14 answers

Help with BRATTY 3 Year Old DAUGHTER!!!

Hi all,

I have a three year old daughter and lately I just don't know what to do with her! She will do something she isn't supposed to and I will yell NO at her and she will hit me or she will stick out her tongue at me, roll her eyes, etc. The hitting me just started. I dont know where she learned that one! But it has to stop! When Im at my wits end I just put her in her room and used to be she couldnt get out, I had the security child plastic thing over the knob, but she is so dang smart she figured how to OPEN IT! So locking her in her room no longer works. I have heard from family to hit her back when she hits me but I think that is just acting immature! When she sticks her tongue out at me I used to wash her mouth out with soap......she got used to that also!! It no longer works. I am going crazy with her! She used to be such a good kid and listened and now all of a sudden its like she is possessed! My husband and I are expecting a new baby in December and I would like to get back my control over her as a parent before the new one comes! I just need help! Any ideas on disciplining her would help! Also she has this new thing of not wanting to eat her dinner. So most of the time she goes to
bed HUNGRY!! I hate doing that to her but she needs to learn you eat dinner when its done and that is that! PLEASE HELP!!! THANK YOU!!!!!

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I have been going through something similar with my three year old daughter I just hope that its a phase she is going through. I have tried the same things and they just didn't work either so I started taking a way some of her favorite thing weather it was toys, blankets, music, tv,dvd, and then she would have to earn them back by being good. I hope that this helps.

More Answers

First of all take a deep breath. I have a very stubborn daughter who pushes her boundries EVERY DAY. She is 5 now and is pushing harder. At 3, time-outs worked best. By time-out I mean sitting in a chair facing a corner OR in her room on her bed (don't lock the door). You might have to sit with her on your lap at first or if she doesn't want to stay there. Or you can just spend some time moving her back after she gets up. 1 minute per year is how I guage how much time. AND time doesn't start until she is sitting calmly and quietly. My daughter has been screaming for 30 minutes before her time started. I use a timer so she can hear that time has passed and she doesn't feel like she will be sitting there FOREVER. For a little kid 5 minutes is forever. We still have our moments here, but it has helped.

At 3, it is NOT to early to wash the mouth out with soap, but if it isn't working it isn't working and you don't even need to consider it. Also, in my opinion, "old fashioned methods" do work, just don't over do it. I was raised to respect my elders and I don't resent my parents, that would be unrespectful, selfish, and childish, but again that is my opinion.

Whatever method of "punishment" for bad/bratty behavior you decide to use, ALWAYS ALWAYS be consistent and NEVER EVER give in. Your husband, parents, inlaws, and other caregivers MUST be consistent as well.

Also, I believe that smart minds are hard to focus. Try some preschool or dance/gymnastic classes to run off energy either mentally or physically.

