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Jennifer, School Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 397
Experience:  Collaborative parent consultation on everything from modifying behavior to child development.
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Hi I have alot of questions but the main one is it too late

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Hi I have alot of questions but the main one is it too late to correct my three year olds behaior and my husband and I parenting skills? I am a stay at home Mom and I have a two boys one who is getting ready to turn three and one that is 15 months. When I had my first child it was great I was in complete controll we had time for great activities etc. But now with two I feel like I have completly lost controll. We are building a house so we live with my Dad in a three bedroom house all 5 of us. The last 7 months is when things have gotten completley out of controll. My three year old hits, kicks, back talks and is absolutly horrible to his little brother. I feel like a lot of it is my fault I have lost all my patients so I feel like all I am doing is yelling threatning and even spanking My husband doesn't step in much unless I have to tell him too which is arguing in front of the kids. I am doing everything I said I would never do as a parent. Please help! Is it too late?
Hello and thanks for using!

It's absolutely not too late. I applaud you for recognizing that the parenting techniques you're employing now are now working. Simply wanting to change your approach is a major step in the right direction.

I urge you to check out some of the techniques recommended in a parenting / teaching philosophy called Love and Logic. Specifically, there is a great book called Live and Logic: the Early Years. This is a book I checked out of the library to help the parents I work with as well as to find guidance when my daughter reached the terrible two's! This approach encourages logical consequences that curb behAviors without yelling, power struggles, or hurt feelings.

You're correct that arguing in front of the kids can be detrimental. There will, of course, be times you disagree. Agree upon a code word or signal that simply means "I love you and I want to discuss this further -- let's discuss this after the kids go to bed.". It will be really important to be a team when the kids are around. Otherwise you risk setting yourselves up for manipulation as they get older. They may, fir example, ask permission from the parent they know will approve.

As for the hitting, I would try removing the privilege of the attention that behavior usually receives. When toddlers hit, there is usually a big reaction from both the other child and the adults in the room. What a strong reinforcer! They learn that this behaviors brings a lot of attention to me very quickly. Try immediately removing him from the setting for a time out. No need to explain why; children this age don't need to be reasoned with and the logic will be lost in a long-winded explanation. A simple "we don't hit" in a calm voice is sufficient. Then take him somewhere for a few minutes void of attention and entertainment (e.g. An empty playyard). Time-outs for just a few minutes are enough. Venereal rule is one minute per year of age. While in tine out, don't talk to or look at him. Remove your other child so he also refrains from giving the misbehavior attention.

After the time-out, ask if he'd like a hug and express your love for him. Try to catch him being good. This means constant reinforcement of positive behaviors (verbal praise, stickers, hugs, etc.). You may even choose to teach how to "be gentle" do "nice touches" or whatever you want to call them -- high fives, pats on the back, hand shakes, hugs... Reward those with much more enthusiasm and praise so that the attention he receives for those is much greater than that he receives for hitting. I hope this is helpful! Best of luck to you!! Toddlers can be exhausting... Hang in there! It gets better!!
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