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How best to deal with 3-year-old's "Mommy spite"?

I need suggestions for coping with what I call my daughter's "Mommy spite". My 3-1/2 year old has recently decided that Mommy (number one rule-maker and enforcer in the house) is her archnemesis. She will behave beautifully in the presence of Daddy, Grandma, Auntie, you name it - but if Mom's around, she pulls out all the stops. This includes peeing her pants (despite being fully potty trained) and hiding the evidence. She'll also make intentional messes that she knows I'll make her clean up, and when I tell her to clean them up she will throw a hysterical fit until she has exhausted herself to the point of almost passing out. I'm not tyrannical - I ask nicely the first couple times, but then I am stern and will not back down when I tell her to do something. She KNOWS this. You can watch her face and see that she is intentionally going for reactions. But what do I do? I can't IGNORE the messes she makes, peeing her pants, etc

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Asked by aliceryannesmom at 2:37 PM on Aug. 15, 2010 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 20 (8,465 Credits)
Answers (9)
  • I am definitely going through this, too! Right now I am trying a reward system. I let her decorate a board and then put magnets on teh back and hung it on the fridge. She gets a star sticker when she does what she is told without throwing a fit first. She realizes that when she gets to ten stars she'll get a small reward. So, I'll let you know how the incentive system work out for us! Worth a try.

    Answer by LittleWeloosMom at 2:43 PM on Aug. 15, 2010

  • Hmm, I haven't tried a reward system yet! That could definitely help. Thanks for the idea!

    Comment by aliceryannesmom (original poster) at 2:52 PM on Aug. 15, 2010

  • You can be proactive and avoid things like messes. There are things you can ignore. You can avoid using punishments. You should only ask once. Then change the situation. If there is a mess and you ask once and she doesn't clean it up then help her clean it up. If you want her to get off the counter she is standing on go over and pick her up and put her on the floor.

    Reorganize things so it's difficult to make messes. Some experts say 10 toys are enough. I have a 22 mo grandson and I bought new furniture because he is always taking my sectional apart, moving the sections around and putting the cushins all over. Great fun for him but difficult for grandma.


    Answer by Gailll at 3:01 PM on Aug. 15, 2010

  • Gailll, I understand what you mean by being proactive, but there is only so much I can do. We have a locking DVD cabinet, not a lot of toys, and childproofed cabinets. She will still find ways to make messes. One of the things we have issues with right now is the taking apart of the sectional - unfortunately, since I am still paying it off, I cannot afford to go out and buy something different. I wish I had realized when I bought it what a pain it would become.

    Comment by aliceryannesmom (original poster) at 3:38 PM on Aug. 15, 2010

  • Sounds like she's definitely testing the limits and knows what buttons to push with you (how DO they do that?). Rewards are nice and may work. You might also try making a game out of picking up toys. Say to her "let's see how many toys you can pick up while I say the alphabet" or count to 30 or something like that. You may also suggest an activity that she likes to do. "Pick up your toys and then we can X"
    Consistency is key. Find a method that works for you and stick with it. For example, when I ask my 3.5 year old twins to do something, I ask and if they don't do it right away, I count to three. Most times I don't get to three and they do what I asked. The times that they haven't done as they were asked I then physically help them do whatever it is by putting my hands on theirs and helping them do it.
    Hang in there!

    Answer by twinclubmom at 7:59 PM on Aug. 15, 2010

  • I don't know... kids can be so tricky to deal with. But I'm reading this really interesting book called "Setting Limits with Your Strong Willed Child" - It might give you some ideas!

    Good luck!

    Answer by Sebbiemama at 9:49 PM on Aug. 15, 2010

  • Ive dealt with that- expecially right after our second son was born he told me flat out "mommy you're mean I dont like you". I told him good- then Im doing my job. He was also fully potty trained and decided to start wetting himself. I put a size 6 diaper on him and told him if he was going to act like a baby and pee his pants then he could just wear a diaper (solved that problem instantly.). If she starts throwing a fit either send her to her room t calm down (you may physically have to put her in her room) or ignor her till shr calms down. My husband and I are old school...our son knows whats acceptable to say to mommy and daddy for the most part and knows he best not give us attitude because we will slap him in his mouth. and give him 3 warnings before he gets spanked.

    Answer by szeimetz at 5:44 PM on Aug. 17, 2010

  • Thank you for the responses ladies, you've given me a lot of good advice!!

    Comment by aliceryannesmom (original poster) at 8:01 PM on Aug. 25, 2010

  • Rewards?

    Answer by sstepph at 1:57 PM on Sep. 17, 2010

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