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how do I help my emotional 3 year old? He's all over me!!! HELP ME!!!

My son responds very differently with me than my husband. With me.... it's almost as if he wants back into the womb. He gets very emotional about anything. yes means no and no means yes sometimes. He grabs my hand to bring me into a room, i ask him to explain or show me what he wants, but then he justs gets more emotional and needs to be picked up. When i try to talk to him at eye level, he climbs all over me. basically he acts as if at any moment i'm going to drop him off at an orphanage. i give him lots of love and hugs and kisses. he's not lacking attention. i'm a stay at home mom so it's not separation anxiety. And to top it off, he doesn't respond to discipline by me, just reacts with tears. I'm tried being gentle, tried tough love, tried ignoring it, tried distraction.. pretty much anything. but NOTHING works. it always ends up with me in tears and my husband coming home from work early. HELP ME!!!!!

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Beth M.

Asked by Beth M. at 5:06 PM on Sep. 23, 2013 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 1 (2 Credits)
Answers (8)
  • Have you tried Happiest Toddler on the Block?

    Not just talking to him at eye level, but on a level where he understands and sees that you understand him as well.  Maybe check your local library to see if they have it (book or DVD).  It certainly can't hurt.


    Answer by QuinnMae at 5:10 PM on Sep. 23, 2013

  • Sounds about normal to me...he's bored. You are his only playmate. Does he nap? Does he sleep well at night? I would call your local Library & see if they have toddler playtime. It's free & he'll be able to interact with other kids his age. Play, dance, do crafts etc. They have Holiday theme parties & puppet shows to. Go in the morning a few days a week then boorow books & DVD's for him. He'll nap like a prince & you get a break too. GL!

    Answer by ILovemyPaulie at 5:47 PM on Sep. 23, 2013

  • borrow*

    Answer by ILovemyPaulie at 5:47 PM on Sep. 23, 2013

  • Boundaries and consequences.

    My kids tried a lot of this too, at about that age. When you're talking to him, he NOT climbing on you. If he tries then you get him off of you and hold him at arm's length while you talk. If he won't use his words to tell you what he wants, then you walk away. If he has a speech problem like my daughter, then he can show you without crying. If he does start the water works, then you put him in his room until he can use his words.

    A lot of the water works are because he has learned he can get away with it.

    Good luck Momma

    Answer by Rosehawk at 6:28 PM on Sep. 23, 2013

  • What do you do, typically, when he gets emotional?
    Taking a look at The Happiest Toddler On The Block could be helpful because it emphasizes the importance of conveying your understanding.
    One of the chief functions parents serve when it comes to emotional guidance & supporting children's developing ability to regulate their emotions is "emotional containment." It's like being a bowl that can hold all the feelings your child can't quite tolerate holding & managing. But when parents can't tolerate big feelings either (i.e., they respond anxiously to upsets & try to "fix" things or to talk children out of their upsets, or become stern or punitive, or pressure children to stop by removing their attention or showing conditional acceptance--sending children to their rooms until they're "calm") children don't learn how to HAVE difficult feelings. Instead of learning to regulate their emotions they learn to stuff or avoid feelings.

    Answer by girlwithC at 9:53 PM on Sep. 23, 2013

  • he goes to school 4 hours a day 4 days a week, so he gets the interaction and activity. I work with him with speech, art, reading, etc here and have play time. he goes outside alot and interacts with the children in the neiborhood. we do have a speech therapist working with him at the school as well. i do try to understand his emotions and validate them, and when it seems unreasonable, i do walk away. i don't really believe in the idea that he shouldn't have emotion but trying to teach him that sometimes over exaggeration isn't the best way.
    Beth M.

    Comment by Beth M. (original poster) at 6:23 AM on Sep. 24, 2013

  • but i will check out the book, thankfully the library is right down that road. thank you
    Beth M.

    Comment by Beth M. (original poster) at 7:01 AM on Sep. 24, 2013

  • I think cultivating an "I know" approach that lets you stay with the child BUT let the feelings be what they are (not something you strive to avoid by compensating them for disappointments, or reasoning them out of their upsets) is very helpful. The more you can notice your own discomfort or agitation in those moments, the less likely you'll be to have an anxiety-fueled response TO his emotions. For me, bringing awareness to how I am feeling in those moments is key. It can shift me out of resistance & agitation, and into caring presence. If crying triggers me to feel that I need to solve the issue & stop the crying, I am neither present nor caring. I'm needing to stop the kid for my own peace of mind!
    So that's a big one (and it sounds like that is going on for you if your husband has to come home from work early, etc.)
    The less well-regulated you are, the more your child's dysregulation will negatively affect you.

    Answer by girlwithC at 2:19 PM on Sep. 24, 2013

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