I have a 3-year-old who throws tantrums quite often. She wants to do everything herself. I keep telling her that she’s too little, but when she gets older I will let her do those things; like microwave her own food, wash dishes, sweep the floor, pour her own drink and do her own laundry. She thinks she should be allowed to do those things now.
When I take things away from her and do them for her, she cries and throws herself on the floor and kicks her feet in the air. She wants to cook and clean and peel her own carrots, but at the same time, she feels that it’s her prerogative to pout and scream and flail her arms and legs around like a – like a 3-year-old.
Then there’s the issue of her fighting with her baby sister much of the time. Sometimes it’s motivated by jealousy, other times by selfishness, not wanting to share, etc. Sometimes she just seems to have a mean streak. She can be a bully to her older brother and sister, the twins, too. She hurts them by scratching, pinching and biting at different times. Then they start crying! Sometimes I feel like – “Please just stop the crying!”
I get impatient with her, as do most of the other people in the family when she has been doing this sort of thing all day long. There are times when I deliberately look her in the eye, listen to find out what she wants and do it for her, but then she gets upset because I gave her a yellow straw instead of a blue straw. I will not let her be spoiled. That is simply not tolerable in a family with 10 children. She seems determined to become spoiled. But we are determined to keep her from becoming spoiled. So I sometimes have to spank. I don’t spank hard or often. When I do, it seems to let her know who’s boss and helps her to understand her boundaries.
Sometimes I take her aside and talk to her. If I spend some time with her one on one, she usually settles down and acts less demanding. One of my daughters will usually step in and do this sort of thing if I’m busy with the 2-year-old or some other task. They have learned to do whatever is necessary to help her get control of herself. They are usually better than I am at being kind and patient with her.
A lot of times, she is really just tired and sleepy and needs to go to bed. When it gets later, and she is acting extremely demanding, I sometimes ask her if she wants to go to bed and she says Yes. That seems like a miracle to me, because my older children would never admit that they were sleepy, and they never willingly went to bed at that age.
I’m thankful for older children who will intervene with the younger children when they see that I am frazzled and can’t take any more. They are learning techniques and principles that I am sure will assist them in the future with raising their own children or dealing with children (and people in general) in their future jobs, careers and ministries.