When Your Well-Behaved Child Starts To Misbehave

It can be really trying when your well-behaved child starts to misbehave.  Trust me, I know!  I’ve been there, too.  Toddlers and preschoolers want to be in charge,  be independent, and they know just how they want things to be: their way.  Throwing tantrums or being “bossy” is one way that they do this.

There seems to come a time in all of our kids lives when they go from agreeable, happy and joyous to a child looking to assert their independence in negative ways.  Everything becomes a battle: dressing,  using the potty, putting shoes on, brushing teeth  and  mealtime.

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Here are some tips to help you and your child get through this stage with your sanity and relationship intact.

  • Lay out two outfits and let her make a decision between the two.  This makes it so much easier because she is still deciding, but so are you.
  • I would dress first, then let her settle down. If she learns that she can delay it by throwing a fit, that’s telling her the tactic worked and it’ll be her go-to response next time, and next time…
    Show her that it doesn’t work, that she will be getting dressed regardless, and that it’s much more fun if you can be on the same side while it happens.” ~Victoria Wilkins
  • People told me to ‘tell them’ what I was doing.  It made them feel comfortable, informed. But seeing I’m a singer, I SANG it to them! They stopped any whining IMMEDIATELY.  So, singing and making up the melody – “Now, we’re going to the potty…” or  “I’,m putting on your sox! I found them in this box they are yellow and spotty and each one has a name.  This is Mopsie and this is Floppsie they are longing for your feet, they love your little toes.”    I kid you not…you’ll NEVER have another problem.  The sound of your own voice singing will bring you peace and the kids respond to our ‘mood’ or energy or vibration. They hate to rush and stress, they love peace and fun.” ~  Deborah Dicembre 
  • “I set a timer for my 3-year-old it means you have until the timer goes off to be dressed or mommy will do it and for my 18-month old it means when the timer goes off mommy.is going to dress you. It works for us especially in the morning on weekdays when you need to get out. the door fast.” ~Tricsh Myers
  • Let them try it.  If they don’t want to put on a coat or socks when it is cold outside, let them walk out and see how it feels.  This worked wonders with our kids.

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  • Dress your child the minute that they wake up.   The longer you wait, the harder it gets.
  • Limit choices to two.   At this age, any more than two can be overwhelming and cause stress, which will look like your child is acting out.
  • If she is being sassy, don’t let her have her way.  While choosing your battles is one thing, letting her get away with talking rudely to you is setting you up for a long, hard road ahead.
  • Try (really hard) not to lose your temper!  You would be setting the wrong example.
  • Take him outside and let him run around.  Run around with him!   Kick a ball, run from one side of the yard to the other, whatever you decide.   Getting outside to burn off energy several times a day is a key to keeping tantrums at bay.
  • Speak in a quieter voice.   Kids listen much more when we talk quietly.
  • Don’t put up with rude behavior, if you can help it.  These are teaching moments.  Deal with it the same way, every single time.  Maybe it is time out on the steps?   Or quiet time on a chair?
  • Play dress-up with your child more often.  Dramatic play, where you are both pretending to be other people, is a great way to get past this.  Let your child be the Mom and you be the child.   Model how she should behave.
  • Empathize and try to understand that he is only a young child, learning the ropes of life.

I hope these tips from parents who have been in your situation has helped, but I’d love to hear your own!  Leave your ideas in the comments, or stop by our QuirkyMomma Facebook Page, where we talk about parenting issues, like this one, every day!