My 3 year old DS - is he fairly normal?

(15 Posts)
Bearcrumble Fri 10-May-13 12:54:16

My DS was a very easy toddler, charming, non-snatchy, chatty and well behaved. He never had a tantrum until well over 18 months.

I imagine things got a bit dificult for him once I had his baby sister when he was two years and two months. She was a fairly velcro baby and still likes to be in my arms most of the time. She doesn't sleep very well so I am tired a lot.

These days he seems to want to contradict everything I say. Any daft little thing, I'll say 'it's sunny today' he says 'no it's not' or about what noise different letters make, anything. Or I will see him playing with the stairgate and ask him not to and he'll say "I'm not".

Also if something frustrates him, if he's trying to do something and he can't he just screams at the top of his voice either non-verbally or "I can't do it" and he screams if his little sister touches anything he plays with.

He seems totally uninterested in her and ony notices her if she's in his way. I want them to have a good relationship and she adores him but he won't even touch her. I can say "she is really happy when you wave to her" and he may do so. Sometimes he'll bring her a cracker or something but he dislikes physical contact with her and with most people - not me and DH and close family but for example if a stranger tries to help him get on the bus he goes mental.

He's bright and chatty - he understands a lot and is really into finding out how things work - he loves watching factories and sciencey things on tv.

He panics easily. If we run for a bus or train he screams and goes spare. We say "what's the worst that could happen? We'd miss the bus and then wait for the next one" but it seems to bring out this primal fear in him.

He seems to be very easily distracted. He can dress himself but it will take half an hour of following him around asking him to take off his pyjamas and then handing him his pants over and over with lots of "I can't do it' on his part and lots of "I know you can do it, I've seen you do it before" or "I have faith in your abilities" on mine. More often than not I just dress and undress him because getting him to do it himself takes so bloody long. He'll pick up anything and find it fascinating but not stay with the job in hand. I know he is only three but it seems extreme this lack of focus and distractability.

If we try and talk to him about ways he could better deal with his emotions he will cut off and say "I don't want to have this conversation" or ignore us and talk about a totally different topic.

He has one friend at nursery who he chats to a lot (a girl) but he doesn't seem to get little boy play. He's not as interested in other children, seems oblivious to their existance fairly often but other times he will chat and play. He doesn't really like running around and pretending to shoot guns (good!) or being superheroes, he's more likely to want to water the garden or pretend to be an animal (at the moment he likes being a little mouse and talking in a high pitched voice about cheese) and I worry so much for him that he'll be the odd one out.

He currently does 12 hours a week in nursery split over 3 days, one day with my mum and the rest of the time he's with me (and his dad from 5pm and at the weekend). He is very loved and loving - I adore him but sometimes he winds me up so much.

Smartieaddict Fri 10-May-13 12:58:08

Infuriating, sweet, imaginative, stubborn, and slightly bonkers? Sounds like an absolutely typical 3 year old to me!

Nagoo Fri 10-May-13 13:04:44

It's really really hard being tired. It makes it difficult to downplay your frustrations or anxiety about the way dc behave.

I don't think there's anything particularly troubling in your post, certainly the being argumentative and anxious around strangers sounds normal to me.

The only thing I can suggest is that you ask your mum to take your dd instead of Ds and you spend a bit more time indulging him by himself? I find I worry a lot less about Ds when I can spend some time with him focussing on making him happy. be prepared for him to be a stroppy swine and ruin the day you planned, mine sometimes sabotages my attempts to connect with him

I did get some books recommended to me about talking about anger, he sounds like he gets cross and frustrated. When I'm back in laptop ill link them?

I own a three year old boy who is the same.

The other day he was in wellies and it was boiling out so I said put your trainers on. His argument was 'mum I'm warm'. I tried pointing out that's why I said to put trainers on 'mum I'm too warm!' with a sigh

I left him to it in the end.

