How to get a toddler to listen?

I really need help. I’m at my wit’s end with my son. He’ll be 3 the end of the month and he doesn’t listen to anything I say. EVER!! I’m a sahm and he doesn’t even listen to me at home when it’s just me and him. It’s a fight everyday to get him to mind anything. I’ve tried literally everything I can and nothing is working it’s driving me insane. I’ve even tried spanking him only a few times and gently but it didn’t work. I just really need some advice I’m about to explode.


Sit his butt in timeout every single time he doesnt listen


Take a parenting class


Get hin tested maybe he has somethin my child dont listen she has autism she is 3


Start taking away things he enjoys.


Your gonna have to put your foot down or before long he will be a teenager and u won’t have a chance in hell


Can try taking him into counseling or to see his doctor. Could be an underlining issue? Or it could be terrible 3’s instead of 2’s😛
Good luck! :+1::four_leaf_clover: :two_hearts:

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Thats the terroristic threes for you. Ignore his outbursts. And reward him when he’s good. Also make sure he’s not hungry lol. My daughter turns into a brat when she’s hangry. :joy:


Join the group

Gentle Christian Parenting: A respectful/non-punitive parenting community.

Call parent protective services aka PPS


As soon as I started putting my 3 year old who doesn’t listen very well also in time outs every time he doesn’t listen (btw I had to stand there most of the time next to him because he would just run away) or taken something away from him that he always plays with we would have a conversation afterwards how it hurts my feelings he really started to listen. 3 is a hard age because they are just starting to understand from what’s wrong and right and they are always always always testing the water to see what they can get away with. Consistently is the key!

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Concentrate more in yourself example exercise at home do your nails read a book etc let him play and so on until he comes looking for you

Win the battle at 3 or he is lost at 13.


Time out and if he gets up put him back. It’ll be frustrating but if ur consistent he will get it. With my kids I have a behavior chart. And if they end their days on any color above green they get a prize and if they are on any color below the green, they have things taken from them. Alot of schools do the behavior chart and for my kids it’s the only thing that works. I’ve tried everything before and nothing else worked.

Both of mine did the terrible 3s. They were sassy sometimes at 2, but 3 is when they decided to act like bat shit crazy psychos.
Stay patient.
Go buy a parenting book for toddlers. It’ll give you some insight on the “why” as well as tips to practice.
And find a way to laugh. You have to admit, they look funny sometimes. It’ll all be over soon enough and believe it or not, you’ll kinda miss it.

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Well hes a threenager so a certain amount of testing boundaries is normal mama. Does he get enough excercise and have plenty of creative outlet? Do you limit or eliminate screen time and do you notice the behavior change? Is he still napping? Also look at diet as that can be very important too.


Be consistent with your punishments. However you punish make sure it’s always the same. Timeouts, taking away things, spankings. Make a chart he can see. If something is wrong with him (ADHD, ADD, ODD, autistic, whatever) you have to be consistent!


Im a preschool teacher working with 2 1/2 to 3 year olds. My coteacher is a strong willed, big Hispanic guy who is the main disciplinarian.
We redirect before the unwanted behavior can persist, sit him in timeout and talk it through in plain simple terms why he is in trouble and how he can fix it, take away his favorite toys, make him do an easy chore to help you around the house, we give kids baby wipes and have them wipe the table or a chair, follow me while I clean, or help serve snack at my daycare center. Anything to keep their hands and minds busy.

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He’s 3. 3 is worse than 2. Boys are little shits until they are 4. I suggest wine and plenty of outdoor time while the weather is nice. Let that boy run out his energy.


That’s a 3 year old for you. We find on days purs has more outside time or social activities (even with just grandparents) he listens so much better. Most days i can repeat myself, yell, send him to his room til I’m blue in the face and it does absolutely no good.
Maybe he has extra energy he needs to burn off. It’s even worse when they’re bored, hungry or tired.


Try early intervention

My 3 year olds are strong willed and sassy as heck. They are just coming into a more independent mindset and learning about the world. As adults, we already know right from wrong. They’re still figuring it out.

My son at that age hated time out. Also get his hearing checked

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Pick something he really likes (a toy, game, electronic, etc) and one time say “please do ________ or you will lose your _____.” If he doesn’t listen take it away and put it somewhere he can not get to it. Tell him when he decides to listen he can have it back and walk away. If he fights yells screams just ignore him. After a few time she will figure out your not playing games anymore.

