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Don’t Freak Out With Your Misbehaving 3-Year-Old

What Would Jesus do with a misbehaving 3 year-old? Whatever it is that Jesus would do, I must warn you that there will be many times YOU will have no clue what to do. But you still have to pretend you are in control. Like when your three-year old melts down at the grocery store. What do you do? You are wearing a “WWJD” bracelet and still you have no valid answer.


You’ve  read a ton of parenting books and although many of them have great advise, they contradict each other. You know that you have to do something before other people start staring you down. Yes, that person in the store that seems to have forgotten that children have always misbehaved and that your three-year old is no different than any other three-year old in the history of the world.

And now, for some reason, you feel the burden of the world on your shoulders as you see your child misbehaving and a complete meltdown coming on! Your three year old is about to defend his will with such determination that can only compare to the way one would defend his or her life or freedom. You can almost hear the cry “give me freedom (in this case “candy”), or give me death”! This is especially hard when you have a strong willed child. (I’ll be writing a piece on strong willed children soon).


Well, The books say to do one thing, but there is a certain paralysis that takes place when it’s your little child kicking, screaming, and not getting along with the shopping program. Do you bribe him, or threaten him? Better yet, hog tie him and make a swift move towards the exit (Don’t send me emails about this comment, I would never advise anyone to do that – but that is how one feels, isn’t it?)!

What happens next can only be described as a moment of insanity, you draw a blank. Come on! You’ve read at least 5 books on parenting, You’ve done the research on the web and you even have Focus On The Family and Dr. Lehman on your podcasts!  You even took parenting classes! So why is it that you cannot think of what to do in this case?


Suddenly you begin to think that you are a horrible parent! Don’t tell me you have never had these thoughts because I know better. Every mom and dad on the face of this blue earth has had those thoughts. Nevertheless, Over time, you’ll figure out your child and the best method.

Let me tell you out of my own experience, there will be a lot of trial and error along the way (Mostly error). But you’ll get through it all and as you persevere and press through, you will soon find out that you were not such a bad parent after all.


Let me conclude with this thought. If you model your parenting style to the way our Heavenly Father “parents” us, you will be ok. Read God’s word and take a green highlighter to every verse that reveals the heart of the father and how He “fathers” us. Go back and read just the green highlights when you are done and you will have the best parenting book ever written. You will understand that there are many things that are out of your control and that even that little misbehaving strong willed boy of yours has a free will. Then you will realize exactly what needs to be done. Just like I did!

So let’s go back to that scene I painted at the beginning of this post: Your three year old is misbehaving and having a melt down at the grocery store. Your Child wants you to buy him candy and you ignored his request pretending you didn’t hear him and thinking that this would somehow solve the issue at hand. He is crying and whining and starting to demand his way. He knows he owns you because you are in a public place and kids always find those moments to test us.


You’ve been reading God’s word and praying for your little protege and it hits you like a brick in your face. You lean in towards your little fighter and in a calm voice that tells him that you are still in control you say, “I was going to give you what you asked for but now I can’t.” As he tries to gain control again by raising the stakes you softly say to him, “you know what’s going to happen now, when we get home, don’t you”? You have let him know in no uncertain way that when you get home there will be consequences of some sort. In this case a more severe form of discipline would be required. “A swat”, he replies. “Yes”, you say, “and if you keep it up it will be two”. Suddenly he gains control of himself and gets on with the program.

Dad, don’t lose your temper when the little ones test you. They need to know that no matter what happens in life you will remain in control of yourself. That no matter how bad they behave, Dad will be there to help them make it right. In doing so, they will project that quality onto God our Father. And when life gets rough and they mess up big time, they will know they can come back to God’s open arms and He will have everything under control. Just like their Daddy!

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A Word From Eduardo Quintana

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