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.

Hello, I have a few ideas the Physcologist suggested for my 5 year old daughter.If she hits its an automatic time out.Get a small rug or something equivalent.Each time she hits set her in time out calmly.If she gets up put her back.She is to stay there for 1 min(3 mins.) for each year.Ask her to sit quietly and think about what she did and how she could do it diffrently.Explain to her why you are putting there and that her behaivor needs to change.And that she will need to stay there for 3 mins. sitting quietly.Do this right away.Then when she is done have her apologize to you.Tell her you love her.Tell her you know she will do better next time.Then redirect her to something positive.The Pysc. said don't put her in your lap for time out that this is only a positive place.I got some materials from the library like books and videos for hitting and read her the material and discussed them with her.Then you can asked her for her ideas such as instead of hitting what could I do?Hit a pillow?Discuss the materials.Explain and don't yell.Calmly.And bend down to talk to her(at her level) and talk rationally but sternly.For other things she does explain to her that is isn't appropriate(excuse my spelling).Explain to her if she continues you will take a thing that she really likes.And tell her she won't get it back until she starts behaving better and says sorry to you or whoever.If you say you are going to doo somthing like take it away-you and your family better do it.If you go to the library and ask where the parenting skills books are they can show you.They are usually by the kids books in section of there own.You can do a search such as hitting and bring up books online at home or at the library computer.You can put a hold on them.Then when they arrive they will let you know by email or phone.Make it exciting to pick up books and get other fun books,videos,and book with tapes.I like to watch nanny 911 for tips.She also has books at the library.Which I have read.I have been there and done that.And still deal with this on occassion.Hitting her back would teach her hitting is ok.Just say things like "mom doesn't like being hit-it hurts her".Does it hurt when others hit you?"I don't like that".Please don't do that again.Again, bending down to her level in a rational but stern voice.You might think its not going to work but continue to do this on a regular basis right when it happens and it will bring what your looking for.I have done this and do this still.Best wishes.Consistence pays off.It will be hard and you have to do it over and over.If you feel yourself yelling-take a deep breathe and focus.Walk away if you must for a minute to gain compusure.You are in control.You are the parent you are going to stay calm and follow thru and bend to there level.And talk calmly.It takes practice but you will do it.Best wishes!Please make sure your husband is aware of the new stuff and make sure he follows thru with you the new techniques.You must both react in the same way and be consistant.She follows what you do and say as well as your family and the people she is around.Give her 2 choices so she feels some control.Ask her to help you.If you feel that she is going to hit redirect her.Let her talk about her feelings.Start by listening and not talking until she is done.That may help with her fustration.Its not easy but it starts to work!Ask her if she would like to help.Try using "I" statements.Like~ I don't like to be hit it hurts me! Good luck!

May I suggest you check out a program called Love and Logic. You can get the books from the library and I have found with my 2 boys the principles of the program work wonders. Good luck to you.

I have the same problem, only my child is a boy. My son is doing all the things your saying and more. People warn you about the terrible two's but its not the two's that are bad its the threes. I have been doing time outs and positive disceplene. Catch her when shes doing something good and praise her. I know I thought that sounded ridicilous too, but it has changed so much. Time outs are still hard because he doesnt like to sit there but he's figuring out I'm not gonna let him get away with it. As for dinner it is a rule in our house you eat dinner when everyone else does or you dont get it at all. He's gone to bed a couple of times hungry, but yes I agree they need to learn that they need to eat when we do and not when ever they feel like it. Good luck, my son will be 4 next month So I am hoping the end is near.

I ran across this website looking for a solution to a problem I had earlier. I couldn't find my book so I went to the author's website and she has free advice on there. She is an awesome lady. So bookmark this page and use it when you need to. On the left hand side of the page there is an index to choose your topic you need help with.


Try vineger instead of soap. Yelling won't help and hitting is wrong. I make my daughter do parade rest face to the wall in a place I can watch her a minute for evey year. You will get out of her what you put in. Try giving her first thing in the day one on one time for half an hour (doing an activaty or playing with her). If you try to do it in the afternoon or late in the day you will find it doesn't work to change her behavior. Give her praise lots of it whenever possible. You can look at a buch of very helpful ideas and books at loveandlogic.com. Love and logic works great for me. I fall back to yelling too but, it is never to late to model good behavior. Stick to your guns on dinner, that is the way to do it. I bought a huge clear plastic bin and when I have to take things away I put them in it so she can see what she is missing and I put it in a palce she will see it all the time but, up as high as I can so she can't get into it or tape it shut until she has earned it back. Tell her when she makes a bad decision "She is a good girl who made a bad decision". Hope this helps.

Sounds like you live at my house. My daughter has been a little monster since she could walk. She is so smart she will do exactly what I tell her not to. She may listen to me for a while but as soon as I turn my back she's coloring on the wall or putting soap in her hair. I read a great book called 1-2-3 magic. It uses timeouts and rewards. We are still getting a handle on the dicipline. The basic idea is that they are doing it to get attention, completely agree. I count to 3 and she usually straightens up so she doesn't get sent to her room. Although I feel bad about locking her in her room, obviously you understand this method, I get the reward of a behaved child. Even if it's for a short period she gets the message that I won't tolerate her behaviour. She can play with her toys and calm down. Then we can enjoy eachothers company without fighting just to discipline. She doesn't stick her tounge out but she does spit. She didn't take too well to soap in the mouth so it worked for us. I heard that soap can make children very sick in high doses, but I had a bar of soap as a kid and hated that. I put some dish soap on my finger and that does the trick. I rub it on her tounge. I really feel for you. Hopefully you get some reassurance and some advice from your posting.

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