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Elisabeth Röhm’s Blog: Does No Really Mean No?

06/23/2011 at 09:00 AM ET
Robert Evans

Elisabeth Röhm, best known for her role as Serena Southerlyn on Law & Order, has a busy year ahead of her.

The actress, 38, can be seen on the big screen in the upcoming films Chlorine, Transit, Abduction and Officer Down, and is found online on Facebook and @ElisabethRohm on Twitter.

In her latest blog, Röhm admits that she’s having difficulty dealing with daughter Easton August‘s “terrible threes” — and that her fiancé Ron Anthony is a better disciplinarian.

Please share your best tips and tricks for dealing with tough toddlers in the comments!

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

Or pull your hair out.

Or simply curl into the fetal position.

But what’s a mom to do with the “terrible threes” that are full of more testing than your senior year in high school? What are we to do ladies? How do we make this time work for all involved and not feel terrible in the process?

I’m trying hard to deal with this phase but it’s about to turn our summer into the most frustrating one yet. I’m looking for the humor in all of this and thinking that laughing it off could work — but it ain’t so funny to be challenged by a smarty pants who now can run fast, talk back and pack a punch with little open-palmed smacks of defiance.

Okay, I’ll admit it — it sucks having to discipline these little munchkins. I’m sure you will agree. But I know some of us are better at it than others. There are many of you out there who find it easy. And for those of you like Easton’s dad Ron, who excel at being the disciplinarian, I say “bravo” even though I secretly am envious and slightly confused by your power of persuasion. It’s definitely added its share of conflict between us as we differ in our methods of parenting our wild thing.

I’ll say it here though: Ron is a lot more effective than I am. I don’t really want to admit it to him but I’ll tell you, PEOPLE.com readers. He’s tougher and gets a better result. I attribute it to his deep and masculine voice, but I’m sure it has much more to do with consistency.

Let’s face it: Girls just want to have fun. At least I do, and that promotes a lack of conviction when the naughty behavior surfaces. I am guilty of not enjoying conflict or feeling comfortable drawing boundaries or saying “No” and meaning it. “NO IFS, ANDS or BUTS” is not a sentiment I’m used to enforcing. I’m what you’d fondly call a people pleaser. I like to have a good time. Those are my excuses for indulging and ignoring some outbursts along the way.

On top of that, Easton is so darn cute and sweet most of the time that it’s just challenging to look at her and be cross. But I’ll be honest and say that Easton’s behavior deserves, needs and is crying out for some firm parenting.

It’s funny: my mom was very loving, a bit loosy-goosey and not at all tough with me — and I remember craving that from her. Life is cyclical, isn’t it? So I’m on alert that I have to make some changes to match these new “terrible threes” that are, how should I put it, a tad frustrating (I’ll now put the emphasis on wanting to pull my hair out).

As my mother always said to me, “You are my greatest teacher, Lis.” I can say that I now know what she meant by saying that. Easton has also been my greatest teacher. Dare I say that she’s even making me a better person through these hideous tantrums, shenanigans, acting up, theatrical crying sessions (look no tears, Ma!) and her tendency towards hitting when she doesn’t get her way.

Just in her defense, I’ll add that her highs are equal in loveliness to the stress of her outbursts. And so I thank you, Easton, for pushing me past my comfort zone and making me tougher, better and stronger than I’m used to being. Cause girl, you need a little discipline these days!

As an example of this new chapter in her girl-drama, I came home from work the other day just dying to be with her and take her to the park. I got to the apartment and she was happy, I was happy — we were all happy and ready to go.

“Yay,” she said to the idea of going to the park. So I said, “Let’s get your shorts on, yay!” “No,” she cries and runs away. I’m like, Huh? “C’mon Easton, Mommy and Daddy can’t take you to the park unless you put on your clothes,” I say sweetly. “No, I don’t want to!” she replies.

Ron and I are looking at each other quizzically like, “What is wrong with this little girl?” “But honey, if you don’t get dressed we are not going to go at all,” I say.

At this point Easton is still running away from us. And we are thinking, “WTF?!” She wants to go to the park, right? She wants to play, right? Why won’t she get dressed? Why won’t she listen and make this easy? It’s illogical to us.

“Okay, no park,” I say firmly, being the new me. Of course, I say that and the desired result comes. She runs to me. “I want to go to the park,” she says now with a hint of begging, pleading, whining … drama! “I know honey, so put your clothes on and let’s go have a good time,” we say.

Utter silliness, which continues as we then try to put her in the stroller because the park is far, we are in N.Y.C., it’s 4 p.m. and we want to get there quickly so as to have extra playtime. You get the picture.

So another fit happens. She’s crying, pulling away and resisting the stroller altogether. Ron and I just look at each other and in one second we turn the whole bus around and say, “No park. We’ve told you that if you do not listen or hit anyone or throw a fit that we will go home.”

So we picked her up and took her back upstairs for a timeout, which was so not fun for any of us. I got no satisfaction out of correcting her and we all just felt bad, not to mention an hour was ruined. And this is happening often enough that it’s worth a good ole’ discussion. Seriously moms, I need you!

Who is this 3 year old that’s smart, sassy, way too independent and testing us beyond my wildest expectations? I was so not anticipating a summer of discipline, timeouts, tears and remorse and many hours spent making it perfectly clear that we the parents are in charge and that it’s with her best interest in mind?

Okay, I get that spinach isn’t her favorite food (although we are making big food progress) but please hold my hand, listen to me, don’t run in the street, don’t hit, don’t whine, use your words, be nice, respectful and loving. Is that too much to ask?

So, I’m having to learn to be firm. Although I don’t enjoy it, I am getting better at it, which is good for her and oddly good for me. I’m learning that no means no and that no is powerful. No is not mean, it’s loving. Boundaries are loving. And helping a little person have some discipline and willpower is a gift, not a punishment.

Whew! Tough love as they say. Or maybe it’s just that love is tough. Either way, this month has been full of family drama.

Let’s talk tactics, PEOPLE.com readers. I’d love to hear about your methods for dealing with your sweet and defiant little darlings! Let’s make this week’s blog a manual for all parents in need to use and turn to so that no means NO … not maybe. Can’t wait to hear from you ladies.

– Elisabeth Röhm

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Showing 71 comments

Krissy on

You are an awesome mom. Hang in there. First celebrity in awhile that is honest and real.

Anne on

It’s actually not very productive to use the word “no” all the time. Better to say “Come away from there, please” or “That’s not safe”. Parents overuse NO, and then it has no effect at all. The word “discipline” means “to teach”…so always always ask yourself what is being learned.

Model, model, model the behavior you wish to see. The louder your child becomes, the calmer you need to be…because they learn the MOST by watching how YOU deal with things. Be respectful, be kind.

And by all means…stop using phrases like “terrible twos’ or “terrible threes”….that is a self-fulfliling prophecy. Childhood is a wonder…enjoy them, they are little for such a short time. And no matter how tough it gets, you WILL miss it when it’s over.

Kate on

Stick to your guns, be consistent and she’ll eventually learn the rules of the house and of society.

I find that I go through periods of tense times with my 4-year-old girl. Her third year was our toughest so far because she pushed her boundaries a lot. We would go through about two weeks at a time with lots of time outs, pulling her from the park or play dates when she wasn’t being nice, etc. Then she would be great for a while, then the “bad cycle” would start again. If you stick to your guns this year, it will pay off.

