Trouble with 3 Year Old

Updated on September 09, 2009
A.M. asks from Dunlap, IL
4 answers

I need some advice or just an ear. Here is our story: We had our first son at 30 weeks after I had been hospitalized on bedrest from 23 to 30 weeks. He was the only child/grandchild until our second son came 2.5 weeks ago. I had been on bedrest with our second pregnancy at home from 16 to 38 weeks and sort of lost all validity with our first child. Now that the baby is home, our oldest is really acting out. Naughty words, hitting, making faces behind backs, being naughty to our pets, hitting his brothers bouncer and such and just plain old not listening. I know some of this is just typical for a 3 year old but I am about to lose my mind. I want to take our oldest to do fun things to show him that mommy is back and we can have fun now but I cant even begin to think about it because half of the time I can hardly look at him. I know that sounds terrible but I dont know how to get control back!!! We have tried time outs, going to room and staying in bed, and verious other things but nothing is working. Any advice would be so appreciated. Thanks!!!

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answers from Chicago on

Our son was also 3 when our 2nd child was born. It was a rough time! He was doing all of the things you've described... it was horrible. He loved his new baby sister, but the bad behavior, bad words, hitting... just kept getting worse.

You need to be very calm. Read the 1,2,3 Magic book!
Once we started following it to the letter, his behavior improved dramatically right away. Basically you don't show any emotion, but simply count bad behaviors. "1" is the first warning. "2" is the second warning. "3" gets him escorted into your designated "time out" spot. We use his bedroom because I literally have to hold the door closed to keep him in there, all the while listening as he trashes the room and/or pees on the floor. It's loads of fun. But it works! Now when I say "Alex, that's 2" he stops what he's doing almost instantly every time. It's totally amazing. But the book has loads of other very useful info that you should read. I cannot recommend it enough.
I also agree with you that age 3 is very hard to manage... But big life changes during that year make it extra hard! We also moved during that time... man, I wouldn't want to go through it again for anything : )

The good news is that you will get through all of this. And you should spend some time alone doing things with your son. We've found that putting baby to bed at 6:30 or 7pm is so perfect because then we have lots of time to read books with the 4 year old before bed. It's great to have that time alone with him. My husband also takes him out on outings all the time, even if it's just a walk to the kwikimart for an ice cream bar before bedtime or baseball in the back yard for 20 minutes. It all makes a big difference.

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answers from Chicago on

When our second baby was coming, it was recommended to us to have a little party for our toddler on the day we came home from the hospital. Since your baby is already home, I'm sure this can be reimprovised to this suit this situation, as to say that I'm sure it's not too late. The day the baby came home, we had a party for our toddler complete with a special cake, balloons and a gift from the baby. This was to congratulate our toddler on HIS big day as officially becoming a big brother. The baby gave him a Spider Man doll which he loved, we had a Spider Man cake and of course is wouldn't have been complete without Spider Man balloons and we had him wear a t-shirt that said "I'm the Big Brother." Our toddler thought that was super cool his little brother knew just what he would like. So the day was all about him and not the baby and everyone who came over, we told them to congratulate our toddler and not just obssess over our newborn. At first I thought it sounded a little goofy but I thought "what do I have to lose" and believe it or not, it worked really well.

Plus we have always made a point to pay a lot of individual attention to our older son. We individually take him places all on our own for special outings. Even if it's just to get his hair cut, it's one-on-one time, all about him and we make it extra fun by adding in a trip for icecream or maybe a stop at the park. I'm not saying you haven't done that or thought of this but it takes a lot of time to plan things out with 2 babies for things like this. Both my husband and I do something with him each week. Takes some coordinating but it can be done and he loves that time with us. And of course, you have to make it a really big deal when you do it so he thinks something amazing is going on. You know how toddlers are, if you're excited, they're excited. Just make it seem/sound like it's going to be fantastic even if you're just going for a walk around the block.



answers from Chicago on

Hi A.,

First of all, don't worry too much, he's exhibiting some pretty typical 3 year old behavior. Especially a 3 year old who just got a new sibling. I have 4 kids, a girl and three boys, and my third will be 3 in December. I guarantee the terrible twos are nothing compared to the threes. I was at my wit's end with all of them, especially when I had a baby to deal with(I had all 4 of mine 2 years apart. Also, hormones play a big part in how you are feeling, and how much patience you have. My best advice is to pick a discipline method and stick with it. Be consistent and firm and he will eventually get it. Also, be on top of his behavior - one warning and then to the time out or what ever. Don't keep warning and warning, even if you are tired, because they don't get it then. And, as hard as it may be to hear, the new baby may have to cry a while as you are enforcing the rules. That was tough for me, because you hate to see the babies cry because someone isn't listening. Also, enforce the rules outside the house. If he knows that he will be in time out wherever he is whenever he acts up, he will get it. But, take him out, as much as you can. I have found that if they have a lot of activity they tend to be too tired to act up.

Good luck! It does get easier!



answers from Chicago on

My older son was 3 when his little brother arrived, and his behavior was just horrible for at least a month. He loved the baby, and luckily he was an easy baby, but the whole transition and change was just too much for big brother's little emotions and body.

Also, is he going to school or daycare? If not, it will help if you or friends/family can get him out every day and get his energy worked off. With a newborn in the house your schedule is probably all over the place, too much TV, all the usual stuff. It's hard on everyone. Give yourselves all a pat on the back and lots of slack for the next few weeks! Congratulations.

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