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Cher, Teacher
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 21422
Experience:  Extensive Experience working with Children/Teens; M.A. Teacher/Tutor 40+ yrs.; Parent of 2
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My grandson is 3 years old and has behavoral problems. He is

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My grandson is 3 years old and has behavoral problems. He is a sweet good natured fun loving child. He is generaly happy. But he has these fits of meaness like throwing things at people and kicking and hitting people when he is unhappy with where he is at or what you are doing or when he is told no he can't do something. Is this just a faze or does he have a real problem? I wish to know how to handle it we have spanked him scolded him made him go to his room yelled at him nothing changes his behavior. Please help us we want to do what is best for him. Thank You Grandma Martie Henderson
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Cher replied 8 years ago.
Hello Grandma Martie, and thanks for your question.

If your grandson is not speaking well or able to express himself to his satisfaction at this age, it may be part of why he acts out when he feels frustrated as that's the most effective way (to his 3 year old mind) he can express himself.

First, I would recommend no more spanking, yelling, pleading, asking why--because he can't tell you why, and any physical punishment is not going to be effective in letting him know why you are displeased with his actions.

Three year olds are also likely (as two year olds) to exhibit what you describe as 'terrible twos' behavior. Partly, it's out of frustration of not being understood, re: language development, as I mentioned above, but also because they are first learning about their world, how they fit into it, and how they can get what they want. If you give in, and give him what he wants, he learns that this disruptive/aggressive behavior 'works'. If you don't give in, he becomes frustrated and uses physical actions (kicking, hitting, etc.) because he can't understand why you won't give in and why he can't express to you what he wants.

In this case, instead of sending him to his room, put one of his chairs (a child-sized plastic or wooden chair) in a corner of the room you're in, facing the wall, and take him by the hand and bring him to the 'naughty chair'. Tell him he has to sit there for 5 minutes because he's not behaving properly. Set a timer which will count down and 'ding' at the end of the 5 minutes. Tell him calmly, he's not permitted to hit, kick, scream, or hurt you. Don't respond or have a conversation with him while he's sitting in the chair. If he asks calmly, how much more time, or asks you something not having to do with his behavior, you can answer, calmly. After 5 minutes, take him out of the naughty chair, ask for an apology (I'm sorry) from him, kiss him, tell him you love him and lead him to do an activity you know he likes.

If he won't stay in the chair and keeps getting off it, calmly walk him over to it as many times as he gets up, until he eventually will sit there for 5 minutes. Consistency is key with children of this age, and keep doing this every time he acts inappropriately. Soon, you should see a positive change in his behavior.

You can also set up a board with rewards (gold stars/activities he likes) and he can earn a star for each good behavior. Once he gets a pre-determined number of stars (5?), he gets his 'reward'. Try not to reward with sweets, but wholesome treats, if he likes them, can be a reward, but activities would be preferable. You don't want to make him a food oriented child.

If you feel he may have some significant developmental delays or learning disabilities which are causing his present behavior, having him tested by a child psychologist would be a good idea. If he's found to be a normal 3 year old, with common 3 year old behaviors, that would be great, and you will continue to deal with the behaviors until he learns the proper way to express himself, with words an not physical violence, to get his message across. This is a difficult age, due to the lack of communication skills, but he will soon become more proficient with his words and, unless he's speech-delayed, for which you can get him therapy.

I hope things improve soon for you all.

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