Finally, I find that whether she gets enough sleep has a big affect on her behavior. Hang in there, Momma. As you said, kids crave boundaries.

Jen DC on

I have learned that ignoring screaming crying tantrums (unless we are in public!) works. You want to throw yourself down on the floor, kick and scream? OK! I’ll be in the other room, doing what I need to get done. Please come find me when you are finished and we will talk. Oh, you want to whine? I will certainly listen to you when you are ready to use your words, but if you are going to whine, I am going to ask you to do that in your room – alone.

The less power you give it, the less effective it obviously is and eventually she will do it less … and less … and less.

Whom is she hitting? Just you two or others (kids her own size or smaller) as well? If it is just you two, again, ignore it. Explain to her that she is not to hit you and if she continues it, her time out will be forthcoming. And then put her in it. You could tell her that she is hurting you and that may change her mind. Give her a doll or stuffed animal or pillow she is free to hit whenever she is that frustrated. Call it something like her “Angry Pillow.” When she raises her hands to you, ask her if she wants the angry pillow and let her go nuts. I’ve never really dealt with a hitter, so I am not sure…

I think Anne is right about the use of the word “no.” Try distraction. “Oh, Easton, I would really like it if you did this!” “I am going to give you this to play with instead.” What have you.

Just remember: You don’t need to please her so much! She’s your daughter – NOT (only, and eventually) your friend. Yes, you want her to be happy and smiling, but not at your expense or, please LORD, at the expense of others who have to come into contact with her. If you can’t do it for your own sake, then please remember those of us around you who have to deal with your angel when she’s not being particularly angelic! Be tough for our sakes!

KGP on

Amen. My son is three, too, and the way he’s been showing his defiance is by IGNORING requests. Not arguing, just pretending as though he doesn’t hear me.

It’s beyond frustrating — I’m constantly trying to stop myself from making empty threats — but like you, it’s tough when you’re actually suggesting an activity that you know your child will enjoy, if only he/she would put some clothes on so you can get to it!

Looking forward to hearing how others have navigated this phase successfully.

Courtney on

I could have written this exact post. For instance – we were all set and ready to go to the zoo, and our 2 and a half year old was sitting in her car seat, and then before she could be buckled in, she got out and sat NEXT to her car seat. Obviously, this is illegal and not going to work. :( She refused to budge. Just refused. No matter how firmly we asked her to sit in her carseat, she wouldn’t. Then she took her shoes off and started screaming. My husband took her inside, into her bedroom for a time-out, and frankly, they really work for us. One of us sits with her in her room, patiently explaining to her (no matter how hard she is crying) that her behavior is not acceptable, and if she wants to go to the zoo, she needs to sit in her carseat.

It usually works. She has to promise to listen to Mommy and Daddy, and she has to apologize if she has done anything like hit Mommy or Daddy (which also has been happening) and then she usually listens the rest of the day.

Basically, there are no right answers, is what I have learned. I try to be firm, patient, not lose my cool, and keep up with the timeouts. I think the little ones can get so frustrated with not being in control of their own lives, so that even when YOU think you are doing her a great fun favor by taking her to the park, she might just see it as you making her do yet another thing that she has no control over.

Most of my mom friends have told me that by age 4 or so, MOST of this behavor rights itself, because the child has more control over their emotions and body. Not to say it isn’t going to keep happening all through childhood, but it probably won’t be such a minute-to-minute struggle, as it sometimes seems now!

Amber H. on

Ugh! Three has been so much harder than two for my little man, and he only turned three last month! I don’t really have any advice for you, just empathy. Hang in there!

Robin on

We are in the same boat. Our daughter is 3, so I could relate to your whole story. We just purchased the Love & Logic early childhood parenting package and the techniques are starting to pay of…though we have lots more to learn. Good luck. Makes me feel better that we are all in this together!

Cari on

Just wait for the F’ing 4′s (ha ha ha!).

Every stage has its challenges. Being a good parent is WORK. Sometimes fun work, and sometimes just work. One think I’ve done with my older two children (and am just starting with my 2yr old) is to ask them to put a smilie face on before they speak to me…. it heads off the whining that can become a habit. As soon as I hear that whiny tone, I say “Put on a happy or smilie face, and then talk” … it really works. It’s hard to whine while you are smiling (works for adults too. ((wink)).

I think that you are doing the right thing. Set the boundaries that you are willing to live with, and then stick to them. It’s especially tough when the plan is for all of you to go somewhere. My husband and I have found that having the child stay home while the other attends the activity only happens once. It’s a tough lesson, but not one they want to see repeated.

Best wishes!
Cari

Donna Torres on

I have found in my experience giving her choices help. Makes her feel indenpendent. I actually had a son that gave me issues with getting dressed at 3 so what I started doing is giving him choices but not too many. For instance, I would choose two appropiate and accepteable outfits and then would let him choose the one he wanted that way he felt he had a say in it. Also with going places give would give a choice we can go to the zoo or to the museum. Same with stoller, you can either get in stroller or ride on my back this seem to help with my son’s terrible threes.

Good luck and hang in there.

Kat on

I’ve always heard that three is more difficult than two. The smarter your child is, the more they like to test the boundaries. The main thing you can do is stay consistant. I have many friends that give in eventually, and all their child learns is to wait them out. It sucks to feel like a meanie, but they are learning from you!

I am a big fan of returning home if behavior doesn’t improve. I will never forget my parents turning the car around on the way to ice cream because my brother and I wouldn’t stop bickering, and it was 25 years ago! It might seem like it hurts you more than them, but they will learn that rewards come with good behavior.

Cynlee on

Women have been having children since the beginning of time; it’s not rocket science, just plain common sense!

Renee on

I am lucky in that I had a great model disciplinarian in my mother. She was really good at it and I find myself modeling after her all the time. She basically would treat any kind of defiance or notion that anyone other than her had control of any situation with a sort of mild amusement. As in, “Oh, you thought you could do what you wanted or get your way by being a brat. Hehheh, how cute, but so not happening.” She was always calm, I honestly never remember her raising her voice or yelling. She was just simply the Queen of the World.

Now I know that she agonized over a lot of it and she was frazzled beyond comprehension some days, but I never noticed that as a child. She was just in control, the ultimate leader and boss of everything. I remember clearly trying to figure out how to get my way or outsmart her and then just deciding it was easier to do what she said because she was going to get me to do it anyway eventually.

Kids are smart, they figure it out pretty quick, you only prolong everyone’s agony by being inconsistent, though. If you think about it, it’s the same way with everyone. Kids, pets, spouses… Heehee.

Also, the sleep thing is VERY important, as well as the hungry thing. So many bad days/moments can be solved by a snack and/or a nap.

And remember this: It’s just a bad day/moment. It will be over and there will be great days/moments. It’s like bad weather. It will pass. (This thought gets me through a lot of bad days.)

Tara on

I thought I had lucked out with a wonderful 2 year old…..but then came the three’s. The ladies who said IGNORE are right! I ignored every tantrum (unless in public) and I also took the advice of a wise teacher; never count to three. It just gives them 3 more seconds to misbehave.

I also made a point to never say “no”, I always use “no ma’am.” It softens the harshness, but gets the point across in a more polite manner. Letting kiddos know when their behavior is unacceptable and inappropriate is crucial, but watch out! My daughter is 10 now and she LOVES to tell me that pretty much everything I do or say is “inappropriate, mom”!! *Sigh*

Can’t wait for your blog when you reach the pre-teen years. Fun times ahead! LOL!

