Monday, November 11, 2013

Frustration in 3 Year Olds!

As in every second of every day, right?  It is simply the nature of a 3 year old. Until now he has been at the absolute center of everyone’s attention – a place he LIKES and believes he is entitled to.  Suddenly he is being gently moved out of that super special circle.  Whether he is off to preschool or day care or there is a new baby in the house or his family is beginning to teach him some rules, life has become confusing. He also knows more about what he wants.  When he wants something, he wants it RIGHT NOW. 

There are plenty of reasons for a 3 year old to be frustrated.  And furthermore, he was not born with any tools for dealing with frustration so his response is often to hit or scream or bite or throw a tantrum.

What is a parent to do???  Well the first thing he should NOT do is try to talk and reason.  A 3 year old is not a little adult, he is a child.  He does not have the understanding or experience or patience to listen to mom and dad’s lessons about being kind, treating others fairly, taking his turn or waiting patiently.  So please, please save your breath.

When your little one acts out; he hits his little brother, he screams at the grocery store, or he fights you about putting his shoes on, understand that his frustration is natural and it is necessary that he experience it.  You cannot always make things better for him and he NEEDS to learn to handle frustration – from this point on there is going to be some frustration in his life, just like for the rest of us!

So frustration is a good and natural thing.

Yup, it is good and natural.

So back to what to do?

 1 – stop talking!!!!!  It is not going to do any good so STOP!

 2 – When he does something like hit, bite, push, grab other’s toys, pick him up immediately, say “NO – we don’t’ hit” and put him in time out.  Time out doesn’t always work but if it does, it is a good first step.

 3 – if time out doesn’t work for your little one you will still need to stop the behavior by removing him.  Later, when he is calm and the incident is over you should levy a big consequence.  Perhaps he won’t get dessert tonight, or a bedtime story or a favorite tv show.  You will calmly say “because you hit your brother this morning, you are not having dessert tonight”.  “Because you refused to put your coat and shoes on this morning, you are going to bed early tonight”.

 4 – be consistent, stay calm and don’t try to solve whatever the problem seems to be.  Mainly because hitting, biting, screaming is wrong – no matter what the reason was.   Accept that these lessons are going to take some time so just keep on doing what you are supposed to do!

When you consistently deal with his acts of frustration, he will begin to learn 2 essential things. First,  better behavior!  But most importantly the more he learns to solve his problems and deal with his frustration  – the happier he will be!

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