When hes done something he shouldn't and I ask what hes done he says 'nowt'

PMTIsMe Fri 10-May-13 13:17:55

My life was similar when my DCs were that age, and my eldest behaved very similarly to yours. There is just no logic in the way a 3 year old behaves at times!! I found DS 1's lack of interest in his baby brother upsetting tho - but in retrospect I see now that babies just aren't interesting to a toddler/3 year old. Now, at 6 and 4, they adore each other and play together brilliantly.

Other things that ring a bell - distractibility - my 4 year old still like it Im afraid, but DS1 much better now. Its a personality thing in my house - DS2 wants to be babied and have me do it! In your case, 3 is still young so don't fret, just persevere with encouraging independence. Also, neither of mine like being touched let alone kissed or cuddled by anyone other than me and dad - not even gannies. Neither do I as it happens! So I see it as good that they have firm boundaries and don't let just anyone touch them.

I have to say, I found the stage you are in one of ther hardest - a lively small child and a baby is exhausting and frustrating. I remember shutting them behind the patio doors (inside) while I went and cried in the greenhouse! So you are not alone! It will get better!

Bearcrumble Fri 10-May-13 13:45:40

Thanks for all the replies - it's nice to know others have had similar issues/worries.

Always up for book recommendations - am currently reading "raising happy brothers and sisters" and just got Understanding your three year old by Louise Emmanuel. A while ago on mn someone recommended a book called "Smart but scattered" www.amazon.co.uk/Smart-but-Scattered-Revolutionary-Executive/dp/1593854455 it's supposed to give you ways of helping them with their executive skills - I haven't delved into it yet, it was bought partly in the hope I wouldn't need it but if he does continue with the high distractability next year then it's there.

PMT - It is a hard time as the baby is so mobile but so totally clueless/dependant as well. There is a lot of screaming when they are both at home together. He'll scream because she invades his space/grabs what he's playing with then she screams because his screaming has upset her and when they are both yelling I just want to walk out of the front door.

I feel guilty that the feeling at the forefront is just me wanting it all to stop when I think I shoud be feeling more empathy and concern for intense emotions. I find it hard to think straight when one or both are screaming and often have to force myself to stay with them. Sometimes I fail and leave them for a minute or two.

Nagoo Yes, my mum is going to take her more but she (mum) feels a bit nervous because a couple of times she took her out in the pram and baby just cried the whole time. I do have 1-1 time with DS for just under an hour before bed as dh has the little one downstairs while we chat and have bedtime stories (although as you say sometimes he sabotages it by only wanting to dive from the top of the changing table onto my bed, suck my bedclothes or play with the catch on the drop side of the baby's cot). Where possible I let him lead during our special time and don't dictate but there's a limit. Also we split off at weekends sometimes so I will take one and DH will take the other but to be honest what I really want is some time alone. Although when I get it I have no idea what to do with it.

PMTIsMe Fri 10-May-13 14:00:10

I might have you worng, but a couple of things you said - I wonder if your expectations of them/you are very high? All these books - I threw most of mine out when my children didn't seem to do quite what was suggested! It just stressed me out tbh reading all this stuff about how I should be dealing with them/stimulating them. Try not to put too much pressure on your self is all I can say. Your DS1 is still very young. My eldest still likes to talk in mouse voice sometimes now at 6 - its not a problem, he likes to be a bit babyish at times which doesn't bother me. At 3 I should say it was entirely normal.

Tho doesnt mean its not hugely annoying!!

Another thing to reassure you - neither my DSs had friends at pre-school. were just not interested (still at the 'parallel play' stage.) Both made female friends only in reception...DS1 is just starting to make friends withboys at nearly 7. Its got benefits, both are able to be quite gentle when playing, as well as being perfectly capable of rough and tumble.

TBH you really sound like you need a break...the tone of your post is very weary sad Perhaps time to pull in as much supprt as you can afford/manage.

Nagoo Fri 10-May-13 14:30:21

Sleep. Just sleep. Have a bath. Get so you are clean and rested and you will feel much more in control smile when googirl was teething I cried into a random woman in Aldi I was so tired. You will feel so much more able to cope with a decent nap under your belt thanks

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Fri 10-May-13 15:22:52

PMT has voiced my thoughts! I think you are expecting far too much. I had a very articulate DD1 and looking back I treated her in the same way as I treat my DD2 who is now 5. When DC are articulate early on, one tends to assume they've skills which they actually don't...or haven't honed yet.