Dee on

It is just a relief to know that I am not the only mom out there to a 3 year old that is having the same “terrible three’s” as I am with my daughter. I admire you for being honest and willing to share the problems. I have to admit also that telling my daughter NO is very difficult and she does not always listen to me but when her Dad says NO.. SHE LISTENS… I’ve thought about lowering my voice but that is not going to happen… not at all.. I’m sure like other moms out there.. it’s a VICTORY when they do listen… I know that I do my “Happy Dance” in another room when she listens…

Please I really need new Tactics!!!

Jennie on

I had the same problems and asked a social worker friend of mine who does home visits. She said her foster parents are all trained in 1-2-3 Magic and it really is!

All I say is “1″ sometimes “2″ when she’s testing me, but with no emotion, no lecturing, no explanation. I set the rule. Example: you need to sit at the table on your bottom while we eat dinner. She starts to fidget, I remind her that she needs to sit on her bottom. She doesn’t do it, I say “1″ and she suddenly remembers.

The book says to use long time-outs, I use either 30 second (on the microwave so she can hear the timer) timeouts or other things like not getting a treat, not getting to go to the park, having to give up her favorite stuffed animal for the day, not getting to listen to her favorite CD, etc. So they’re all somewhat temporary in our adult mind, but very ‘in the moment’ and tangible punishments for her. We almost never get to 3. Here’s the amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/1-2-3-Magic-Effective-Discipline-Children/dp/1889140430/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1308927031&sr=8-1

I love it because it is effective and I don’t get so worked up when disciplining her because she is responsible for the consequences. And if she pouts, I just have her go sit in time-out for 30 seconds.

Yes, disciplining is very, very hard. I am an easy going person and thought being nice to my child and calmly explaining things would work. Wrong! An easy-going mama and a strong-willed child is a rough match! But it’s worth it – hang in there.

mm on

Funny post. No one likes to feel like a mean mom, so my main thing is to pick my battles, give choices when I can, and not to threaten anything I know I won’t carry through with. I am strict when it comes to my kids pitching fits, and no does mean no.

I let my kids pick their lunches and snacks from a wide variety of stuff we have in the house. A sometimes common thing for them is to have screaming meltdowns if it’s not served on the plate they wanted or sliced the right way, etc. If that happens, they have the choice between losing the snack or saying thank-you and eating. It’s not the plate that is a big deal but the screaming and rude behavior that merits this consequence. I teach them that when someone serves you, you show gratitude.

We recently had a talk on the way to get happy meals, which we do about once a month, about how any fighting or screaming would result in immediately leaving. We chatted about it at length and I had them explain the rules to me (they are 3 and 4) several times before we got out of the car. Before we got to the door, they were running and screaming and fighting over who got to open the door (seriously!). I suggested they take turns, and they chose not to accept that suggestion, so you know what? We turned around, got back in the car, and left.

When you lay out your expectations in advance, offer warnings and redirect, and your child is still acting up, it’s time to nip it in the bud. I’d give her three chances or five minutes and set a timer and say, if you do not bring me the clothes you would like to wear to the park by the time this beeps, we’re not going. And then…DON’T GO! and ignore the following tantrum, emphasize that she made a choice, give her hugs and kisses, and tell her she can try again tomorrow (or after dinner whatever your schedule dictates). She’ll learn soon enough. While you only have one child this will usually work.

Just what I’ve learned from trying every form of discipline with my own little monsters. :)

blessedwithboys on

Why did you have to force her into the stroller? Because it’s a far walk? So let her walk. What’s the worst that could happen? She gets tired halfway there and you turn around and walk home? Was the park for her to play and enjoy herself or for you to salve your conscience for flying halfway around the world to satisfy your own selfish desire to be famous? What did you actually accomplish with your firm parenting techniques?

Now just imagine if instead of saying “Put on your shorts” you had laid out two very cute but different outfits and asked Easton to go pick one. Then you asked her if she wanted to ride in her stroller or on her Daddy’s shoulders (you could still push the empty stroller JIC). Ponder over that and you’ll see just how differently the afternoon would have gone.

Have you ever heard the phrase “Create a YES environment”? Two and 3yo’s love to say no and be contrary. We have to outsmart them by not giving them the opportunity to do so. Never say “Do you want veggies with dinner?”; instead, say “Do you want broccoli or carrots?” Never say “Go get dressed”; say “Do you want to wear jeans or a dress?”

It’s ok, she’s only 3, you’ll figure it out eventually! :)

cara on

maybe she just wanted to keep the clothes that she had on on. that’s a nice sentence. when my daughter does something illogical, i’ve started noticing that it’s just because she’s not telling me something. when she throws a fit about getting ready to go somewhere, it’s often because she just really wants to be fancier when she goes to the park, that is, keep her dress on. she just didn’t tell me that.

so i’ve learned to ask a ton of questions, knowing that deep down, this tantrum is, actually steeped in something important to her. if it’s not going to hurt her, i just go with it. there are times to fight it, but most of the time it’s much nicer to yourself to just relax.

Cyndie on

I always found it worked better when I gave my son choices (even if either one wasn’t what he wanted) The fact that I let HIM choose seemed to work as he felt like he was actually doing what he wanted to when in fact he was doing what I wanted him to!

Nancy on

A 3 year old should be given the opportunity to make choices. Explain what good choices are and bad choices. This is something she will be practicing the rest of her life. Give her choices that all have a safe and positive outcome, then praise her for making good choices. Time outs are a good consequence for making bad choices, affording her the opportunity to reflect on the decision, learn a lesson and apologize (if appropriate)

lauren on

What ever happened to a good spanking on the fleshy part?

Anyone the age of 20 or older WILL say their parents used spanking in the appropriate times. That’s the problem with society. No one understands boundaries and therfore their children do not either and they cross them time and again.

I believe it’s society’s fault for the way children are now. For example, an article I read about boyscouts- 20 years ago they learned how to start a fire, cook on the bottom of a coffee can, learn how to treat a snake bite, be prepared for life-threatening situations. Today, they learn how to replace an x-box battery and bandage up papercuts. They are high maintenance brats.

A teacher I knew had a VERY testy toddler. She was so fantastic with simple crafts to keep her daughter entertained instead of glued to the tv. She was a FILTER for her daughter. What they see- they will do. She was pregnant with her second child and told her husband, Well my back hurts, im so tired I dont feel like doing anything. A week later she couldnt get her daughter to help her water the plants and her daughter used that line.

Anyone can take a five minute breather in a nice chair, no one wants that 3 second sting on their behind.

In public my daughter threw a tantrum. Literally was rolling on the floor crying in a deli. I said, lets go to the bathroom and she knew what that meant- She didnt stop her fit but she didnt want a spanking. I explained to her you need to make a WISE CHOICE. I told you to stop whining and eat your lunch. You CHOSE to cry on the floor. Now because you did not listen to me you will get a spanking. I hope you can think about your attitude and can we have a nice lunch and maybe dessert afterwards. After this three minute bathroom break we both walk back to our friends table, no tears or yelling, and enjoyed our lunch.

Dont get me wrong- time outs are also my friend, but children are so much smarter that we give them credit for and they have an irresistable urge to test limits. It’s your job as a parent you show them where their limits are.

