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Mom Life: Is Your Pre-Schooler in Charge?

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Is Your Pre-schooler in Charge: 9 Ways to Regain Control pin with mother holding up toddler in a pink dress.

Is your pre-schooler in charge? You may not realize it, but a three-year-old could be running things in your home. It sounds funny and a bit ridiculous, but it happens all the time.

I have seen grown adults cower many times to the cries of their pre-schooler and capitulate within seconds just to keep the peace.  

If you think you might have a preschooler in charge, it is not too late to adjust things. But let me give fair warning, you are going to have a bumpy ride until the power has shifted back to you.

Pre-schoolers (or kids) do not like to be dethroned. Hang on for the ride!

In this post, I am going to give you nine possible ways you could have a pre-schooler in charge at your home. And I will give you nine ways to regain control.

9 Ways You Could Have a Preschooler in Charge

1. You give in to tantrums

The first sign of a tantrum you give in, or after a couple of minutes of crying, you crater because you can’t stand to see him upset. Perhaps you hate conflict.

You’ll do anything to keep him happy so you do not have to deal with the noise

2. You allow disrespect/hitting/rudeness

You ignore bad behavior because you believe it will pass or that it really isn’t that bad. In fact, it is kinda funny and cute when he has an attitude. If you do this, you could have a pre-schooler in charge.

3.  There are no consequences for disobedience or bad behavior

You believe your child didn’t really mean it or that he doesn’t need consequences because he is too young. Or maybe you think it could hurt his self-image or his feelings if you correct him.

He won’t really understand why you are punishing him anyways.

Related: 13 Easy Ways to Screw Up Your Kids

4. You bribe, yell, or beg your child to listen and obey

You don’t really believe your child will obey so you come up with all sorts of manipulation tactics to get results. And even those don’t work very well.

You constantly worry if your child is going to obey others when he goes somewhere else since he doesn’t obey you at home.

Related: Do You Yell at Your Children?

5.  You do not have time alone

Your child is all-consuming. He envelops every part of your day. You do not have a set time each day for your child to play or nap by herself for a little while so you can get things done.

And by the way, you are exhausted and need a break for your own sanity.

6. There are exceptions to your rules-often

You have rules in place, but you don’t stick to them. You are constantly making exceptions “just this one time.” Only “just this one time” is most of the time. If you do this, you could have a pre-schooler in charge.

Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart book.

 Purchase your ebook or paperback on Amazon or at your favorite digital store. 

7. You and your spouse can never get away for a date

You can’t ever get away because your child wants and needs you all the time. Perhaps you are consumed with her and all of her desires.

You don’t want her to cry or be upset when you walk out the door. If you do this, you could have a pre-schooler in charge.

8.  You do what your child wants all day

You give him the foods he wants by making separate meals, he decides when and where he sleeps, and what activities he wants to do during the day.

He does not easily comply with your plans. If you do this, you could have a pre-schooler in charge.

Related: How to Get a Picky Eater to Eat Everything and Why You Should Avoid Co-Sleeping

9.  You want to be your child’s friend

You do not want your child to dislike you. Instead of being the parent, you want to be his buddy. You want to be fun and have a good time without any real discipline.

Maybe your parents were severe so you want to do it the opposite way. If you do all these things, you could have a pre-schooler in charge.

I realize you are going to do some of these things when you are a parent. That’s part of the learning process. I am talking about those of you who know deep down you need help to regain control of your home.

I have listed 9 ways to replace these behaviors with better options. Don’t enforce these suggestions unless you are mentally ready for a battle, and you are determined to regain control of your home. If you are wishy-washy, it won’t work!

Related: When You Feel Like You Have Failed as a Parent

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Is Your Pre-schooler in Charge: 9 Ways to Regain Control pin with toddler holding a balloon.

9 Ways to Regain Control of Your Home

You may be okay with the ways things are, but if you are not, here are some suggestions to reverse the roles back to where you, the adult, are in charge.

It won’t be easy, but it is better than waiting until you have a teenager in charge. That is much worse! Yikes.

1. Tantrums

If your child has a tantrum, then let him have it. Walk out of the room so he is not the center of attention. In fact, step over him so he knows you see him. And then leave.

If he is so out of control that it is over the top, have a consequence when he calms down. Don’t come back in the room until your child is done with the drama. That’s what it is, drama!

2.  Disrespect/hitting/rudeness

There are some things that should not be tolerated. This is one of them.

You are not doing your child any favors by allowing disrespect, hitting or rudeness. This behavior will never be acceptable in school or life so don’t let him do it now.

Related: 37 Easy Ways to Help Your Child be School-Ready

3. Give consequences

It is important for you to give consequences for bad behavior. Your child needs to know the difference between right and wrong.

A baby won’t understand, but a child somewhere around 12 mos. to 18mos. starts to understand “no.”  “No” and other creative forms of it are good because it sets boundaries of protection.

4.  Expect obedience

Be sure of yourself. Your pre-schooler is not in charge, you are! Keep reminding yourself that you are the adult. Act like it.

