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3 Bumps

Why is my three-year-old acting out so badly??

I know it's been rough around here lately, what with my husband leaving me and my three-year-old little girl, and me being pregnant, but my daughter is acting out so badly, and I just don't know what to do! I don't know if it's my husband leaving (he was here from April '10-January '11) or if it's the new baby on the way, or both... She wakes up before me every morning (7:30am or earlier!) and steals something from either the kitchen, which is right next to her room, or my room! I can close my door, but she'll still find SOMETHING to get into! So far it's been nail polish, makeup, food from the pantry (coffee, sugar, cereal, chips, anything messy), toilet paper, ripping up books, my purse (stupid mistake on my part for leaving it within her reach...), EVERYTHING. I don't know what I can do to stop it, aside from putting everything 6ft. high (she's a very tall child for her age and I think she sometimes uses her baby step stool), or closing her door at night, which, if I do, she'll FREAK OUT. I don't know the right way to discipline her. Lectures and spankings don't work, and I've tried to get her to clean it up, which she does, but that doesn't make her learn either. What do I do??

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Asked by briellesmommy18 at 1:16 AM on Jan. 29, 2011 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 2 (7 Credits)
Answers (9)
  • she's trying desperately to get your attention....she's at the age where she can be in a pre-k program a couple days a week if you can afford it...even check out the YMCA or something to get her involved in...3 year olds get bored very easily anyway and she is probable sensing the stress going on. I would take her at least to the park once or twice a day and let her feel some normalcy. It will give you a break also. Im so sorry for everything you're going through. that's alot!! Just try to make her days as normal as possible and see if a friend or family can give you a mommy break from time to time. My little one is VERY's not easy.

    Answer by calliesmommie at 1:20 AM on Jan. 29, 2011

  • Thank you for your advice! :) She goes to my mom's during the week from 12-8p while I work, until I can get her into the low income daycare.

    Comment by briellesmommy18 (original poster) at 1:23 AM on Jan. 29, 2011

  • Because she is three. lol. But she could be acting out because of the situation, too. Sounds tough, I'm sorry. =[

    Answer by -AJ at 1:25 AM on Jan. 29, 2011

  • Do all three-year-olds make insane messes?? I mean, I understand the occasional mess, but even with discipline of all kinds she does it, every night. I thought they learned better after a while...

    Comment by briellesmommy18 (original poster) at 1:26 AM on Jan. 29, 2011

  • She needs a lot of attention right now given everything the two of you are going through. She is lashing out because she knows no other way to accept the situation. For discipline - Each child has a "currency" which is THE most important thing to them. We used to take that away for an appropriate length of time as punishment. It won't necessarily be a toy. My youngest used to LOVE watching the trash truck. So, occasionally we would say he could not watch it. Zero in on what makes her tick. Be Consistent!! Don't threaten something unless you really will do it. Like saying "you will never watch TV again". That is unrealistic and not something you can follow through on. Take ALL the anger out of your discipline. You can do it calmly and with love. Also, make sure she gets enough one on one time with you. Praise her when she does things right. Cuddle her and tell her you love her. I wish you both all the best. hug

    Answer by elizabr at 8:56 AM on Jan. 29, 2011

  • She's trying to get your attention. She's figured out that doing the WRONG thing and getting negative attention is better and easier than doing the right thing and not getting the attention. So first, I would figure out what sort of attention MOST motivates her. (like is it getting hugs/snuggles? Is it you saying nice things? Is it you playing a game with her?) Then I would start catching her doing every tiny little good thing you can think of. Then, as she gets use to the positive attention I would start trying to ignore whatever negative behaviors you can (obviously you can't ignore dangerous things.) Then I would make some sort of incentive chart, based on what behaviors you want to encourage, and what things motivate her. Keep catching her doing the little things, but try to delay the "reward" by giving her verbal reinforcement and maybe a sticker. Tell her that if she earns 3 stickers, she'll get _______."

    Answer by Maisy19 at 9:07 AM on Jan. 29, 2011

  • ...(like playing a game with you, or coloring with you, or whatever.) Then, as she gets better and better at making the right choices, increase the delay to 5 stickers, then 10, etc. If you are super consistent and incredibly patient, after time, the praise that you give her will be enough for her.

    Answer by Maisy19 at 9:10 AM on Jan. 29, 2011

  • i would say she is acting out because of the situation. My son done the same thing. and even though we would like to think that children don't know when things are going on they do it weird how they sense it. my ds would shove rolls of tp in the toilet. fingernail polish and i couldn't tell you what all i found in the washer. with my ds spankings never work we take things away a favorite toy, tv, and or timeout. Good luck. Hope things work put for you

    Answer by MomaWeeks at 9:41 AM on Jan. 29, 2011

  • Dont worry your not the only one! I have a 5yr boy, 4yr girl and 2yr girl and my 4yr is the same way she does everything you just said about the things she does. Im going to try some of these things that the ladies posted. Thanks!

    Answer by mbluste at 4:18 PM on Jan. 29, 2011

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