3 Yr Old Treats Grandma Terrible.

Updated on December 27, 2014
C.J. asks from Seattle, WA
9 answers

My 3 1/2 year old son just all of the sudden started to treat my mom terrible. She has been watching him 2 days a week for about 6 months. I neve used to work full time until this summer. His other grandma watches him almost the same amount. I am not sure if it is bc he has some separation problems. She doesn't come over usually if I am not working bc it takes away from our family time. But his other grandma will come over and hang out with his dad while I am at work. So it's no like we leave everytime she comes over. We have been trying the ignore it method but doesn't seem to be working. He screams at her,& has kickdf her ad hit her. We also recently had a baby about 10 days ago. I have been having her come over daily to spend time with us so he sees that I'm not going anywhere. Any suggestions on how to deal with this and about how long it gals for ignore method? Please help thank you

We are not accepting the hitting and kicking of grandma we do tell him that he does not hurt anyone. Although this is new behavior. But everyone has told us to ignore the screaming when she walks in and him saying I don like or I don't love grandma. We try not to acknowledge this behavior. He doesn't want her to play with anything of his or even help him with anything. He doesn't do this to anyone else. He is very affectionate to his other grandma be goes out of his way to hug Her and tell her he loves her in front of him.
Do we need to seek therapy? Or is this a phase that we are handling right? Or wrong?

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So What Happened?

So thank you for your advice. our pediatrician is the one that told us to ignore the behavior. Tonight grandma came over and he screamed at her. I told him that this is not how we treat people in our house and I put him in a boring room for time out. I told him his grandma loves him very much and what he says makes us all sad. I told him when he was ready to be nice he could come and join us. About 2-3 minutes later he came out and said he was ready to be nice. It was a start... Every time he yelled at her or started to get mean I to him that he was not being nice and if he didn't want to be nice he could go back into timeout until he was ready to be nice. He chose be nice in every circumstance this evening. We can only hope this is the beginning of the end of this behavior!

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answers from New York on

Have you ever read "the Happiest Toddler on the Block" by Dr H. Karp
Help him put his feelings into words (not screams!)
he doesnt dislike Grandmom, he dislikes you leaving, and it's worse not with a new baby
So you have to model putting his feelings into words. "I think you feel angry right now. You can say -I'm angry but you CANNOT hit/scream/kick."
"I think you are upset to see Grandmom because you think I am leaving, you CANNOT scream at /hit Grandmom, you can say, I wish mommy did not have to leave."
This will not stop the behavior in one day, you must keep showing him how to share his feelings verbally.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from New York on

There are a couple things going on here. First you had a baby 10 days ago so your precious 3 yr old isn't the center of the universe right now. His routine has been changed and he hasn't figured out his place yet but he's letting you know he's not happy by lashing out at someone; Grandma. And at this point Grandma is sending a signal that his actions are acceptable because no one is stepping in and getting down to his level telling him NO. STOP. WE DON'T HIT PEOPLE. WE DON'T KICK.

I always think of children as being strangers in a strange land. They don't know the customs and rules so they do what they think might help them navigate in the world. Its up to we parents, who have lived in the strange land longer, to teach them what they need to know and the skills to navigate the strange land until they know the customs and rules.

So start right now being that teacher/guide and when he acts out correct the behavior on the spot. Then made sure you are spending one on one time with him so he knows that the baby isn't a threat to him and his world. Stop the bad behavior now because the next target could be your newborn.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Ignoring aggression in a 3 year old isn't teaching him to not do it. It's giving him permission. At age 3 it's mom and dad will tell me if this isn't right. So since you're ignoring it he basically has your permission.

You get in his face and sternly tell him hitting and kicking isn't allowed and he must apologize to grandma right now then go sit in time out. Time out could be beside grandma who has a book to read to him if he decides to listen to her.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Ignoring is for misbehavior that is mostly benign such as whining. Hitting grandma is a safety issue. Your son needs to be taught that hitting is not acceptable. He hurts grandma. Once he's older he could do serious damage.

I suggest that you use the method outlined by a couple of mom's below. Stop him. Say hitting hurts Grandma. Then give a consequence. If you aren't using time outs already I suggest now is not the time to start. What do you usually use for a consequence? I like the idea of having him sit down with Grandma but only after you have stopped him. Doing this teaches how to make things right.

Of course the new baby is the reason for this new behavior. His world has been turned upside down. Purposely spend more time with him. Show him how to help care for baby and praise him for helping. He can hand you a diaper. He can fetch for you. Let him hold the baby.

I want to explain ignoring. When a child whines you don't "hear" him. When a child throws a tantrum you ignore by walking away while keeping an eye on him. In both of these situations he does not get a reward from you. You follow that up with positive attention when he asks without whining or throwing a fit.

