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how to deal with a difficult 3 year old.

my daughter is 3 and she thinks shes the boss. she back talks, gets angry and upset easily, and leaves when shes in trouble. she is terrible with sharing her toys with her baby sister and is very possessive of everything. how do you handle a little girl with an attitude problem but is otherwise an angel?


Asked by Anonymous at 3:09 PM on Apr. 1, 2009 in Preschoolers (3-4)

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Answers (16)
  • I don't negotiate with terrorists.I get down in their face and say "NO" or "STOP" in a very firm voice. If they don't, they go to their room with a swat on the butt and stay there. Most times I don't need even to spank.

    Answer by MizKizzy at 8:14 PM on Apr. 1, 2009

  • spank her butt

    Answer by Anonymous at 3:10 PM on Apr. 1, 2009

  • What do you do when she acts out? My son is almost 2 and is starting to be a little pain.  I put him in time out (one min for every year old) in his room and wait till he has calmed down.  You could also tell her she will not get to play with her favorite toy till she starts behaving.


    Answer by rememberm3alway at 3:13 PM on Apr. 1, 2009

  • I agree with anon, she needs a spanking. You are the boss and she needs to learn this now or it will only get worse.

    Answer by sammiesmom2000 at 3:13 PM on Apr. 1, 2009

  • I tend to agree with the anon but if you're not going to spank her, give her some serious time outs, get down to her level and explain why her behavior is unacceptable and put her in the "naughty" spot for three minutes and EVERY time she walks away from it, take her back and start the time over. This I learned from Supernanny and it worked for us but I did spank my kid occasionally. I haven't had to do it in 2 years. They are 4 and 6 and when I got mad, I made it clear.

    Answer by jeanclaudia at 3:14 PM on Apr. 1, 2009

  • that's what i do with my dd when she acts out (she'll be 3 in july)..... it works & she knows she better not be a brat..... i did anon b/c i hate ppl to jude me b/c i spank

    Answer by Anonymous at 3:15 PM on Apr. 1, 2009

  • Let me add, is she able to communicate what is bothering her with ease? Sometimes when they can't, that is a big part of their anger. But it's true, if you don't get control soon, it will get worse.

    Answer by jeanclaudia at 3:15 PM on Apr. 1, 2009

  • Wow, sounds like my son. I might not have all the answers for you but one thing that works for me is, when he takes a toy away from the baby, I remove that toy from both of them and let them play with other toys. Good luck though.

    Answer by Anonymous at 3:15 PM on Apr. 1, 2009

  • I don't support spanking. This power struggle is being contributed to by her age and the introduction of a sibling. Be firm & consistent. Traits we find undesirable in young children are ones that we hope they have when they are 18. Stubborn and bossy, if properly socialized, can become self-assured and confident. If she talks back say "I will discuss this with you if you talk nice. I will not argue. If you argue I will not talk and you may stand in the corner. Do you choose to talk or do you choose the corner?" She sees she chooses what happens to her, instead of "I'll put you in the corner" . The energy drain method works wonders, but usually starting at age 4. If she doesn't want to share her toyswith an infant give the baby something else & have the 3 year old remove her object from sight. When she does share voluntarily heap praise &she will seek it out.

    Answer by kara_g. at 3:38 PM on Apr. 1, 2009

  • Oh boy do I ever know how you feel. I also have a 3 year old little miss bossy! I rely on time outs and when things are really headed towards getting out of hand I take away things I know she really, her favorite toys, etc. for the day. We are pretty strict parents, so sometimes I wonder if we're too tough on her, but at the same time I don't want her walking all over us. I'm hoping this is just a phase she is going through where she's testing her boundaries. I am consistent with her time outs so she knows I mean business. When she back talks me I kneel down and tell her that it is NOT okay to speak that way. I've also been trying to teach her about being polite and how our actions affect people's feelings. She may be too young to completely understand, but I'd rather she starts hearing the message now and learn as we go. Whatever your consequence for bad behavior is I think being consistent is key. Good luck!

    Answer by AnnasMom10 at 3:38 PM on Apr. 1, 2009