Screaming Child Almost 3 Years Old
(Parker CO USA)
Every time its changing time my nephew screams and throws a fit and kicks at me and tries to bite me, this can't be normal behavior can it?
Baby Help Line:
Tips For Tantrums From 3 Year Old
It's hard work trying to change a child who is throwing a tantrum! And as for what is normal - there really isn't any such thing. Some kids are very placid or cooperative when getting changed and some hate it.
A three year old is getting to the stage of wanting to be independent and most tantrums come when parents or care-givers are trying to make the child fit in with what we want. We think it is important to put on clean clothes, but why should they? They don't care if they are dirty, they just want to have fun. Play is learning for children (and adults learn better when it is fun too!)
With a child this age, I would be helping him to learn to dress himself. Hard with a dirty diaper, but everything else they can, with a bit of help start doing more for themselves. Your nephew is obviously a very determined little boy, and hard though this is, it is actually a good thing, he is a child who knows his own mind and doesn't want to be pushed around. And us adults tend to get pretty bossy with kids when they won't co-operate!
My son was one of those! I learned that the tantrums always started with me. I was trying to rush him and he want totally engrossed in his constructions. I learned to give him plenty of time and advanced notice, that it was time to get ready for pre-school.
I also chose how important it was for him to look "nice". We want everyone to think we are doing a good job looking after a child and how they look often is the criteria. A clean tidy child is a well cared for child. Well guess what? That is not really true. A grubby happy child has often learned more, been more stimulated, and had a fantastic time. Actually I would be really concerned to pick up a child from daycare who was as clean as they left home. That child has done NOTHING all day.
With a stroppy child - make everything a game and give him lots of either/or choices - the red t-shirt or the blue one? Do you want Milk or Juice after we get changed? Now you are such a big boy, can you try to do up that button?
A bit of bribery doesn't go astray either! But preferably not food, make it something he loves doing. Lets go to the park when you have your coat on. Get him to choose the story you will read after you change him. Have a special toy that only comes out after change time, keep it hidden until you are wanting to set up cooperative behavior.
Threats and punishments just don't work to teach children to cooperate. They need a pretty good reason to WANT to do what you want.
When he is in a full on tantrum, just go quiet and try to contain him so he doesn't hurt himself - or you! Don't get into a battle with him or give in at this stage or he will just learn tantrums give him all the power. A child who is fling themselves around can often be contained by holding them firmly (but not roughly) round their tummy with their back to you. They are less likely to be able to bite or kick you. Or take them outside onto the lawn, and you just sit quietly in a chair nearby and say calmly, I know you are angry, but when you are finished we need to get you into clean clothes. And just wait it out. Don't get into trying to force him to calm down it just makes him more angry. Tantrums can be pretty scary - they have lost control, and need to learn to voice their displeasure without getting out of control. Not easy when you are not even three!
Anyway, he is a lucky boy to have an Aunt who cares so much about his well-being. Try to enjoy your time with him, and give him plenty of time and interesting things to look forward to when you want him to co-operate!
All the best,
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