Help? I need some new tools.

I’m looking for some positive parenting advice on a particular issue. Fiona has started hitting, biting, slapping, and screaming at me when she’s directed in any way. It’s probably a three-year-old thing, but it has me more than a little frustrated.

For instance, early in the day yesterday, I asked her to climb down from the table.  “Fiona, get off the table. The floor is for standing on.”

She looked at me and screamed at the top of her lungs.

“Ugh. I don’t like being screamed at. Let me help you get down and go to your room to scream.” Go over to lift her down and carry her to her room and she starts hitting me and trying to bite me, screaming and crying.

I put her in her room, set a timer for three minutes and wait until both the timer goes off and she’s quiet. Then I go in and this is the conversation that results.

“Fiona, what are the rules?”

“No hitting, no biting, no yelling.”

“That’s right, and..” I prompt, “Do what you’re…”

“…told.” she finishes.

“Was screaming, biting or hitting me okay?” I ask.

“No.” She says. “I sorry, Mommy. You forgive me?”

“Yes, Baby, I forgive you. I love you!”

And then we go back to our day, but this repeats upwards of five times a day. It’s not getting better. What do I need to be doing to teach this? I’m sick of it and I need some new tools.

(Don’t bother to suggest spanking her. It’ll only tick me off. That option is not on the table.)


6 thoughts on “Help? I need some new tools.

  1. Mandy…in the box of birthday present I left for next week are 4 packs of stickers. I think it’s time to start trying some positive reinforcement. I’ll e-mail you details.

  2. It is a 3 year old thing. Her brain isn’t fully cooked yet and her fight or flight response is quicker than her ability to think rationally. Instead of redirecting try telling her playfully that there is something you wish she was big enough to do but you are sure she can’t like this: Fiona, oh, never mind, I forgot, you’re too little (or, you won’t want to do it).” She’ll ask you what it is, then tell her and she will prove you wrong. win-win. I told my daughters they were too little to get themselves dressed every single day for about two years starting around age 3 and they proved me wrong every time. I acted all shocked like I couldn’t believe they were so big and their little chests puffed up bc they were so proud. If she is about to do something unsafe, ask her if she thinks it is a good idea and engage her in a conversation. 3 year olds tend to react to feeling controlled just as they are learning that they actually don’t have to do what you say all the time. It gives you a chance to trick them into showing you they can do things and into making them think about their actions 🙂 Good luck!

  3. Another great idea (I can see why you do this advice thing!).
    It also reminds me that even though it’s harder, I have to go back to more playful parenting tactics. Not, “Fiona, get down”, but “Fiona, can you clap your hands, and stand on one foot? Oh wait, that’s not safe. Try it on the floor.” And do the clapping standing with her.
    And I need to offer more choices: “Fiona, standing on the table isn’t safe. Would you like help down, or would you like to climb down careful?”

    Weirdly, reverse psychology has a tendency to backfire with both her and my husband. If I act like I don’t think she can do something that she doesn’t want to do, she’ll insist that I’m right, she’s a baby and she can’t do it.

  4. I was just going to say that I went through this with my oldest and I’m sure the time will come with #2 as well. It was ultimately just a phase, and it didn’t kill me (though it frustrated me endlessly). I, too, have found humor, silliness and all-out-goofball tactics work well. Good luck, hang in there.

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