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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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My son will be three this week. I also have a baby girl who

Customer Question

My son will be three this week. I also have a baby girl who is 4 months. I admit I spoiled my son. I am a stay at home Mom and he was always the center of attention and usually got everything he wanted. He was usually a good kid though. Now he acts out all the time. He is very angry and stubborn. He is always yelling and crying at me and other kids. He has began to hit me and not listen at all. I do not know if it is the age or his sister or both. He still gets tons of attention but he even acts out and yells when I am feeding my daughter. I am getting to the point where I just want to cry because it is every day now. He is ALWAYS acting up. Please help. How do I stop this behavior?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Jennifer replied 7 years ago.
Hello and thanks for using!

I'm sorry to hear you're going through this... Toddlers can certainly be exhausting, particularly when you also have a younger baby! First of all, give yourself a break. You're doing the best you can and feeling frustrated sometimes is completely normal. Make sure you schedule time for yourself and call in your support system on occasion when you need a break! It's also great to model for your little ones healthy ways to cool off and how to express their feelings by saying, "I'm feeling frustrated, so I'm going to take some deep breaths." I wouldn't suggest doing that in response to misbehavior, though -- Try to stay neutral when that happens (voice tone, body language, etc.)

A great resource for early childhood is Love and Logic. It's a parenting / teaching theory I recommend often to teachers and parents I work with and use frequently with my own 2-year old. It relies heavily on natural consequences, empathy, and discipline that leaves parents feeling the least amount of stress. The website is and it includes several free articles and videos for parents. You may want to check your local library to see if they have Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood.

In the meantime, focus on being consistent in your response to misbehavior. If it's a time-out, don't bog the situation down with trying to reason with him or explain why he's in trouble. Your actions speak much louder than anything you have to say. Simply say, "Oh, how sad" (empathy) "Looks like you need some quiet time" (or whatever you want to call it) then remove him from the situation and take him to a designated place where he can be for a time out. Before you leave, tell him, "You'll have a few minutes of quiet time. After that, you can come back if you can be sweet." Wait the 2-3 minutes (really hard part!) without giving any attention and stay as neutral as possible so there's no reinforcement for the behavior then ask, "Can you be sweet?" When he's ready, he can come back. If not, repeat for another minute. You'll need to teach him what it means to be "sweet" (or whatever word you want to use) by observing when he's acting that way. For example, "You shared your cracker. That's very sweet of you! I enjoy being with you when you're sweet" or "You used your magic words by saying, 'thank you.' How sweet! It's nice to be with you when you're acting sweet."

It may take a few days of this, but he'll catch on quickly. Ignore the behaviors that are purely for your attention unless he's breaking rules. At that point, it's probably time for a time out. I wish you the best of luck!