Disciplining Your Three Year Old

Disciplining Three Year OldSometimes it feels that children below the age of three years are at a stage where parents are in danger of using up ALL their reserves of patience at one go!

A child’s initial growing years are some of the best years in a parent’s life. However, it is at this time when the disciplining starts. And there is an “art” to distracting your child, while disciplining.

The one-and-a-half to two-year-olds have very strong desires and emotions. Try stopping them and you have an angry child on your hands. The lovely little angel might turn into a wild-n-crazy child!

Frankly, there is no sure way of making your child turn into an obedient little soul. However there are ways of trying to make her listen to you. (That’s one thing we, as parents, are never going to give up on trying!)

Firstly, she needs to be distracted. At times, it has the opposite effect. She will cry even louder. But when you get her attention to things that are new, it shows results.

The “new” things can be anything from your pen to sunglasses to your watch, anything that you know will distract her from the tantrum. The moment you can distract her, you know you have achieved the unachievable!

You may wonder how long can you keep distracting the child. Well, this is how it works: the moment your child starts that tantrum behaviour, she expects you to shout/stop/scold her. And she knows exactly what she will do next. So the idea is to surprise her! Instead of screaming at her, if you distract her with something else, it takes her by surprise and she gradually stops resisting.

If you give your child a warning before you shift gears, it would give her a chance to accept that you are going to do something new soon. So start learning what activities, objects, phrases or toys would interest your little one.

Here’s a first hand experience and believe me it worked with me! My child loves birds and animals. One day, on a trip to a friend’s place, he decided to act tough. Instead of playing in the garden, he fancied a board game. My friend’s child, in an equally militant mood decided not to give it away! We, the mothers, coaxed them, hectored them alternately on the virtues of sharing.

Now, a lecture on morals and values is the last thing that a child wants to hear at that time. So, I said, “Shh! Is that a blue bird in the tree?” That did it! He immediately quietened down as we walked over to investigate. Then he was ready to move to the next activity.

The other trick is to mean what you say and stick to it. Children know when you are serious and when you aren’t . Let them know you mean business. If you stick to what you say, after a certain point they give up.

If you keep your strategies consistent and her whining doesn’t help, then she will eventually stop asking to stay up later each night (maybe by the time she turns 20!).

The distraction is sometimes tougher. You have to keep on top of what her new likes and dislikes are. Carry special things in a bag that she doesn’t play with much. So they are special when she sees them. Band-aids, stickers and lollipops are great to have on the hand.

Your “art” of distraction can be expanded to include new techniques: silly games, songs, funny dances and goofy faces. A sense of humour really helps to ease children happily from one thing to the next. You will come up with your special “humorous” skits. We play “The monster takes mamma away” a lot. He loves that game. Now the new problem is playing the monster game three times!

Also, your child’s reactions are exaggerated when she is hungry and tired. Try to avoid these situations because your child really cannot control her misbehavior. It would do well to remember how cranky we get on feeling the pangs of hunger.

Another good reminder: “don’t let irrationality rule.” If you must complete a project and your child won’t cooperate, distract her, take her out to the playground or, otherwise, put a stop to her efforts. Don’t let a child’s irrationality run – and ruin – everyone else’s life.

You will find that as time goes on, you will master this art. One day I knew that I had when my husband said, “You are really good at distracting!” Now I see him doing some of the same things.

Don’t be afraid to take advice from friends and relatives. I learned my best techniques from them. And most importantly, listen to the needs and desires of your child. They really do want to please you.

When my kid listens to me and nicely leaves the swimming pool or birthday party to go home (how boring), I tell him how proud I am of him. He always gives me a big smile because it makes him feel warm on the inside too!

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