A Lot to Deal With

A mother seeks advice about how to handle her 3-year-old's tantrums.

Just Another Manic Mommy

Lots of Issues to Deal With

Dear Manic Mommy: My oldest son is three and he’s in Pull-ups. How do I potty train him? Also, he throws a fit at times. He will scream or throw things. I don’t know how to deal with him when he does these things, what should I do? I can’t control him. My other baby is 6 months and he’s learning how to crawl, and my oldest wants to play with him but he’s too rough. I’m a single mom so things are hard for me.

Manic Mommy: Hi, well, it sounds like you’ve got a lot of issues to deal with and having a 3-year-old and a 6-month-old is keeping you very busy! Let’s see if I can answer some of your questions!

Regarding potty training, check out this link on some previous advice I offered another mom of a 3-year old. He may also not be interested right now because of the arrival of his little brother. Many times when there’s an addition to the family, the older child will revert back to younger ways, or not want to “grow up” for the fear of not getting the attention he used to get.

As for your son throwing fits, screaming, and throwing items, you say you can’t control him. Yes, you can, and you have to, especially at this age, or it will only escalate to worse behavior as he gets older. As soon as his behavior turns bad, address it. If he starts screaming, get down to his level, look him in the eye, and tell him to stop. Don’t scream back at him, don’t throw a fit at him in response. I know this is an easy thing to do – a child throwing a fit makes a mom want to throw a fit. Believe me, I’ve been guilty of doing it MANY times, and we moms can scream WAY louder than the kid can!

If you get down to his level, look him square in the eye, and tell him plain as day that you’re not going to tolerate it, and MEAN IT WHEN YOU SAY IT … and if you continue with this type of reaction to his fits, he will start to believe you. At first, he may not buy into it, and that’s when you have to have a back-up plan, such as putting him into his room if he continues the behavior, or into a time-out chair, or taking away a privilege. But by sticking to it, and not backing down because you’re tired of fighting back, then you will find out you won’t have to fight back so often and hopefully his behavior will change!

When your 3-year-old wants to play with the baby, encourage him by telling him what a great big brother he is, but also let him know how delicate little babies are and do make sure that you are ALWAYS there when the two are together. He is playing rough, but not purposely trying to hurt his brother, so it is extremely important that you tell him how gentle little babies are. Show him how babies like to be held and cared for. At the age of 3, he has no idea what his actions can do to his little brother, so always err on the side of caution, but also make sure to encourage him to spend time with his brother – he can always share a book with his brother or roll a squishy ball to him while the baby is sitting in your lap. Figure out easy safe ways for the three of you to play together, but make sure your older child knows how helpful he is being. Part of the reason he is reacting by throwing fits and screaming is that he could very well be jealous of his new little brother and may need some extra attention and affection from mom!

I applaud you for being a great mom and for your concern for your little boys! You’re doing the very best you can, and it’s wonderful that you care so much to want to figure out how to make everything better!

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