Good luck, and I'm only a message away if you have any questions :D

2 moms found this helpful

WOW... sounds like you have your hands full. I'm not quite sure where to start so I'm just going to jump in. Please don't feel like I'm picking on you, but I see so much going on in your post I just want to point it out to you. My only expertise in this experience is raising my 3 boys through this age and I taught 3's preschool for 10 years.
First you labeled your daughter "bratty" in the post title. Are you calling her bratty to her face or telling her that she's being a brat? Kids are smart (as you pointed out) and at age three they start acting how we expect or teach them to act.
Then you say that you YELL at her. Is this right off the bat or are you finally at your wits end and just end up yelling. It's very frustrating for a preschooler to be yelled at when they are trying to learn how to behave. Not only are you modeling poor behavior, you're teaching her by example that it's ok to yell when you are mad at someone.
The hitting more than likely comes from her lack of being able to express herself any other way. When she hits you you should CALMLY (I know that's hard in the heat of the moment) tell her it's NOT ok to hit ANYONE and it's not nice.
I kinda think that 3 is a little young to be washing her mouth out with soap, and obviously it hasn't been working. The best advice I can give with that is to ignore undesirable behavior. If you don't like her sticking her tongue at you don't "see" it or react at all.
I think a time out in your sight would be a better discipline action than "locking" her in her room. Besides that's just teaching her than when she misbehaves she can go "play" or escape her bad behavior by going to her room. (I also think this feeds that "storming off and slamming the door" fits that get experienced later on!) Be consistent with your time-outs and make it in the same place and set a timer if you need to. I know I always forgot about how long had passed when my little ones where in time-outs.
I think a lot of her "attitude" may be a cry-out of your upcoming family change. It's really hard for a child who's had nothing but one-on-one attention to anticipate the unknown. She probably hears a lot about the baby, or "when the baby comes" that she's a little scared about losing a special place with her parents. When you lose your temper (which is SOOOOO easy to do when pregnant anyway) you are showing her that you are not as "nice" to her as you were before. PLUS at 3 years old a great thing happens- children learn that they can make decisions for themselves. It's so important to help children understand what decisions were good ones and which ones were not so good. Take this time before your new family addition to spend a lot of one-on-one time with your daughter to teach her these things.
It might help to play "house" and explore situations that might come up after the baby comes with a play doll or stuff animal like when the baby needs to be fed and you're spending time with your daughter. What will happen? This will help her prepare and not act up or throw a fit when it really happens. Plus it will help curb some of the jealousy that arises when baby gets so much attention because she'll know why.
I hope this helps and please feel free to message me if you have any questions. I'd love to hear how things go.
Take Care, D.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi K.,

Please don't listen to your family and hit your child. You are her role model and she is only going to mirror whatever you do to her. You are an adult. You don't for ANY REASON need to be hitting a 3 year old. If you show her that hitting is an acceptable way to deal with YOUR anger and frustration, then she will just think it is acceptable for her to do the same. You're her mom and she looks up to you. Considering that your family has told you to hit your little one, maybe they are where she is seeing that behavior.

Also, you said that you "yell no" at her when she is misbehaving. Same thing here. She is only going ot mirror what you do. If you are yelling at her, why wouldn't she yell at you? It is a normal and healthy part of toddler hood for her to start trying out her authority by telling you 'no'. It is part of them learning independence.

Something that has worked well with me and kiddos around that age, has been to phrase my questions / demands / directions differently. Instead of "Get in the car now please" try "would you like me to help you get in the car, or would you like to do it yourself?". Try to give them less yes or no questions and more choices. This way, they can still feel like they are in control of the situation by choosing what they want to do, without you asking a yes or no question.

Washing her mouth out with soap is definitely not okay for her, and could be damaging to her body. I nanny for toddlers, and when they decide to get sassy or rude, I tell them if they would like to talk like that, they need to go somewhere else. If it's summer and you can let them go outside, do it. Otherwise IGNORE it! And tell her you would understand she is frustrated, but can't talk to her until she can speak to you in the same - CALM - tone you are using with her. She is most likely talking this way to you because she has found that it is a great and easy way to get your attention in the past, and gets a reaction from you.

You might also want to think about how she may feel threatened by the fact that you are having another baby. Alot of kids sor tof freak out when they think they may loose attention or their spot as the 'baby'. I'm sure alot of talk and energy has been going into the new kiddo on the way, and this may just be her way of testing to see that you still really care about her. Or getting back some of the attention she feels she's losing to the pregnancy. Kids will take attention in any form it comes in , even if negative attention.

Anyhow........ it sounds like maybe you need to take a few breaths and treat her with a little more respect. She will eventually follow your lead. Make sure you are giving her a TON of praise when she does even little things that you DO like. But if you choose to hit and punish her negativly , it's my opinion that she is going to do the exact same to you.

if you have the time, or you a reader I would reccomend a GREAT and easy to read book that has really helped me - calle PARENTING WITH LOVE AND LOGIC.

Good Luck!

Good Luck.

