Very hard work 3yr old, at the end of my tether... (long sorry)

(24 Posts)
guggenheim Wed 02-Oct-13 14:45:05

Kind of 'nice' to hear about other people's wild children. My Ds is clever,sweet,kind and wild. He has a yoda like focus combined with a total inability to sit still,stop shouting etc etc. We had a horrible violent stage too.sad

He's nearly 4 and if I'm really honest there has been some improvement recently<crosses fingers> but there have been many,many times when I have felt broken and incurred the wrath of other mums.

I agree with lots of the tips mentioned earlier and the code word / temper is a genius idea.

Ds id a very vocal child and has a good vocabulary BUT like many children his age he's not as good at saying what he feels, and that wasn't obvious because he's always on the go and always talking. I've bought some small world role play figures- a dog and knight finger puppet and do some role play where we talk about how the dog feels. I think it's helped him to express his feelings a little and it externalises the naughty behaviour. We often talk about the naughty things doggie did etc etc.

I was very heartened to see that some wild boys start to go straight at 4.5, and I do love wild crazy children. On a good day he's the best company ever.

tumbletumble Wed 02-Oct-13 07:16:19

Hi OP. My DS2 is now a relatively well behaved 4yo, but when he was 2 he was a real handful!

Sorry if I've got the wrong end of the stick, but after reading your OP I get an impression of you trying to get jobs done and hoping he will either potter along 'helping' you or play independently. Could you try lowering your expectations, both of yourself (in terms of how much you expect to achieve while he's there with you) and him (ie accept that he's not yet great at independent play and needs a bit more input from you)? His behaviour sounds attention seeking to me. Try to cut down on TV time if you possibly can - I definitely found that lots of TV had a negative effect on my DS2's behaviour, especially in terms of the 'manic' behaviour you describe - and play with him instead. Can you get most of your chores done on the 2 days when he's at nursery (unless you work on those days)? You say he likes playing in the garden - great! Tbh I would still expect to have to supervise most 3yos in the garden even if there wasn't a high fence to climb.

Toddler groups aren't for everyone - are there any local alternatives? My DS2 tended to hit out at other children at toddler group, but I took him to a tots music class and he loved it and was always as good as gold in those classes.

Good luck!

My 2.8 DS is very similar. I've cut these foods out of his diet in the past few weeks (bread was a big contender and also dried fruit) and although he's still compulsively touching things and getting angry and a bit violent he seems to be able to calm down and listen a little quicker than before (with help of course)

I've also bought him a DVD called Yoga Kids 3 - Silly to Calm. he's not doing all the moves with it but he asks to watch it every time he wakes up (previously watched very little tv) and he watches it calmly for 30 mins on his own or with me or DH. I've also caught him doing some of the breathing/relaxation techniques when he doesn't know I'm watching..its making a bit of a difference.

he's always been the same..needs a ton of stimulation but there's a very fine line between enough and too much and when it's too much he lets the whole world know. he doesn't do sleepy, when tired he just gets more and more manic.

we do a lot of talking about feelings. it's ok to feel ... but it's not ok to hit, hitting hurts. that kind of thing. I also think pp's are correct about looking for a connection. the AHA parenting website is great for this kind of stuff.DS often 'plays up' when he needs a chance to cry or talk about a feeling or just get a bit of one on one time without my mind being elsewhere.

its a constant learning process isn't it? but you're not alone wink

Sparklyboots Tue 01-Oct-13 17:08:54

Mine is.2.8 and.similarly lacking in middle gears. We go from focused play to trashing stuff in an instant. He's not hugely violent but there's plenty of time for that to develop.

I may be hopelessly pandering but I am loathe to get into battles because he'd win them ALL so I am doing a name and redirect strategy atm with the idea he'll do it for himself in the end. So I say something like, "I can see you are a bit fed up with that, shall we do.something else?" and steer him off. The idea is he'll steer himself.eventually but we don't both get horribly wound up in the meantime. Similarly, if he's being violent with me I take it as a cue to start a rough housing type game - I hope he'll just seek the.connection and.start the game eventually. The other day, he was in the middle of stamping over someone else's sandcastle blush and I said, "Now DS, if you want to join in, you just say, 'this looks fun, how can I join in?'" and almost unbelievably it worked! So I do think he's looking for connection in those random acts of destruction and I try to name that (give him the language) and model the behaviour that will get him what he wants.

I think it's likely to be age appropriate behaviour so try not to take it personally. I think there is a wide.open gap in the market for a Fiddling Emporium, the use of which I would.pay handsomely

Pancakeflipper Tue 01-Oct-13 16:41:39

Oh crikes, you have described my DS2. He is 4 and started school and no longer the hard tiring work he was.

It gets better.

