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Old 03-15-2017, 12:28 PM
Location: Camberville
11,405 posts, read 16,022,823 times
Reputation: 18070


She doesn't have bratty and whiny tendencies - she's 3. That's what 3 year olds are. They still depend on adults for everything and lack higher reasoning or verbal skills, but have just enough agency to wreak havoc. A 3 year old doesn't have the logical reasoning to *really* be manipulative.
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Old 03-15-2017, 12:29 PM
2,864 posts, read 6,264,144 times
Reputation: 5118
Like others have said, stay out of the parenting business with your brother and his wife. It doesn't sound like that is your goal, so that is great! Your niece can learn from you and your relationship can get easier, but it does take some time. You are spot on that the honeymoon phase has worn off and it is being followed by a terrorism phase. Just keep on being the adult and role model good behavior and be as consistent as possible.

When my kids were little someone shared with me that analogy of putting money into a Coke machine. We know that if we put the right amount of money in the machine, we get our Coke, right? But what if that doesn't happen? Maybe it was our fault and we didn't count the change right or maybe the machine is broken, but we respond the same way by shaking the machine and repeatedly pressing multiple buttons. What if we do that and a Coke does pop out? Well, the next time that we don't get the response we want we are going to shake the machine harder and press the buttons more furiously hoping against hope that a random Coke pops out again.

Kids are like that too - if they don't get what they want and they pitch a fit and sometimes the fit is rewarded, they just pitch a bigger one next time because they have learned that life is pretty random and they might just get the reward afterall.

Be consistent! Use the same phrases over and over with a very calm voice - things like "We get what we get and we don't pitch a fit". She will figure out that you are consistent even if her parents aren't and your relationship will get easier and easier!
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Old 03-15-2017, 02:14 PM
15,836 posts, read 18,481,958 times
Reputation: 25622
Seriously....Grow up.

This is a 3 year old that you are holding to adult behavior standards.

Work overtime, and move out.
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Old 03-15-2017, 02:44 PM
15,308 posts, read 16,874,788 times
Reputation: 15029
In general, three year olds are still learning about sharing toys and other things. You have to realize that at 3, this is developmentally appropriate. To teach taking turns, we often did things like count for swings or for having a toy change from one person to another. We also used a timer or had a song that was used to indicate that it was someone else's turn. You may want to ask her parents what they do to encourage these behaviors rather than complaining because she has not yet learned them.
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Old 03-15-2017, 02:47 PM
9,786 posts, read 7,679,694 times
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Distraction is a great behavioral modification tool to use with toddlers. Learn how to use it effectively. Make it pleasant distraction, and learn to use it on the spot. The distraction can be anything - she starts to whine, so you enthusiastically say, "Oh my goodness, Darling Niece (actually, her name), did you see that ___?? Look at how that ___ is ___ing!" Distraction can be anything - picture on the wall, bird outside the window, illustration in a picture book, a stuffed toy you suddenly "help" sing or walk or go to sleep...Just do NOT focus on whatever caused the whininess. Instead, distract.

You can also say, "Oh, Darling Niece, look what I have!" What you have can be something old or new - just something unexpected. If she rejects this ploy, just respond, "Well, that's too bad, because I really want to (read this picture book, play with this Teddy bear, etc.). Then do it, very jubilantly. Nine out of ten times she'll come around to see what's so much fun.

Has your niece just turned three or is she three and a half or closer to four? If it's the first, you should see great changes in maturity in her in the year ahead. So hang in there, remember to distract and surprise ( a technique the original literary Mary Poppins used constantly and effectively), and life will be easier for everyone.
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Old 03-15-2017, 03:42 PM
917 posts, read 276,362 times
Reputation: 1647
Sounds like many a normal 3yo.
Psychologists say that it's around 2-2 1/2 that little ones get an idea of their own individuality. This is why saying 'no' becomes their favourite word.
At this age she's just flexing her muscles & pushing the boundaries. It's up to her parents to deal with it & teach her the consequences of telling porky pies.

But really, you didn't give her a hug & 'rub better' when she hurt her head? So what if she's not really hurt. If they try & milk it & exaggerate the 'injury', I turn it around & suggest if it's that bad then they really should go to bed early to recuperate (yep, I love messing with their heads at this age)

Sounds like you're trying to have a battle of wills with the 3yo & you feel like you're losing, lol.
Relax. Unless she's about to drink bleach or is attempting to set the house on fire, let her be & enjoy playing with her. If she sees you reacting, she'll see the 'pay-off' & you run the risk of entrenching the behaviour.
It's just another stage that kids go through. Personally speaking, I love the 2-3yo stage.
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Old 03-15-2017, 06:55 PM
Location: Raleigh NC
5,287 posts, read 4,577,616 times
Reputation: 13277
I'd stop trying to re-train her. If you don't like the way she plays, say so gently and walk away.
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Old 03-15-2017, 09:21 PM
4,882 posts, read 2,164,669 times
Reputation: 12408
I've guided and made directives to children. Done in a supportive tone. I've rarely silenced an adult kin if they are overseaing my child in another room. I trust their tone and objective goal. I see nothing wrong in you guiding her to show respect for your adult decision or boundary.
My grand daughter does get supportive words and advisal. Such as I see that you want to write on the wall....Let's get some construction paper and use that. It encourages the goal to be artful while not damaging a wall. She then understands we use paper ...Not walls.

I've also.watched kids have melt downs...And most times it's been handled poorly from the get go...Awareness when things go askew ...
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