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tantrums and timeouts!


I'm in need of some advice from other mamas out there! I have a 3 year old son who's extremely head strong! I personally don't believe in spanking (I don't judge those who do, to each their own.) but trying to get him to understand timeouts I'm finding very difficult!, I am a single mom, 27 years old, I'd love some tips of the trade from other moms, thanks in advance =)
Jul 10, 2014 @ 07:36 pm

4 Replies


if only there was a one-size-fits-all solution....

I have 3 kids and all I can tell you is that there is no one solution. It gets better as they get older because you can explain and discuss. I think trying to have a mature conversation with a 3 yr old is generally a waste of time - not because they are incapable of understanding, but they really don't care and/or immediately forget.

There are a zillion books out there that have a zillion answers, but that just goes to show that nobody really knows the solution. It's largely your son testing his boundaries and an almost animal kingdom-like pecking order process. Some kids are naturally peacemakers while others want to be in charge. That's why when there are misbehaviours, you have to meet them at their level and in a language they understand.

My middle child is also very headstrong. I could (and will in a sec) give you a couple of tips, but with the warning that these solutions only work for a certain period of time and then they "expire" so you have to find the next pressure point that will achieve some level of cooperation. It's certainly true that what worked with my older child did NOT make any impression on my younger children. You have to treat them individually and not worry too much about things like double standards or household consequences that apply equally and universally.

The very best advice I can give you in general is to implement only those consequences you can actually follow through on. If you say "stop this behaviour or you can't go to your friend's birthday party", then you really need to be prepared to call the friend's mom to cancel. Constantly letting them off the hook teaches kids NOTHING. But creating a consequence you know you can do and then following through shows consistency.

So my solutions (for what they're worth) have been:

1. put something in time out. If not the child, then the toy that's creating the issue. Put it somewhere visible but inaccessible, like on top of a high cabinet. Seeing that DVD, a stuffie, or other favourite toy "in jail" reminds them that they won't get it back until the behaviour stops. Make sure there is a time buffer so that you don't give it back immediately upon improvement but instead say "you need to show good behaviour for x amount of time and then the toy can come out of time out."

2. Put the focus back on the positive. We moms are usually forced to say no more than yes. When I give my kids unexpected compliments, it generally puts them in a better mood for the whole day. Sometimes I see a situation ramping up and I have to head it off with multiple praises before I see the momentum easing back down. Spoken praise is great, but I sometimes make a mini art project of it so that the child can look at it over and over again, save it in their room.

3. Understand your child's love language. Longtime readers here on ChickAdvisor might be sick of me constantly talking about this, but I firmly believe there's something to it. If you are not already familiar with what the Love Languages are, they are: Spending Quality Time, Acts Of Service, Touch, Gifts, and Words of Affirmation.

Everyone needs all of the above, but usually (especially in kids) there is a dominant language. You know by how your child treats you in both positive and negative ways. If your child is a hugger and a hitter, that means their love language is Touch. If the child uses words to lavish and to punish, their love language is Words of Affirmation. If the child makes crafts as presents and rips up your favourite Mother's Day card to prove a point, their love language is Gifts. And so forth!

So to get through to them, you have to speak their language. This can be really hard when your love language is something else completely! You might find it hard to speak and receive compliments, but if that's what your kid needs you find a way to do it. You might not want to spend money on gifts, but if that's what your kid needs, buy something. It can be a $1 candy bar or new pack of crayons - does not need to be expensive to fill that little love tank!

I'm getting a little long-winded here but hopefully you get the idea. Just survive the next couple of years. I promise your current situation will get better, but I also promise that this challenge will be replaced by the next. Your child will never stop being strong-willed, but that will stand him in good stead when it comes to his career! Try to focus on what his strengths mean for his future rather than how frustrating they seem in the present. When he's old enough, use this as a talking point to help him see that he's not a bossy problem-child but rather a strong personality with leadership skills who also needs to appreciate the softies around him. No leader gets anywhere without a supportive team who lets him take the lead, so non-aggressive types are just as vital to success even if they aren't the head honcho.

Good luck!
Jul 11, 2014 @ 03:19 pm

Well said

@mamaluv, I couldn't have said it better myself.

I agree with you on the timeout issue of taking away a favourite stuffie. My daughter can still pitch a fit like no one's business but when her beloved stuffie, George sits on top of the fridge, she knows Mama means business.

Jul 11, 2014 @ 04:25 pm

Well said

@mamaluv, I couldn't have said it better myself.

I agree with you on the timeout issue of taking away a favourite stuffie. My daughter can still pitch a fit like no one's business but when her beloved stuffie, George sits on top of the fridge, she knows Mama means business.

Jul 11, 2014 @ 04:25 pm

Hang in there!

I agree with mamaluv, especially on the love language part. There's no easy answer. I was recently given some advise that helped my child's tantrum situation tremendously.

Sometimes, when a child is having tantrums, it could be from a lack of attention (Not at all saying that you're neglecting you child). When a child see's us fiddling with the cell, or on the computer, rushing around stressed out about what ever is going on, they don't understand those things as being important, and to them it can feel like your attention is not on them. When the parent thinks the child is getting enough attention, the child may actually not be.

So the advice I got was to spend 100% of any spare time specifically focused on the child, or children. No phone, no tv, no computer or anything else. After a few days ease off a bit, keeping specific times of the day to focus on that child; reading a book together, include them in dinner preparation, going for a walk etc.

Tantrums will always happen, it's a part of life, but I hope this can help you.

Jul 13, 2014 @ 06:50 pm

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