Is your toddler getting out of control? I was right there with you and now I’ve got some tips that will help!
What parent hasn’t heard of the terrible twos? The phrase is famous and every parent dreads the day that their child hits 1 year, 11 months and 30 days…soon your child will be two and instantly turn into a complete nightmare. However, a few days go by, then a few weeks and your child is no different from before…just getting cuter by the day! You think “Whew, I must have dodged that bullet” and then sit back and enjoy your time with that adorable little munchkin.
Then your child turns three!!! Where are all the warnings about that??? Although my oldest is really well behaved and is naturally shy, quiet and a pleaser, even she went through a stage when she turned three that left me wondering what in the world was going on! I’ll have to admit, it had me pretty stressed out! Luckily she passed through that phase pretty quickly but now my youngest is there…and she’s anything but shy and quiet to begin with! While she is extremely loving and affectionate, she also takes after her mommy (not sure if that’s good or bad) in that she can be very feisty and independent.
Now, I really do love that she’s that way…it can be very entertaining! However, since she’s turned three, she’s decided that it’s her way or the highway and if things don’t go the way she wants, well, you may want to get out your earplugs! It doesn’t happen everyday but when it does, you know it…and so do the neighbors!
So here’s what you do when your three year old throws a tantrum: you reason with them. Talk to them and try to get to the root of the problem. Understand their feelings and have a serious heart to heart. BWAAHAHAHAHAHA…if you believe that will work, you should just give it all up now! Trying to reason with a three year old in the middle of a tantrum is like, well, I don’t even know what it’s like because I’ve never tried anything so ridiculous! Here’s what I actually do…
Yes, it may be old fashioned but it works. My daughter HATES to be in time out and usually just the threat is enough. However, sometimes it’s not and I actually have to follow through. Before I go any further, I have to emphasize the “follow through” part. If you constantly threaten time-out (or another punishment) and don’t follow through, your child learns very quickly that it’s an empty threat and will have no motivation to change their behavior. My children know that if mommy says you’ll go to time-out, you WILL go to time out. It doesn’t even matter where we are…my daughter has been in time-out everywhere from Target to Macy’s. I use the tried and true method of minutes vs. age. Whatever your child’s age, that’s the amount of time they spend in time-out. Therefore, my three year old spends three minutes in time out…an eternity for a little one. I love this cute Time Tracker that your child can use to help count down the time until they’re “free” again.
*Toy Time Out
There have been a couple times when she has refused to stay in time out. I’ve tried “The Nanny” method of putting her back and resetting the timer but sometimes that just gets annoying for both of us. If that doesn’t work, I take a favorite toy and put it in time out instead. The difference is that the toy stays in time out all day. I’ve only had to do this a couple times and now the fear of losing a toy (or her blankie) keeps her in the time-out chair almost every time.
*Just Ignore It
I have to say that it was quite unexpected when my three year old started acting like a teenager. She sometimes get so upset about not getting her way that she will run into her room and slam the door (although I seriously think that she’s way to young to be starting that). I’ve found that if I ignore her long enough, she eventually forgets she’s mad and comes out on her own. Just the other day she ran in her room screaming and crying but came out 10 minutes later happily asking me to help put on her princess dress.
*A Crying Table
I actually came up with this idea when I was a Kindergarten teacher. I had a little girl that would get very upset when things didn’t go her way and it was the first time I’d ever encountered such tantrums. After I tried a few different things that didn’t work, I came up with the concept of a crying table. Basically, anytime she started crying, she had to go sit at a separate table, “the crying table”, until she was finished. It was up to her when she wanted to rejoin the class but she had to stop crying first. It worked like a charm because she never wanted to miss out on whatever fun activity we were doing and she would just quietly get up and join us. I’ve tried this with other children as well and it really works. I think they like the freedom to decide on their own when to end the tantrum. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a table either. You can easily designate any “crying spot”. These Time Out Spots would also work really well!
Mine also says funny things when she’s mad and sometimes it’s hard not to laugh. I wish I had written everything down but here a couple of things she’s
said screamed during her last tantrums…
“I AM REALLY MAD AT YOU!” Poor daddy…I had to put her in time-out right before I left the house. My husband walked into the room, not having had anything to do with it, and that’s what he got.
“I DON’T LOVE ANYBODY ANYMORE!” This was after a meltdown at the post office that continued into the parking lot. She refused to get into the carseat but I eventually won and she was none too happy about it. On a side note, have you ever tried to wrestle a 3 year old into a carseat when they don’t want to go? Suddenly they develop the strength of 10 Supermans…it’s quite amazing! Anyway, when she said this, I pretended to be hurt and she sweetly said through her tears “I DO love you mommy, I DO!!!”. It’s amazing how quickly they can go from tantrum back to total sweetness!
The funny thing is, most of the time she’s the cutest, most adorable thing ever (probably just like yours). We just have to remember that this is a stage and they will get through it. In the meantime, just try to be patient and loving and try above all else to keep your sanity. If that doesn’t work, take a night off or grab yourself a glass and check out the Top 10 Reasons Mommy Needs Her Glass Of Wine! (You can even use this “Mommy’s Time Out” wine glass!)