"My 3-year-old is a tyrant"
My usually gentle 3-year-old has suddenly turned into a tyrant. She breaks her toys, throws her food onto the floor and terrorises the cat. No amount of admonishing seems to get her to change her ways. I am at my wits’ end, what can I do?

Renè Daniels replies:

People usually call the naughty period in the toddlers life the “terrible two’s”, but in actual fact it can also be called the “terrible three’s’”.

All children go through certain stages in their lives, and the naughty stage could include biting, bullying and hair pulling. At this stage they are developing their own independence and become know-it-alls. They are learning to develop friendships, and because they find it difficult to communicate their frustrations and feelings effectively, they throw tantrums.

Most 3-year-olds would rather be doing things on their own, and the more often they are allowed to do that, the less tantrums they will be throwing. Endeavour to keep your child busy with things she enjoys doing, or teach her new activities that will allow her to feel independent. Try letting her open the door for you, or allow her to dry the dishes (the plastic ones of course).

When she does start displaying disruptive behaviour, try to change the subject by diverting her attention to something else and wait until she is calm before you deal with the problem.

By smacking or screaming, you are only making the situation worse for both of you, and will result in her not listening to you. Once she has cooled down you can discuss her behaviour with her. Be firm when you discipline her, and teach her about actions having consequences. This is really just a stage, and it will soon blow over.

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