3 Year Old Fits Driving Me to the Brink!

Updated on September 07, 2011
S.W. asks from Pittsburgh, PA
10 answers

i have 3 children, a 4 year old girl a 3 year old boy and a 1 year old baby girl. I know the trials on a kid that come with a new baby. but since shes been born, my three year old litterally has fits everytime i tell him anything. if i want something done- fit. if he doesnt want to eat somthing-fit. if he doesnt want a nap- fit. if he is asked to get out of the kitchen while im cooking-fit. if he wakes up in the morning asking for treats and i say no- fit. I am soooooo tired of this. I am at my wits end to where i just dont awnser him anymore. I love him so much but i cant stand his additude. I want teach him thats not ok. but time outs- he screams and moves and screams and moves... once for 2 hours we tried and tried. ive tried toy removal- fits. ive tried taking away fun things... he is fine with it. its his sister that is feeling punished really. we have a small house and i have nowhere where he can be alone exept his room. but his baby sister sleeps in there. i dont want to hit. i dont want to yell. i dont want to threaten things that i dont want to follow thru with. HELP ME LADIES. IM SO TIRED OF FIGHTING WITH A THREE YEAR OLD FOR 16 HOURS EVERYDAY.

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So What Happened?

i have no idea how to respond to your awnsers other than this. so yes. ... i have told him to be quiet for the bebe, like 3000 plus times. and he does this... sputter slash growl noise that drives everyone crazy.... he is the only boy, so he gets lots and lots of boy love. hes the snuggly one, weve always had a really close relationship and where my daughter is not very physical he is. she likes praise, and he loves snuggles. I d like to think im pretty consistant... but maybe im consistantly uncontrolling him... like ignoring the fits and not punishing him for the bad behaivour. he listens to my husband good. i forgot to mention. but when i say that im telling daddy he doesnt care. and as of the last 3 months, hes been getting out of his bed every night and coming and sleeping on the floor becide me. ??

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answers from Philadelphia on

I wish I had some advice for you, but I don't. Just wanted to let you know you're not alone. I have a 3-year-old boy also and he is the same way. EVERYTHING is a fight and everything he says is yelling/demanding with a crying fit. I am constantly correcting him and making him say things in an appropriate way, which he does, but it is exhausting. I think it is just the age, 3 is a tough age and it seems to me and from other friends that it is especially tough for boys. Hang in there, this too shall pass, I think. Are you doing preschool? It may help if only to give you some breathing time.

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answers from Cleveland on

Do we have the same 3 year old? LOL :)
We ended up in counseling for ours. And she strongly recommended parenting with love and logic. As you read it, you may think this is too simple to work. But it does. The KEY is to stay consistent! Good luck :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

What about talking to your pediatrician for a referral and having him assessed by a children's behavior specialist? I hate slapping labels on kids but there might be something else going on here and maybe they could get down to the bottom of it. He sounds highly sensitive and could have sensory issues, hypersensitivity to food additives, who knows. Or maybe just some counseling will help if it's related to no longer being the baby. I'm no expert but I would start with discussing it with your doctor and go from there.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Gainesville on

I dont have the answers either. But my 4 yr old daughter does this. She wakes up throwing fits. Every single thing to do with life is a fit. She is very heavy and throws tantrums in the store, at church in a restaurant....anyplace we go. She started the fit thing when she turned 2 and it has gotten worse as she turns older. I totally am looking for answers also.


answers from Cincinnati on

Maybe you could try promoting the good behavior. I know 3 is a little early for a sticker board but it's worth a shot. Make one together. Every hour he goes with no fit, he gets a sticker. Something like that. After 10 stickers or something he gets a special treat or little trinket. I would try to spend more one on one time with him too. Maybe when the baby is napping play hide n seek or candy land with him. Let him help you cook in the kitchen. My DD loves to mix, even if there's nothing in the bowl. Good luck S.! I hope you find answers to help you. :)



answers from Los Angeles on

I have had the same ongoing problem with my my now five year old since his little brother was born. I am still struggling, but it's a jealousy/attention issue (obviously). The only thing I have found to improve the situation is to really up the loving attention to the 'problem' child. Good luck. Let me know if you come across any miracle methods.


answers from Williamsport on

I have 3 non tantrumming kids ages 5, 3 and 2. Fits were instantly nipped. You need to be calm and methodical with spanking at the very beginning of the fit before it escalates. Calm warning, firm consequence if it continues for one second. Dont' let it get out of control, or you'll have to just wait for the next one. You want to teach him to decide against it in the BEGINNING. He's 3, so he's probably been throwing fits for over a year, and his maturity and stubbornness have set in. Therefore, it may take lots of repetition (but maybe not) rather than just one or two attempts like it would have when he was younger, and he may get worse at first to try to intimidate you. Be calm, be consistent, be clear what his consequence is for. He'll quit.