Take things away from him and be strong and affirmative. You have to be his parent not his friend

I would really focus on the big things he or she has to listen to. At 3 especially its a battle of will…they push boundaries…i would pick and choose my battles


Get him tested for adhd and odd they can’t do anything until he’s 5. My son had it extremely bad at that age he’s 6 now. He is severely odd and I struggle with him every single day. Because you never know what your child could have my son used to pull knives on me and his unborn sister very defiant and didn’t listen to me. It didn’t matter what I did I could reward him for good behavior he was so out of control nobody could handle him. I mean yes he’s 3 but there could be other things going on as well and nobody knows anything about. People thought I was crazy but I knew something wasn’t right with my son at that age. So many people tried to tell me oh he’s a kid. Meanwhile I almost went into premature labor twice when dealing with him.

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Keep him busy. It’s easier to color, build a fort, run outside, sword fight, play kitchen etc than it is to try to have him be still. Pick your battles. Don’t spank, he might start to hit you back when he’s upset. When he’s bad, bend down to his level and explain why it’s not safe… but when you need to, time out even if you have to sit with him the whole time. It’s normal momma, and stressful but you’ve got this!

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My 3 year old will only respond to making money lol. For good behavior he earns a quarter, bad behavior he owes me a quarter as a fine. With his money he can buy snacks or time on the iPad, etc. He loves earning money. At first I had to pay a lot, but now he does these things on his own without me rewarding the good behavior. It also taught him about money and saving, and REALLY helped with potty training.


Diet , consistent boundaries, check it now, prison will check it later or gangs

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Be consistent and make sure the punishment matches the crime. Get down to his level and explain why he can’t do that, and when he does this is what will happen. He is little and full of adult emotions and doesn’t fully understand his own feelings yet. Help him understand them and when he feels a certain way it’s okay, and help him figure out different ways to express how he feels. Listening and talking can work wonders

Look up love and logic parenting. :wink:

He is 3 most 3 year olds don’t listen because they are toddlers😂 And if your getting frustrated when he don’t listen then it’s gonna make it worse at this age all you can do is explain to him what’s wrong and right spanking him and getting frustrated with him is just gonna make matters worse.

As everyone says 3 was a lot worse than 4. Just stick it out you’ll be fine. Until then good luck

My 3 1/2 year old son is the same way. :woman_shrugging: we take the kids outside everyday it is nice. He does alot better when he can run off energy. We send him to his room and talk out why he is in trouble. Somedays it’s a job to get him to even look at us in the face when he is in trouble. Boys are more work at that age I found out. My daughter listens better. I find myself doing alot of explaining to them and it helps because they are only toddlers and everyday they are learning. They are young and have all the emotions we do as adults they just dont always know how to express them and self soothe. I tell my son it’s okay for him to be upset or be mad at mommy but he can go be mad at mommy in his room. I always make sure they know it is okay to feel the way they are feeling, obviously as long as it’s not violent behavior.

My 3 year old doesn’t listen to anything I say either unless he wants to do it haha

Spank him. That is what’s wrong with kids now. No discipline


With my 11 kids I don’t back down and let them run over me I run a strict house and they start learning this at 1. I will strip their rooms down to just a mattress and leave them in there till they decide they want to listen and do what they are told. If that doesn’t work I take everything away and I mean everything leaving the house, toys, friends, family everything. If that doesn’t work I do what they do to me and ignore everything they ask me for like I didn’t hear them. If that doesn’t work I will spank them cause I refuse to have kids running over me and my kids know when they push me too far cause they will go to their rooms on their own when I start bitching. My oldest is 13 and he has been on my last nerve all week only cause he is being a jerk to his teachers and failing one of his classes he drags the ugly out of me.

You’ll have a lot of people tearing u down cuz u barely spanked him. Smh

consistency is the key. dont keep threatening follow thur. time outs work

Truth. Lol. My kids are 7 and 12 now and it’s no better. Just different issues. Lol


Pray first, start with a bath full of his toys, let him exhaust in the tub. Cleaning up water, is better than bad morning memories. Cut out all RED, YELLOW, ORANGE Food dyes. Kool aid, jello, candy, even shampoo products ! These will cause lots of problems ! Buy fruit, not candy, or packaged treats. Tell him, we have a job to do, I really need your help ! Dont threaten, just continue to walk out of rooms he’s having tantrums in. We can have your -favorite fruit- when we finish. All his brain will see is that bowl of his favorite, in his mind, until task is completed. Ran a Day-Care for 6 years. Parents were amazed at cooperation of their children. Sometimes the children would tell parents, " Please have a seat, we’ve not finished our work yet "! A Ziploc bags of their very own grapes, goes a long way ! Better than cash !