He sounds lovely by the way. smile Regarding the girl friends...my DD2 has had a little boy who was her best friend in preschool for a year and then in reception for a while too...but he's now begun to play with other boys....he was always with my DD and her cohort of little girls....it's fine!

apricot72 Fri 10-May-13 20:05:33

My DS1 is also 3 and sounds v similar to yours in a lot of respects. In fact I have meaning to start a post about DS1's relationship with DS2 so I was quite reassured to read your post!

There's a 19m age gap between my 2, which I was really happy about as I thought it would mean they would have a close relationship (I know, I know, it's to do with personality more I think). However, like your DS, mine seems uninterested in DS2 and just doesn't seem to want to interact positively. He will wail and moan if DS2 touches him or steals his toys but that's the extent of his reaction. DS2 meanwhile is quite boisterous and seems to realise that the only way he will get a reaction is to go up and hit / harrass DS2, cue general meltdowns and disharmony. I have been getting a bit stressed about it but maybe it's more normal than I think reading this thread.

And DS1's favourite activities are also pretending to be animals and watering the garden (and any water based mess inducing pastimes). He doesn't seem to be 1 of the kids in the thick of sociable things at nursery but nursery seem to think he's getting on fine.

Hope that helps.....

You sound like you're treating him as older than he is. He's only 3!! (I did this with my 3 year old - he was 2.2 when dd arrived).
If he doesn't get dressed, don't follow him around telling him you believe in him. Just either dress him (he'll like being babied sometimes) or ignore. Then massive praise once he gets dressed.
If he screams, remind him what he should do if he doesn't like something. Role play works well - eg set out two action figures or something and enact a conversation.
Give him tactics for dealing with his sister. Eg swap toys if she has something of his, move away if he doesn't like something.

As for not liking strangers touching him - sounds normal to me. I don't and I'm normal!

exoticfruits Fri 10-May-13 21:49:18

If we try and talk to him about ways he could better deal with his emotions he will cut off and say "I don't want to have this conversation" or ignore us and talk about a totally different topic.

I think he is a bit young for all this. He sounds fairly typical to me. It is just luck and personalities if siblings get on and closeness in age has nothing to do with it- I know identical twins who can't stand each other's company.

PatsysPyjamas Fri 10-May-13 22:01:12

He sounds like mine. I agree with others who have said your expectations for a 3 year old are high. I think we all tend to do this with are elder children (my 3 year old is the younger).

As a comparison, at almost three and a half, he can pretty much dress himself (all but taking off a long-sleeved top), but I have been absolutely thrilled at the few times he has done it head to toe. I still have to coerce my 6 year old into getting dressed on time for school in the morning.

Also, my 6 year old is still very easily distracted. It is so SO frustrating! But I think it's normal. She does very well at school at least.

I do worry about my 3 year old in that I would love him to make friends at nursery. He seems happy enough but without close friends. My daughter had nursery friends at that age. Then again, when they start reception you really do notice how different the boys and girls are.

BabiesAreLikeBuses Fri 10-May-13 22:16:08

At 3 my son would have rather watered the plants than played too. At 4 he followed dd's friends around having none of own, at 5 he plays with everyone in class esp boys (and still lives watering plants!) I've learnt that I was worrying about nothing at 3 re social skills, lots of boys not interested in others at this point. And today is the only day this week that he has got dressed on his own drama free even though he could do it at 3!!

Bearcrumble Sat 11-May-13 12:10:42

Thanks again for all the replies.

I think you are right in that I expect too much - it's tricky because he is so articulate I guess I assign capabilities to him he doesn't have. Will lay off on the nagging and just dress him.

I really like the fact that we play 'mice' and he is quite a gentle little thing (unless someone or something has got him frustrated). I don't think boys have to be boisterous - it was more I was concerned that the combination of quirky character traits and his screamy reactions would make him catnip for bullies. But it seems that there are a lot of little boys out there like him, so hopefully not.

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