My Three-Year-Old Has Started
Being Rude and Nasty

by Allison Marlowe


Q:My three-year-old has always been a sweet child, he was our first and much doted on by his father and me. But recently he's started being incredibly, hurtfully rude and nasty to us, and to other children. He says stuff that makes my hair stand on end, and seems to want to hurt others' feelings.

He's been in nursery from six months, and seems very happy there. Is this just a phase, or is something wrong? How do we handle it? Any advice much appreciated. KH.

A:Whether this is a phase or not, I guess that you would like this behaviour to peter out sooner rather than later.

I think it would be useful to play detective, this will help you to become more objective as to what is really happening here.

Jot down over the next week, where, when and what time of day your son is being hurtful, rude and nasty to others. Keep a note of who specifically his behaviour is aimed at.

See if you can discover any patterns emerging. For instance is he rude when he is tired or upset? Is this happening at home or when you are out? Is it aimed at one other particular child or general?

Are there any other changes that have happened to your son recently? A new baby for instance takes up a huge amount of your time that would previously have belonged to your son? Children need time to adjust and adapt to these life changing situations and they often lack the vocabulary to express themselves fully, they may start displaying a different kind of behaviour to remind you that they still very much need your attention.

Possibly your son is just testing the boundaries to see how far he can realistically push you, discovering what you will and will not tolerate. The more you put up with the behaviour the longer you are allowing it to continue.

Your son is a sweet child, focus on his good points, give him lots of praise when he is doing things well, he will soon learn that he gets little attention from you for any negative behaviour.

About The Author: Allison Marlowe, founder of Allison Marlowe Ltd coaches, inspires and challenges women in business to achieve new levels of success. She can be contacted at

Image Credit: Michael & Christa Richert

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