21 answers

Disipline HELP for a 3 Year Old!!!

Hi ladies! I am in serious need of advice. We have a 3 year old boy who is 100% disobedient. He will look at us and say "no" to all of our parenting requests. He seems to be very mean spirited. He is constantly hitting, bitting, and hurting his older siblings, all unprovoked. The older ones know not to hit or respond back to him so they are continually being hurt and I am almost at the point that I want them to start hitting him back (not really!!) but it feels that way. Can anyone recommend some disipline methods? We have tried time outs and after over 100 tries plus each time I can no longer do this. Also we have tried holding him for a 3 minute time out, putting him in his room, no luck! I would love to know how you handle your stubborn toddlers! Also if you know any good books that would be great.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Stop telling him no all of the time! You're the ones who taught him this disagreeable behavior, he probably is just trying to extert some control over his own life. Read Barbara Coloroso's "Kids are Worth it!"

I suggest visiting a behavioral psychologist AND getting all the junk food, juice and soda out of his diet. SOME people experience a dramatic change after they change the child's diet.

More Answers

I had to ground my older son from his younger brother-he was biting him & leaving bruises. They shared a room. He had to sleep in the hallway outside my door-he got 1 pillow, a blanket & one lovey-until the bruises were all gone. I also do what Shawnasie suggests-when one of them bites, I bite back. When they hit somebody w/a toy, I hit them w/that same toy on the hand. It's dramatic & it gets their attention. I'm not leaving marks or beating them to a pulp, it's more the "wow, mom just bit me" or "mom just hit me with that toy" that gets their attention. Then we talk about how it hurt them-or their feelings when I did it to them. One of my boys has ADHD & feelings are a huge part of who he is-when I point out that he's hurt somebody's feelings is when he's most sorry. He's very sensitive & empathetic but he's also the first to fly off the handle.
My mom was telling me about a book for my stepson... something about why people need to hear "no". I don't remember the title though. But she said it split up the whys & hows by age group.
I'd say if he's being mean to them, ground him for a day or two from them. "You are hurting them so you can't be around them today, go find something to do by yourself" or something in that same train of thought. Until I was a grownup with kids, I didn't realize it was such a privilege to have my 3 constant playmates there. I couldn't stand my sisters then but looking back I'm glad I had them!
What are the bigger siblings doing that he wants to do? It could be that he's not able to put into words his frustration at not being able to play with them, or to do things on their level. Maybe seeing it from that aspect will help-maybe that's how he's "voicing" his frustration... look up ideas for how to handle frustration.
Good luck! My problems had a name-deployment-so I knew there was an end in sight eventually.

I have been through this with 2 of my children and am currently going through this with my 3rd. I can give you advice based on what has worked for me personally.

First, you stated he says no to your requests. Do not request your child do something. You tell him to do it and if he doesn't, you MAKE him do it.

As for the hitting, biting and hurting of others, the only thing I found to work when teaching a child not to do that is to do it to them. Not enough to really hurt the child, but enough to let them feel the pain they are causing others. This really works and has been done in my family for generations.

You need to stand your ground, be consistent and don't give up or give in. Your child knows you and your reactions to what he is doing. If he is not getting positive attention from you, he is probably doing all this to get any kind of attention, even if it is negative.

Again, this is what I do and my children all behave very well and I have 4. You don't have to take my advice, but it works for a reason. Good luck!

Make it a GREAT day!


The number one need for a 3 year old is AUTONOMY.
When you meet his needs, he'll be more willing for you to meet your needs.
Look into the book: Respectful Kids, Respectful Parents. It's an awesome book that will change your lives.
Good Luck.

Hi D., I feel your pain. I have a 3 1/2 yr old with special needs (speech, OT, behavior and sensory) so there are a lot of rough days. I tried reading "The Happiest Toddler on the Block" by Harvey Karp and it worked on my other child that doesn't have special needs. One thing I can say right now though is whatever discipline route you choose, BE CONSISTENT. I made that mistake because I was desperate and it failed me.
Good luck to you, hang in there.

I suggest visiting a behavioral psychologist AND getting all the junk food, juice and soda out of his diet. SOME people experience a dramatic change after they change the child's diet.

check out Love and Logic by Jim Fay. He has a website, books, books on CD, videos, classes, etc.. It is great! There is even a book specifically for parents of preschool children.

good luck!

I love some of the book suggestions you've received--How to Talk, Discipline Book, and Happiest Toddler. A couple really small books (fast read, solutions rather than why's) are Love and Limits, and 365 Wacky Wonderful Ways to Get Your Kids to Do What You Want. They are by Elizabeth Crary. A good website for other books is Parenting Press.com. Another one--Time In, When Time Out isn't working.
Time-outs often don't work because they were designed to be a preventative tool rather than punishment. For example, your little one seems to be losing control, you help him find a different, quiet activity like playdo or puzzles, and talk with him about how he was feeling, what might have happened, why this is a better choice, etc. In the long run, we all should impose a preventative time-out on ourselves BEFORE a problem occurs. Our society misuses time out as punishment, and it backfires.
Arm yourself with some books, and maybe have a friend over whose parenting style you admire for some tips, and hopefully it'll improve. Hang in there! You're doing your part by learning more.

I am a bona fide convert to Love & Logic parenting. Try "Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood" -- you can buy it on book or CD, and it is available at the library (but may be a long waiting list). This parenting technique is about being good to yourself while disciplining your child, and there is no spanking. From their website: Love and Logic is a philosophy of raising and teaching children which allows adults to be happier, empowered, and more skilled in the interactions with children. Love allows children to grow through their mistakes. Logic allows children to live with the consequences of their choices. Love and Logic is a way of working with children that puts parents and teachers back in control, teaches children to be responsible, and prepares young people to live in the real world, with its many choices and consequences.

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