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Why is my three year old such a monster when we go in public???

I took my dd to the pharmacy to pick up my meds and a couple of other things. As usual, I reminded her that if she ran away from mom or touched items on the shelves, she would have to sit in the cart instead of walking like she usually does. She did ok...for about 5 minutes. Then she started messing with things, running away from me, etc. I did what I promised-I marched her little behind to the front of the store and put her in a shopping cart. She starts freaking out, screaming, refusing to sit. I got fed up and said (with a clenched jaw) "STOP IT!!!!!!" I made her sit in the cart. Of course there are a bunch of people in the store who witnessed me losing my cool...I felt like a bad mother. I was in a bad mood for the rest of the afternoon. I barely spoke to her, and when my SO came to visit, I told him to tend to her so I could have some cool-off time.

Why can't she behave like other kids do? Why does she have to act this way? I try to teach her how to behave, but it seems like she just doesn't get it. I don't spank, but I do use time out, logical consequences, "that" look, etc. She behaves sometimes, sometimes not.


Asked by Anonymous at 7:03 PM on May. 5, 2011 in General Parenting

This question is closed.
Answers (12)
  • I've done what Mom2 Jack04 suggested to you with my oldest daughter when she was around 3 or 4. I told her plainly that if she began to misbehave in the store I was going to leave the store and bring her home to stay with her daddy while I went shopping. I got about midway threw shopping and she started her little misbehaving act. I took the cart to the front, told the cashier I was coming back in a couple of minutes to finish my shopping. I took her home and left her with her daddy then I went back and finished shopping. I also removed the treats I was going to get her. She was really upset about it, but she knew next time that I wasn't giving reminders (other than the mom look when she started to act up) or chances and she behaved herself.
    Kids know they have you at a disadvantage in a public setting. It's up to you to show them they are wrong and that you will correct their behavior the same way as you do at home.

    Answer by CallMeAngie at 7:21 PM on May. 5, 2011

  • she's 3yo.

    Answer by dullscissors at 7:06 PM on May. 5, 2011

  • Sadly....she IS behaving like other kids do....thats what they do. The next time just tell her to stop or you leave, even if it means leaving a full cart in an aisle, if it continues you have to follow through and walk right out of that store and home to a time out.

    Answer by Mom2Jack04 at 7:06 PM on May. 5, 2011

  • Their attention span is so short at that age. Does she like to be a helper? Children like to find the things we are looking for and put them in the cart...maybe try this with her or take things with you she would like to keep her mind occupied.

    Answer by virginiamama71 at 7:06 PM on May. 5, 2011

  • That's why I always kept my Son in a stroller if I didn't have a shopping cart at a store. Easier to make quick exits in case of a fit & no rummaging through shelves or disappearing.


    Answer by ILovemyPaulie at 7:09 PM on May. 5, 2011

  • Instead of telling her what she CANT do, try telling her what she CAN do :) "While we are in the store I need you to keep your body next to my body." "Keep your hands to your own body." etc. If she starts to wander off ask her "Do you remember what we talked about before we left the store?" Instead of threatening the cart, remind her that she has control over the choice. She can either stand next to you and keep her hands to herself...or she can sit in the cart. It is HER choice :) It also helps to be routine! If you choose to go this route... it will take some time before behavior changes, but keep at it! :) GL

    Answer by Tarrar at 7:10 PM on May. 5, 2011

  • If she did quiet down then, you did fine. Be consistent with what you expect. She will get it eventually. I agree that if you can make her your helper in the store it might get better. And if things start to get out of hand you can give her the warning that she will go in the cart

    Answer by whitepeppers at 7:12 PM on May. 5, 2011

  • She could be testing you. She wants to see how far she can push you. Its a new area and she wants to know what she can get away with. Just take a few deep breaths, count to 10 and be very consistent. Unfortunantly, this is normal. My 3 year old can act like a totally turd when we go out in public, but I always remain consistent and try to keep my cool. Eventually she will learn.

    Answer by amber1330 at 7:16 PM on May. 5, 2011

  • She can be stimulated by a different place. So what do you do the next time you go to pharmacy? You should put her in the cart and when she protests you say, you didn't behave the last time so until you learn to behave you have to sit in the cart. Too bad parents can't smack the butt anymore as that gets attention sometimes. Do not ever give a child anything they want in a store if they fuss. If they have behaved very well and I mean very very well, then get something as you leave and tell her that it is because she behaved so well. It is a reward, not a bribe. Never say I'll get this for you if you behave. You don't bribe them. You may reward them but not every time. You can give them positive feedback about how proud you are of them when they behave well. I would never allow a 3 year old to walk in a store unless she was holding my hand and there were no carts at all. Children see lots of things & want touching.

    Answer by Sweet_Carol_126 at 7:33 PM on May. 5, 2011

  • The other advice about being consistent is important. Don't threaten anything that you do not intend to do. Do not reward for bad behavior at all. If you are embarrassed, remove them from the store immediaely. Your child and proper discipline is more important than getting that item right now or start going to a drive up. Don't take your child out if they are hungry or tired. Be sure to give a 3 year old a nap every day. if she doesn't want it, tell her she has to stay in bed but can look at a book or hold her dolls but she has to stay in bed. If you take out a child who is tired or hungry then you are the guilty one not the child so don't punish then. Better not to take them out. Always have some good penalty when a child disbehaves unless hungry, tired or sick. If your child does not obey, go get them and keep them under control no matter what or leave the store. You need to teach discipline so can self...

    Answer by Sweet_Carol_126 at 7:40 PM on May. 5, 2011