My step-son has very sudden mood swings. One minute he is happy playing, the next his mood changes and he acts-out. Typical behaviour -
- VERY energetic
- Very boisterous
- When he wants something he is not allowed, and when told no in general, he hits/kicks and screams
- When given a time-out (usually sent to his room) he sits up there kicking and screaming until he is told he can come out
- He can be very happy one minute then all of a sudden changes his mind and gets into s 'strop'
- He cant sit down for more than a minute here and there (which is particularly difficult as we are trying to start his learning (reading/numbers))
- Has a very short attention span
- He constantly talks about nothing in particular, especially when grown-ups are having a conversation he isnt included in
Is this normal for a 3 year old (he will be 4 in 2 months) or is this strange behaviour?
I have always been around kids myself, and they are generally much more laid back in every way compared to him. Any advise or similar situations would be great to hear about.
Hi there. Well, all 3 year olds are different and you don't really describe anything too outside normal in my opinion. I think a big key to this little guy is physical activity. He's in need of many outlets for this. I'd have him daily to parks or play areas where he can run, climb, jump, skip, swing, etc. I'd have him run races around your house, play physical games, set up obstacle courses for him, ride scooters, roll down hills, jump on a trampoline, etc. Some kids have a LOT of steam to blow off and giving them appropriate ways to do it really helps. Like i said, a few hours every day or at least 1 is essential for a very energetic child.
Then, he's like a lot of three year olds----- he's moody and testing boundaries. I really don't think it is unusual. He may be extreme in how he handles it, but it is within normal. Your goal is to help him out in learning appropriate ways to express himself. I'd get some books from the library on emotions to help him with kid language (kid's books) so he can use his words better. If he can tell you how he is feeling, he won't have to show you as much through actions like kicking. I'd give him alternatives to do when angry, sad or frustrated such as going to a cool down spot, using his words, counting to 10, using 'helping hands', etc. Role play or act it out for him---- act really upset about it and do what he has been doing but make it funny so he laughs. Then say, now I'm going to do it a better way and act out appropriate behavior. Kids really respond to this visual, hands on instruction.
For discipline, I would change what you say when you put him in time out--- I'd say, you can come out when you are calm and 'happy'. This way he knows that this is the goal and he should try to calm himself rather than amping up when in time out. I also think that the 'natural consequences' is a good route to go. Throw something, lose it for a time. If he is screaming, you say "oh, I can't understand you when you are yelling, I'll listen when you calm down" and then ignore him until he does. There is a book called "love and logic" by Charles and Jim Fey (father and son psychologists) that is excellent and I believe they make one for toddlers now too.
Always stay calm with him. Praise him for good behavior. Oh, and there is another sersies of books for kids that I love with one titled "hands are not for hitting". It really drives home the point of physical things not being a good choice.
good luck and hang in there! Oh, and consistency with both homes will REALLY make a difference.
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