I think it's important to keep being consistent. I struggled with punishments as he would laugh at naughty step, removal of toys of a few days etc.
We had reward charts for praise. Do something good and get a sticker. So many stickers equalled a prize. He had a love for Ben10 figures so that helped in terms of prizes.
I bombarded him with praise to break my cycle of thinking negatively.

But still there were days I was sat on the doorstep wanting to cry at my willful boy.

As he got older I would keep being cool and disappointed with the bad behaviour. But when all calm I would have conversations like "you must have been feeling so cross to hit xxxxx. " and he now recognises he has a tantrum issue and we have a code word that I whisper to him when he thinks his temper is rising. I hold him and whisper the word over and over again. It's bonkers but it works for him.

My boy is now 4, at school and certainly not a wallflower. But he is so funny and bright with words.

I used to lay awake stressing about him so many nights but he's getting there and he's amazing.

Honestly, you are doing brilliantly and you will find ways that work for you both. And it will improve.

minihahawithafringe Tue 01-Oct-13 16:26:38

You need to find a safe place for him to time out. He sounds ovdrstimulated.

Cross the straps overnight the pram so the letting clips into the righthand part, so he's wearing a cross on his chest, failing that lindon do reigns that you can attach to the pram.

StillSlightlyCrumpled Tue 01-Oct-13 14:15:53

I say a very sharp no, and walk away entirely. As a family we just totally ignore him and go and talk loudly and happily amongst ourselves, ie making it clear that his bad behaviour means he will be excluded.

The other thing that made a difference for us was remembering to praise him when he was behaving. For me, as he was / is so lively and bubbly that when he is quiet it is so tempting to just leave him to it and ignore him. I now make a real positive fuss of him if he has been behaving with an instant reward, of a sticker or a sweetie or just a cuddle and a big tickle and kiss. He is not remotely interested in a sticker chart but loves a sticker put on his jumper.

Above all remember in all likelihood he will just outgrow it. If you tell him off each and every time, he will get there. I cannot believe how much my son has changed in just the last two months - honestly!

MamaM76 Tue 01-Oct-13 14:12:15

Not sure if this will work with your lil one, but when my dd kicks me or hits me (mostly by accident but sometimes on purpose) I pretend it really hurts, get upset, and ask to be careful or not do it again, and apologise. Usually my dd looks sheepish and says sorry, but if I am wailing, she does get worried and trys to "help" me. I used to tell her off and that was exactly the reaction she wanted.

How about the star chart? If punishment does not work, what about positive reinforcement? He gets a star sticker for being nice to mummy for x amount of time, or being good when asked. I found that it worked better when your expectation is simple one task, explained explicitly, than being vague, like "only whispering in library, no big voice please, as opposed to "being good in the library" . I think I set the hurdle low until she got the hang of self control. Otherwise, some days she gets no treat and it is really deflating.

Long period of indoor time is not well tolerated either. I would say max 3h and she starts to play up. Some days 2h, so she needs to be walked outside even for 20min. It kind of gets worse when she is hungry so I have to make sure she snacks every 2h/2.5h at least. Sounds boring but some fruits and rice cracker with cream cheese usually keeps her happy.

One thing I noticed was that dd goes absolutely insane a day after having spag Bol. I know it sounds weird, but it took me 6 months to figure out she does not tolerate tinned tomato well. I tried cutting the pasta out, then white flour, and reduced down to tinned tomato. She can eat small amount of fresh tomato, so my guess is the tin ( containing nickel) is causing some reaction. I just don't buy any tinned food now and she is so much calmer. I came across quite a few sites in process, that explains the cause of difficult behaviour and irritability, hyperactivity, violence, can be due to food intolerance. Worth having a look.

tizzwozz Tue 01-Oct-13 12:24:57

So... throwing the question out there, what exactly should I do when he is violent? I get the principle of telling him its not okay, but he quite honestly doesn't care. I get the principle of removing him from the situation but most of the time he does it because he wants to be somewhere else doing something else so that sort of feels like he is getting rewarded for it iyswim? And naughty step/chair/corner doesn't really work, he won't stay there and the battle to keep him there is going to cause more problems than it solves hmm

tizzwozz Tue 01-Oct-13 12:21:47

Thanks all smile

It does really make me feel slightly better knowing that other people have similar issues! Most of my friends seem to have very placid little cherubs and they eye me with pity as I struggle on through with my kicking screaming grizzling ball of fury [sigh]

StillSlightlyCrumpled Mon 30-Sep-13 22:20:29

DS3 was quite like this. Thankfully he loves shopping and any activity where strangers pay him attention, so I didn't have the mortification in the supermarket!

At 3.5 he has in the last few weeks calmed right down and plays so nicely. I also have never had anything but positive comments from his pre-school. Maybe the point if maturity is just around the corner for your son <hopeful>.

