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I’ve long said that 3 is the worst age of toddlerhood. I’ve never had many problems at age 2, but age 3, it just blows up. It has now occurred to me that before Liv, I had no idea what I was talking about. Bud and Lucy’s time of being 3, even if I combined their tantrums and bullshit, pale in massive proportion to what I deal with from Liv on a daily basis. I have always been the person wide eyed in the grocery store, at the child having a meltdown that the parent is seemingly powerless to stop. I’ve always been the one thinking to myself something along the lines of “damn, control your child!”. I should have known better. The tables have turned.

Olivia has always been a force to be reckoned with. She has been strong willed from the time she was an infant, fighting to the death to get her own way. Now, she is an extremely verbal 3-year-old who thinks that she is on par in all levels with her older brother and sister. I think too, because she has spent so much time one on one with grown-ups, that she also thinks she is something of a grown-up herself. So of course, when she doesn’t get to do what she wants, it is an all out battle.

Here is a typical conversation with Olivia, usually happening minutes before dinner time.

Liv: Mom, can I have a apple bar?
Me: No, we’re going to eat in a few minutes.
Liv: Please can I have a apple baaaar?
Me: Olivia, I said no. It’s dinner time.
Liv: But I said pleeeeaaase!!
Me: No.
Liv: Apple Bar!
Me: …
Liv: Apple Bar!!
Me: …
Liv: AAAAAple Bar!!!
Me: Olivia, I told you no. Now please sit down for dinner.
Liv: Well fine then, I’m not talking to you.

She is beyond infuriating, and I’m having a really hard time keeping my fury in check. We have tried everything: taking things away, time outs, carrying her to her bed, removing her from stores and dinner tables. You name it, we have done it and she does not care—not one single iota. And I am at a loss as to what to do with her anymore. Am I to just ride out this hurricane? When she is not being a raging hellbeast, she is really quite delightful. She loves to help with any chore, she likes to just converse with me, sit and read books, and do puzzles. She is quite a puzzle wiz, actually. But the second she feels like the slightest injustice has been performed, it is over and there is usually no going back.

So here’s my question. Are there any tried and true methods for disciplining an ornery 3-year-old? What about other forms of distraction? I feel as though I’ve exhausted all of my resources and I am starting to question whether the problem is me, and not her. Granted, I’ve never had this happen before, but still. Or maybe she just has, and always will have a strong personality. And if that is true, well, God help us all.

10 responses »

  1. My J is the same way! It infuriates me to no end and some days I just really don't like him. This morning I was thinking he needed to be strapped to a board and wheeled into a small dark soundproof room. When he doesn't get his way he'll just scream "apple bar!" over and over.. I mean for an HOUR or more, while I just ignore him. He's really ornery and unpleasant, and he's FOUR, he's been this way since he was 2. I wish I had advice.. I had 2 "good" kids and then I have him and I was so spoiled by them! The worst part is they are starting to act like him because they see me ignoring him. NOTHING is ever smooth with him! lol. Cute saves his life, I swear.

  2. Ah, three. Helen's go-to phrase is "THEN I'M NOT GONNA BE YOUR BEST FRIEND ANYMORE!"Come on, fourth birthday! 🙂

  3. It sounds to me like you are doing everything right. I think it's a ride-it-out thing.

  4. I, too, think there's no other thing to do. You're doing it. My second is the same way as Liv. They would be buds. Cranky, ornery buds. That said, one thing we did when he turned three (ish) was to cut out artificial colors and it actually WORKED. For like, two months. It's a huge pain if your kids eat anything processed (and if they are kids, then they do, right), but it was a blissful month. It does not seem to matter any longer. Sigh. I'm waiting it out too, and he just turned four.

  5. Three sucks. I am not so much good at 4 either, but it does seem to be a bit better.123 Magic did well in our house, but it sound like you are already kind of doing that…Still, the book is a good read.

  6. Yeah, what Misty said…"Three sucks!" I remember feeling angry so much that year. And I hated feeling that way towards my child. Everything was frustrating for him and me. But…it DID get better. It DID!

  7. Um, yeah, our middle is the crazy one with the tantruming, ESPECIALLY in public, and I'm pretty much immune to the judgy stares now because it's been going on for so. long. Sorry, guess that's not comforting! But eventually you just kind of grow nerves of steel and move on with your business while your kid throws a fit. Short of beating him with a stick, we've tried everything, and nothing works for long. This is a game of outlasting him, period, and everything else is just kind of an attempt to quiet some of the unpleasantness for everyone else around us.But yeah, when he's NOT throwing an epic tantrum he's a lovely child!

  8. Yeah, I've done (and am still doing) 3, three times with one more to go and I do not look forward to it. plus, third child. I'm just sayin'… so many 3rd children I know are just making up for what #1 and #2 didn't put their parents through.

  9. We heard a near-constant stream of: "I WON'T!! *door slamming* YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!! *shrieks of rage* I WON'T *EVER*! *sound of something hitting the wall*" Consistency. Calm consistency is supposed to be the key (the key to getting the message through their THICK skulls without causing them to need therapy later?).Good luck! You can do this! YOU WILL WIN IN THE END!!

  10. gah we're right at the same point as you (sorry I'm late to this party!). Bea is killing me – she has started hitting her brother anytime he does ANYTHING at all. she has a stellar vocabulary but she would rather just hit someone than ask for what she wants. Plus, if she wants something and you say no? She'll roll her eyes and give you the "talk to the hand hand (WHERE THE HELL DID SHE LEARN THAT? THIS IS 2011 – NO ONE DOES THAT ANYMORE)or she'll tell you that she doesn't like you anymore. Occassionally if tired she'll just lay on the floor and cry in hopes of making you feel like the meanest parent ever. I can't wait for her to turn 4 . . . please God let it get better


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