15 answers

Advice for Mouthy Kids

Is it too much to ask that your 3 and 5 year old don't have tantrums? Is this a stage? I am so tired of the constant battle of wills between us. I am really at the breaking point. We have tried everything. It used to just be my oldest and now my youngest is doing it too. I don't want to take them anywhere. I don't want people to come to my house to see it either. I tell them "No" to something and then they inevitably do it. So I send them to their rooms and they right off say "NO" back then begin stomping and grunting at me. I just don't know what to do anymore. I am wondering what happened to the little ones that were so cute and cuddly. I plan to do things with them, then this happens and I don't want to anymore. I like hanging out with the cats better right now. Any thoughts that are encouraging would be helpful. I am trying to do somethings to give them positive outlets. Things for them to work for. But the mouthing off thing really is wearing me out. I thought by now the oldest would start growing out of it. And she spends a lot of time in her room. She may still be there at graduation from High School. She has been difficult since birth, but my son was really laid back. I didn't think him seeing her get into trouble all the time would be an attraction to him. How do I make this cycle stop?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I listen to KRKS every morning from 6am till 9am. Focus on the Family had this guy on the radio one day, Dr Kevin Leman and he wrote this book called "Have a New Kid by Friday"

I've not used it but listening to the radio program made me want to buy the book!
Just a thought...
good luck

More Answers

Firt off, remind yourself to not take it personally. It's a phase. There's a good chance that she sees it affecting you, and that's enough reinforcement. Not that she's malicous or anything, but it's attention to a behavior.

Second, make a time-out spot that is not their room. Preferably a place where they can see the activity but not participate (and that you can see them). Have a timer. 3 minutes for the 3-year-old, 5 minutes for the 5-year-old. They get one warning when they misbehave (get mouthy) and then it's time out. If they get up before time out is over, you start the time over (make sure they see you). The time doesn't start until they are calm (I had to 'train' my kids to sit in time out no matter how much screaming first before I could insitute this rule). If you need to, physically take them to time out (at the first NO about it) and be prepared to sit and hold them in time out for the full time. Yep, you're going to be exhausted some days. Make sure your husband is doing the same thing or they'll play you off each other. And schedule some girl time, where he takes the kids, and some date-time where a babysitter takes them, so you can get away for a while. There is nothing wrong with needing a break!

The key to this is being 100% consistant. When you tell them to do something, expect it to be done or enforce a consequence (I take away tv or video games, but my kids are a bit older now; pick something they really like and give them 2 warnings for now, whittle it down to just one). Don't threaten anything you're not willing to follow through on! If the kids misbehave when you're out, give them a time out there. Just take them to a corner away from whatevers going on, and have them sit for the 3 or 5 minutes. I had to do this recently at a family birthday party, took him out of the party room and I had so many 'solicitous' people trying to cheer him up. I just had to calmly tell them "he can't talk to anyone right now, he's in time out." And sometimes you just have to pick up and leave right then and there. When they see you're serious and are really going to follow through, they'll start to cooperate more.

Oh, and give lots of praise and hugs when they do something the first time! What you give attention to will increase!
Hang in there! The cuddles and hugs and sweet kids will come back!

1 mom found this helpful

Lots of great answers out there - I'm sure something will work for you! Hang in there and know you're SO not alone! When my daughter was that age (13 now) I figured out that it really was a part of her growing independance. And her problem was that she was being told what to do ALL DAY LONG. When we gave her more choices, she felt more in control of what was happening during her day and was happier. So try to give choices constantly. Asking things like this:"Do you think you'd like to wear your red skirt or the blue one?" "Would you like to use the special purple plate for lunch today?" "Would you like to brush your teeth now, or have your story first?" helps them have say all throughout their day! =) Lots of hugs & Good Luck!

My son is 6 and I am going through the same thing, Exactly.
I use to do a marble jar where he was able to put in marbles.
and when he was bad or along those lines I would have HIM take them out maybe 5-10 depending on what he did.
when the jar was full we would go to Zurchers and let him pick out $5 worth of stuff.
it seems that since I stopped the marble jar it has gotten worse
the reason I started it was because he was in Kindergarten and I wanted a reward system for school work and then it was a reward system for all.

so maybe try that. it really did work miracles for me
I will need to start it up again

Remember to have them put in and take out the marbles themselves.

