When my son is not being obedient, I say, "You have until the count of three or - insert consequences from his actions, i.e., “You won’t be going to go to the playground after preschool.” He occasionally responds with, “Good, that’s what I wanted to happen.” 1) Is my response considered “threatening” to him? Is that bad? 2) How do I respond to him especially when it is the morning and we are trying to get out the door for PreK and a 30” timeout isn’t an option?
Hello and thanks for reaching out to Parent Guru.
Your son is at an age when he must understand that you are to be listened to and your directives followed. Though others may be, I'm not a big fan of counting. As far as your son's response, "Good, that's what I wanted to happen," I don't think he meant it and I don't think he felt threatened, but that is not the point. The fact that he felt/feels comfortable making such statements makes me wonder if he takes your directives seriously. He may have just been trying to get a rise out of you. Whatever the reason, there are times when the best response is simply no response.
Your son is at the age where you can delay consequences. If he does not follow through on a directive (ex: picking up his toys), do not belabor it. Pick them up yourself. Then later when he asks to do something of interest tell him that it will not be allowed because he did not follow your directives earlier. Withholding an activity that is highly meaningful to the child has the greatest impact. At age 3, consequences can be delayed up to 24 hours. Simply remind your son of the situation during which he did not follow your directions. He will be able to make the connection. As he ages, the time period for delaying consequences can increase.
If you have not done so, I highly recommend that you read John's book, The Well-Behaved Child. It is insightful and offers numerous strategies for addressing misbehavior in children. The section on "alpha speech" is one that parents should read carefully. Alpha speech is using an authoritative tone of voice that sends a clear message that you are saying exactly what you mean and you mean what you are saying. When used effectively, alpha speech minimizes/deters misbehavior because it is clear who is in charge - and it's not the child!
I hope this helps. Best of luck with your little one!
Certified Leadership Parenting Coach
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