When you don’t get obedience, have a consequence in place and then enforce it without emotion. It is a logical series of events.

If your child has obeyed, reward with praise or maybe a special privilege every once in a while.

5. Have a routine

Have a loose schedule for your day. In the schedule, include nap time and room time alone. Start the room time in the playpen first when he is a baby and then in his room as he gets older.

It will be a great break for you, and your child will learn to play alone. This is a skill your child will need to be school-ready. Start now!

Related: How to Create Family Memories with a Crazy Schedule

6.  Be consistent

Follow through with whatever rules you have in place. Do not make exceptions.

Most likely, you have trained your child to get what he wants by throwing a tantrum. Tantrums = get my way. Reverse it to tantrums = bad consequence.

Make sure you follow through with the consequence every time. Help him to see play quietly = praise. Don’t forget to give LOTS of praise for good behavior.

7. Get out with your spouse

It is so important to work on your marriage. Do things together without the kids. Focus on each other and keep the flame alive.

Without marriage, there is no family unit. Pinterest has many suggestions for ways to do date night on the cheap.

Related: Pinterest: Mom Remade/How to Have a Good Marriage

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Is Your Pre-Schooler In Charge?: 9 Ways to Gain Control pin with two little girls walking down a road holding hands.

8. Don’t offer many choices

You can eliminate battles with sugar, toys, nap time, etc. if you don’t give a choice or just a choice between two things. Have dessert on the weekend, rotate toys, and have a set nap time.

There will be no conflict over choices this way. You can add choices when your pre-schooler gets a little older and you regain control of the home.

9. Be the parent

Your child will have lots of friends throughout his childhood, but he will only have one mother and one father.

Don’t make the mistake of being a buddy. You can have wonderful times as a family, talk openly, disagree, and still be the parent. You will be friends one day, just not today.

Related: Tired of Not Being the Fun Parent: 3 Reasons to Keep Going

If you are tired of your pre-schooler in charge, then I hope you will try these tips. They will work if you will be consistent.

Don’t give up! 

It takes time to turn the power back to you. You will find your child will actually feel more secure when he knows the boundaries, and he can count on you to be the adult.

What things work well with your child?

Book on Family Estrangement from a Biblical Point of View

Are you experiencing family problems? Perhaps you and a loved one are no longer speaking. Don’t go another day without reading this book. It addresses family problems and estrangement from a biblical point of view. Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart is on Amazon or in your favorite digital store. 

Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart book

Get Creating Family Memories for FREE in exchange for your email. If you get this book, it will help you build a good relationship with your kids so that when the hard times come (teen years), you will be able to weather the storm.

Scroll down or look to the side to sign up. You can also get it at your favorite bookstore.

Facebook Group

Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the group Christian Parenting and Family. This is a place for moms with preschool age kids or older to talk about their struggles with parenting, family life, education, or marriage. You will find biblically based advise from other moms who want to raise godly kids.

Check Out Pinterest

For Parenting Tips, Crafts, Baby Care, Pre-School, Teens, Family Activities, And Much More!

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Julie Plagens

38 Comments

  1. Denisha on November 9, 2018 at 11:39 am

    It can be tough as a mom to keep all of these things in check. When you’re emotionally exhausted it can be easy to give in to a fussy toddler, but I agree with you on the importance of maintaining control.

    • Julie Plagens on January 25, 2019 at 1:07 am

      Yes, it is hard. As moms, we juggle so many things at once. When a toddler continually gets his way is when it is time to make a change. Thanks for reading.

  2. Heather on November 8, 2018 at 10:53 pm

    I’m the worst about giving too many choices. I want to empower my three year old daughter to make decisions but by offering too many choices she believes we always do only what she wants. Time to gain some control!

    • Julie Plagens on January 25, 2019 at 1:08 am

      Yes, good luck. You may have a few days that are kinda tough, but it will be so much better when the balance is restored. Take care.

  3. Cara on November 8, 2018 at 9:29 pm

    kids can be tough this way

    • Julie Plagens on January 25, 2019 at 1:08 am

      So true. But parents can get back in charge when a toddler takes over!

  4. Marysa on November 7, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    I see a lot of this happening with parents, and it is frustrating. The same reason their kids are out of line at the playground, restaurant, etc. Great thoughts and tips!

    • Julie Plagens on November 8, 2018 at 7:12 pm

      I am so glad you agree. It is frustrating to have to suffer through other kids bad behavior especially when they act ugly in public and are not reprimanded. Thanks for reading.

  5. Brittany Vantrease on November 7, 2018 at 10:04 am

    These are really great tips! I’m a little on the flip side with structure. I have friends who couldn’t or wouldn’t do things because it was their child’s nap time or something because of their child. I think they liked to use their child more as an excuse, but it’s no way to live your life if your schedule also evolves around your child. Everything else was spot on!