We did have to have a zero tolerance for any violent behaviour however minor, any screaming and I would ignore him entirely if he was speaking to me rudely. I have two older boys and was able to be much more relaxed with them. I can finally feel myself relaxing with DS3.

I also ditched the buggy, let him get himself dressed entirely without interfering and generally allowed him to be a 'bigger boy'.

Who knows if any of it worked or if the Gods just heard my desperate prayers every night grin!

I have one just like this too! He's joyously crazy but also hits when excited.

He can be extremely exhausting.

My solution that works most of the time is to exercise him like a puppy. Two long walks a day -morning and afternoon and his behaviour is much better around it.

However, it means that getting on with normal household stuff can be a real problem.

I really empathise!

tizzwozz Mon 30-Sep-13 22:04:44

He's very quickly bored but we did have a whole glorious week of relative peace when we decided he was big enough to play with real Lego grin We really thought we'd cracked it but of course the novelty wore off and now Lego is "bor-wing" (term picked up courtesy of his big sister!).

He can concentrate. Definitely. Loves looking at books and being read to, loves playing car crashes and train smashes. Just once he's had enough, he's off. No middle gears, no warning, just goes from fine to furious in the blink of an eye.

You are all so kind, thank you for taking the time to reply. Maybe we need a support group or something!

tanfastic Mon 30-Sep-13 22:03:29

Mine was violent too, the head butting etc was an almost daily occurrence. I can really sympathise its horrible and you do think you are doing something wrong as a parent. Hopefully he will grow out of it.

mewkins Mon 30-Sep-13 22:01:21

Hi op,
I know what you mean. I have a boisterous 3yo but she does and can be calm if engaged in the right activity. At 2.5 though she was very physical and quite aggressive towards me in particular. I took a zero tolerance approach to any hitting, kicking or biting. So the moment she tried to do any of that she was straight to the naughty corner. With other misbehaviour she got a warning. It took a while but she got to the stage where she understood that I wouldn't stand for it. We don't use the naughty corner much now (she sort of outgrew it) but if she has been naughty I will send her to her room and generally will lay on her bed to calm down.
Have you tried reward charts? In some ways that puts the onous on them to choose the consequences. You must follow through with threats though eg. If the behaviour is so appalling that you threaten to remove two stickers and it continues then you have to remove them. It takes a while for them to get that the ball is in their court but it does work. We get dd to decide what she wants her treat for a full chart to be so that she has something to work towards.

tanfastic Mon 30-Sep-13 22:01:12

I had one like this and I started to really worry he would just get worse and worse. Then some kind of miracle happened when he turned about 4.5. Whether it was him Maturing emotionally or something else I don't know but he is a different boy now and my life is so much easier.

There is light at the end of the tunnel op...hopefully wink

Flatiron Mon 30-Sep-13 21:55:43

Of course you're not a shit parent. you do the best you can in the circumstances, like all of us. I shouldn't worry too much about the telly. My DSs have all been avid TV/Playstation/Xbox consumers from Teletubbies onwards, and <crosses fingers> it doesn't seem to have had any drastic effects on them!

If he enjoys watching telly calmly, that means he can sit down and concentrate on something for a period, if he's interested in it. What about reading? Does that grab him? If he turns out to 'get' reading early, he might start ploughing his way through the local Library (if you still have one). How about 'educational' computer games or children's Tablets, like LeapPad? If you happen to hit on something he really loves, you could be on to a winner! Maybe try looking at activities you think of as being for slightly older children - he may surprise you!

It sounds like he's liking Nursery? Could you increase the time there. I know he's only little, but maybe he's going to be a DC who will be more than ready for school when he starts. I'm sure things will get easier for you, as he gets older, and grows into his obvious brightness, if that makes sense!

TallyGrenshall Mon 30-Sep-13 21:49:42

DS is 4 and is like that, but without the violence. It is bloody exhausting because it is every minute of every day, just never ending. I get climbed on/grabbed/pulled and generally touched all the time.

And the constant fiddling. It seems like he is incapable of leaving things alone, he is into everything.

Apart from once near the start of nursery, I've had nothing but good things from his teachers so I know he can behave but it just seems that not for me...unless that is his particular thing that day.

No amount of bribery, positive reinforcement, time out, confiscating toys, reward charts etc have worked so far.

So I will sit with you and hope somebody has the "secret"

tizzwozz Mon 30-Sep-13 21:46:23

Weirdly as well, he is fine and lovely with other children so long as we are outside hmm If we meet other kids in the park he goes and says hi and asks if they want to play and plays fairly cooperatively and takes turns. Inside - he gets hysterical and melts down confused

tizzwozz Mon 30-Sep-13 21:43:00

We do get 15 hours now, but due to rural location we are taking them over 2 full days to save excessive driving. So he's just easing into it now - first full day with packed lunch is this week.