Have you tried positive reinforcement? Some kids respond better to that. So like when he does something good, even very small, praise him. Also, timeout or speaking in a low, calm voice when disciplined. (I spank, too. So I’m not against it. I just know some kids are different and don’t respond to it.)

My son was like this. We ended up making some cool charts and he really enjoyed them and it made a huge difference.

Sounds like you need a little break momma. He’s not even 3 yet. Pick and choose your battles. Consistant time outs and taking away things.


Pick your battles, first of all. I have a 4 yo and a 2yo, and at one point i swear i yelled all day every day. My 4yo doesnt listen ever, I feel your pain. Like others suggested, hes getting to the age where he wont like his favorite things taken away, or a time out. What I do is a warning system for bad things, and if I ask them to do a chore and they dont listen then I say “okay well if you cant do what mommy asks then I guess you cant have ____” and I will go get it and put it in my lap. That tells them I’m not joking, it’s not optional. If they choose not to listen then I do a time out, if they dont do it after that then I do one more time out and also take their item, and they can have it back when they do what I ask.

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Terrible 2s are fun, but no one warns you about those 3 year olds! Set up boundries, figure out a reward and consequence system that works for both of you, no child is the same. I do think uf you keep him busy, and no you dont have to hover all the time, it should make it easier. Good luck and remember he is just trying to find his place.

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My 3yr old either gets time outs for stuff that isn’t as dramatic or he doesn’t listen but when he throws shit and hits his sister that it’s a whoop ass. Hard enough to know I’m not fucking around. But I’ve been consistent on his punishments so he listens a lot better now and cleans when I say clean. Very rarely does he throw stuff or scream or hit his sister anymore cuz I was on him. He has definitely became a sweeter kid but when he gets way out of line and I’m around he’s like “:flushed: fml”. Lol.

My son is 3 almost 4 in October. We put him in timeout for 3 to 4 mins depending on the severity of what he has done. We set a timer once he stops whinning. And when the timer goes off he gets up and turns it off and we than talk about what hes done and why he cant do that. And if he cant focus or listen he goes back to timeout for a minute. Normally if i tell him if he doesnt listen he will go back to timeout he gets serious. And if none of that works which it normally does work we give him a spankin and send him to his room without tv or toys. Once he calms himself down i call for him to come here and we try to talk about what hes done. By than he is calm and pays attention.

And if we send him to his room without timeout he doesnt care and will continue to do what he was doing. For our son it has to be in this order or it wont help. Cause he knows What to expect if he doesn’t do what he is told.

My son does listen to my husband more than to me :unamused: lol but I think that’s normal. I use to be a stay at home mom as well

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Choose your battles wisely.

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Use the rod. I do and it does wonders. Kids nowadays are a handful.

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It might just be a stage he is going through but you can always talk to his Doctor and get a referral for him to see a specialist. I had to with one of mine and he was diagnosed with ODD and autism

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It’s normal it’s called terrible 2s but 3s are worse I’m dealing with the terrible 3s right now with my son.

Maybe he’s got too much built up energy. Take him on a “fun” walk to find “treasure” and let him burn off some energy. I know when kids are bored and hyper that they can be difficult. Get him moving. Get him tired

Has his hearing been tested ?

He’s 3 so he will test your boundaries. Maybe try giving him choices. Like, “if you choose mommy’s right hand you need to pick up your toys and if you pick mommy’s left hand you sit in time out” and let him choose

My 5 year old daughter is the exact same

Time out is the only thing that helps with my 3yo. I literally have to drag him to his room and I make him stay there till he’s calmed down or is ready to be good.

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He’s only 3 not much you can do. Boys are bad you just have to keep them busy. I always took my son to the park around 9am until 12. Let him tire himself out then home for lunch and nap. Then we went back out somewhere. Another park, small playground, tracks at highschools, the mall. Anything where he could run and get tired lol. You just need alot of energy when raising a boy. Keeping them inside will kill you lol.

