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An out-of-control almost 3 year old
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An out-of-control almost 3 year old

Help, I am losing the battle!  I am a mother of three boys, a nine year old who is a wonderful child, cooperative, loving mature, who makes me very proud, a one and half year old whom I currently have no problems with, Then there is my almost three year old.  I am a stay at home mother who works out only one day a week, my husband is a teacher, who is home for all holidays and weekends, so I think that quality or quanity time is not an issue.

My three year old is very smart for his age, as well as being very phisically strong and agile.  He is incredibly stong willed and he is close to taking control of my sanity.  My day is filled with spitting, biting, punching, screaming tantrums, constant asking for things, demanding that he have what he wants when he wants it!  I usually cannot reason with him and must have a battle of wills instead.  I have tried time-out, spanking, removing privliges, discussing feelings(his and others), positive reinforcement when he is cooperative, but nothing is hitting home.  I need help?  Do you think he could have some sort of disorder, allergy, anything to help explain his violent, almost hateful actions towards me and the rest of our family?  I never compare my children to each other, and I don't expect that they will all be the same.  I was expecting some terrible two's behavior but I feel that he has expanded well beyond that boundary.  Please help me learn how to deal with him in a positive and productive way that will help him to become a happy
loving child with a high self-esteme, so that he in turn can learn to deal with life in a productive way.  
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Dear Laurie,

One of the challenges a parent faces with a child who behaves like your son does is to assess whether the child is manifesting the characteristics of a strong willed, oppositional temperament (even at the extreme end of the normal spectrum), or is manifesting some signs of medically-based or psychologically-based condition.

Rather than continue to struggle with the daily strains this poses, it would be worthwhile to proceed with some evaluation. The logucal place to begin is with the pediatrician, because the first area of investigation shoul involve ruling out any medically-based (e.g., hormonal, metabolic, neurological) illness or condition.

If such a medical evaluation finds no reason for your son's behavior, evaluation should then proceed to the psychological domain. At the very least, a pediatric mental health or behavioral health professional can help you with guidance around managing your son's behavior. Is there any family history that might be instructive in determining what is occurring? For example, is there any family history (in both the immediate and extended families) of mood disorder, neurological disorder or learning difficulties?

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by pursuing such help. There's every reason to think that your son (and you) can achieve some relief.
8 Comments
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(I'm using my husband's e-mail)-I thought I could share my experience w/you.  My daughter recently turned four.  She did and still does, drive me to insanity.  My husband and I went to counciling because our daughter was basically "thrown out" of the hourly day care center. We thought she was just strong-willed, bratty, and high spirited, etc.  But then, one of our friends refused to ever keep her again and suggested therapy.  Of course I was in denial, however, we saw a Child Development Therapist.  After four or five sessions w/my Husband and I, the therapist finally observed our daughter.  The therapist noticed right away a whole check-list of symptoms of Sensory Integration Problems.  It turns out, our daughter does have a disorder that causes her almost every response to seem very negative, hyper, or mean to me and others.  But her disorder puts her in a state of "fight or flight" therefore hitting at you or running while screaming at the top of her lungs. Our daughter now goes to occupational therapy, soon to be 3x/week.  It's helping both of us, not to mention my husband. At least it helps w/understanding why she acts the way she does. She's also behind in her writing skills, so if the problem wasn't caught, she would fail in regular school.  I think I have less days of crying and being so frustrated w/the whole situation.  Well, the doc will respond to you or go get your son evaluated by Physical/Occupational Therapists if you need to.  Hang in there/Pray/& God Bless You.
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Be sure to check with your pediatrician to see if there could be any underlying medical condition.  My daughter was very out of control as a preschooler, she put herself and others at risk, she tantrummed for hours at a time banging her head violently on the wall.  She had periods of being good but also periods of being very bad...sometimes she would cry and say she couldn't stop herself.  She was in counseling, she saw a developmental pediatrician who said she was developmentally delayed...she started school adn couldn't learn.  We put her on medication under the physcians advice but her behavior continued to deteriorate and finally at age 8 she developed physical problems to go along with the emotional, academic and motor skill problmes.  They were still saying she was emotionally disturbed.  However, she finally got so physically sick she got a goiter and bulging eyes and finally somebody checked her thyroid.  She had a very advanced case of Graves Disease that had affected almost all her organs including
her heart.  Even so I was begging for help for her behavior but the endocronologist was great and said wait and see what happened if the graves was treated.  I got a brand new daughter within a few months.  Everything changed.  She was dxed with a learning disability and delayed fine motor skills which the school provided help for, she became a sweet and bascially peaceful child who was able to learn to control her behavior.  She is 15 now and though she still qualifies learning disabled she needs no special classes and is making all a's and b's in even advanced classes, she is a competitive swimmer, and has overcome a myriad of other health problems including lupus....I called the Tapizole (the antithyroid drug) a miracle drug for years.  She is now in remission from the Graves and the Lupus....she is still excitable and has lots of energy but is able to channel it productively, she is a joy and even though sometimes her emotions still push her overboard a bit it is just a fascinating part of her personality
The thing I regret the most is the years that her behavior was screaming for help and we all assumed it was emotional or psychiatric when in reality her whole problem stemmed from a rare but very serious medical condition (rare because she was so young).  Doctors sometimes don't think of these kinds of things....they are trained to look for the common causes (our doc said you see hoofprints, you look for horses, not zebras).  Unfortunately, sometimes it really is a zebra.
Dee
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I have a 2 1/2 year old who is loving, bright and plays well with others.  At times, however, if things don't go her way (getting dressed or having something specific to drink not on hand) or she decides in her mind she does not want to do something she will go to the other extreme and go into a tantrum where she is a different child.  She tightens her body and screams and crys and refuses to listen or hear what you are tring to say.  We have to isolate her so not to upset her sister and she continues her screaming fits in her room for long periods of time.  After she wears down I'll confront her in a soothing tone and eventually she'll calm down by my holding her.  She is not a whining low key crying child, its extreme from one end of the spectrum to the other.