Anonymous on

Truth is, once you start enforcing the rules you’d be surprised how quickly behaviour changes. Someone pointed out to me that I was afraid of my then 2 year old and the truth is, I was. I looked at my adorable curly haired crazy kid and realized from anyone else’s eyes – her behaviour was decidedly bratty.

So that was that. I began pointing out “bad behaviour” and “good behaviour” and complimenting her when she did something right as well as scolding her when she didn’t. I was calm and consistent and she learned quickly I meant business. Within 10 days we’d undergone a complete transformation that made a huge difference in my [and my older daughter's] lives. I’m strict and often feel like a party pooper but keep reminding myself I have years to be the “fun” one once they understand the rules.

Kat on

“Was the park for her to play and enjoy herself or for you to salve your conscience for flying halfway around the world to satisfy your own selfish desire to be famous?”

blessedwithboys how is that comment helpful? There is enough mommy guilt in the world without blasting someone who aims for success in their work field.

portlandmom on

It’s soooo tough. My youngest son is four and I’ve been through it with my, so-much-easier-now 9 year old son.

My husband and I find it helpful to keep in mind that we’re “investing” in the person we want our sons to grow into. It means a lot of patience, repetition and consistency. It’s sort of like living with an unstable dictator, an oxymoron I suppose, but it makes it a little easier to think about it that way and it’s funnier.

We focus on giving choices. “Do you want to put your shorts on by yourself or do you want Mommy to help you put them on?” Sometimes we resort to the countdown with the caveat that he has to make a choice by the time we get to zero or we’ll make the choice for him. Occasionally we do have to make the choice and he’ll get very mad, but we just remember the main thing – we’re “investing” in who he’ll be when he’s grown. Then we relish in the really sweet moments!

JD on

My children are all adults now, but I do recall my little girl being totally different than my son. Three is a difficult stage for both boys and girls… but they are very different. Just know you will get through it. Trust your instincts and that gut feeling you get when you know you are doing the right thing.

Consistency is key here. As hard as it is (and believe me when I say I know how hard it is), you should only have to say “no” once. Especially if it means their potential safety! So when you are experiencing the totally normal “Motherly Guilt” syndrome, remember that you could be teaching Easton a potentially life-saving lesson.

And when the emotions run high and she is having a rough day, nothing says peacefulness like a nice, warm bubble bath to soothe her (and you). It always worked with my precious little “drama queen” daughter. The water literally rinses away the negativity and they have so much fun playing with the bubbles that they forget all about their little problems for a bit. Not to mention that it gives you a very necessary time-out too!

Miguelina on

Sadly, things don’t get better as kids get older; you just have different problems. Taking away what your child wants is a great way of correcting bad behavior and creating good habits. In the end your little darling will one day be an adult and if you don’t discipline now; your new adult will be unproductive in life.

In essence there is a reason for disciplining children while they are young. They grow up to be happier adults that are more willing to accept life’s responsibilities. In the end being firm is absolutely the right thing to do for your child. Your instilling good habits for the future. It can be unnerving to have to be so “mean”; but in the end they will be better for it.

Keep up the good work and don’t feel bad about raising a sound adult. In the future other adults will be grateful! As a parent you will feel great at creating a lovely, responsible and mature human being. Its a wonderful feeling and worth all the testing that your going through now and later as she gets older.

Children are truly a beautiful gift, because we adults get a little taste of being innocent again because of them. Yet as adults we have to give these children the tools they need to be successful in life. We are both teaching each other and its an enriching process for all parties involved.

Erika on

Love and Logic….Best parenting techniques of any of I have tried and have worked on all 3 of my children (all with very different personalities). Good luck!

Nicolle on

Elisabeth,

Good luck with your little one! They can be a challenge for sure. Try to remember that independance and limits testing is a sign of her intelligence, but that boundaries need to be in place.

No one likes to admit it, but raising children is much like raising a puppy. If you let the puppy pee every where, they will. If you let the puppy scratch at the sofa, they will. If you let a child act like a heathen, disobey you and still get what they want, THEY WILL.

They (both puppies and children) need to be corrected, and praised when they have had the desireable response in a situation, but put in the crate (the puppy, not the 3 yr old! hehehe) or punished when they act out or else the behavior will only conitnue, and dreadfully, worsen. An uncorrected unruly 3 yr old today will grow up to be the teenager you fear for.

Choices are great, but sometimes, they just need to know who is boss. Can you imagine giving too many choices for family pictures? Hahaha. Also, you have to be careful that their choices don’t always dictate what the family does, or else they feel as though the world revolves around them and their desires.

Children need to know there is acceptable and unnaceptable behavior, but that you will always love them. Oh, and as far as time outs… if they “screw around” while in time out, make them start over. Reduce time for honesty and owning up to their behavior though.

Good luck and thanks for not being afraid to tell it how it really is. It’s nice to know even “celeb” mom’s face daily struggles with their children!

Michele on

Yes the testing is so hard on Moms and Dads. Try to keep in mind that the more consistent you are, the faster the message gets through. Being wish washy will prolong the process and isn’t good for any of you. So hang in there and this time will be over and then it will be something else. Hee Hee.

Michele

maggie on

my husband and i try to always give another possible solution whenever our kids tell us no to an idea. this way, they get to feel like they’re in control while, we as the parents, are teaching them about choices and how to make them, rather then us just forcing something on them. so far, it’s worked pretty well. whenever we tell the kids no, they come back with a “well, how about this then?”- and they’re only 4, 3, 2, and 1:) obviously, the one year old doesn’t really say much:)

Mrs W on

LOL! I love it! I have a four year old and when my little man was three, I use to say “the person that called it the terrible two’s, didn’t have a three year old”. He’s just starting to mellow out, but now when he has a little “fit” he says more hurtful things like “I don’t love you anymore”. I feel like a mommie failure atleast once a day, but then there are those moments when he is hilarious and incredibly sweet.

Lacey O on

If you’re going to use “no” (which is indeed not always the most effective) you have to show what no means. If you say no and the kid keeping going, you have take them and lead them away. Or no, you may not write on your sister’s book, and take the marker away. I always follow up no with an action. And when they’re running away when it’s time to get dressed and leave, you have to be willing to dole out the time-out or refuse to leave until the child complies.

I have two kids 8 years (11 and 3) apart and the ultimate truth is same for both of them – discipline is a fine line. You have to be willing to teach the hard lessons, but NEVER dole out a consequence that you’re not willing to follow through with. And you have to make sure the consequence/punishment isn’t harder on you than it is for your child, because you’ll never follow through on that.

april on

Sounds like you are on the right track. Staying consistent and FOLLOWING THROUGH with your “threats” (for lack of a better word)is key. If you say, “you do that 1 more time and…” make sure you follow through on that. Kids know how far they can push you and if they can get away with stuff. The moment they know your word is empty, they will walk all over you.

I notice that you mentioned Easton is hitting you when she is being defiant and I just wanted to make a point to an earlier blog about spanking. I know you don’t spank and one of the reasons people were agreeing with you was that “children who are spanked will think it’s ok to hit” and clearly that is not the case here. I am a believer is judicious spanking. I was spanked and I appreciate it everyday when I see kids screaming in a store or running around a restaurant like it’s their living room. Who is the parent here? I always ask. I can literally count on 1 hand the amount of times I was spanked, and after speaking to my own mom recently about this issue, she confirmed why that was – I didn’t act up and require more spanking. Kids learn fast. I didn’t want to be spanked therefore I didn’t behave in a way that was deserving of one. It wasn’t out of “fear” of my parents, it was out of respect and love. I never doubted for a second my parents love for me just because I was spanked – not once. I didn’t want them mad at me, whether they spanked me or not.

