C.P. asks from San Antonio, TX on April 12, 2009
Daddy and Toddler Tantrums
Lately it seems that I am dealing with more than my three year olds tantrums. My husband gets just as wound up about her behavior and is so quick to respond by sending her to her room for what seems to me "everything". He yells, she yells the house is full of yelling!!! I am an elementary educator and am able to ignore behaviors and have patience. My husband tells me that I ignore too much and am not disciplining enough. My daughter is an unbelievable screamer. I wonder if our neighbors think we are hurting her. Some days, I think her head is spinning; it is really scary. She is strong willed and has been really defiant. NO seems to be her first response to our request. I respond by stating my request again and backing it up with an explanation. - NO it does not work all the time, but I don't want to resort to screaming or spanking 100% of the time. My husband instantly sends her to her room, yells and then they yell together. It is definitely an issue of how we are different in parenting, but I am really miserable. He almost did not let her go to her own birthday party two weeks ago and was serious this morning about her missing church. I told them to both calm down and let her get over her tantrum so we could make it to Easter mass. I wonder if it is also his way of getting out of things sometimes too! We made it to mass, but my husband and I have been miserable with each other all day. I feel like we are sick of each other and just trying to survive our 3 year old. I am 33 weeks pregnant, stressed, really tired and dealing with them both is really exhausting. Does anyone have any suggestions? I feel desperate and really depressed by this situation. HELP!!!
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C. answers from Houston on April 12, 2009
There are a couple of books you could read to help you in dealing with your 3-yr-old. I am the mother of three kids, ages 20 months, almost 5 years, and 7 years old. I have read quite a few Christian books on the topic that give me hope and direction, but I still find correction and discipline a struggle everyday. So I always pause before giving advice, wondering if I should be giving it.
But I can give advice in one area, because I feel strongly convicted that it is key...you CANNOT let your roles as parents ruin your roles as husband and wife. Friction between mommy & daddy are the worst things in bringing up children. You may not be able to agree on everything when it comes to raising children. But it is important to try to talk calmy about it at a neutral time when things aren't heated. Try to understand one another. Your husband is annoyed by her behavior, which is understandable, and he responds out of frustration. His solution is to remove her from his presence, so that he won't throw her across the room, like he'd probably like to. ;-) If he is angry at her, it might be best for him to remove her or himself for a moment to cool down, but then problems have to be addressed. Direct disobedience from your child deserves correction. Bad attitudes need to be worked through. But THE MOST IMPORTANT thing is that you and your husband at least PRETEND to be on the same page in front of your child, then discuss the issue later. One of you deal with the situation at hand, and try not to work against each other, but support one another. Your child may be helpless and require more time, attention and energy, but your relationship with her should not be placed above your relationship with your husband. We sometimes forget, as mommies, that we were first wives. Your daughter needs to see that the relationship between her parents is healthy, as much as she needs direction and discipline.
I've got a book for that...I've got a couple of books for helping with kids. I like books. The best book on the topic is the Bible. But it sometimes is so big and overwhelming that I avoid going to it. So I use books written by like-minded Christians to lead me through what the Bible says about life, wifehood, motherhood. Here is what tops my list on the subjects...
Wifehood: "Created to be His Help Meet" by Debi Pearl. If you want upfront, honost, biblical advice on your role as a wife...here is the book for you. It is not sugar-coated. It is frank and has caused many women to burn it within the first chapter. But if you want to experience a whole new life, then read it. I stand by it 100%.
Motherhood: "Sheparding a Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp. It goes beyond getting your child to act right, to getting to a child's heart. The Bible says, "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh." I know that I wanted my children to obey and have good attitudes, but I realized that my intentions were selfish...to keep my kids obedient, so that my own agenda would be met, they wouldn't irritate me, and people would think my kids were 'the greatest.' I now realize that I want my kids to obey and have good attitudes because God commands it so they will learn to obey Him. I want them to have good attitudes because they have been raised in a Godly way that causes their hearts to spew forth goodness. This book caused me to remember what my real goals were for my children...biblical goals.
Okay...so I'll get off my soapbox. I have no real revelations of my own. I have just been blessed enough to have been directed to sound, Christian revelations of others in book form. I am glad I found the time to read them, and I pray each day that I will find their truths working into the life of my family. God is good. He is the answer to all of our struggles. Seek Him in His word (these books can help direct you through His word), and through prayer. Earnest prayer for the soul of your family. Things will just get crazier after your baby is born...trust me on that. The second-born (especially in the midst of existing parenting struggles) can rock your world. So get loaded up on scripture and biblical principal for your family...it's about to get bumpier. But it can be a great blessing. You just have to equip yourself rightly.
