Tuesday, May 21, 2013

3 or 13, parenting frustrations: What is the answer?


After a few weeks of less than ideal 3 year old behavior I decided to write to vent and gain insight from others. So today, no writing about running although this often makes me want to run! Alright parents, we all hear the “Terrible Twos” but honestly that year was nothing compared to the 3s, seriously there are days when I’m not sure if I have a 3 year old or a 13 year old on my hands! Isn’t it supposed to be the teen years filled with emotional rollercoasters, drama, pushing limits and door slamming? Not here, my 3 year old has mastered these all!
We pick our battles: outfits of tutu and PJ tops are fine with me!
Every parent has seen this: the lack of listening, frustration leading to hitting and throwing, just plain defiance, right? I honestly question those who say their child doesn’t do any of this, what is the secret?

O is big into pushing limits and continuing to push complete with the gritted teeth…

  • The other day at Costco she continued to hit me with the cart strap, I tell her “that is not nice, hitting hurts” well it continues but now she has that smirk. I take away “snacks” (samples) at the store but nope not working.
  • Again we are at home asking her to do who knows what: pick up toys, brush teeth, put on shoes, etc and the answer is “No” and she walks away.
  • I will admit that the responses are funny at times: “I can’t pick up my toys. I only have two hands and they are little.” –Yep, she has a point there!
  • And the many times where I wonder if her ears work, although when she does that thing she was told not to complete with smirk then I know the ears work! There are times when it is not just a behavior but a safety issue: leaving the yard and going in the street, running around with food in her mouth, climbing the stair railing! I try to reason and explain she could get hurt badly and think she gets that but just pushes still. She did finally learn after being told to not rock on the kitchen chair only after the entire chair fell backwards leading to a fall and a scared kid (although not hurt).


I mean I get it she is learning her independence and pushing the boundaries but come on, nothing prepares you for this. You read all the books and listen to the advice that says love your child, listen the them, give them attention… but what else? It all sounds great on paper but no matter how much of the previous is done there are days when the behavior is out of control! A full moon, weather, parental stress, who knows?

I have tried attempting to cut off behavior early with removing the situation, the reasoning and telling her she made the choice (suggested by her pre-school teacher), take away toys and activities after one time of not listening, tried time outs but that usually means just jumping on the couch. I try to keep calm myself but we all know that doesn’t work many times as they continue to push and now we are both escalating.

So what works? Do we just hold our breath and know that we will survive and it has to end soon? Just love and hug our kids and teach them to be strong through our positive example? Or is there a hidden answer somewhere out there? If anyone knows this, please share!

She has now moved on to refusing the much needed nap, so much she won’t stay in bed for fear of actually falling asleep! But she needs this, luckily I can still convince her to stay in her room or I always have this…
I guess BOB still means a nap!

I run and de-stress! Parents tell me I am not alone, please! What other tricks work? Thanks for letting me vent a little, deep breaths all around, we will survive. Even with this behavior it is all worth it when she runs up with that big hug, the giggles and tells me "You are the best mommy ever." 






32 comments:

  1. You are not alone! Hang in there, you will get through it! I have three daughters who are now 20, 16 and 15 years old, which presents a whole new level of challenges and independence issues! This is why I now run ultras! :o)

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    1. Thanks :) I'm sure the issues only change as they grow. Ultras may be my answer soon!

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  2. My son just turned four at the beginning of this month and he's still pushing limits. For me, it's all about good modeling, de-stressing (running whenever I CAN), and showing emotion - overly so on both positive and negative sides.

    When he does something that I'm proud of, something really fantastic that shows that he's picking up SOME of what we've been saying, I make sure to praise and point out what kind behavior that is.

    At this stage in the game, they are picking up on everything. I have an eight year old son, too, and he's used to be the same. Being consistent, saying what we mean and following through was what we learned with him.

    Good luck and may the force be with you. <3

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    1. Thanks :) Yes, I am with you on the over emotions and praising, we do a lot of "I am so happy you did so good picking up that toy, etc" but it seems to work sometimes :)

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  3. Okay, so this could be completely off the chart but a friend tried an elimination diet with her two boys - turns out one had worse behaviour after eating foods with salicylates, the other with amines...(side effect was a clearing up an eczema issue)....but who knows, at some stage I am sure kids have to learn where their personalities take them....I guess I will find out in a couple of years myself - good luck!

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    1. Surely could be for many kids, I am actually about to start an elimination diet with O to see if we can relieve her GI issues and it would be great if behavior change was a side effect :)

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  4. oh boy I have no advice, but am dreading the terrible 2/3's stage! Best of luck!
    emma @ amomrunsthistown.com

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    1. Good luck to you as well as you enter the 2/3s stage :)

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  5. Oh girl you are not alone. I have a 3 year old little girl too. She is the EXACT same. I was just dealing with this this morning, actually: She was kicking her 18 month old sister. After lots of screaming I came and picked up the littlest and told the 3 yr old that I was going to throw her sister in the trash. She got very distraught and said she wanted to cuddle her now. lol.

    I have heard age 4 is easier but I'm not holding my breath at this point since 4 is just 1 month away and I'm not seeing ANY beacon of light.

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    1. I hear the same about 4, hoping that is the case!

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  6. I remember those days. 3 is much worse than 2. I found that ignoring the bad behavior in certain instances works. If you are at home and there is no danger involved. At 3 they see any attention as good attention even if it's negative. When My youngest was younger I actually took him to the ear doctor because he ignored me so much I thought he couldn't hear me;) He ended up having perfect hearing:) Good luck!