Clarification: This will NOT crush his spirit or remove his emotions. He will still get mad, sad, scared, and he'll be able to express those emotions better. You'll know if he does melt down that he's tired or it's a legitimate situation. (Don't discipline when over tired or hungry). A younger sibling is NOT an excuse. Mine all had new babies to deal with, and my third was a natural rager, but even she controls her fits at 2.

Example, the other week at the pool, she wanted to play with some cars another kid brought while the kid wasn't around. When I told her to come back to the baby pool, she said "No!", and stomped her foot. I gave her the "very last warning for defiance and saying no to momma calm final warning". Instead of coming to where I was, she started the gutteral "I'm gonna let a tantrum rip" growl (thinking that because we were at a brand new public place she might get away with it) and turned red and her eyes started welling with tears. I said, "OK then" calmly with a step toward her to take her to the restroom for a swat-which she knew from experience-to which she said, "No! I want splashy." and was laughing and splashing in the pool 2 seconds later feeling proud she outsmarted me, completely forgetting she was mad. This is a child born with the temper form h_ll and she would definitely be one of those kids screaming and kicking and choking and head banging all the time if she was allowed.

Here are the actions that will make his tantrums much worse:

Ignoring. NEVER ignore a fit if you want them to stop.
Time outs. They're just places to throw fits.
Toy removal. Who cares. There' still a house full of toys.
Talking and saying you wish he wouldn't do it. It's just attention.

These methods are ways to "put up with fits" while waiting for the kids to outgrow them on their own. BUT, you can add them in after 3 good swats for 3 years old, like, remove a favorite toy for a day AFTER his real consequence, or remove him from a fun activity for a time out AFTER his consequence. It sounds extremely harsh, but you wont' have to do it many times for it to click, and you're not ANGRY when you do this, just matter of fact and firm in response to his choice of behavior.

If you're tough about this, you'll still be able to cuddle your lovey boy. You'll get to enjoy him and cuddle him more when he quits the constant fits. My 3 year old son is attached to me at the hip and a constant cuddler. He's only been spanked once since December and we use no time outs or anything else. Kids love firm boundaries within a fun loving home. All my kids are sweet and happy with their emotions firmly in tact and hardly ever need discipline. You want to prevent the behavior, not constantly discipline it.

Good luck! This method is very successful at having happy, respectful kids: Back to Basics Discipline by Janet Campbell Matson.


answers from Erie on

I know you probably want a simple answer, but there really isn't one :) boys are so much more difficult at this age, i think. i think consistency is the key. have you tried reward/sticker charts? that's about the age i started them with my son. you can put whatever you want on there, but start with the behavior you want to change. i have found great help with the book 1-2-3 Magic. they have some great techniques that have really helped us. and they tell you how 3 year olds may perceive certain situations...it makes you really rethink what you say to them when they are being "bad". the kitchen was a big thing for us too...he always wanted to be in there. so i gave him tasks to do to "help" me like put the plates on the table, silverware, etc. I also found that if i don't say "no" all the time, that really helps too. if he asks for a snack, don't say no say "yes you may have a treat after you ...(fill in the blank - eat dinner, clean up, etc.). i would really recommend reading that book, though if anything. it really helped us.


answers from St. Louis on

Did you ever tell him be quiet for the baby?

No that is not a rhetorical question or a suggestion, it is just a question.



answers from Harrisburg on

Three was about the worst age for my son. It will get better. That said, I hear you when you said your house is small, but is there somewhere else your baby can sleep? I would definitely remove him from toys and others if he cannot behave. It may not be convenient to move the little one, but perhaps it would help.

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