I wish I had more time to respond, but I do want to say that I agree with Rebecca. People that have not had a difficult child have a hard time understanding the obstacles and challenges associated disciplining them. My daughterwas (at three) and still is (at 6) a difficult child and I struggle with her behavior as well. But like I said, I agree with Rebecca's advice.
Keep upi the hard work, and know that you are not alone!

I was having the same problem with my son only in addition he was scratching to break the skin, kicking, and spitting. We tried everything and nothing was working. Finally, we found a preschool that teaches the kindness curriculum and in only 2 days, I can see a huge change in how he treats others. Every few hours we talk about what our hands and feet are used for, and we make it fun. Then if he starts to act out in a moment of not getting his way, we remind him and distract him by asking him what his hands and feet are for. It distracts him and turns the situation into a fun thing. I am so relieved to know that there is hope and that behaviors can be changed. Hope this helps. Good luck.

First of all, I would say that you should call the Parent Helpline with Birth to Three. They are very helpful. They can teach you a better way to handle what your daughter is going through right now.
Your daughter can probably sense the changes that are taking place, and it sounds like she needs you to handle her outbursts in a more gentle way.
When I was growing up, my parents used to hit me and wash my mouth out with soap. That taught me to never trust them, and to totally disrespect them, and I still do to this day! There are definitely different ways to handle your daughter. Washing her mouth out with soap, hitting her back, putting her to bed hungry, those are all extremely "old-school" ways of doing things, and in this day and age people know better.
Please call Birth to Three, they really can give you good advice. They've helped me out countless times. It is very hard to deal with this stage, but hang in there, because things will get better. Maybe when things are at their worst, you need to give yourself a "time-out" and just leave the room, and try to do something that will relax you, and then go back to talk to your daughter.
I hope that the Parent Helpline will give you lots of good tips, I'm sure they will. Birth to Three also has classes called "Parenting Again" that might be good for you.
Good Luck!

Hi K.
Well the good news is that you are not alone.The bad news is,this one is tough. It is very normal for children to go through the "I will do only as I please" stage at or around this age. That being said, I think that you have a few other issues on your hands with your daughter. Mine is 3 also and we are dealing with a lot of the same things but without the extra stress of a baby on the way. I am guessing that there are some things that she has noticed and are making her a little worried. Children are very smart and I think she knows that everyone's attention is devided. Meaning that she is no longer the most central part of every day life right now.I bet you notice better behavior when all day had ben devoted to her whims. She seems to be acting out a little of her seperation anxiety issues with you right there.I would ask her about the baby, involve her in anything that has to do with baby and most important,set time aside for just her.Make sure to tell her that it's just her time and no baby stuff. As for eating, their tastes are developing and she may just simply not care for whatever it is that you are having and she doesn't know how to relate that to herself or you for that matter. In her mind it's food and she has not really had the choice of what she is being served so it may not even occur to her to say "I want something else" she just refuses it or says she isn't hungry. Try offering something else for now and if that works then you can modify the picky eating issues if they come up when she is a little older and can reason thnigs out in that department. Ok,on to the hitting. This is also normal but I agree it needs to stop. When she hits because of being told no she is reacting in a negative way to something she sees as negative towards her. Try simply grabbing her hands and holding them down by her sides until she is calm enough to talk to,then explain why she was told no and remind her that hitting will only get her more no's. No child wants to be held still and no child wants more no's. It may take awhile but she will come around. I have other suggestions but I have already been very long winded and I don't want to bore you completly. I really want to talk more about different behaviors and maybe help each other since the girls are the same age. I have a little bit of an edge on you just because I have 2 older kids. But again,they are all different and the same things don't work on all kids the same way.Smiles for now and please write me back. B. PS Don't ever forget, you are a GREAT mom!!

I have been going through something similar with my three year old daughter I just hope that its a phase she is going through. I have tried the same things and they just didn't work either so I started taking a way some of her favorite thing weather it was toys, blankets, music, tv,dvd, and then she would have to earn them back by being good. I hope that this helps.

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