are happy when kids are playing nicely and are quite, we find we can then get on with things, but in their mind they aren't getting any attention (or not as much), if they playup they KNOW it's guranteed they will get your attention, and ANY attention good or bad is good as far as their concerned.

When my son was around three, I was going through exactly the same as what you are going through now. I learnt to change MY behaviour, and I started to compliment and over emphasise his good behaviour, and when he did something good, I gave him MORE attention then when he was bad. That way it sunk in that behaving and playing nicely etc, got him MORE attention, and being positive attention it made him feel better in himself, it certainly works.

By the way I got that advice from the book tameing toddlers, By Dr Christopher Green which uses reverse phychology alot.

My sons 11 now, and hitting pubety, and now I am facing new problems.lol

Last edited by brook65; 03-31-2007 at 08:31 AM.

 
Old 04-01-2007, 01:28 PM   #10
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Re: 3-yr old issues, should I be concerned

Ok, I don't want to spark a debate, so . . . yeah. I just want to present the information I have found.

When scientists, researchers, etc. do experiments, and then present the information, you must not automatically believe the studies until you have looked into the specifics. For example, there is a commercial where they have people test drive 3 different vehicles and choose the best one. I'm not familar with the vehicles, but they were all different major companies--ford, chevy, and honda. Towards the end of the commercial, they say that so many people (a large amount) preferred the Ford. Fair?

Sort of. The only thing was that the people they had test driving the cars were not a representative sample of the public. The survey was done BY FORD of FORD CUSTOMERS. So, here are people that ALREADY prefer Ford. Of course most of them are going to pick the Ford vehicle.

This is what happens when you look deeply in to the specifics of studies.

Many studies will come out saying that you should spank your kids. Many studies will come out saying that you should definitely not spank your kids. I have researched these studies for a class of mine when I did a spanking topic.

The least biased studies showed this: Spanking is a good thing. But only if it is done right. 1. open hand, never closed hand 2. over the knee 3. three swats, just hard enough to hurt a little 4. wait 5 minutes (ex. "go to your room and I will be there in a minute") 5. never do it out of anger, which is why you wait 5 minutes-to calm down 6. explain to your child why you are doing this and how to prevent a spanking happening in the future 7. start at 3 years of age, and don't spank past 8 years of age 8. always do it when you say you are going to 9. when you are done with the spanking, walk away. Then, when they calm down, you "forget about it" meaning that you remind them you love them and go about your day together.

This is how my father did it. This is how I will do it to my children someday. This is what the least biased studies show to be the most effective form of punishment for most children.

The reason kids wind up scared of their parent who spanks them is just because the parent doesn't follow these rules (the major one being calm down before you actually do it -- studies also show that you spank a little too hard unless you give yourself 5 minutes to cool down)

So, there is the information I would like to provide you. Like I said, I don't want to debate, I just want to present you with the information I have found througout my research.

Have a great day!
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Old 04-06-2007, 07:37 PM   #11
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Re: 3-yr old issues, should I be concerned

I know I'm late to respond, but I wanted to offer some encouragement to you. I have a 1 year old who is well on his way to being the 3 year old you have (No impulse control!!)

In reading your post, I kept thinking that you just need to keep on keeping on. Right now you have a kid whose just continually testing your boundaries. It sounds like your older son just gave up easier and your youngest is just gonna keep going and going and going. I do believe that your consistency will pay off in the long run. I have to believe that or else I'm in for one heck of a few years!! I would also suggest that you do a web search on books to help kids w/ impulse contol issues. Anytime I buy a parenting book, I buy three - that way I can make a somewhat informed decision. Good luck!!!!

 
Old 04-09-2007, 10:09 AM   #12
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Re: 3-yr old issues, should I be concerned

How does Evan sleep? My son has severe sleep apnea.. as well as honest to gosh inherented stubborness. At three a three minute time out was nothing. It would take 30 minutes to phase him.

We finally had to resort to taking toys away and spankings when appropriate. It worked. We were beign told of his moodieness, resistance to obey orders, mood swings, inability to sit still.. all this was a sign of sleep apnea induced sleep deprivation.

Does your son snore? Wake up more than once a night a few times a week? Grind his teeth? Wake up cranky? Not will to stop, sit and work on something? He may be suffering from sleep deprivation due to obstructive sleep apnea. If he snores he does have OSA and needs a tonsillectomy and adnoidectomy. Snoring is not natural in children under the age of eight.

Sincerely,
MG
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Old 04-09-2007, 03:10 PM   #13
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Re: 3-yr old issues, should I be concerned

I have 2 children who are very very different from one another. My oldest is 3 and is a very sensitive sweet child. I have to watch how i speak to him at times because he is so sensitive. Yet when I try and discipline him for doing something he shouldn't, he has no response at times. He just looks at me. I think he may be hearing the ocean. My youngest is an explorer. He gets in to everything! They are both VERY good children, but I feel as though I turn blue in the face trying to get them to see the error of their ways so to speak.

For example... my 3 year old decided that he would help mommy paint the baby's room. I found him upstairs painting the back of the door hot pink. He had seen me painting the other day and figured out what he needed to do and did it. He knows not to touch these things, but at age 3, He really doesn't stop and think. I found that talking to him slowly, and explaining that ONLY mommy can touch the paint and why, has stopped him from doing it again.

I know it is frustrating, but give yourself a break. To be honest, my kids are no different from my husband when it comes to remembering something I said the day before! Ha Ha. Your son sounds like a good kid, just an active one, no different from many others, including my own. Before I was a mom, I swore I would spank my children when it was needed. Now as a mom, I never do because I really feel like at ages 3 and 2 they really don't deserve it or understand it. If someone could explain how to teach a 2 year old not to hit by hitting him, please explain it to me!

I face new challenges every day when my boys discover something new that can do that has NEVER occurred to me. Good luck and just try and keep up!!

Just b/c he has a hard time listening does not always mean there is a health issue.

 
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