Dealing With Demanding Three Year Old – Reader Question

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Dealing with a demanding 3 year old

Three Year Old Behavior – Screaming or Demanding When She Doesn't Get Her Way

M. Writes:

“I am the mother of a soon to be three year old girl. She's an only child and we are not expecting to have more. She is recently becoming very bossy and expects everything to go her way and that she can have whatever she wants just because she wants it.

When she was younger we would have her repeat the requests she made of us in a polite way and then we would comply. So for example, Mommy could I please sit where you are sitting? But now she thinks that she can get us to do anything just by asking politely. I feel like we dug ourselves a hole and I'm not sure how to explain it to her.

She is also just entering the phase where we she wants to have everything when we go out to a store. When I tell her no and try to explain why, financial or we don't need it or whatever she just keeps repeating and screaming, but I want it! I want to tell her (and have tried already) that we can't have everything we want in the world, it just doesn't work that way. And also, in life we can't expect everyone to do as we say just because we say it nicely. She gets this blank look on her face then just repeats whatever she had said just before I tried my explanation.

How do I explain something when the only answer I can think of is, “that's just how life works!””

Ideas for Dealing with Three Year Old Behaviors:

  • Three tends to be a time of  growing independence, testing boundaries. Simply reading up on the behaviors that commonly arise in three year olds might help you deal with them.  I don't think you dug yourself a hole, I think your daughter is just growing up! I like the Ames and Ilg books for learning about each age: Your Three-Year-Old: Friend or Enemy (Amazon affiliate)
  • This reminds me of a post I wrote called, “You Can be Kind, They Can be Angry – 6 Ways I've Learned to Respectfully Set Limits.” One of the biggest misperceptions I had before having kids was that if I was calm and logical about saying no, my kids would get it and accept it.  Sometimes you could explain all day and they still will not be happy. It doesn't mean you saying no is wrong.  You may just need to allow your daughter to be upset.
  • I love the advice on Aha Parenting for Limit Setting.  You can find an overview article on setting limits here, the end of the article talks about dealing with your child's angry or upset emotions when you say no. Then search around for more of her insights on parenting a three year old.

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