When I send my kids to their beds to sit (& we have the same problems here), they honestly don't stay there. I'll find them across the room, playing with a toy, or reading a book on the bed. If you're sending them to their rooms, you're in time out too. I've started taking a book or my crocheting to the hall outside their rooms (thankfully I've got a comfy chair there too!).
As far as the battle of wills, my mom gave me this book called "No" by David Walsh, PhD. My sister read it & she says her kids have done a total turn-around. She's got an ex-husband trying to sabotage her every move, so if it's working for her, it'll work for anybody! The cover says "why kids-of all ages-need to hear it and ways parents can say it. I've just started it-on page 20 I think-but so far I can see it's one that I'll be reading to the end.
And take them places!! They'll get worse if you don't. Just remind them that if they misbehave, you'll be walking out of the store with nothing & they'll go home to nap. If they test you, drop your cart there & walk out of the store. It sucks for you & makes shopping harder, but maybe it'll get them to see that you mean business.
As far as people coming over, let them know ahead of time about your problem & how you're handling it (whatever you decide to do about it). If they're your friends they won't judge. If they do, you don't need them anyway.
Good luck! They'll get over this (& you're DEFINITELY NOT alone in this struggle) eventually. And hey, they're gonna move out one day & (I've heard but don't believe them) people say that you'll miss all of this drama.

My oldest son never got mouthy but my middle boy is terrible about it. Basically, I send him to bed, if he mouths back I pick him up and put him in his bed without a word spoken. He carries on for a while before he calms down and I just let him roar. Ultimately, he stopping the behavior with fewer and fewer outbursts or mouthy responses. Since you have two, focus on that older one because good or bad the younger one ALWAYS follows what big brother or sister does. Good luck!

It's a balance. you HAVE to not take it personally. The more they see that it upsets you or gets a reaction from you the more they are going to do it, even if they are getting negative attention. You can't let them know that their behavior frustrates you so much or they will just do it more. I mean it depends on your child's personality, some kids if they know they are upsetting you it will make them not want to do it, but most kids if they know that you are getting angry they just act out more. Kids push buttons, that's just part of growing up. Yet at the same time you have to let them know that their behavior is unacceptable. I would suggest only reprimanding them when you are calm, cool and collected. Send them to their room until you get there. Breathe and count to ten, tune them out even until you can get collected.

If you punish them in anger they will NEVER remember what they did wrong. They will only remember that you were angry and feel unjustly punished, whether they were or not. When you are calm and collected and they have received or are receiving their punishment make them repeat to you why they are being punished, maybe even a few times. This will help them make the connection of, "if i do this then this happens."

Try to focus and reward good behavior. If they are always in trouble, then they will start to feel like they are bad children, and they will then just continue to act accordingly. The most important thing is for you're children to know that you love them unconditionally, not matter what, and they will always try to test your limits. They HAVE to be able to trust your love though. It is essential to their normal development. After you have punished them REASSURE them that you love them, but just because you love them, doesn't mean they get out of their consequences. They need to know that your "faithfulness [to them] is stronger than the bands of death."
I know that it's hard and it's so hard to be patient with strong willed, and very intelligent children, which it sounds like you have.
One other thing I would just mention is to pay attention to their blood sugar levels. Many children get unreasonable and extremely cranky when they they are hungry.
Good luck, patience and consistency pays off in the end, and don't forget to find the humor in it. Sometimes laughter is the best medicine.

It is a phase and it is the age, but there are strategies to cope and maintain your sanity! I totally relate - I have a 3 yr old boy & a 5 yr old girl also. They LOVE to push their boundaries as much as possible. The best & most effective thing I've ever done is to read "Love & Logic Magic for Early Childhood - Practical Parenting from Birth to 6 yrs." I got it from the library and it took me about 2 days to read. It gives awesome step by step advice with examples of dialogue you can have with your child when these exact situations occur. It is a great resource! It's one I reread once a year, just to remind myself of the strategies.

