Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Questions and Answers: 3 year olds

From: Theresa

Subject: toddler regression

Question: We have a 3 1/3 year old daughter and a 1 year old son. I am a stay at home mom and my husband works full time. Just hoping for some advice on a situation we are having with our daughter.

She is a pleasant, funny, happy toddler and typically during the day, I don't have too many issues with her behavior. An occasional time out, or tantrum may occur, but nothing out of the ordinary.

The minute my husband is done with work and is home, it seems like she completely regresses to being a baby. She becomes very whiney, talks "baby talk", wants to be carried, is very sensitive to everything going exactly her way, and doesn't listen very well. This is how our weekends are too because my husband is home.

When my husband is around (he is a very active parent), she wants nothing to do with me. Do you have any advice on how to handle her behaviors? We try to ignore her when she whines and talks like a baby but doesn't seem to be working.

We give her tons of attention, but when she's acting this way, it is sooo exhausting and time consuming that it usually takes over our evenings/weekends.

Thank You!!!!!


Answer: Dear Theresa,

You say we try to ignore he when she acts this way. She is getting some reinforcement somewhere or she would have NO motivation to continue this behavior. Even if she is just picking up on your annoyance....there needs to be NO eye contact, she needs a total withdrawal of your body language and interaction when she acts this way. You and your husband need to respond by letting her know you will deal with her when she uses her big girl voice. No reinforcement of any kind ever again or you start over again from the lapse.

Now having said this is your family too close? Does she have big girl time with her parents one on one with out the 1 year old? A 1 year old and a 3 1/2 year old are not even in the smae developmental stage. Is she thinking that she can get the type of attention the younger sibling gets if she behaves.

Remember children do not consciously choose the behaviors that they do just to drive you nuts. They do it because it meets some need. Because it gets reinforced. Because they have some motivating force to do so. Getting to the bottom of this will help you motivate her to change her behavior.

Best Wishes!



From: jerrica

Subject: 3 1/2 year old temper tantrums

Question: I have 2 boys 3 1/2 and 2 1/2 years old. my oldest son started throwing tantrums around 18 months old and they have only got worse!
to the point that we don't go anywhere as a family! i have tried everything! But nothing is helping.

If he see's something he wants he has to have it and if he doesn't it is a 30 minute sometimes and hour screaming fit. It seems like every normal daily to day activity is a hassle (meal time, bath time, bed) I am at my wits end what can i do to change it?

Answer: Dear Jerrica,

Thee isn't enough information here to really help you. You have written to me about his behavior and not how you react to him or how others react to him. How often is he told no? I need more details.

Traditionally with tantrums they will stop when they are not reinforced. No eye contact, no attention etc....when they continue like this there is usually some sort of reinforcement.




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