Disobeying is part of our human nature. Our nature is to be defiant and we learn, through discipline how to have self control and how to keep that in check. My mom alwasy said when we would pitch a fit about not getting our way, “The world does not revolve around you.” That was a shock to my little brain when I realized that. LOL.

But I digress…I’m sure that won’t change your mind about spanking but I thought it was interesting that a child who has never been spanked has taken it upon herself to spank her own mother when she is misbehaving.

Nishant Pant on

Thanks for this blog post. EXACTLY what our 3 year old is going through right now. Good to hear that celebs are also normal people and face normal issues.

In our case, the mom is the disciplinarian and I am the softie..I stay away from conflicts, time-outs and scolding my daughter but I am never the escape route for my kid when she gets scolded by her mom. But we have just realized that both mom and dad need to enforce the discipline equally to have the best effect.

-Nishant

CC on

Give choices without giving choices if that makes sense. My daughter’s both went through this so here’s the conversation:

Time to go put on your shoes….No I don’t want shoes…..Ok would you like to wear the tennis shoes or the sandals….

At this point they would usually pick one and if they didn’t I put them on anyway 0 depending on the situation if it was somewhere we had to go versus somewhere we wanted to go. Same with clothes…I would put out 2 outfits and allow them to choose so they felt like they had some say in what they were wearing, but in reality I was making appropriate choices. I wanted to feed their need to be independent in a modified way.

You cannot reason with a child that age – they do not have the ability. When she won’t get dressed or get in the stroller all the reasoning in the world is not going to help. Simply scrap the plans and put her in her room. Afterwards calmly explain “We didn’t go to the park because you didn’t follow my instructions….next time listen to Mommy and we will be able to go play”. Consistency at this age is imperative!!!

CAMommy3 on

I have to say, it feels good to know there’s another one whose in the same boat. I have a daughter equally as challenging. My sons, soooo much more easy-going, but she’s a kick and scream every step of the way child with things she WANTS. If she asks for juice and I give her juice, she tells me no. And that’s an easy day.

I just get through the rough spots and look at it that as a teenager and an adult, she’ll know what she wants and have the determination to do it. But I feel ya’.

Jackie on

I suggest reading 1-2-3 Magic Parenting. It’s a great way to handle children, and it really works! My granddaughter’s teacher started using the method at school with her students, and told us about the book. Once we read it, and started using the method, we were shocked at how well it works! Good luck!

Mama on

Look at the book 123 Magic. I wish I had read it when my first one was 2. It takes all the stress and negotiation out of the equation altogether in a logical, helpful and ultimately effective way.

Corrine on

The best tactic that works for us is to turn the directions we give our son into a game. If we want him to get dressed to go to the park, we’ll say, “Let’s see how long it takes you to get dressed. Ready, set, go” and then start playfully counting out loud. With the stroller scenario, we’d start out by letting our little one push the stroller and then giving him opportunities to decide to ride in it.

In my experience, when you draw a line in the sand, kids have a natural tendency to dig in their heels. Turning the directions you give into a game gives them a chance to show their independence without needing to be outwardly defiant. Mind you, this doesn’t work every time, but we’ve had far fewer battles across the board.

Traci on

I love the name Easton!!!!!!!!!

Rachel on

Yep – right there with you…for the 2nd time! My youngest is about to turn 3 in August. He’s been acting exactly the same way – it’s driving me nuts! I have no idea if what I do is right or wrong, good or bad but I do know my kids are both easily distracted and I “think” they do enjoy making some of their own decisions. So that’s exactly what I try to do, and in your park/shorts/stroller drama – yay to park but booo to shorts and stroller. I would have probably said this “we can’t go to the park without shorts/stroller, it’s up to you if you want to go but you do have to wear shorts and ride in the stroller, so you’re the boss, what will it be yes to shorts/stroller or stay home?” It doesn’t always work but letting them “be the boss” will somtimes go in my favor.

Good luck…to all of us!

Christina on

Wow – I could have written this myself! While I don’t have any advice for you or other moms about this topic, I hope it helps to know that others (like myself) are dealing with this same issue. My 2 year old has missed some of her swim lessons this summer due to tantrums right before we go. Reading your column helped me feel so much better! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. Hang in there!

ljf on

I’ve always followed my best friend’s mother’s advice: be their mother not their friend. So while I’d like to be nice and fun mommy all of the time, I know I can’t be.

I lived through the 2s and 3s and 4s with twins but there is NOBODY who can test my limits (EVERYONES limits) like my 3.5 yo. He is so sweet 85% of the time but that 15% of contrary, whining, ordering, yelling, testing is SO HARD. I do try to only say “no” where necessary and, honestly, to say yes as much as I can – not to spoil him but if he really wants to make banana bread and I have time, what is the point of saying no.

I also try to distract him when he’s in that pre-meal nutso time. By suggesting a toy or a book or even some TV. But, boy, the kid can be a broken record and tough to take sometimes. I also try (with the benefit of hindsight) to enjoy a bit of the capriciousness along with the baby love you can still get from a 3 yo. It is so fleeting.

I am looking forward to 4 when they really do have way more judgment but I try to enjoy the crazy 3s because that stage has so many sweet and amazing moments (that I try to remember when my head is about to EXPLODE!!!)

We do have firm rules and boundaries that we stress OVER and OVER and I do think that this helps and I try to save my most over the top mom act and the HUGE nos for things that are just dangerous.

I actually gave up the battle with the stroller to let him walk. They CRAVE independence and it seemed like that was one little way of giving him what he wanted. We would still bring it (b.c he gets tired, or we’d do the naiomi watts piggy back) but sometimes that little bit of “ok, fine” from a parent is all they need.

Good luck!

Jen DC on

@ blessedwithboys: Completely unnecessary and uncalled for commentary. Regardless of whether the desired trip to the park was because Elisabeth wanted to “salve [her] conscience” or because (gasp) it was A BEAUTIFUL DAY, she’s asking for help, not potshots.

It’s good to know you like to kick folks when they are down…

Kat on

consistency really is key… but at this age, they also want control and independence… as Ni Hao Kai Lan now has it ingrained into my 7-year old’s mind… “everyone should have a choice, you can’t make all the choices”

So just going from when you got home… she wants to go to the park… “Easton, you need clothes on to go to the park… would you like to wear this or that?” show her two choices… and leave it to her.

Then it’s time to leave. “Easton, we don’t want to run out of time, would you like to ride in the stroller or _____?” Find another option… on Daddy’s shoulders, on a tricycle, or maybe you and Ron ride bikes and she rides in a bike trailer… but find a way to give her a choice.

And also GIVE HER WORDS… the second she starts resisting… get on her level… and tell her… “Don’t throw a fit. Use your words.” and then feed her the right way to say it… “Say ‘Mommy, I don’t want to ride in the stroller, can we go another way?”

And remember, maybe she isn’t wanting the time on the playground as much as she just wants to be with you and Ron… so the long leisurely walk and looking at all the scenery on the way may be more important to her.

Connie on

I’m not going to give you advice. I have three small children. Some days are wonderful and some are sheer hell. Some days I can’t imagine life without them and other’s I’d give them back in a heartbeat.

