Ask Dr. Phelan: Talking Back

Ask Dr. Phelan: Talking Back

Today we have a question from Stephanie, and this is the case of the talking back three-year-old.

Q: Stephanie writes, “My three-year-old constantly talks back. He tells us ‘no’ constantly, and he has no respect. He constantly tries to escape from timeout. We have to hold him on the step, and two minutes later he's doing the same thing.”

  1. Talking back and saying “no” are favorite pastimes of three-year-olds, so you don't want to take them too seriously. It doesn't mean your child is headed for a life of crime or delinquency.
  2. I’m not sure if you're using 1-2-3 Magic, but you might want to consider it. Your options with 1-2-3 are either ignoring or counting. Count the more grievous offenses of talking back. A lot of times, you don’t have to say anything. When your child says no, ask yourself, “Are they doing what they're supposed to be doing?”
  3. In addition to counting, you want to pay attention to your start behavior tactics. raise charting, using the timer and strategies of that sort can help you get things going.
  4. As far as timeout goes, one of our rules is that if they won't stay on a step or a chair, you use their room. You don't necessarily shut the door on a small child. You can put up a gate and sit on the other side of it if they can’t stay in or if they get upset.

If he comes out and he's doing the same thing, that's the way they are. They repeat things ad nauseam, and you want to just keep doing what you're doing. Stay calm, no talking, no emotion, and this too shall pass. Good luck.

February 15, 2019
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