I thought 2 was bad but the 3’s are horrible!!! I’m in the same boat I can tell u it doesn’t last they eventually get better. That’s what I’m teling myself lol. I go insane all day and the only thing that helps is if I put her in her room. And if someone offers to watch her for 20 mins I drive myself and get a coffee. Breaks help.


Sensory activities help my boy tremendously as well!!! Like… I was amazed

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Talk to your pediatrician

It’s normal the terrible 2s wick but 3s are worse I set my 3 year old and time out and it works.

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He is 2 try a schedule.

Look at him and whisper to him…or just “mouth” the words… try it…his face will be priceless…and he will want to hear what you have to say…

Have you ever read the book 123 Magic? It’s worked great for my two little ones.

Look into love and logic parenting.

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Also what does your daily routine look like with him. 3 year olds get bored easily and if your not stimulating their minds enough they tend to be more frustrated and combative.

My cousin Michelle has a 2 1/4 year old boy and I watched her put him in the corner once at my house and I was blown away that he listened and stayed there for the few moments she had him there. My other friends approach is to redirect her boy.

There is an old video on YouTube called 123 magic, It works on kids of all ages it’s a technique meant for ADHD Children. I hope this helps. Hang in there.


How is his schedule? Sleep schedule in particular? At that age, it seems structure and stability and A LOT of active playtime are helpful…

Lol you are not alone. I’ll have a 3 year old in July and hes a little shit. Listens about as well as daddy :woman_shrugging: well maybe a little better :rofl: he listens cause he yells whatever I say back at me with a whiny voice. He just doesnt actually do what I say. Drives me nuts. He gets between 7-8:30am and sometimes will NOT take a nap.

Lol I dont think I know any LO that listens :joy: teenagers worse at it.

I know the feeling I have a 3 & 4 year old they’re angles for everyone but me

Long post, but hope it helps. I hope you find a solution!! Here are my thoughts on things:

My first born never responded to spanking, yelling, or taking items, he did respond to timeouts though. 1 minute for each year he was with his nose in a corner. If he spoke or moved his head the timer started over! I was mean too. Would leave cartoons playing in background if they were already on, he learned real quick to ride his time out and not go there. To this day, at 18, he talks about how much he hated that and learned to listen so he didnt end up there.

Also, try to keep calm – they feed off your energy/emotions. When I get frustrated both of my kids have always amped up in response to me. What worked for me? Calm tones, taking myself to their level instead of looking down, and being firm & direct.

My first born never had terrible two’s, he did have the terrorist three’s though! Not sure how things will go with my 2nd child as he is 6mo. Could simply be threes is when has that rough growing and learning.

I would look at his schedule too, my son who is 6mo acts crazy when he is tired. He needs a nap about every 3hrs.

I would also consider if there are any stresses in your life he is feeling. Kids are smart and may act out in response to environmental circumstances.

If timeouts and sleep changes dont help, I would run things by his pediatrician, BUT be weary of the fact kids are often misdiagnosed and over diagnosed with conditions like ADD when really they show normal kid behavior they will outgrow – but instead we end up with large quantities of unnecessarily medicated children (just some background, I have a Bachelor’s in Psychology and we studied this extensively in my child development classes.)

Trust your gut momma, practice patience and hang in there. Know it’s normal to feel how you do and remember this too: our childrens prefrontal cortex (the executive control center of the brain)develops much slower (up til age 25) but their amygdala (emotion center) is fully developed at birth, so we have these tiny humans running around on emotions they dont know what they are exactly and they don’t know how to express, but they are lacking in the ability to control their emotions which can result in less than desirable behavior.

Also try to remember seeming defiance can also signal healthy brain development, especially as they get older. Behaviors such as when your child questions EVERYTHING or argues etc. Know that those are milestones that mean their brain is developing how it should. I know it’s not always easy to remember in frustrating moments, BUT these thoughts did help me many times during parenting.


Try not giving him attention when he is doing bad things, my son does stuff just to get attention, so i stop what I’m doing and tend to him, will I stopped doing that and when her notices that I’m “not playing attention” he stops

Welcome to having a 3 year old…
Do people really not research what children are like before the baby is born?


Maybe you need to give him more loving attention and try helping him learn in a way that gets his energy out and maybe adjust his sleep schedule

He wants your attention. Sit with him, play with him, go to the park with him. Go outside. Stay off your phone and computer. Make sure he does not have a true hearing problem. When you talk to him, face him. Make sure you have his attention. Calmly tell him o a consequence f him ignoring you. Follow through on it. Whatever starts now will only get better or worse, depending on your response for the next 20 years.

