Sunday, September 28, 2008


Lately, I've been feeling a little frustrated as a parent. I have heard from several people that think the year with a 3 year-old is much harder than with a 2 year-old. I struggle with Leland's defiance. I know that she knows better with some of the things she does or says and I expect more from her, I guess. I don't want to, and I don't think I should, just lower my expectations I have for her.

Now, I'm going to list things that she has done that are very frustrating. These things don't happen constantly, but enough that it is very frustrating. She will tell other kids she doesn't want to play with them in a snotty way, if I tell her I love her she says well I don't love you, she steals toys all the time from other little kids, she seems to have no regard that she does something that hurts Lucy physically, and she doesn't tell the obvious truth.

I want her to be the sweet loving little girl all the time that I know she can be.

Here are some of my questions:
  • How do you teach a 3 year old about the difference between the truth and a lie?
  • How can I teach her to understand that she is physically hurting others?
  • How can I teach her about hurting others feelings?
  • What do I do when time outs are obviously not working?
I'm sure most of these things are learned over time, but what should I do as her mother to help her learn those things. When my girls were babies I would read everything I could about how to help them be happier babies. (My favorite was "Happiest Baby on the Block".) I guess recently I haven't read much about parenting a pre-school age child. Are there any parenting books that you love? I recently checked out "Kids are from Heaven". So far I seem to like it. It is written by the same man that wrote "Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus"

I read a few talks from the last General Conference that gave me encouragement. My favorite was Daughters of God by M. Russel Ballard. He asks 4 questions and answers them. I am just going to write about 2 of them. You can read the full talk here.

1)What can you do, as a young mother, to reduce the pressure and enjoy your family more?
  • recognize that the joy of motherhood comes in moments
  • don't over schedule yourselves or your children
  • Find time for yourself to cultivate your gifts and interests
  • pray, study, and teach the Gospel
2)What more can a husband do to support his wife, the mother of their children?
  • show extra appreciation and give more validation to what your wife does every day
  • have a regular time to talk with your wife about each child's needs and what you can do to help
  • give your wife a "day away" now and then
  • come home from work and take an active role with your family
I am trying to be more involved with Leland and Lucy while they are playing at the house instead of running to the computer to work or check emails once they are occupied for a moment. I am trying to have more one on one time with Leland to just talk and cuddle. I have done this before nap time or bed time. I am trying to point out more positive things that I see Leland do as opposed to point out only the negative behavior.

Any other ideas of what was worked for you? Or even anything you have tried? Sometimes what does not work with one child may work with another.


  1. I'll bet everyone will tell you the same thing, but I'll be the first to say it here: I love the book Parenting with Love and Logic. Besides a few passages of scripture, it is my go-to perspective on parenting. I think if you use this approach your kids might not be quite as well-behaved as other kids who behave out of fear of their parents, but it will be well worth it in the end, both in having a better relationship with your child and also in them having self-motivation and responsibility. But it seems that your parents were so great and you have such good examples in your life that these things are probably already second nature to you. But they sure weren't to me and the principles in the book help me to discipline without anger and help my children to make good choices.

  2. Time, time, time...
    Yes, parent with love,
    Yes, spend time with her,
    Yes, read your scriptures,
    Yes, be patient and kind as an example,
    Yes, praise her,
    Yes, do it all,

    BUT don't get discouraged. TIME will make all the difference. She will eventually start to get it, and you will be so thrilled when she starts making those good choices.
    Kids go through the bratty stages.
    Then the grow out of it and life is so much easier. (Until the next stage comes along!)

    You are a great mom. Don't get discouraged. She is learning how to be mortal. She has to learn these things. That is the test of life. It's why we are here. It is also probably why motherhood is so highly revered in the scriptures and in our church. Because dealing with this is TOUGH!!!

    I love you Ashley Whoo Hoo!!

  3. Ashley, I love your ability to put into words what so many young mothers feel and experience. If I look back on my child rearing days, I attribute Family Home Evening as a powerful opportunity to teach, set goals and have fun all at the same time. It is Heavenly Father's plan and we know it will work. Put lots of prayer and planning into each week's lesson and it will be so rewarding.
    Ask Suzanne to share with you a FHE memory she shared in RS last Sunday. It was very funny. I love you and love that motherhood means so much to you. Love, MOM

  4. Our oldest is our most difficult in similar ways and we have focused on these things being "bad habits" that have to be overcome rather than definitive personality traits. We set up sticker charts for the top 1 or 2 things to work on for extra focus. That has helped us some.

  5. Wow - lots of great advice here. I love the way you expressed it all - all those memories came back to me. I wish blogging was available back then!! I echo all of the above and add these: Don't be too hard on yourself; some of these issues are developmental (sharing, truth-telling, etc.); read read read books about parenting (mostly the scriptures and talks like you put here); example example example from from both parents being positive. One of the greatest blessings to our children, starting at a young age, was a weekly Sunday interview with Dad. It was a great time for sharing and for these things to be addressed in a non-threatening way. The problems just get BIGGER as the kids grow up! There is always change in life... Your children are blessed to have you - you will find your way.

  6. Thank you to all who left comments here and in emails.

  7. From my sister Amy Dittbrenner:

    I just read that same conference article. I always read the conference Ensign, but I have to read a few more to finish before Saturday.

    I am no where near a perfect parent. But I do have some advice.

    • How do you teach a 3 year old about the difference between the truth and a lie?
    Don't think that they can learn it at 3. There is a reason why we are not expected to be held accountable for our choices until we are 8. Simple lessons is how they learn the best. Tell Leland that we are going to have some ice-cream, talk about how great it is going to be...and then put celery in the bowl instead. She will wonder why. Tell her that it was not the truth and let her see how it is frustrating for her.
    • How can I teach her to understand that she is physically hurting others?
    She might need a spank or a bite back. Of course not hard...but she needs to feel what she is doing to others and learn.
    • How can I teach her about hurting others feelings?
    This one is hard. The phrase we use is "it hurts my heart". Give examples. Tell her how pretty she is. Ask her how her heart feels when you tell her those kind of things. Tell her you wouldn't want to hurt her heart if you said something unkind.
    • What do I do when time outs are obviously not working?
    I am not a time out fan. I know it works for some...but we didn't do it so much. I think kids need space sometimes...not time out....time out to me is negative. Most time, time outs don't address the issue rather they just punish the child. I would like the child to learn not just feel punished. Look at the behavior that is causing the problem. Try and deal with the problem. I do send my kids to their rooms, however, it is not called time out. Sometimes I tell them that they just need some space...or alone time. And sometimes they do. Don't make it that they have to sit in the corner and stare at space...let them go to their room relax, settle down, and let the stress settle in you too. Then you can deal with the behavior.

    I hope this helps.

    Love are a great Mom and I admire you greatly,