We have never experienced this with her older sister and this has just started a couple of months ago.  is isolating a child appropriate or should we let her continue until she is ready to stop.  Using distractions is also ineffective.

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Hi Laurie!

     Your son sounds like mine - but he doesn't get as physical (biting, etc).  Try not feeding him foods with dyes in them (especially red) and see if that helps.  We (and his preschool teacher) have seen dramatic improvements in our sons temperment and behavior.  We're still trying to find out more about this phenomenon but give it a try - it can't hurt!
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My almost 5 year old daughter is extremely creative and happy most of the time. Her preschool teachers have dubbed " The Leader " of the group. But her leadership skills have gone too far. She wants everything her way, and has " issues " with anger and jealousy. She cries, get angry, throws temper tantrums, and hides underneath her bed whenever I talk to my huband. We've been married for eight months.
  My daughter is under the legal guardianship of two adults. I'm
in a court fight trying to get her back. She knows something is wrong, and started wetting her pants since the court case began. Of course, the guardians blame my husband and accuses him for all her emotional problems. Who do I take my child to see for help ? Are public schools a good idea ? do her guardians have a legal right to look in her files ?  
                                  
                           Sincerely,
                  A mom who can't get any answers,
                    despite having a lawyer.
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My daughter is going to be 3 next month.  I have her in Daycare.  So loves to go and begs to go when I keep her home.  The problem is, she dosen't seem to know how to play nice. . .  Every time I pick her up from the Daycare, the teacher tells me that she hit one of the kids, pushed a kid down and give them a bump or cut, screamed at the top of her lungs (which I've heard--percing!)and will not listen to the teacher (do her own thing).  The list goes on.  The teacher told me that she gets so excited that she goes crazy and does these things.  She obviously isn't trying to be mean, she just plays rough. Sometimes it is so bad, she has to go to the office.  I am so embarassed!  Everyone knows my daugther in the school!  

My question is how do I deal with it?  Now, I do the time outs and it doesn't do a thing, so I spank her when she gets really uncontrolable.  I take her toys away and it doesn't fase her at all.  She finds ways of entertain her self, so no toys doesn't help!  When she is good at school and behaves her self, then I reward her with one of her toys.  Once she acts up again, I take it away.

Please give me advice...

Janelle
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Avatar_n_tn
My daughter is going to be 3 next month.  I have her in Daycare.  So loves to go and begs to go when I keep her home.  The problem is, she dosen't seem to know how to play nice. . .  Every time I pick her up from the Daycare, the teacher tells me that she hit one of the kids, pushed a kid down and give them a bump or cut, screamed at the top of her lungs (which I've heard--percing!)and will not listen to the teacher (do her own thing).  The list goes on.  The teacher told me that she gets so excited that she goes crazy and does these things.  She obviously isn't trying to be mean, she just plays rough. Sometimes it is so bad, she has to go to the office.  I am so embarassed!  Everyone knows my daugther in the school!  

My question is how do I deal with it?  Now, I do the time outs and it doesn't do a thing, so I spank her when she gets really uncontrolable.  I take her toys away and it doesn't fase her at all.  She finds ways of entertain her self, so no toys doesn't help!  When she is good at school and behaves her self, then I reward her with one of her toys.  Once she acts up again, I take it away.

Please give me advice...

Janelle
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