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“Hi all, just wondering if anyone had any ideas of how to work with a 3.5 yo girl. She’s pretty independent and strong willed. Basically ask her to do something or tell her not to do something and you just get ignored. Threats, smacks, timeout, picking battles, losing toys and bribery have all been tried. I would just love a lil one that would just behave. Anyone else out there that has gone through the same thing? Any ideas cos I’m at a loss what to do.” Do you have any tips to help with a strong willed 3 year old?

Posted by anon, 26/04/13

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  • I’m with you. I’ve a 4,5yr old girl with Down syndrome who’s super strong willed. In general I would advice not to make it a battle of will, but give her the choice where possible and applaud and cheer her on for making choices and give her as much possible space to be independent. At the same time you can be firm at times and make choices for her where needed (you decide when it’s time for bed, you decide when it’s time to go to school/child care and when to pick her up). In regards to safety there’s no question. All doors are locked here with a key, including the fridge door, as our youngest is an escapist (she even climbs out of the car seat, so we have a Houdini strap the other way around and a Buckle guard cover to keep her safe).


  • Congratulations on raising a strong willed little girl. Please keep encouraging her to make decisions. I love that one of the comments calls her a threeanger. Very fitting. Give her a couple of choices that you will be happy with and she still feels she is getting to choose. This too will pass and you will look back with happy memories of when your little girl was little.


  • I have turned to bribery! My son is only 2.5 and he is already to clever for his own good (my eldest is 15 so have been through this before) we have had to start locking the flyscreen door with the key because he will just open it and run! I have tried yelling and screaming and jumping up and down as well, trying to turn things into a game (picking up the blocks became who can build the biggest tower) I try really hard to not yell now, I take his hand and take him to the toys i need cleaned and I get down and help him and he gets a reward at the end, sometimes it doesn’t work at all, this week we have tantrums over everything, I am trying to ignore them completely


  • If you are simply being ignored, if she is watching TV, stand between her and it, so she can’t see it and ask her again…or better still switch it off and it doesn’t go back on for the length of time of your choice – not hers. Confiscate what she is using to amuse herself. Make her look at you when you are talking to her. If there is any doubt at all, get her hearing tested.


  • The joys of “threenagers”. I thought 2 was bad. All I can say is that it gets better as they get older, just don’t give up!


  • Yes a tricky age indeed! Really very interesting comments on this!


  • That is a very tricky age so might be something she just grows out of. I hope for you that is the case


  • no idea. same boast here. have you tried 1,2,3 magic?


  • I have the same kind of thing with my daughter. She loves control, so I find if I give her two choices for the things I ask her to do, she will pick one thinking she is in control. Obviously make the choices to suit you to get your outcome.


  • Ignore them, as harsh as it sounds it does work. Sometimes a reaction is what they want


  • Just remember that this behavior is equivalent to determined, tenacious etc as an adult. So don’t destroy this quality. Soft skills. ..ie words used can make all the difference. Ask in a different way to get them to do something. What would you like to do after you cleaned your room. I’ll make your fave biccies while you clean your room etc. Perhaps


  • Try and stick at it


  • Maybe try ignoring her when she asks for something. It will help to demonstrate how annoying it is when someone ignores you.


  • how are you going now?


  • Hope you managed to find the answer you were looking for.


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