Parenting preschoolers is not for the faint of heart. You may not realize it, but your three-year-old could be running 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 preschoolers and capitulate within seconds just to keep the peace.

It is not too late to adjust things if your preschooler is in charge at your house. Let me give you fair warning, you are going to have a bumpy ride until the power has shifted back to you.

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

In this post, I am going to give you nine positive parenting tips for parenting preschoolers. But first, let’s talk about behavior.

RELATED: Facts About Parenting: 3 Insider Secrets Moms Don’t Talk About

9 Issues You May Have With Your Preschooler

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. Parenting preschoolers is hard when they are out of control; it is easy to do whatever it takes to pacify them.

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 she has an attitude. If you do this, your preschooler will continue in this until she is a teen. Having a rude teen is no fun, believe me.

3.  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: How to Discipline Kids: 29 Easy Ways to Get Kids to Obey

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 she goes somewhere else since she doesn’t obey you at home. You are not sure about parenting preschoolers; it is almost too much to figure out how to get her to do what you want.

RELATED: How to Stop Yelling at Your Kids: 7 Easy Tips to Be a Calm Parent

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5.  You have no 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 because your preschooler is in charge and you are not.

RELATED: 7 Best Tips For Getting a Baby to Sleep Through the Night

6. You allow 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 preschooler in charge.

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. It is just easier to stay at home.

8.  You do what your child wants all day long

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.

RELATED: How to Deal with Picky Eaters: 3 Easy Tips That Really Work

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: Feeling like a Failure as a Parent? 6 Tips to Overcome

9 Positive Parenting Techniques to Help With Disciple

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 who rules your home. 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 into the room until your child is done with the drama. That’s what it is, drama! Parenting preschoolers isn’t easy. Don’t give up!

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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.

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 preschooler 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 him with praise, or maybe a special privilege every once in a while. Parenting preschoolers takes patience and repetition. Don’t give up.

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: 40 Fun Reading Activities For Pre-School and Elementary Age Kids

6.  Be consistent

When parenting preschoolers, make sure you follow through with whatever rules you have in place. Exceptions need to be rare. They are just that-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. 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 when parenting preschoolers. 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.

See also  How to Change Your Husband Without Saying a Word

RELATED: 11 Tips For a Successful Marriage: Best Kept Secrets You Won’t Find on Instagram

8. Offer limited choices

You can eliminate battles with sugar, toys, playtime, etc. if you give a choice between two things that are both acceptable to you. This gives your preschooler a feeling of power, yet eliminates the conflict. Some things should be non-negotiable like bedtime, nap time, and healthy foods.

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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.

I know it’s hard parenting preschoolers. Just keep being consistent despite your child’s behavior.

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.

RELATED: How to Pray for Your Child: 6 Tips to Pray In Your War Room (really pray)

Parenting preschoolers isn’t easy. What suggestions do you have? Comment below.

For more help, check out these tips from Dr. Dobson’s Family Talk.

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Got Family Problems? There is Help and Hope!

Are you experiencing family problems or even estranged? Are you feeling shame, anger, or rejection? Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart on Amazon or at your favorite digital store. 

This book talks about my seven-year estrangement from my Christian family and also gives solid tips to help you with your own family problems. Break free from your pain. Allow God to heal you no matter what has happened in your family of origin. There is hope when your family falls apart.

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Get Creating Family Memories. This book will help you manage your family in a way that allows more time to be intentional with your kids.  It includes a schedule too. You can get it at your favorite bookstore.

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Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the group Christian Family Living. This is a place for Christian women to freely talk about parenting, marriage, faith, family, and culture. Being a Christian is hard! Let’s do it together. Most of all, a sense of humor is required. Got memes? Bring it on!

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Julie is a wife, mom, author, and blogger. She writes about Christian family living, marriage, and faith with a touch of humor.


  1. 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.

    • 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. 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!

    • 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. 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!

    • 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.

  4. 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!

    • 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.

    • 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.

  5. Monidipa Dutta Reply

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

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

  7. 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.

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

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

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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

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

  13. 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.

    • 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

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

  16. 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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