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Please Help Me With My 3 Year Old

by Jessica
(Moberly MO)

My 3 year old son is a bright, well mannered child. Our home is full of love, fun and understanding. That's why I am so frustrated with his actions.

He gets angry, red faced, clenched fist, growling. He expresses himself verbally saying, "You're making me angry". I tell him I will not talk to him when he is angry. I have taught him to take deep breaths to calm down and then I will talk to him. He gets so angry so fast over little things. This is one problem.

I'm happy that he can express his anger verbally and breath to calm down but how do I help him not GET so angry when he doesn't need to be?

This is the main reason I am sending this--he is a natural leader. Although this is a good thing, it is taken out the wrong way with other children. In the form of bullying/physical actions. It's like he doesn't even think about what he's doing. Afterwards he knows it was wrong but there is that barrier there where I can't get him to remember the consequences before he does it.

Example: at daycare another child was winning at "simon says" so he grabbed him by the collar and yanked him back. At nap time another little girl climbed on his bed and he pulled her off by her feet hurting her back. These children are not provoking him, he is just extremely aggressive and I'm at my end.

I cry and pray, take all his toys away, talk to him calmly till I am blue in the face explaining why what he did was wrong and telling him the correct way to handle the situation. He gets love and discipline. He knows I will follow through with my punishment every time so I don't think he is "testing me".

I just don't know what to do. He does these things right in front of me or the daycare lady so I think, he is really just acting off of impulse. He is smart enough to be sneaky (he is all the time with food). So if his intentions were to be mean I know he would do it when no one was watching.

But he does it right on the spot. Once he feels the aggravation it's an instant reaction. I can't even see it coming on. One minute he is talking to the other child, the next he is pushing them down. HELP!

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Jessica, and thanks for telling your story here. I'm really glad you're asking for help with your son. I know you want to do the right thing for him, so that his problems don't get worse. You're wise to act early in his life, as the longer these patterns continue, the harder they are to correct.

When reading your story, some things caught my attention. I encourage you to consider these things:

* Your son's anger is at that intense level for a good reason, and you can figure out what that is and help him to manage his emotions in a more balanced manner.

* 3 year old children are never "sneaky" or "mean." At his age, he's just doing his best to meet his needs in the best way he can. When children of his age have problems, the cause of the problem is in his environment, not in the child. That being said, some children are more emotionally volatile by nature, and therefore their emotions can be much more intense than those of other children.

* You said, "He knows I will follow through with my punishment ever time." I don't know what your form of punishment is, but you need to be aware that punishment is generally not effective in bringing about change in children's behavior.

I realize there is a whole lot I don't know about you, your home environment, and your relationship with your son. That being said, I think you can greatly benefit from this program:

I hope this is helpful to you, Jessica. Believe in yourself and your son. You will get through this, and he will be just fine.

Make up your mind that you're going to learn the parenting skills you need in order to help him, and you will.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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