they say terrible two's but seriously I am SO glad 3 is almost over!!! I tell my dd that I don't understand whining/yelling whatever she is doing--and that if she needs to get her frustrations out to go ahead and do it and come to me when she is ready to talk, then no matter how high she escalates I just walk around her and pretend she isn't there. it's working. I've been doing it for a few months now--she used to just go up to her room to get her cries out, but that doesn't work for her anymore. I had to sit down and ask myself what is she getting from this? what is her payoff? and I saw too often I was giving in after saying no, or just trying to appease her because I was stressed and just didn't want to hear it, or I would basically throw a mommy tantrum...I wasn't listening to her anymore than she was to me--
we have quiet time every day, even though she doesn't nap anymore I still need the break and she needs some down time or she gets too overwhelmed with EVERYTHING so we do down time that is quiet time for 1-2 hours. she can play quietly in her room or watch a movie but we need that break and that helps a lot as well.
I don't know what your answer will be, but I do suggest asking yourself what is the payoff they are getting, and how can you circumvent that. my daughter wants attention, so she pitches a fit, I ignore her until the fit is over= less fits, shorter fits and glorious some days without any!!
I've had her screaming in the cart as we went through sam's club and I just acted like I didn't hear her. some people looked at me sure but I was sending her a message that I don't give attention for things like that. I would talk quietly sometimes and say when you are ready to talk just let me know I sure could use a hug.
the other day she just grabbed my face and said mommy I need some 'tens shion. so we got a book and I gave her attention that was positive and left us both feeling much better.
I hope she grows out of the need to test that--
good luck.

I can't speak from experience but I can tell you what my cousin's do. When their kids get mouthy, the make them come to them, look them in the eye till they focus and then they talk calmingly to the kids. This takes a few times but its a stern calm and they will hold their arms while they squirm until they are still. Its like they are establishing alpha. Once the kids are focusing (and refocusing) they talk to them and/or scold them. It is a long process but those are the most well behaved kids I've ever seen.

I listen to KRKS every morning from 6am till 9am. Focus on the Family had this guy on the radio one day, Dr Kevin Leman and he wrote this book called "Have a New Kid by Friday"

I've not used it but listening to the radio program made me want to buy the book!
Just a thought...
good luck

I too understand EXACTLY what you are going through and it is exhausting. I agree with Julie's advice, a time out not in their room might be better. I remember as a child being sent to my room and LOVING it, it wasn't really a punishment to me growing up. My daughter(who is now 8) used to through horrible temper tantrums, then after talking with her pediatrician and reading some books we started time out. It is in a corner in our house that I can see easily, I give one warning, then straight to time out. The first time I did have to physcially keep her there and that time out lasted one hour!, but it ended up being worth it. The rules in time out are no talking, or playing, time out starts when you stop screaming ( a little quiet upset crying is ok). If you don't follow the rules in time out, a minute is added to your time out. We also did the one minute per age. I feel like it gives us both time to calm down, me to think what I want to say etc. When time out is over, I calmly ask them, why do you think you went to time out? Then we discuss it. If they give me attitude they go back to time out! I always use a lot of calm looking straight into the eyes talking. If they offended someone, hit, etc they have to apologize sincerely or back to time out. You HAVE to follow through every single time, 100% or it doesn't work, if you threaten it then you HAVE to follow through or it doesn't work. I now have a 8yr old girl and 5 year old boy and time out works! I can count on my hands how many times my 5 yr old has had a tantrum. Now the mouthing off is definately a phase and we are working on that with him now. Good luck and give it a try, it will be hard the first few times but it will work if you are consistent.

I am SO with you! I know it doesn't help you, but my 5 year old daughter is going through the exact same thing right now, and nothing seems to help. I am reading "the Brat Stops Here" and like that approach, but we'll see! Good luck!

Try love and logic( it works, it is not easy and requires you to change your behavior). You are in power struggles with your kids which is all normal. Get the books, attend the seminars, it really works.

I only have an 11-month-old and a 29-month old, but the 29 month old is big on the drama. I cannot recommend highly enough the book "Love and Logic Magic for the Early Childhood Years" by Jim and Charles Fay. give it a try and see what you think. It provides hefty consequences (which is what is going to get your children to change their attitude) with a big dose of love and empathy from mom and dad. Good luck! K.

My son went through a stage like that & I can tell you it wasn't pretty ! He was old enough to understand me - came a point when he exceeded my patience - when I told him it was totally unacceptable, at any time ever, with anyone at all & that he NEVER saw us speak to anyone like that at all ever & satt him on a chair in his room to stay until he could apologize & behave better ~ he knew he'd crossed a line with me & it pretty much came to an end.

There is a TV series "Super Nanny" and books by her as well - google turns up resources for you. We love her approach.

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