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How do you cope with a destructive/impulsive 3-4 year old?

I have a 3.5 year old boy and a 7 month old girl. My son loves his baby sister. Before she was born he was destructive. He would find a way to pop the lock on the fridge to get food, attempt to make mac and cheese on the floor, and more recently, he has been urinating in his room, breaking eggs, climbing to reach unattainable cabinets, and more. I've timed him out, not let him out of my sight for longer than 5 minutes, and even spanked or yelled at him. Nothing works. He understands that he is doing wrong, but it does not phase him. He also does a lot of this stuff in the middle of the night after he gets up to pee.

Additional notes:

His father is not around much and he is lucky to see him once or twice each month. My husband has been in his life since he was five months old and takes care of him, plays games, and more. He is in 3-4 yr old preschool.

Answer Question

Asked by Anonymous at 4:20 PM on Nov. 30, 2010 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Answers (6)
  • My son can be rough, I think it's a testosterone thing, not to mention first born stubbornness. I think keeping things he can't have away (keep snacks he can help himself to at his level, knives on the fridge highhh away, your purse hanging out of reach, nothing breakable on the coffee table... And keeping him busy, getting out the puzzles one morning, the play doh another, the masking tape to make roads on the floor for cars...

    Answer by txdaniella at 4:25 PM on Nov. 30, 2010

  • I would not be looking for a way to cope with his behavior. To the contrary, he would be looking for a way to cope with the very stern discipline that would be coming his way non-stop. He obviously does not respect you nor your authority. This is your home, and you should be the one who is making and enforcing the rules. Unless you get this handled very quickly, your life is going to become more and more miserable. I can't imagine what he will be like by the time he reaches his teens. Retraining him will take some time and it will be difficult because he has become accustomed to doing whatever he pleases whenever he pleases. It would probably be helpful if the man of the house became actively involved in teaching your child what it means to respect and obey his parents.

    Answer by NannyB. at 4:28 PM on Nov. 30, 2010

  • you said he does most of this during the night....and the behavior seems fairly dramatic....

    Have you ever considered a neurological problem like is his speech? Does he play well with toys, make friends, etc?

    Answer by mom2twobabes at 4:55 PM on Nov. 30, 2010

  • My son is very smart and speaks well. He also knows how to take things apart and put them back together, open locks, child safety mechanisms, and harnesses. I have had him looked at by a ped and am waiting on talking with a psyc. I have depressive anxiety (is treated by medication) so I am wondering if he has something similar. Both my fiance and I are pulling our hair out because he does this stuff at night and is very sneaky about it. Like I said, I have spanked him, timed him out, talked to him, yelled at him, tried ignoring the bad behavior, and nothing works.

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 6:06 PM on Nov. 30, 2010

  • I might talk w/ my pedi to see what suggestions they might have in this instance if I were you...

    Answer by ethans_momma06 at 11:35 PM on Nov. 30, 2010

  • my son used to break eggs but he thought they were hatching when he did that, he would say look mommy the egg hatched! one time he came to me running all excited mommy the egg hatched i looked at him like WHAT egg hatched! and he took my hand and took me to the kitchen!! lol lol i really dont have advice for you im sorry

    Answer by kris8525 at 8:51 PM on Dec. 2, 2010

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