    • Julie Plagens on November 8, 2018 at 7:41 pm

      I totally get that. I loved a schedule. But to each his own! I enjoyed being home during the nap time because I took a nap, too. I am also more of an introvert so I liked being home. Ha Ha. So you are kinda right. Thanks for reading.

  6. Sally Adams on November 7, 2018 at 8:51 am

    OMG this is perfect for my sister, who unfortunately has her preschooler in charge or her every move.

    • Julie Plagens on November 8, 2018 at 7:44 pm

      Oh goodness. Maybe you can mysteriously shoot this to her. I guess she would kinda know, huh? Hopefully, it will help her. Thanks for reading.

  7. Monidipa Dutta on November 7, 2018 at 7:40 am

    I am not yet a mother but I love reading this. It educated me a lot.

    • Julie Plagens on November 8, 2018 at 7:46 pm

      I hope that this will be something you remember for when you have kids. Thanks for reading.

  8. Mitra on November 7, 2018 at 7:35 am

    Thank you..”Great information in how to raise a responsible …but now…I dont have a child…:D

    • Julie Plagens on November 8, 2018 at 7:48 pm

      Ha ha! Well, maybe you can remember some of these for another day. Thanks for reading’

  9. kumamonjeng on November 7, 2018 at 4:20 am

    Great information in how to raise a responsible and well mannered child. Discipline and never give in no matter how loud they cried. Let the audience look at and stay calm and be firm when they do that yelling. If we ever let go, the child will know they can get away the next time with another yelling.

    • Julie Plagens on November 8, 2018 at 7:49 pm

      Yeah, for sure. It is hard not to give in, but it is less painful long term. Thanks for reading.

  10. Maria on November 6, 2018 at 9:14 pm

    As a mother of 6, I love this list. I always felt bad for the parents of Kids who rule the nest.

    • Julie Plagens on November 8, 2018 at 7:50 pm

      Oh, wow. I bet you could school me in a few things. I admire you! What a saint. Thanks for reading.

  11. Krish on November 6, 2018 at 8:37 pm

    Beautiful blog..most families go through this with children…one has to be firm and reasonable…
    The tips given are very practical..

    • Julie Plagens on November 8, 2018 at 7:51 pm

      Thanks for saying this. Such a sweet comment.

  12. Amy on November 6, 2018 at 8:16 pm

    Great tips! I agree that it’s important not to give in, once you say the consequence you need to stick with it.

    • Julie Plagens on November 8, 2018 at 7:52 pm

      For sure! Following through is really important. Thanks for reading.

  13. Nicole Anderson | Camping for Women on November 6, 2018 at 6:30 pm

    I could think of a few parents that could benefit greatly from reading this post and taking on board your advice. It is just ridiculous how many parents effectively get bullied by their own children and simply accept the situation! Love the straight-forward tips you have provided here.

    • Julie Plagens on November 8, 2018 at 7:54 pm

      Thanks for your comment. I am glad you agree!

  14. soonjoo on November 6, 2018 at 11:45 am

    I agree with you and Donna! It’s so important to have a consistent routine and not do all what the child wants. Also, how it got so harder to raise a young child with teaching what is right and what is wrong. Personally I don’t have child but this is something I need when I have child in the future.

    • Julie Plagens on November 8, 2018 at 7:55 pm

      Hopefully, these tips will be something you keep in the back of your mind for when you have little munchkins. Thanks for reading.

  15. Abby on November 6, 2018 at 10:27 am

    I forwarded this article to my spouse. I think it really will help our family and our relationship dynamic. Thank you so much for posting this, it was very timely for our family.

    • Julie Plagens on November 8, 2018 at 7:58 pm

      Thanks, Abby. I am so glad this was helpful for your family. It is hard to know how exactly how to do things. It is an experiment. Sometimes things get a little crazy and you have to reassess.

  16. DONNA MILLER on November 6, 2018 at 8:33 am

    It’s very sad the direction society is headed. Some children are being raised with no sense of what is right and what is wrong.

    • Julie Plagens on November 8, 2018 at 8:00 pm

      Child-centered parenting is definitely the trend of the day. Thanks for reading.

  17. Alvern Bullard @ Success Unscrambled on November 6, 2018 at 5:17 am

    Thanks for sharing Julie. My children are not small anymore but they knew the rules and they had a fun time dealing with tantrums all on their own as I ignored them.

    • Julie Plagens on November 8, 2018 at 8:00 pm

      Haha! That’s pretty funny. It definitely works. Thanks for reading.

  18. Kim on November 6, 2018 at 2:21 am

    My children are grown now, but boy do I remember the challenges! When you are tired after working all day it may seem easier to give in, but in the long run you’re making it more difficult! My oldest was the biggest challenge. I couldn’t give an inch. I agree with your advice!

    • Julie Plagens on November 8, 2018 at 8:01 pm

      I can’t imagine working all day and then coming home to kids. Kids take a lot of energy. Thanks for reading.

  19. Alisha on November 5, 2018 at 6:42 pm

    My little guy is no longer a toddler but he did try to test the waters. I found that consistency and not giving in always won.

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