I just worry so much that I'm getting it all wrong. I don't have any ideas left tbh for what to do about it all. Its so sad, my body is constantly tense when he's around sad If he gets in my bed for a cuddle in the morning I am just lying tensed waiting for the inevitable headbutt or jumping-on. I avoid getting close to him sometimes, and avoid social stuff too.

mysticminstrel Mon 30-Sep-13 21:36:55

Sympathies, that sounds really hard sad

Can you up his nursery hours? He should get 15 the term after he's free shouldn't he?

tizzwozz Mon 30-Sep-13 21:33:50

Thanks ToughTimes [weak smile]

I'll have a go with cutting down sugar, I'm willing to try almost anything!

Its so sad because he is actually lovely when he is in a good frame of mind - I can see what a negative picture I've painted above but thats how I feel right after bedtime. Now, with a couple of hours peace behind me, I feel a lot more positive about him.

The violence is whats getting me down most I think. I am so worn down with being constantly butted/boofed/crashed/punched/kicked/jumped on/tugged/pulled/pinched/'clatched' (its pinching, but with a new name to see if I don't notice hmm ). I can hardly bear for poor DP to touch me, I am more touched out by far than I was even when I had constantly BFing babies. Yet nothing I do seems to have an effect... I can explain to him, he can understand and talk about it, then the minute he is frustrated or thwarted he starts again.

ToughTimes Mon 30-Sep-13 21:17:12

Tizz, you could be describing my DS aged 2.7. He's absolutely been doing my head in this afternoon. Constant screaming, as well as hitting Ds2 (9 month), with no break. He's on the go from the minute his eyes open to bedtime. I'm so exhausted from his incessant chat/inability to sit still for a single moment that I lock myself in the toilet to get away. Even then he's trying to force the door open.

The ONLY thing that helps is to completely cut out all processed sugar. Even cakes etc. it's hard but I really notice a difference in his behaviour. I'm watching to see if anyone else can recommend anything!

tizzwozz Mon 30-Sep-13 19:45:52

DS is 3. He's rather charming smile but my god, he is hard bloody work. I am at the point where I just don't know how much more I can take and am starting to worry that there's something pathological to his behaviour sad.

He just has a slightly manic quality to his behaviour most of the time. he has to fiddle, with everything all the time. He has a zero tolerance threshold for boredom - the instant he is fed up of something he just starts to screech and howl and grizzle and throw things. Shopping is a fucking nightmare, he kicks shelves from the buggy (sometimes people too, the shame the shame), grabs things, throws things. Matters not a jot if we've been to the park first - he is almost impossible to tire out and tbh when he is tired he is worse and more manic.

When he's tired or bored, he hits me, kicks me, headbutts me. I try to be consistent with discpline for this sort of thing but he doesn't effing care about anything I try.... Last time I did the whole 'get down to his level' thing, he headbutted me in the face. Shutting him in his room is pointless, he likes being in there and once he gets bored he can get out anyway. He can escape the straps on the buggy so that is useless too. Plus, I don't want be fighting him like that all the time, I don't want to be pushing him away sad so I end up just ignoring him because it feels like fuck all works so I might as well just not bother. He's fine, so long as he is doing exactly what he wants when he wants to...

He gets hysterical very fast when overstimulated - toddler groups were a nightmare so we stopped going. He just seemed unable to relax and play, it was always constant shrieking and grabbing and hitting (I was the mother of that toddler, sorry everyone).

He ends up watching TV a lot because it is the only way he will sit still and stop being nuts. I hate it sad and would rather have him poddling round with me 'helping' but that is just so stressful for me. He climbs on the table if I have him with me in the kitchen. He won't leave anything alone, its like he can't leave things alone. He runs round crashing into me while I'm doing stuff, he thinks that's the best game ever hmm and whilst he quite likes the garden, his main aim when out there is to escape over the fence (its a high fence, he is just a good climber and we can't change the fence) so I have to sit outside and watch him the whole time.

His speech and understanding are very good for his age so its not even like there's the excuse of not being able to verbalise because he can! He's just started nursery 2 days a week and so far they have no concerns at all which is a bit confused to me given the nightmare we had with toddler groups but then maybe I am just a shit parent...

I just feel like I am firefighting from the minute he gets up (wailing pitifully and grizzling from the instant he opens his eyes every morning) to bedtime. And then I have to try and find some energy to devote to my 10yr old, and tbh she is getting ignored a lot because I just don't have anything left at the end of the day.

So... what the fuck DOES work? How does one deal with violence from a toddler? How do you help a toddler with such a low boredom threshold?

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now