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    1. Oh yes, I try to ignore and sometimes it works but others it only escalates!

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  7. You're definitely not alone. In fact, I had to double check to make sure I wasn't reading an email correspondence between my wife and me from a few years back talking about our own kids.

    The good news/bad news thing of it is that it can get better, but it can also get worse.

    My kids are 8 and 6 now and they still fight and push boundaries. The difference is in how we can now engage them (this is where your running comes in). For the past year or so, both of my kids have shown a keen interest in my running. When I get back from long runs on weekends, they usually ask to go for runs with me - usually around the block.

    This is a great time to talk to them about their days at school, how their feeling and it usually does the trick in calming them down. It's been such a sea change of attitude and behavior, that I'm thinking of changing my running schedule to after work as opposed to early mornings so I can run with them in the evenings.

    We still have outbursts and there is still drama over Legos and American Girl dolls, but there seems to be something to sharing runs with the kids that bring them down a few notches...

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    1. I'm sure it does change, thanks it does help to know this is "normal". Good idea on running with the kids :)

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  8. You are most certainly NOT alone! Some days I am just one bossy comment or temper tantrum away from losing it!! I just make sure that at the end of the day as she is slipping into bed we talk about something good...even if we have to really stretch to find it!!

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    1. I try hard to do that too and spend time cuddling before bed to calmly end the day if possible :)

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  9. Be consistent and follow through. I have noticed with my girls that when I don't pay enough attention to them, they tend to act worse. I know it's hard to stop what you are doing to give them full attention, but it's made a difference with the girls. Hang in there, you aren't alone!

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    1. Oh yes, this is something we are working on. I think we lack consistency from person to person!

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  10. You are definitely not alone! And I promise it gets better as they get older...to some degree. Just be consistent with the consequences you tell her are going to happen if she doesn't listen. Good luck! Parenting is the hardest job out there but also the most rewarding!

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    1. Very true, hard job but the rewards are huge :)

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  11. With my youngest son, I didn't think he and I were both going to survive his 3rd year. It was awful in so many ways. The endless fits (over absolutely nothing) made it so I didn't even like taking him places. Finally one day, by 8am he had already pitched at least 3 fits so I sent him to his room. Fortunately it was spring break so his big brother was home and I made a point out spending the entire day with my older son and making it super fun! At lunch time I went to get the young one, he made it 2 steps out of his room pitched a fit so I sent him right back. He did come up for dinner (I think he made it 15 minutes without a fit) and then I just put him to bed. As hard as the day was for both of us, it was a major turning point!!! The next morning he walked out and said "today is going to be a good day!!". By the time he turned 4, life was good again!!!
    Lengthy response - sorry!!
    Hang in there - you will make it through!!

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    1. Thanks, it is good to know what others have done and I will survive!

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  12. Three was by far tougher than two for us!! My two cents:

    1. Consistency is key. Kids need to know you mean it, and that you don't have 'weak moments' for them to take advantage of (not that they can see, anyway)

    2. Making sure they understand the rules/expectations so they don't have a way to manipulate the situation. Tell them what is expected and what the consequences are. Have them repeat it back to you (so they can't say I thought you said or I thought you meant...).

    3. I know every household is different when it comes to spanking/discipline. We spanked, but as a form of discipline, not out of anger or frustration in the moment. As the kids got older, I came across another suggestion that worked well with my son who has selective hearing. If I told him something and he seemed to ignore me (even though I knew he was within earshot), I would get a firm grip on his ear and give it a bit of a squeeze and ask him if his ears worked ok. He would be pretty dramatic, but after just a couple of times, simply asking him if his ears were working ok did the trick.

    Like Mindy said, it's the hardest thing ever, but so rewarding. Mine are teens, so I'm still waiting for those rewards, but they are coming in bits and pieces as I see them growing into young adults :)

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    1. We are working on the weak moments, I hate to admit that some times it is just easier to say "screw it, you win" but I need to stick with what I say all the time!

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  13. We use an app called Choiceworks. My son has a speech delay and it was recommended by his speech therapist, but it works great for any kid. It helps them so much to see a schedule of what they are expected to do. I highly recommend it, and it's only $5, so not a big deal to try it. It seriously has changed my life, tantrums have been greatly reduced.

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    1. Thanks, I'll have to check on that app :)

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  14. I am right there with you, I think it's a little different with each kid (what boundaries they choose to push) but incredibly frustrating just the same. I try to follow the Love & Logic guidelines for discipline (don't threaten something I won't follow through with, logical consquences, etc.) but it's hard to always be level-headed and rational when your kid is driving you crazy. Good luck!

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    1. So true, it is so easy to get caught up in the emotions and frustration of the moment and respond less then great!

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  15. I am with you, too. Three has been the best and the worst for us! The smirk is the worst... I try to come up with consequences that fit the activity and that I can follow through on (not you won't be able to go to that party when I KNOW that we're going)... it's a challenge daily! I'm glad you wrote this. It's always good to know we're not alone!

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    1. Yes! For us the consequences need to be immediate not we won't go swimming tomorrow. Good to know you aren't alone.

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  16. Oh I so feel for you! My son is only 18 months right now but he's testing everyone, we've had to start timeout (1 minute) to counteract hitting/biting and other negative behaviors. He also gives me a sneaky look because he knows better. It's so frustrating and sometimes I just want to pull my hair out, I'm sort of terrified at what 3 will look like...

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    1. Keep with it, we started time outs about then too and it worked a little.

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