Okay...now I'm getting off my soapbox...really. Unless I think of something else, then I'll come back. Hahaha! May God bless your family ten fold!!!!!!!!
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L.A. answers from Austin on April 12, 2009
Hmm, I wonder where your daughter learned to scream?
I had to go back and read her age, I was thinking she was 5 then when I reread I realized she is ONLY 3.
You and your husband need to get on the same page. A 3 year old saying no is different than a 16 year old saying no. Keep it in perspective. You all are having a power struggle and wasting lots of energy.
3 year olds are testing. When she says no, just ignore her and start the instruction again no long explanation. If she begins to throw a tantrum, walk away. Or you can pick her up not saying a word and place her in her room till she can calm down that is even better. When there is stress associated with an event, your daughter will pick up on it.. Holidays can be stressful. You all need to make them important, but not make them so big they over whelm your daughter.. 3 is an age she is going to begin remembering holidays. This may be the first time she realized this was an important day for everyone and it stressed her out.
To avoid these outbursts remember...
Three year olds need to know what is expected. They like structure and schedules. It also helps if you can give her some options. "In 5 minutes, You need to put away your toys". "Would you like to wear your red top or your green top?" "We will be going to the store in 5 minutes, please get your snack and drink, cause we are only buying groceries for dinner." "Remember you will be sitting in the cart" "Help me remember these things to buy, bread, milk, eggs, trash bags..." When you arrive at the store, ask her to pick the basket. Ask her to help you "remember what side of the store is the fruit on"
You can see you are giving her some control and a knowledge of what is going on.
Spanking and yelling really just lead to hitting, yelling and frustration for everybody. As parents you need to show her that families can get things done without the hysterics. She will not know any other way to deal with the 2 of you if you keep acting this way in front of her.
When your daughter does do as instructed, praise her. Do not set her up for failures by helping her avoid frustrations.. Also give her the words to express what tantrums are doing for her now.
I am sending you all strength. I am in awe of teachers that are also parents. I could never do your job. Take care of yourself you need the rest. Be sure to have your daughter "help" as much as possible when her little brother arrives...
One more thing, when she raises her voice, tell her "I cannot understand you when you scream at me" or "I cannot understand you when you yell at me".. Also sometimes lowering your voice to a whisper will also bring down the yelling. speaking calmly and quietly can really get their attention.
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S.O. answers from San Antonio on April 13, 2009
It sounds like everyone is unhappy and stressed. Your daughter is acting her age and will do what she can when she's allowed to. Your husband wants her to behave, and rightfully so. He obviously wants you to be stricter and not ignore her behavior so that he can come home to a peaceful home. Don't ignore this request. You need to sit down with him during a calm time and discuss what is acceptable and what isn't and decide on punishments and schedules that will work for both of you. The point here is not who is right or wrong, but the point is to get peace in the household first. Focus on 3 - 5 things that you really want to deal with your daughter on. Both of you make that list. Then, once she masters one, then you can add something else to work on. But, screaming and tantrums should be on that list. That way it's not overwhelming for her or for you. But, when a rule on that list is broken, don't let your fatigue control you. You have to follow through with a punishment. No discipline will work if it's only enforced some of the time. Be clear and consistent. Get on the same page with your husband. Everyone is tired and stressed. This will affect every area of your lives and if it isn't helped then it is easy to lose levels of committment which is where the danger lies right now. Understand that your focus is to bring to peace to the house right now. Make that your goal for everyone's sake, even your husband's. Then, other things can be focused on much easier and clearer - or ignored, because the patience will be there. Take a deep breath. Talk. Compromise - make someone else happy. Make those lists (rules/consequences). Get some sleep. Get control of the chaos. I have been where you are and it is exhausting when everything is calm. It's horrible when chaos is running the show. Don't dwell on the bad days, start over every morning!
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S.T. answers from Houston on April 13, 2009
I will read the thread and hope it helps me as well! We also have skipped special church services, the girls weren't permitted to open their Christmas presents when we got together with family, we were going to pick dew berries for Easter but hubby took only the oldest child and the rest of us stayed home because the 3 YO and 4 YO didn't clean the living room and their bedroom to his satisfaction (they picked up, but not much.)
Hubby was going to make them miss their birthday party but everyone were already on their way to Chuck E Cheese and my inlaws were driving from out of town. I felt that was VERY wrong to cancel the birthday party thirty minutes before it started.
Our house is also full of lots of yelling and I hate it!
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R.T. answers from Killeen on April 15, 2009
I am so sorry to hear that you have so much stress in your house. I will pray for peace for you. It is very hard when you and your husband have different parenting styles. My husband is much like yours in that he doesn't seem to let the little things go. We have a system where we can go to each other anytime we are at the end of our rope and say, "It's your turn!" That way we can take a break and the child does not get yelled at as much :)
Have you been able to take a break and go on a date? i think that would always be a good idea to help you and your husband refocus. Raising a three year old is a very tough job. I'm sure you are doing a great job. This too shall pass.
