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How do you gain forgiveness from a 3 year old?

I feel so awful. Things have been escalated way too far with my 3 year old son. His behavior seems out of control at times and I've tried to be consistent in every method of discipline and also every form of positive reinforcement and nothing seems to work. My husband thinks that we need to just be harder on him to get him to behave, but I disagree. I had a huge blow out that was entirely uncalled for with my son yesterday. He absolutely refused to stay in his bed and take his nap. I ended up spanking him, yelling at him, taking every single toy out of his room, shutting his door, just everything awful. None of it worked and it was unnecessary on my part. I really don't know what will work, but losing my temper and getting out of control is not the answer. I felt like such a bully afterwards. I apologized and we talked when he woke up and he seemed unphased, but how could he be? I was just mean. What do I do now?


Asked by Anonymous at 11:33 PM on Aug. 31, 2009 in Preschoolers (3-4)

This question is closed.
Answers (7)
  • He probably WAS unphased. Your post sounds like things I've gone through w/ my ds who is now 5. We still have a hard time some days. Anyway, it sounds like mommy needs to forgive herself. And try not to let it happen again. Try some anger mgt stuff like breathing, counting, blah blah blah, I"m sure you've heard it all before. I know it's hard sometimes because you get so frustrated when you feel like nothing is working. But try... TRY to remember that he's watching and taking it all in, and although he was unphased by yesterdays events, he might remember how you acted and immulate you next week. Hugs and good luck Momma!

    Answer by rachel92782 at 11:47 PM on Aug. 31, 2009

  • If he seemed unphased, he probably was unphased. Preschoolers let things go a lot easier and way more quickly than adults too. I've lost my temper with my three year old and I apologized to her, she said "It's ok Mommy, just don't do it again!" and gave me a kiss and went on with her life. lol

    Answer by toriandgrace at 11:40 PM on Aug. 31, 2009

  • I hope you're right. I was sitting down with my son trying to explain to him that I had made a mistake and should not have been so hard on him. I just wanted him to listen, but I still should have been a lot nicer. I'm hugging him and apologizing and telling him I'll try harder next time and I want him to too and when I'm not quite done with our talk he looks at me and says "Okay, can I go play with the puppies now." just like that. No big deal, Mom, just a crazy, unecessary freak out, who cares? It shocked me. I thought he would be scarred from it. I still feel awful. I still worry I've done some damage. I still wish I could take it back. I'm still not entirely convinced it didn't hurt his little feelings. My only hope is that this memory will be thrown out and replaced with a lovely one for when he's older and thinking about me.

    Answer by Anonymous at 11:46 PM on Aug. 31, 2009

  • Consider the matter closed! You were angry and over reacted. You apologized for your behavior. It was over and done with by the time he fell asleep. Forgive yourself!! If he was that upset by what you said or did, chances are he would not have even fallen asleep. Don't confuse discipline with punishment. Discipline is the limits we set and the rules we enforce for the safety and success of our children. Punishment is the consequence of not following the limits and rules. When both are routinely followed there is less chance of us losing control as well as the children.

    Answer by jessa1091 at 2:23 AM on Sep. 1, 2009

  • Lots of children appear unphased when actually they are displaying symptoms of psychological trauma -which often looks the same: unable to remember the events, emotionally distant, easily distracted, and sometimes a change in personality that lasts for hours or days.

    Punishment is 100% unnecessary, 100% of the time --mostly because it's perceived as mean by the victim, which doesn't teach them anything useful about their prior behaviour. Until a child is around 8, they don't see any connection between what they just did and what their parents are doing now. Adults who grew up being punished still blame the punisher, not themselves -for getting caught, for the rules, for the punishment itself and its effects on them.

    Has it occured to you that maybe your 3yo has outrgrown naps? Or that the timing is off and you're asking him to sleep when he's alert and exploring?

    Discipline is not to control kids, it's to teach.

    Answer by LindaClement at 11:37 AM on Sep. 1, 2009

  • Being consistent isn't doing it for 3 days and expecting magic. If you have been changing up more frequently then every few weeks hes confused. The biggest thing is don't lose you're cool. Yelling, spanking just gives them power IMO. But if you stay calm and keep up with the SAME consequences for misbehavior it should get better. Also kids schedules change, he might not be tired. Maybe quiet time in his room would be more appropriate for him. I can tell you when my 3year old acts up he goes directly to his room, if he comes out I lock the door ( I flipped it) and no it's not 3 mins. it's more like 10-15 AFTER he chills out if hes throwing a fit.


    Answer by AnnaBright at 12:26 PM on Sep. 1, 2009

  • LindaClement: I've thought about skipping naps altogether, but the days I do he gets so overtired in the late afternoon or evening he starts getting irritable and acting out. If I do have him sleep that late in the day then he's not tired enough by the end of the day and then the situation switches over to bedtime. It seems like he's in a "middle stage" where he is almost ready to skip naps, but not quite there. Today he laid down like an angel and is sleeping soundly. No fuss at all. This age is so foreign to day everything is going wonderful and the next day I feel like he's pushing every button he can. I am going to try to stay neutral and not let his behavior get to me as much as possible and maybe when he sees that bad behavior won't get any reaction at all he'll let up a bit.

    AnnaBright: We usually try things for at least a month or so. Everything's been unsuccessful this far though! :(

    Answer by Anonymous at 2:15 PM on Sep. 1, 2009