Stressed Mom Needing Help with Yelling, Hitting 3-Yr-old!

Updated on November 03, 2008
A.W. asks from Leander, TX
11 answers

So we have a slight problem w/our 3 yr old! She is currently an only child, however a week ago we got a new dog from the Humane Socitey. Her behavior before the dog was the typical 3 yr old (minor temper tantrums, hitting, etc). However as of late, she is becoming more aggresive with her hitting (she now throws objects at us), screaming, and the words she uses to yell at us (I don't want you anymore, I don't want daddy anymore, etc). I've noticed she is becoming jealous of the dog as she takes away the dogs stuffed animals she so willingly and lovingly gave to the dog. She also yells at the dog even when the dog is not near her.

I took her to her pediatrition last week for her 3 yr well check-up and asked about the trantrums and was told they should not happen at this age. I don't know how to control her bahavior. If we take something away from her or heaven's sake, don't do something she wants she 'blows up' with anger and meanness. Taking her in publice is a nightmare.The "naughty chair" is not working. I feel like I yell at her all day long and there hasn't been many peaceful moments in the past 2-3 weeks. I feel like I'm walking on eggshells around her as anything I do could set her off.

Any suggestions on how to discipline this behavior? I fell like I'm being firm w/her and letting her know mommy and daddy are the "boss", however I feel as if she's laughing in our face and doesn't care what her punishment is.

I'm worn out, exhausted, and getting sick (literally) over this and don't know how to handle it. I don't even want to get into her whining she does, which is something she constatnly does.

Suggestions please!!!!

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for the wonderful, much needed advice! I will try all of your ideas and let you know how she takes to them. I know me and my husband can get through this, as well as our daughter, it's just going to take time, patience, and consistancy! Thanks again!

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answers from Austin on

I hope things are going better for you now... but in case you would like some other ideas, I was having similar issues with my son. He has a very difficult time dealing with transition and he started lashing out emotionally and physically. I finally called a place called Family Connections in Dripping Springs. They did some testing on him (all of which he thought was fun). They determined that he has Sensory Integration Disorder. Once they started working with him in Occupational therapy and teaching me how to use calming techniques my world really started to change. He is a different child now, and I feel some much better as a mother. I can't tell you the difference this made to us. Sensory Integration basically means he is wired differently and processes stressors and changes in routine differently. I hope this helps.

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answers from Houston on

I am quite surprised that your childs doc said that she should not be throwing temper tantrums at 3. Children dont have a lot of patience and I am learning with my 3 and 1/2 year old son that it is going to take time for him to grasp the concept. I have a 6 year old daughter who never really threw tantrums, but did argue. My 3 year old son is caught in the middle, as I also have a 17 month old son. He is my difficult child. Sometimes I wonder if it is because he doesnt know if he a big boy or a baby as he plays well with my other 2 children. At 3, children still dont always have the words to express how they feel...hence, a tantrum. Talk to other moms, you will find that you are in the same position. I am just very shocked that your doc said it shouldnt happen. As far as your daughter yelling and hitting, that is normal too. Just keep your voice calm and it will help. A naughty chair has never worked for my kids, but for my 3 year old, walking him to his room without saying a word, putting him on his bed and walking out the door and shutting it seems to work. It is like unspoken punishment. Sometimes he will come right out and I have to tell him to stay in until he stops his tantrum, but other times he stays in his room and calms himself down. I guess it is somewhat hard to explain on an email, but it usually works!! Feel free to email me if you need anything else. I know it can be hard!! Dinner time when all my kids are home and playing are my loudest and toughest times...someone is always getting left out and yelling and crying. Take Care!!



answers from Houston on

Maybe you should get rid of the dog. She may see the dog as competition or the dog may not like her presence and that may stress her.

If there is a lot of yelling the dog could become aggressive. The dog could injure your child, either out of fear or pretecting you.

Once you give the dog away work on discipline. Yes 3 year olds throw tantrums But, you can minimize this by trying different motivational techniques. When she is ready, asking for a pet, than get one.

