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Recommended reading Getting on with a 3-year-old — SKIP tips Stages: 3 to 5 years

Our 3-year-old is growing up:

  • They’re physically stronger and more capable and than they were.
  • They have an increased command of their language, so are better able to explain what they need and how they feel.
  • They have a better understanding of the range of emotions they might experience, and are less likely to resort to tantrums.
  • They’re learning to share and co-operate with others.

However, there can still be clashes, and even with the best intentions in the world whānau can find themselves in challenging situations.

  • External situations and other factors can influence what’s going on for the whānau.
  • Children don’t always get what they want or think they need.
  • Parents’ needs may be unmet, and having to care for children may bring those needs to the surface.

Any number of things can happen to disrupt peace and harmony.

Helpful tools when things get stressful

The ‘SKIP Tips’ app and the SKIP website describe a number of challenging behaviours and provide many tips about how to deal with those particular behaviours. There’s an additional feature, too, of considering what might be happening in the whānau that’s not helping the situation.

Encourage whānau to download and to explore the ‘SKIP Tips’ app.

And of course, encourage them to use it when they’re wondering what to do about their child’s behaviour.

To timeout or not to time-out?

So-called ‘time-out’ became popular as a strategy for dealing with kids’ behaviour, especially as a replacement for smacking. Usually one minute per one year of age is suggested.

However, time-out is not universally popular. Here are some comments about time-out:

  • A child may:
  • need above all else to feel wanted and loved by their parent, who is rejecting them — ‘time in’ might be a better idea
  • learn to ‘bottle-up’ their uncomfortable feelings
  • develop other coping mechanisms, like a nervous habit, to get through the hurt.
  • Some parents have made time-out really scary — or used it inappropriately by leaving children alone for too long.
  • Time-out still resides in the realm of ‘punishment’ rather than positive discipline or guidance.
  • Where is time-out? Making the cot or high chair a place for punishment may backfire later when the parent wants the child to sleep in the cot, or have their meal in the high chair.

On the positive side of time-out:

  • Time-out can be reframed as being for the parent rather than the child, such as taking a break to calm down before you do something you later regret.
  • Create a ‘chill-out’ space or a ‘thinking-time’ where the child can be offered some quiet space and time to help recover until they feel like returning to others.
  • The point of time-out is not as a punishment, but a time to switch gears and change the focus of the moment.

Look at the ‘Things to try’ ideas for 3-year-olds on the SKIP website.

Further information

Tips for Whānau supporters

For more information, please visit the Whanau Supporters page.