With your son I suggest he's asking for more attention. Spend more time with him when he's behaving.

Perhaps the grandma with whom he's getting along pays more attention to him or let's him know he's still important to her.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

I hate the ignore trend. In EVERY way. Whatever you ignore, you condone. You give permission for it to last as long as the child decides they want it to last. That whole, "Well if you don't give attention for it they don't get the gratification..." WRONG! Some kids don't want any gratification or attention, they just want to do the terrible behavior. I have friends who ignored tantrums. And had NINE YEAR OLDS who still tantrummed.

Never ignore. things are easily nipped immediately at this age if you never ignore. Back to Basics Discipline by Janet Campbell Matson is a great method on how to keep things anger free and effective and loving in your home and still implement adequate discipline to snuff out this stuff. I have three kids. New babies are part of life, not an excuse. You can do it. don't ignore.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You ignore whining. You don't ignore hitting. Super stern/loud without yelling "no hitting!" and to his room or whatever timeout works.

If there's a way to figure out why he's not reacting to the other grandmom the same way, I'd be curious.

And yes, the baby is the reason. Imagine your husband showed up with another child for you to take care of - how upside down would your life be? Well, that's your son's life. He needs help from his parents and family to adjust to the new situation. Perhaps hit the library for books about a new sibling (if you already haven't). He needs mommy/daddy time.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I am a grandma of 6, with a 3 year old grandson. This age is a bit defying but you need to make sure he knows the rules. Hitting is out of the question. with a new baby in the house, I'm sure this is also causing some havoc. (I say it, because my grandson will soon be a big brother and we see some changes in his behavior)

Speak to him sternly and everytime he acts up, it's time out, but after timeout, have a talk with him. Grandma needs to let him know she is not happy but she loves him and forgives him.

Things will get better! I had 4 daughters ! LOL I can attest to that! ENJOY every moment. teach him to respect! He might be the closest to his Grandma one day!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I think that the problem is that you are ignoring the behavior. You don't ignore a kid kicking and hurting someone. Especially old people and little children. If grandma fell and broke a hip because the little terror kicked her, how would you feel? Really now...

Time to institute some time out in a boring room everytime he is mean to grandma or when he screams. If he doesn't get to play with his toys or be with the family, he'll change his tune.

You don't mention if this started as soon as the baby was born, but I would assume that this has something to do with it. Make sure you don't leave the baby alone with him. Spend some quality time with him, both when the baby is asleep and when the baby is awake. Tell him that his sibling loves him very much.

I would not give your child an inch where grandma is concerned. You've given a mile so far and you really need to rein this in.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Congrats on the new baby!

But do understand that this is a trigger for 2 and 3 year olds. You left the house for a few days, and you came back with a crying fussy 7 pound creature whom everyone is fussing over! The novelty of this wore off in about 15 minutes, and now your 3 year old is acting out.

You can't ignore screaming, hitting and kicking of Grandma, or of anyone else. You must separate him from the group (or the person) immediately. He goes right into isolation. For a 3 year old, it's for 3 minutes. Do it every time. Don't talk a lot - just "NO! We don't kick." Then into his room. He can go into time out elsewhere if he will stay there, but if the 3 minutes is spent telling him to sit down, then he's getting the attention he seeks. So find a way to isolate him. Then welcome him back to the group. Next infraction: repeat the isolation with the simple "no" statement. It's annoying but don't give up, because it will work.

I disagree with forcing young children to apologize. First of all, they aren't really sorry. They are too young to really have empathy for another person. They only know what affects THEM. I think, at this age, apologies make kids feel that they can do anything they want as long as they say "sorry" to make it all okay. If he continues to scream while in his room and doesn't calm down in the 3 minutes, then you go in and tell him that he's not quiet yet, but when he is, he can come back to the group. Then leave, and wait until he is quieted down.

He may be associating Grandma's daily presence with the whole new baby thing. This is a change in his routine.

He also needs to see Grandma as an authority figure, which means she has to be allowed to put him in his room if you are not there. If you ARE there, then it has to be Mom and Dad who do not tolerate this behavior.

I realize this is hard to do when you are 10 days post partum and completely exhausted. If Dad or Grandma can take the baby now and then so you can spend a little time with the toddler, great. "Isn't it nice of Grandma to come help with the baby so you and I can have some special big boy time together?" might work. But also do as much as you can all together so he understands that this is the new family configuration - say how nice it is to sit and read together, or to snuggle together, etc. You can tell him how much the baby is going to learn from him and enjoy watching him do puzzles or play with blocks or whatever - but it may take a while for that to really be interesting to him. Also start soon with things like cleaning up non-baby-safe toys so that when your newborn is crawling, your 3 year old is already in the habit of keeping things away from the baby.

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