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Steven Olsen
Steven Olsen, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1765
Experience:  More than twenty years of expertise in counseling, psychological diagnosis and education
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My son is 3 yrs old, and he doesn't listen to myself or my

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Hello,
My son is 3 yrs old, and he doesn't listen to myself or my husband at all. He gets us to the point that we are yelling at him,and he yells right back. Tells us to shut up ect.. We have tried the time outs, taking away toys. We are at our wits end. He behaves at school or when we are at someone elses house, just not home.. People keep telling us that it is a phase and that he is testing us, but no dicipline we give him seems to work, Help!!!

What you are describing is a behavioral and conduct related issue, specific to the home environment. It is key that you mentioned the behavior does not continue at school or in another's home. If that was the case you might be looking at a more serious issue. However:

Take heart. If it only occurs in the home environment that means that it isn't a global or pervasive issue and is: most likely, (really) a phase. Three is a difficult age for boys. They are asserting their autonomy and do so first, and normally, at home. Some are verbally aggressive, some physical, some both.

What usually works are positive reinforcer's. You have used a lot of punishments which in some children is less effective than positive reinforcements.

In school there is strict structure and expectations. This structure needs to be brought into the home as well. Star motivational charts are useful. The child, (when cooperative and attentive) is given a stock piece of paper and is shown three kinds of star stickers that can be placed into checkered and grid lined squares. (You can even draw the stars with different markers if you like., rather than use stickers.)

One star is given for tasks that he already does well, such a putting garbage in the proper place. Each good behavior gets a blue star, three blue stars equals a red; red stars give certain privileges such as a snack, television time, etc. Five red stars equals big privilege such a visit to a park, friends, toy, etc.

Give him three blues to start; have him put them on the chart in response to three simple tasks and reinforce this with a red. Give him a privilege that he likes. He will catch on quickly.

Stars are not removed, just added. You can remind him that no stars will be given for yelling, screaming or aggressive behavior.

As a parent of three including a young son, I can relate. I was amazed at what this process can do. Try it. I think it will work much better than time outs and similar for you.

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