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Its because hes 3. And he needs your patience more than ever. 3 is hard. My son will be 4. He is slowly coming out of this phase. I find taking him out places. Going outside helps. Screw with his nap schedule. I gave my son no naps for a week. He was so good. It reset his head lol. Toddlers get stressed out too.

Spanking a child will only make them believe that hitting is ok

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Time in Toolkit!! Time-In ToolKit | Calming Corner Kit — Generation Mindful

When he starts pouting, pout with him in the same tone, it’s called toddlerese,

Buckle up baby, it only gets worse once they figure out how to talk back! I suggest smoking large amounts of cannabis…just til he goes off to college :no_mouth:


Toddlers needs a lot (A LOT!!!) of redirection and distraction. If everything is a NO and that’s all they hear, it will backfire. Yes, you gotta say NO to specific things, but there’s other instances when you can use redirection or a distraction. All I hear my hubby saying is “no Eva, no Eva, no no and more no.” My baby doesn’t want to hang out with him many times. I tell him, instead of saying no to everything try redirecting her or saying no in a different manner (rather than a literal NO). Im also trying to help him, so he won’t get so stressed out. My baby is only 2 years old and she’s exploring and needing a lot of attention/play time. Sometimes we have to change the way WE communicate to our children.

Make sure he is getting enough sleeping. Also get him checked for Autism and ADD. Keep sugar intake to a minimum.

Tell him what to do, don’t argue with him. Give him consequences for bad behavior and have him tested. He may be autistic. BE the Parent, not the buddy.

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It maybe stupid but watch supernany on youtube some the stuff she trys works well and maybe itll give u some ideas

Use time outs 1 minute per year of age. Be consistent and they will work. Children recycle stages. 3 is recycled at 13… so if you don’t want that behavior at 13 eradicate at 3. Listen well… to both words and BBC behaviors. Don’t spankle… it is demoralizing and teaches your child that violence is ok. Because if we can’t trust the person who we love most in the world to not hurt us then who can we trust. One more thing try to find positive ways for your child to express their independence… by presenting choices when appropriate.

My daughter is 6 and she doesn’t listen at all :roll_eyes::roll_eyes: I feel your pain

What I learned at my son’s therapy is to use “If Than” statements. Tell him if he is going to do what he’s doing than he can’t do something he enjoys doings. As well start praising him more on the things he is doing correct even the small things like sitting quiet or play nicely and they will want to do the appropriate things more because they are getting positive attention from you.

The most important thing to remember is that even mommies need timeouts. When you get to frustrated put him somewhere you know hes safe and go sit by yourself for a minute. My daughter is 3 and an absolute imp. I swear it’s exhausting and incredibly frustrating but it’s a phase and it will pass. If he argues remember you don’t owe him an explanation for anything. He’s the kid and you’re the mom. What mom says goes.

At 3 children have a way of testing their boundaries and pushing you to your wits end. It’s important to communicate with your child. The more you communicate the more a child will be able to understand. Let him know it’s not okay to do what he does. Let him know how it makes you feel. And yes you will have to repeat yourself a lot. Toddlers need a lot of attention, communication and redirection. Make sure when talking to him you get down on his level ask him what’s going on? How is he feeling? Instead of yelling at him when he gets angry comment on his feelings. (You seem really upset right now) then go on to ask him what is going on to make him upset. Remember they are still learning about themselves and their environment. They do not come into this world knowing everything they need too. You are a child’s safe haven they feel comfortable with you enough to act out and it’s up to you as the parent/adult to guide them into their life, emotions and so on. It’s never okay to hit a child, it only shows that it’s okay to hit some one smaller and more vulnerable than they are.

Daycare or preschool. He needs to start learning social behaviours and you need a break.
I know exactly where you are coming from and it’s the main reason I stopped at one child.
Just breathe, and start looking into some sort of daycare or preschool and apply for some subsidy. If you don’t qualify then I suggest going part time. It’s cheaper.

I’m old school with a bit of new school. I tap that ass and then give them something to keep them busy. Chores, yard work, exercise etc. They all tried it but none succeeded

One thing I will say is that this will pass. Be consistent. My 4 year old is still a handful sometimes but it honestly gets better every day.

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