As far as discipline, try not to yell, but don't chastise yourself if it happens occassionally. Try a sticker chart with positive behavior traits that you want from her. This could be obeying mommy, kindness, helping out, etc. Once she has 30 stickers, she gets a reward...something she likes maybe a little inexpensive toy. This is not bribery, this is a motivational technique. Once she sees(children must see)what is expected and what she positively can get from you, things will change.

Also, instead of yelling on occasion try saying, "sweety I think you need a hug." Once she is hugged and calm, explain that she must sit in time out for 3 minutes(base time on age), then you will hug her again(and when you do explain to her what she should do instead of misbehaving).

Remember, the dog may be a big part of the problem. Don't wait to see if she will accept it, she is probably not ready...or maybe she is scared. Either way, she comes first.



answers from Corpus Christi on

You are trying to control yelling with yelling and that isn't going to work. Children mimic what they see their parents doing. When she starts this horrible behavior, i would just calmly take her by the hand and put in time out. If she gets up, go get her and stick her right back in without saying a word to her. Once she is calm explain to her how unacceptable her behavior is, and that if she wants to be around mommy and daddy she is going to act nicely, otherwise she can spend her time in time-out alone.

With whining, what i've found works is to tell the child "i can't hear a whiny voice" and ignore them until they use a normal voice.

You are the parent, you should never "walk on eggshells" around your child. She's 3 years old for Christ's sake! You are letting your toddler be in control of your house and until you take back that control you're going to live in hell.



answers from Houston on

Of course three year olds have tantrums! I have a three year old that throws tantrums all the time. She swipes at stuff but barely ever hits. One thing that's worked with the hitting is when she looks like she's about to hit we tell her that if she wants to hit than she is more than welcomed to hit the wall. That always stops her in her tracks. We don't make her hit it but just the mental idea to her is not pleasing so she puts her hand down.
The best thing we did and I have said it many times on here is that we took all the red food dye and juice out of her diet. It just hypes some kids up and my daughter was one of those kids. It's weird but true. We slowly have been letting her have it again but we watch how much and when she gets it. It'll get better. I doubt she'll be a 30 year old lawyer still throwing tantrums!



answers from Corpus Christi on

I work with kids with behavioral disorders. The problems come in is when her behavior affects the home and the relationships. The anger is the biggest issue. When she has abnormal anger reactions to basic things is when she needs treatment. It will be fixed she just needs to learn coping skills from someone other than her parents. Look for a play therapist or child psychologist.



answers from San Antonio on

First, let me say that I truly believe that your doctor is wrong. This is totally a 3-year-old thing to do. I have done daycare for years and have a 3 year old of my own. There is not a mother alive that wouldn't tell you that 3's are so much worse than 2's. My daughter is also majoring in hateful sass. It is worse for one because they have a larger vocabulary and she is testing it on you. She is looking for a reaction, and you are giving her one. It is hard. Time outs did not work for us either. She just didn't get it and I can give a timeout. I can't stand it when people think that the time out is the solution for every child. It just isn't. I prefer the natural consequence approach. Here is what has worked for us. We ignore this kind of behavior and send her to her room when she starts. Some say that it is silly because all of her toys are there, but it works for us for several reasons. You do not want to punish your child, but rather teach them what is and is not acceptable behavior. First, is that she leaves us alone and we get to proceed with our activities in relative peace. Second is she sees that her poor behavior is not going to affect our family activities. She just doesn't get to participate if she does not "act like a big girl". Third, she gets to get rid of this negative energy in a positive way. Yes, she usually goes upstairs and shouts for a while, then when she quiets down, we check on her and she is always playing with her dolls. She always acts out the scene with them and when she is done, she comes down to apologize. She doesn't get to rejoin activities until she has apologized. At this age, she has to tell us what she did wrong and tell us a better way to handle the situation.
Also you might check your schedule and diet. She might be hungery when she doesn't realize it or have an instable blood sugar. You can check my cry for help from a could of months ago for more help. One of our posters here probebly saved my daughter's and my own life. LOL. I was absolutly at whit's end. You are not alone.