Sometime’s its as much about simple survival as anything else. You know your children, you know yourself and you have probably tried everything already that has been suggested and more!

I learned to accept the fact that I am simply human, no more and no less, that I love my children to the ends of the Earth and beyond and that I am entitled to have a bad day and will without a doubt make mistakes along the way.

You will figure out what works for you and for your family and like all mother’s before you, you will survive, your children will grow up feeling loved, they will learn to forgive your imperfections as every child must when they realize their parents are only human but they will remember the love beyond all else.

How do I know this? Because all of us were once children too.

Jillian on

Thanks for your blog, please don’t stop. I really enjoy it and learn so much from you every week, not only about you and your family, but that I can bring to my family.

Lauren, spanking is not the solution or something that she or anyone would need to start doing to change things. I am over 20, never been spanked and was a well behaved child, for the most part. There are a million ways to discipline without spanking. I don’t know anyone who had a pleasant spanking experience. Some in fact had horrible experiences.

I can look at my daughter when she is misbehaving and tell her to stop and say, One and she stops….most of the time. Not because she is afraid of being hit, but because she doesn’t want a time out or a toy to be taken away. I don’t see how hitting, which is what I see it as, is a solution to getting a child to behave. And fixing the problems in society will not be resolved if everyone starting spanking their kids. Please.

Wendy Kaufman on

I’m learning too, and I agree with the “yes” environment comment above, but the commenter calling you selfish for having a career was completely out of line.

I can’t offer much advice, because I left the mall sobbing a few days ago after being beaten about the head and bitten by my toddler. First time. Looks like I’d better brush up on my discipline! :/

Janie on

So it definitely sounds like there are some power struggle issues going on between parent and child that can easily be resolved(I have a 3 1/2 old daughter and she is super easy…because of the techniques I use). I can attest to the fact that choices work 99.9 percent of the time. Like someone else said, “do you want daddy to put your shorts on or mommy” or lay out two outfits and have her choose which one.

I also agree that I did not understand why she would be forced to go in the stroller. It seems that your desire of “staying longer” in the park should not of outweighed her desire to walk. Half the fun is getting there right and she would have been expending even more energy walking, exploring along the way, and you would have completely avoided a power struggle meltdown. Most of raising a toddler is trying to avoid those moments by allowing your daughter alot more freedom and decisions.

You have to ask yourself why was it so important for you to “win” the stroller incident. If it was too dangerous for her to walk then again, you give her the choice, “you have to either ride in the stroller or walk holding hands with mommy”. Once you get the hang of it, you will never ever have another melt down again. The key is to avoid the melt down and you will find life a lot more easier and more enjoyable for both you and your daughter. Good luck.

mommytoane on

Hmm. I always thought that the 2′s and 3′s and 4′s were as hard as YOU make them. Number one rule of parenting a toddler. Learn to pick your battles. Until you learn this rule, you will be tortured. Set up a space for tantrums. Do NOT give her the attention she wants during them. Turn your back, walk away. Do anything. But IGNORE the fits.

From the time my daughter was young, we had a *time out chair* and it wasn’t just for punishment, it was for when SHE felt like SHE needed a time out too. When we could tell she was getting mad,s he went to her chair and thought a few minutes, calmed down and came out. If she was throwing a fit, we would pick her up…set her gently in the chair, and tell her when she was ready to calm down and talk, she could come out. I think we suffered a handful of fits. For us….the two’s, threes, and fours were magical and fun.

Another big thing. TREAT HER LIKE SHE IS THREE. GIVE HER OPTIONS. Ok we need to get dressed for the park. Do you want to wear shorts or a dress? She’ll soon forget the tantrum of getting dressed and be more into *wow mom is letting ME pick*. Treat kids like mini adults to an extreme. give them options, choices. You control the choices…so whats the big deal.

Jenny on

I find the magic word is not “please”, it’s “let’s”! A lot of things seem way less overwhelming with help. There is something about “please go pick up your toys”, for instance, that is a lot more off-putting than “let’s go pick up your toys”. I notice a lot less sense of being overwhelmed and having tantrums when things get done together. I’ve also noticed that some kids’ tantrums are directly related to how overwhelmed they feel.

Natalie on

I am a new mother and turn to my own mother for parenting advice. She reared seven children. She is a firm believer that all children are individual and you as a parent must learn what works to bring out the best in each child. Her #1 rule of thumb, which she also always says is the hardest thing for a parent, has always been consistency. I knew when she said something that she meant it and there would be no swaying her mind.

I also know that my parents practiced “corporal punishment” but do not remember even one spanking I ever got. What I do remember are the talks that came before the punishment… and how as I got older I wished that she or dad would just stop with the lecture and spank me already! More often than a spanking, though, was the knowledge that certain actions would always end with the same results. No amount of temper tantrums would change that.

Jenna on

@ lauren

She blogged previously about spanking and said it is not something that is for her.

@ blessedwithboys

Have you ever been to NYC? It is not a place you want your 3 year old roaming free… they run fast… the city traffic is not good for a 3 year old to walk a long ways… they can get lose from your hand and run into the street. So, she was being responsible trying to get her child into a stroller.

@ Jen DC

blessedwithboys always has some negative comments… doesn’t matter what the blog is about… you can count on her to be a debbie downer!

Lia on

I’m so there right now with my 2 and a half y/o son!! I’ve learned that letting him call the shots whenever possible really helps when I have to stick to my guns and no has to mean no.

I usually give him options, red socks or green socks? Ham or turkey? Park or pool? Bath with or without bubbles? By giving him these options when the outcome is really inconsequential, I’ve found that he’s more apt to go with what I say when it’s something major. A lot of our tantrums have been about the power struggle, if you give some power back then it will be there when you need to take it.

Plus, I figure that as indecisive as I am, giving our son some options now will help him make decisions in the future when it’s something more than red or green socks. But maybe that’s a bit of a stretch? :)

taraeire on

Kids at this age like to feel independent so I often gave my kids a choice between two acceptable (to me) things. “do you want to wear your red shorts to the park or your blue ones?”

I also used the 1-2-3 system and,years later, when i needed to motivate my kids to get up and do what I asked, I could say “one…” and they moved.

Consistency is key! Intermittent reinforcement is the hardest things to correct. If you hate a behavior, for example, begging for stuff at the grocery checkout line, never give them that option and the begging goes away. If you sometimes allow it, they will continue to beg much longer.

Good luck!

Kate Campbell on

Toddlers get such a bad rap. Yes, it’s true that the 2 and 3 stages are very challenging FOR ADULTS, but from the child’s perspective, they are learning skills that will last them a lifetime. Independence, assertiveness, knowing what they like, and don’t like, discovering new things, etc. I hate it when people use the terms “Terrible Twos” or otherwise. So it’s frustrating for the adult. Big deal. Develop skills in how to handle this. They do not have to be frustrating times. Manage it. It’s all in presentation and the way you approach things.

I am an Early Childhood Education major, so I can back this up.

caitlin on

I think holding space for your daughter is important and being able to be with her as she expresses frustration or fatigue without walking away or getting frustrated is key. Learning to be in a hurry is lost on most toddlers and really why rush them if you don’t have to, you were going to the park for her right? Yes, she wanted to go, but getting on clothes and leaving right now are not part of getting there for her, maybe even leaving the apartment was not what she had in mind when she agreed to the park. I also would avoid being punitive or shaming her for having feelings or reactions that are not what you like.

