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Bonnie, Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 2189
Experience:  and pediatric nurse practitioner with 30 years of experience counseling parents.
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My son is almost 3 years old. He behaves great for his daycare

Customer Question

My son is almost 3 years old. He behaves great for his daycare provider, and is with a group of 5 other children each day. But while at home he is tempermental, aggressive, and literally cries about everything. We try to engage him, but nothing seems to keep his attention for more than 30 seconds, and virtually no punishment for his behavior (time-out, yelling, and in extreme matters spanking) seem to work. I am at my wits end and have no idea what to do.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Bonnie replied 6 years ago.
This is a curious situation because temperamental 3 year old children usually behave that way in all places. Any idea what they do there to keep him from acting out?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
<p>I know that he does little things like he has to put his shoes in the closet before going to eat breakfast and play. We have tried using that "reward" system at home, like if he walks in the door and immediately asks for a banana he needs to pick up his toys, but he just refuses to do it and repeatedly asks for the banana until he is blue in the face.</p><p>Other than that he has a typical daily structure, eat play nap eat play with a bit of ABC's & 123's thrown in the mix.</p><p> </p><p>Also, he is much more aggressive with me than his father, he hits me for virtually no reason alot.</p>
Expert:  Bonnie replied 6 years ago.
If his development is age appropriate (normal speech, motor and play skills, then his behavior indicates anger about something. Children his age cannot appropriately verbalize what they are angry about and so they "act out". There is a 3-step approach for such children:

1. Arrange to have special mommy time with him daily. Does not have to be long (20-30 minutes) of fun time with Mommy. This time should be consistent and predictable.

2. Increase the use of praise when he is being good. Use so much praise that it feels like too much (you can back off on it later).

3. Behavior management plan. Decide on specific behaviors to work on such as no hitting and no destroying property. If he goes one morning without this behavior, he gets a sticker or some coins in a clear jar (so he can watch it grow). Then the same for the afternoon and gradually lengthen the time to one day (rather than 1/2 days).

This plan is just one on many possible and I would recommend the book by Russell Barkley called Your Defiant Child for more strategies.

But please remember, we can't discipline emotions (crying and anger) but only help him to express them appropriately. We also can't increase his attention span if he has ADHD and so that should be checked out by his pediatrician.

Hope this helps.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Relist: Answer quality.
Expert:  Bonnie replied 6 years ago.
Sorry I could not help. Your question has been sent on to another parenting expert. You may not hear from her until tomorrow though.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

I'm sorry Bonnie. The answer just seemed a little typical, and like I said he really won't allow me to engage him for really any period of time. Even if he brings me a book he wants read, he will get up and leave before the first page is done. So mommy time doesn't really happen.



Expert:  Bonnie replied 6 years ago.
That's OK. Let's get another perspective.

Edited by Bonnie on 9/13/2010 at 5:15 AM EST