View Full Version : How to deal with blackmailing

02-01-16, 10:48 AM
My 3 year old niece has been blackmailing me on more than one occasion.

For example, I wanted to sleep and asked her to take a nap too. She said no. I told her she had to cause her mommy wanted her to. I told her I had promised her mom I would try my best to make sure she took a nap and would have to tell her mom if she didn't so please take a nap.

She said "No, I don't want to tell her mom. If I told her mom she didn't take a nap then she would tell her mom that I went to sleep without trying my best to get her to take a nap so I would get in trouble too".

I ended up just taking a nap since I was super sleepy and not making her take a nap, thereby making her think her threat worked.

What is the right approach in these sorts of situations? She's most likely ADHD and always thinks she's right unless you can convince her of a different logic.

Also, is this normal for a 3 year to do stuff like this? I'm feeling like she's a little genius. Although I haven't written her exact words, her vocabulary is very close to what I've written by the way and I had no idea a 3 year old could be so manipulative.

Another thing is she wrote the letter "a" backward two times. She usually gets it right though so I'm assuming it's not a big deal and not dyslexia since she's just starting to write. Is that right?


02-01-16, 12:48 PM
I think the letter reversals are pretty common in a kid just learning how to write. That wouldn't concern me.

As for the blackmail, have you tried talking to mom about it? Seems like it would have much less of an effect if she knew it was going on, and she probably does. My experience babysitting was that often the best approach was not to butt heads directly with the kid. One kid I babysit for used to have monster tantrums when he was around three years old, and I found the best way to deal with them was to close the door to the room where he was, and wait for him to approach me. Any kind of interaction while he was in the middle of melting down would just reset things and then I have to wait longer for him to calm down. My experience is that three-year-olds are all about control. They have just learned that they can exert it over other people.

02-01-16, 02:33 PM
About the writing: I had a young student once who went through a stage of reversing letters. He's a university professor now, so I guess everything turned out OK. :D

If they are thinking of the letter as an object, then it makes sense that the object could face any direction. If you draw a dog that's facing to the right, and another dog that's facing to the left, they both count as "dog" - so, logically... :)

I am no expert, but I think three-year-olds often do this stuff as a way of learning about interactions and power and deal-making and all that stuff. You can think of it like she was doing an experiment on you to see how it would turn out. :) All children that age are little scientists, doing their best to find out whatever they need to know.

DJ Bill
02-01-16, 02:45 PM
As long as she hasn't mentioned world domination or total annihilation you're probably ok.:D

Can't help you on the parenting part though.. It would be only a guess.

02-01-16, 04:03 PM
She sounds bright as a button and I would not assume any kind of disorder from that behaviour.

Nearly all children get their letters muddled when starting out.

As for the behaviour, the "terrible threes" are the time kids are learning that they are separate little people from their parents, and they test boundaries as a way of learning about their place in the world.It's kind of in their job description, and she sounds like a diligent little worker. ;)

At three, I would be giving lots of control to her in the areas that make her feel important, but don't matter to your important routines. Pick your battles carefully. All day long let her have as much decision-making power if possible, "Do you want your juice in the red cup or the blue cup?" , "Do you want to play with the Lego's first, or look at a book?". But when things aren't optional, don't ask, tell her what is going to happen in a kind, firm voice, and then get straight on with it.

If she isn't tired, then maybe it is the age where she needs a quiet time instead, and give her the choice of a nap, or a quiet lie-down with a book. Do you need to nap alongside her? If that is necessary and safe, then don't even get into discussion about it. Be brisk and firm and put her down without responding to her " threats", but just a kiss and a closed door behind you, or whatever the routine is.

If she is holding things against you that your sister would not approve of, then it's best to discuss those things with your sister so that the adults can present a united front. If you pay no attention to the unwanted behaviour, and if you lavish praise on her for appropriate behaviour, she will soon adapt.

Once she has discovered the boundaries, she will feel safer and happier, but don't let it get you down in the meantime. It's a normal developmental phase. Her brain is growing all the time and it will pass. :)

02-01-16, 09:17 PM
Thanks guys. This helps me a lot.

03-03-16, 11:18 PM
OK I am going to risk abuse here but at three there is too much talking and discussion taking place here. The kid is three. If you are the parent / guardian and you feel it is time for her to take a is time to take a nap. Give her the opportunity to make the right decision but be prepared to set limits and be firm.

My daughter did not want to take naps so I just held her on my lap while I read or listened to a book and after 10 minutes she was asleep. My sister in law was going through a terrible time with her three year old and came to live with us for four months. This kid would throw a tantrum when you asked her to do anything. We talked about it as a team and when she acted out I would scoop her up go to the corner and read a book. She learnt that no matter how much she screamed or acted out that there were limits and acting appropriately was non negotiable. It make sound harsh but now four years later when I go to the house on a visit the kid runs to me and we have a great relationship

I am just a parent here of two and an uncle to 8. At three they are all about testing limits which is great but they need to know there are boundaries and that when they receive direction from authorities they need to follow it. Be fair, consistent, and firm and everyone will be better off for it.