I feel it’s more important for children to be authentic to who they are and not just for them to do what their parents approve of, that can be very stifling and confusing for a little one finding their way and voice. I also believe when you do lose it that you be honest with your kid and tell them what happened for you and apologize if appropriate. I find that everything I say has a very high potential of being repeated back to me in the proper context later so those ‘no’s’ you are using are coming right back at you. Learning how to manage conflict is something that’s going to become more challenging as your daughter becomes more articulate so modeling good resolution strategies will only help you later.

Letting your fiance be the disciplinarian and you being the softie will only cause conflict between the two of you as you become more entrenched in your positions and your daughter figures out who to go to to get the answer she wants. Being unified in your approach to her will help your daughter and your relationship with your partner.

When your daughter strikes at you put up your hand to block the blow and say “I am not going to let you hit me.” Getting physical is where they go when they are at a loss for words and their brains can’t formulate their feelings fast enough to express their emotions.

Janet Landsbury is the voice of reason and calm in all the kid confusion, check her out at: http://www.facebook.com/janetlansburyElevatingChildCare

Jen on

Good luck and hang in there! I am the proud mother of a very intelligent, strong willed little boy. He is 4.5 years old. He is the type of child that, when given choices, will say “I don’t want any of those!” He also pushes 1-2-3-Magic to the limit and we get to three almost every time. The most important thing that I can do is be consistent and follow through with what I say. I also have to keep things simple…too much discussion (which I am guilty of) just gives him more to argue with.

Some days are better than others and we are having a loooong summer here. I try to keep the days filled with lots of activities to make up for the absence of preschool. We have an easier time when we are out and about.

The three’s were hard but the four’s have been even harder. We now have even more attitude and back talking…it sounds like I have a pint-sized teenager in the house. My son was pretty easy going at the age of two and I had no idea that the three’s and four’s would be so challenging. My second son is giving me a hard time now at 18 months so I’m getting to experience the classical “terrible two’s” as well.

Jane on

Yes she is testing you. She wants to know there are limits and that when you draw a line in the sand that it’s solid. The structure is reassuring to children. So it is very important that when you say something is going to happen that it does in fact then happen.

For example when you said “Ok no park” and your little one ran up to you and said “I want to go to the park!” she was testing you. If you had stuck to it then she would have thrown a tantrum and this yes, is another test. She wants to know YOU have control, not her, b/c she is just a child and wants to know her parent is stronger in this big world than she is. If you would have stuck with it past the tantrum you would’ve then had a sweet, happy, calm child (for awhile anyway :)

Set limits and stick to them. Counting helps, like saying “If you don’t come put your shoes on by the time i get to 3, we’re staying here. One…two…three.” My son usually makes a good choice by 3 but sometimes he tests me and waits till right after I say “3″ to follow the directions. In those cases it is always too late, which is what I tell him. He throws a fit, and then when he realizes he’s allowed to be upset but that the result will not change, he calms down and is his pleasant self again.

“Love and Logic” has been helpful to many many parents. How do we know if we weren’t taught? You can check it out online or i think most bookstores.

Love and consistency. Love them enough to let them know they can’t control you by throwing a fit, that you are not afraid of nor manipulated by their outbursts. If you teach them that tantrums get their way you will have a hard time the older they get and they will also be ill-prepared for their own friendships and relationships in life.

Children are happy when they know what the limits are and that the limits are consistent. That said, of course it’s important to listen to them and work with them and nurture them. Just do it within the consistency of the rules and limits you set.

Good luck and by the way, you have always been my favorite Law and Order assistant DA :)

Jane on

Oh and I loved Jenny’s comment. They can get overwhelmed, say if they threw their toys on the floor. They have to pick them up before they get anything they want now (go outside, get a treat, etc.) but they can get overwhelmed by the task.

We usually have our son pick up 3 things. Then we say “now 3 more things.” Then once he is actively cleaning up his own mess we join in and help him. If it is just a mess from playing then we do the “Let’s” clean up thing where we do it together. :)

Kari on

Might be too late for this one, unless you explain it’s a new condition but worth a try…

I inform all kids I am involved with that I am allergic to whining.

If they start, I start to scratch anywhere and look distressed. As I focus on my pain it works as a distraction and almost always stops the whining.

I explain that if I wasn’t scratching we could be doing something more fun.

Once in a while I have to beg them to stop or I’ll pretend to cry that I am now in pain (producing red marks from scratching that don’t really hurt) but it rarely goes that far.

3 under 5 on

This http://www.amazon.com/Youre-Not-Boss-Brat-proofing-Twelve-Year-Old/dp/0061346632. Is an awesome book. I feel your pain and this book has finally taught me some things that work. Love your blog! Thanks for your honesty:)

olaf78 on

I’d like to preface this by saying that I am not a parent but I have worked in child care for over eight years, dealing with children 5-12.

I am also the aunt of a 3.5 yr old and an 18month old. I babysit both kids for at least 8 hrs a day once every week. So that is my experience and my advice may be dismissed on that basis.

IMO children of your daughter’s age have feelings far vaster in scope than they have the means to communicate those feelings or even understand how to react to them.

Hunger, tiredness, excitement at your return from work may manifest in contrary behaviour simply because Easton needs something from you she doesn’t know what, or how to get.

Others above me have provided exemplary advice about the desensitisation of “No’, creating a ‘Yes’ environment and providing choice for your child. I think all I will add is that sometimes just hanging out with your kid is all that your kid wants. Returning home from an absence (work or other) generates a massive amount of excitement for kids and sometimes for that to then be followed with the prospect of further excitement can be overwhelming for your child. I don’t know the time line of when the park outing was proposed so I may be talking out my ass (!) but consider that in your absence Easton has had a day and during that day she probably wished to share aspects of it with you.

I always advocate for periods of de-compression between times of high excitement (and yes to adults, coming home is a prelude to excitement, but for children your return is the excitement). Just slow down, be really calm and have a chat with your lovely kid. Then propose a park outing, preferably using language that emphasises the community of you and her, like – ‘Shall we go to the park and play?’, rather than – ‘Do you want to go to the park?’. (But that is just a nitpick.)

Another thing that I wish parents that I see would do more of is, value the experience rather than an arbitrary goal that they have decided on. For instance, in your case what you really wanted was to enjoy spending time with your daughter and your partner on a beautiful day. But what you ended up emphasising as important, was the park and the stroller.

Neither thing which was your priority. Children that young find fun in anything and if, when with them you approach outings into the world, as an exploration then you will always find opportunities to have important, fun family time together. I think my point can be seen with the stroller – not using it may have cost time to play in the park but the journey there may have been just as much fun for Easton (I mean you guys live in NYC!).

You say in your post that you and Ron looked at each other in perplexity because Easton’s behaviour seemed to be at odds with what she apparently wanted/would serve her best. Please always remember that Easton is only 3, and as smart as she is she hasn’t developed the kind of complex reasoning that is required to make the connection that seems so evident to you. She is still small and developing all these ways of thinking – she cannot come up to your level to understand the situation as you do; you must approach the situation from her perspective. An easy thing to say, harder to do but ask questions from her – it will help her to articulate the problem, and it may take some of the wind out the sails of a full blown tantrum.