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D.M. answers from Houston on April 13, 2009
This site has so many times made me feel better in that I'm not the only one... I went through the exact same thing. I felt like I was always playing referee! My hubby & I both work, and I am generally the disciplinarian, but I decided he needed to help with that too. I finally started leaving them to argue it out while I went to my room to read or out for a walk. I've tried over & over to help my hubby understand that the yelling gets nothing accomplished- if our son (now 4) is yelling or throwing fits, he has to go to his room. Why should hubby be any different?
It's probably not at all what you want to hear, but they are now learning to work things out for themselves without me having to intervene every time. This is the same way we dealt with sibling rivalry when I was a kid, and it seems to work pretty well. It's really the same type of issue- struggling for power & attention. About 6 months in, and there's not hardly any yelling between the two any more. They both want to be in control of everything, but that just can't be. Every time I start to get onto my son for something, I ask myself if it really matters, or is this just proof of power over him? I pick my battles. It helps me a lot, and hubby is finally catching on though it did take a while. I too am a very patient person, and this pushed me to the limits but was well worth it!!
One thing more thing is that once the situation is calmed- whether by me or they did it themselves- they have to apologize to each other. I feel everyone should be respected, regardless of age and my hubby screaming at my son is just as disrespectful as my son yelling at him. My son also gets to see that sometimes mama & papa are wrong too- we all get wrapped up in emotions sometimes, and we apologize just like we expect him to.
With a new baby on the way you'll really have your hands full. I think when they figured out they weren't going to get my attention for their nonsense, that helped too. I don't have to take sides or mediate any more! We are trying for #2, and my son was asking for a sibling constantly for a while there. I just told them there was no way with them acting like babies I was bringing another into the house! LOL
Best of luck!
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J.H. answers from Houston on April 13, 2009
Your letter is full of contridictions. You have an "incredible 3 year old little girl" who is an Unbelieveable screamer and does not respond to the word "No". In other words, she's a little brat who wants her way all the time, which is normal for a 3 year old. You've been married 6 years and "loving it". Loving being married to a man so immature that he lowers himself to screaming matches with a 3 year old and does not know how to make her mind so he blames it on you? How does he deal with issues between the two of you? Is he a screamer then too? You're 33 weeks pregnant. You're the one who should be screeming. You're an elementary educator which probably means you are a teacher. Who cares for your daughter while you're at school? Does she screem there too? If so, how is it dealt with there? Has she always been a screemer, or just since you became pregnant? It sounds like a visit or two to a family counselor is in order. Maybe she should have a complete physical check-up so rule out any emotional problems, and as for HIM, you should tell him to stop this screeming business immideately or get the H--- out because it's effecting you emotionally and you don't need that just now. You already have one child to raise and soon will have two, you don't need to have to raise him too. He needs to grow up and act like a man, not a 3 year old.
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S.W. answers from Houston on April 13, 2009
I read that the average anger response is 2 seconds. After that it is much easier to get control of your emotions. Ask your husband to count to 10 if necessary before he screams back or spanks your daughter. It is important that you and your husband demonstrate the type of behavior that you want your daughter to emulate. Your situation sounds just like mine was when my oldest daughter was 3. It lasted about a year. Part of the problem is that she was jealous of her new baby sister. It was very extreme jealously. In hindsight I would have resonded in a much different way. In our house, I became the screamer. I prayed (hard) about this, read, listened to Super Nanny and gradually things improved dramatically. Sometimes I still slip, but overall our house has more love in it. Instead of screaming, I responded with a more logical approach. I have since begin rewarding our kids behavior with positive consequences rather than negative consequences-e.g. "If you pick up your room, we will have time to read an extra book before bed", etc. It is also vital to acknowledge your daughter's anger if it is valid. Try to paraphrase her feelilngs--not necessarily to solve the problem, just acknowledging her feelings--e.g."You're angry because you were enjoying playing, and now it is time to get ready for bed." One last thing, does your daughter have a long attention span? Ours does and does not like to shift quickly from one activity to the next (explaining Safety Breaks at the pool was a complete nightmare). After the baby is born, it is important to schedule some Mommy and Me time with her without baby on occasion. Three is when the jealously things kicks in and from your description, be prepared if it does. One book that helped me was Siblings without Rivalry.
Also, the American Academy of Pediatrics does NOT recommend spanking. It teaches children to resolve problems with physical force and it certainly has the possibility of getting out of control (read the City/State section of the newspaper if you need confirmation). Hats off to you for asking for help from other mamas!
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