Each child is unique and so is their way of solving problems. Here is an example of a child who many would judge at first sight as a ‘snatcher’, for he simply takes what he thinks he needs when he plays regardless of whether or not an item is held by another child.
Let’s call him Charlie. He is a very active three and a half year old who can speak in full sentences and totally zooms in to whatever his eyes are attracted to in a kind of tunnel vision manner. He is quite a fearless child and because of his verbal skill appears older than he really is.
Around three years of age a change takes place in little boys: Soft and cuddly babies who morphed into cute toddlers now turn into challenging and defiant little critters one minute while going into complete melt down the next. When this happens parents wonder what on earth has happened or what they are doing wrong! Nothing they have done is wrong; this behaviour is a symptom of little boys having reached the next growing phase.
It means that for the coming three years testosterone levels will be at its highest, NOT to trigger sexual maturity, but to assist the male species to grow more and stronger muscle mass. The side effect is that they will challenge the very people they will actually feel closest to and feel safe with, mostly their parents. They want to be strong, carry big things, are very pleased when someone remarks how their muscles have grown and they often want to do manual things they see dad or grandpa do, the more action the better.
When action is more effective than words
Many 3-6 year olds are still unable to control emotions and pace themselves. When over excited they can get themselves into a spin without knowing how to stop it. It has been our experience that even using language can be too much at some point.
Emotions shoot up and through their body like a lightning bold and are expressed immediately, e.g. when something doesn’t work, it may get thrown. If a door doesn’t open, it will be kicked.
When the child feels happy, he may literally run around in circles. This type of behaviour is more apparent in boys than in girls. The brain is still in the process of constructing the reasoning part and adults can influence how this pathway is being constructed.
The point is that the child has as yet no means of controlling himself unless he is helped how to express strong feelings appropriately. Reprimanding a child verbally across the room does nothing or may even make matters worse.
You are the boss and the leader in the eyes of your child. If you grovel, apologize or say "how sad this makes you" when he or she throws a tantrum when you have stopped him from doing something that may be potentially dangerous, you tell the child that HE IS THE BOSS!
Not only do you give your power away, but you load him up with a responsibility he is not ready for.
A young child does not understand these dynamics, it doesn't make them feel powerful, but insecure. This will be expressed by the child acting like a little dictator and pushing boundaries, not because he feels strong, but because he doesn't know what to do with the power he now feels he has.
Take your power back to where it belongs: with you. You are the parent, let your no be no and your yes be yes. Set a clear rule of what is permissible and if the pre-schooler does not stick to the rule, simply tell him that he has to grow a bit more before he is given another chance.