I applaud you for your commitment to consistency and discipline. These are so important in making children feeling secure – I have seen children without clear, firm, boundaries and limits, feel as if the world rests on their shoulders – and feel as if their vigilance is all that keeps everything from falling apart. That is too heavy a burden for them and they develop coping skills that aren’t necessarily helpful in becoming strong, well-adjusted adults.

I also applaud your candour and humility. The other posters on this blog are also great and supportive (except for blessedwithboys but there is always one!) – I guess it really does take a village to raise our kids, and what a great village this is!

stefanie on

i babysit kids, have been since i was 11. saying the word NO! DOES WORK. however, u have to back it up…. like if u say ” NO, and ur kid does what she was not supposed to do, time out, ….. this work. u also have to be firm and not let ur kid walk all over you, if u let her win, u will be in big trouble.

I hate the word ‘terrible threes or terrible 2. it is NOT THE KIDS FAULT, IT IS THE PARENTS FAULT, FOR NOT SETTING BOUNDAIRES, AND INFORCING THEM, AND INFORCING TIME OUTS. AND TAKING AWAY WHAT THEY WANT WHEN THEY LISTEN……. SAYIN NO, DOES WORK,

I CAN TAKE 7 KIDS, AGES 1-9 TO TOYS R US, AND NOT ONE, THROWS A FIT. OR ASKS CAN I HAVE THIS.

BEFORE we all go in the store, i ask them what are the rules…. ?? these are the rules
1 do not run away from me, unless you and i can see each other
2 when it is time to go we go
3 hold your buddies hand
4 if you do not listen, we all go home

they all listen, because they want to have fun in the store, after these are kids, you have to set the rules and boundaires before u go in any store, park, whichever.

i am 23, and i still babysit and not ONE has hit, or throwen a tantrum, because i take things away from them and time out. I DO NOT BELIEVE IN HITTING THE CHILD. NEVER HAVE. AND NEVER WILL .

Amy on

Order _The Power of Positive Parenting_ by Glenn Latham. I am a Behavior Analyst and mom to 2 children, ages 3 and 5. It’s a wonderful tool that I use with my own children as well as professionally. It’s written for parents, so it’s in parent-friendly language.

On a personal note, I agree that the tantrums are tough to go through when you have to stick by what you said. However, the next time you set a limit, your daughter will be more likely to believe you and her compliance will increase.

juma on

It’s all about never threatening; it looks like you are threatening and then basically caving and giving her more than one opportunity to chnge her behavior. Important to always follow through on what you say and withholding attention when they are on the rampage. Give her time limits and give her warning but never threaten without following through. Be consistent…don’t give her three opportunities to change her mind about going to the park. Simply stay home and ignore her.

smiavs on

Consistency and firmness are important. Children will have plenty of friends at school and/or in extracurricular activities. What they need at home are parents. You don’t have to be officially homeschooling to be a teacher. All parents are their child’s most important teacher. You wouldn’t let a kid do whatever they want if you were in charge of a classroom full of them. It’s the same thing with one child.

I’m not a fan of the idea of spanking a child. I was spanked (rarely) as a kid, but I won’t be using that method myself. Telling a child it’s not ok to hit, and then hitting them is confusing and hypocritical. Not to mention completely unnecessary. Tantrums are hard to deal with, but there are methods (slightly different for each child) that work.

I’ve found that the best way to proceed is to keep my own voice calm. A child doesn’t need to be frightened, on top of being angry or upset. It just prolongs the episode. A firm, but soft and calm voice is best. It reassures the child, especially when they’re so young. Secondly, if you observe a child during a tantrum, you’ll frequently notice they don’t seem to have much control over their body. They flail around, sometimes hitting or kicking in the process, which only serves to increase their distress. I pick a child up, sit them on my lap, then restrain them–again, the key is soft, but firm. I wrap my arms around theirs so they can’t flail around, and hold them until they calm down. They become angrier for a few moments, but then it has a calming effect. The emotions and frustrations they’re feeling tend to be bigger than their little bodies and minds can cope with, hence the flailing. Helping them to regain control tends to decrease the severity of a tantrum. Hope that helps. It works for me.

Sasha on

Welcome to the club. I feel the same way with my kids every now and then.

I read so many books and tried so many different things – it got me all frustrated. Then I stopped listening to others and started to hear the inner voice in me – and it got better.

It’s not over, because my kids are their own persons, but I am more content with what I do and my kids sense that.

And I don’t talk around no more. If I want something done I make it sound like that and not as if it’s my childs choice to obey.

There was one situation that made this crystal clear to me:

we came home and my son (4 then) threw his jacket in the corner and the shoes in the other and was off to his room. I yelled after him: “Would you mind putting your stuff away?” and he said “Yes.” and kept on walking. Shocked for a moment I reconsidered and said “Actually, I said that wrong. I want you to put your stuff away now.” I didn’t scream, just said it very firmly, but not loud. You cannot imagine my surprise when he stopped, said “Okay.”, turned around and put his stuff away without another word.

This doesn’t work everytime, but I try to make it very clear when there is no choice for the kid but to do what I want him to do. If I make it sound like the child has a choice why should I be surprised if he picks the choice I don’t want him to make.

Sometimes I even tell my kids that too. Like “We will brush your teeth before you go to bed. Either you help me and it’ll be quick and fun or you’ll fight and it will not be fun at all. But we will brush your teeth no matter what.”

So then they no where their choice lies and usually that works out.

Jennifer on

I am a single mother of two great kids. My daughter is 13, my son is 6. The trick is to remember that YOU are the parent. This is why parenthood IS hard because you have to say “No” or “Not now”. If you say something follow through. If you are at a friends house don’t say,”If you don’t stop that we are going home!” if you don’t intend to do it. If YOU don’t want the punishment, don’t say it because you become the push over and it doesn’t teach the child anything good. Instead use time outs (or I used the corner or face the wall).

My 6 year old has ADHD & wasn’t medicated for a long time. If I can get through to him with a time out, ANYONE can that doesn’t have behavioral issues can do it. I simply had to remind him that there was a wall that he could visit for a few mins. and he would stop the bad behavior. Stick with it. Let them cry. They will be stronger, healthier & more well rounded teens & adults for it. Read books, look online, never stop learning. Children crave discipline & they respect you more for it in the long run.

Remember to STOP feeling guilty for working to supporting them. It’s life. Just make the best of the time that you are together by camping or trips to the zoo. Don’t buy them toys because YOU feel bad. Parenting is the greatest test of our lives enjoy it, it’s hard to permanently screw up so ease up on yourself, clamp down on them :) All the best, I’m a huge fan!! Jenn.

Martha LT on

My son was very much like that. What worked for us was to let him know ahead of time what the expectations were in order for something to happen. For something like the park, we’d tell him he’d need to change into play clothes before we leave, and then we’d tell him that he could pick those clothes out with us ahead of time if he wanted to.

My daughter wasn’t too difficult at that age, but when she was, whatever came up that caused the conflict, she had to feel like the solution was her idea. In a situation like yours, we’d have to do something like tell her how pretty her outfit was, and how nice she looked in it, and then tell her it would be a shame if it got damaged playing because then she couldn’t wear it again. When we did that, she’d respond with something like a question about what she should do, or she’d tell us she wanted to change and we’d letter.

The fact that you’re asking for advice and questioning how you should handle it tells me you are probably an awesome mother and will do well with her. Best of luck, though, and I hope you find the trick that works for you!

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