answers from Houston on

That is so wonderful that you rescued a dog, good for you! I also don't agree about the tantrums... of course 3 year olds have tantrums! We have a 3 year old boy and twins who are 1 year old. At this age, usually children start to develop some sensitivity to feelings; yet they are still concerned with #1 (themselves). Have you tried telling her that her actions are making the dog sad? And would she want someone to act like that towards her? We also have a dog in addition to younger siblings and this method seems to work pretty well with our son. We also tell him big boys don't act like that, and that when he has a tantrum that all the neighbors are going to hear it and come look at him. He hates that and usually stops! Also taking a picture of her when she's doing it and show it to her so she can see how ridiculous she looks. Kids this age are not as much "babies" as some people think, they're actually quite smart, so you may have to change strategy. Hope that helps.



answers from Beaumont on

I recommend getting a book on audio CD copy of "The Strong Willed Child" by Dr. James Dobson. We had these same problems with our son when he was younger. We went out and bought this CD and he gives very basic techniques and ways to handle these problems. There are even testimonies of other parents who talked about some of the things they went thru with their kids. Now that our daughter is getting older, I have even had to go back and listen to the CD again to refresh my memory. Unless you think your daughter has a serious problem, I would not worry at all about psychologists, therapists, or medication. With all of that out there already you'd think everyone would be "cured" by now.

I'm not saying don't ever do these things. There are certain instances where these are needed.

Pretty soon, her tantrums will be a thing of the past and you'll start to forget that your beautiful little girl was ever even like that in the first place :)

Prayer helps a lot too :)



answers from San Antonio on

I would suggest you do like teachers do in school. Make a set of positive rules and go over them everyday. Like if you were playing school. Have her help you make the rules... you will need to guide her. rule #1 Only say nice things #2 Talk in a nice way #3 Brush your teeth before bed #4 Wash your hands before you eat. #5 Pick up toys from the floor #6 Be nice to ______ (the dog). You will want to put these on chart paper or poster board and put an illustration next to each picture. Like for #1 a picture of someone talking, #2 Someone with a smile #3 A picture of tooth brush etc.

You will want to have these posted where ever you eat and review them at every meal. You will also want to stablish a schedule or routine for her so she doesn't have an opportunity for a melt down. I suggest right after breakfast, read rules and discuss them. Have her give you example of behaviors that follow that rule and also behavior that doesn't follow that rule. You can also prompt her and say, "if we take the dogs toys and throw them so he can't play, is that being nice? Is that following rule #?" Then read her a story, asking her questions about the story. Read her some clifford the big red dog books. take the dog for a walk together. You will also want to make a place where you keep track of how many times she breaks the rules and from there you can start a reward system. You can say,"okay, yesterday I had to put six check marks by your name because you broke the rules. If today you don't get any (or three or what ever amount you choose) check marks you can ______________ (and offer her something she likes).

Hope this helps.



answers from Houston on


I also agree that 3-year-olds just have temper tantrums. They hit, scream, say mean things, and all the rest. I'm also really surprised that your doctor said this wasn't normal for her age, because every 3-year-old I've witnessed does this!!!

My son also went through a hitting stage right when he turned 3 (and still tries sometimes, he's almost 4). When we tried to hit, if it was me I'd scoot out of the way so he couldn't make contact, then tell him we don't hit people, we hit our hitting bag. We had bought him a little bop bag that he keeps in his room, and it's just for him to hit when he's mad. If we came across this situation in Sunday school, for example (oh, those embarrassing times!!!) we'd pull him aside and tell him that it's never okay to hit people, and ask him what he should do to make it right. He would usually say sorry to the child and give them a hug, sometimes he'd pick them a flower or draw them a picture, but he got to decide. Then we'd stress again that it's not okay to hit people, and usually tell him how he could've handled it better in the future (like using his words to say he's mad, asking for his toy back politely, etc).

I know this response was kinda late, but I hope it helps!

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