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What is your 3 year old like?

(18 Posts)
Mishmishmish Sat 18-Nov-17 10:46:02

I feel like I'm at the end of my tether with my 3 year old (3 years plus 1 month). First thing to say he can be a lovely sweet child but those moments seem to be coming rarer...he's very bright, fantastic language and vocab, knows numbers into the thousands/all shapes etc - we don't push this on him, he picks it up from nursery and from books at home.

The main issue is he doesn't seem to enjoy anything and needs constant attention and stimulation from us. He won't leave either parent alone for more than a few minutes. if I ask him to go and play and set up his train set he might last maybe 3 minutes before he destroys the track and starts chucking it around. He delights in emptying his three toy baskets out (one has train track, one has duple and one has trucks/cars etc) and then throwing those pieces around so he can't settle down and play with anything. He doesn't like play dough/drawing/crafts - or at least he will draw a bit if I sit with him but he has to control everything e.g. I end up drawing most of the stuff for him. He would never ever sit for 5 mins with play dough. He doesn't seem to enjoy any toys - got given a fantastic marble run and wooden garage for his birthday recently. We set up the marble run for him as he can't do it himself but even halfway through set up he'll destroy ir and throw it around. Punishments don't really work as he doesn't care if I remove a toy for him throwing it around...it's got to the stage where I can't think of anything to get him for Xmas as literally don't know what he enjoys [beyond books].

I guess some of that is normal for his age but what is getting to us is he doesn't seem to enjoy much outside of the house - he takes against certain play parks near us and refuses to set foot in them [this has been going on for months]. Won't play with a ball. If I take him to the library he won't look at any book he doesn't already know or we don't have at home which kind of ruins the point of a library trip. I took him to a small soft play in McDonalds yesterday - while all the other preschoolers are running and jumping around he stood and whinged at me to help him (with what I don't know as it was all accessible). Just about the only thing he enjoys is going to cafe as he knows he'll get a snack while we have a coffee, he is quite greedy,.

I have seven nephews all of who I knew at the preschool age and I remember a lot of happy park trips with them, they were delighted to be taken to the playground or out and about etc.

I'm wondering how much of this is normal? He's turned into such a relentless whiner and I end up shouting. He's also very controlling. Sorry it's so long - what is your three year old like? I love him very much and want to help him but don't know how.

user1471459936 Sat 18-Nov-17 11:33:00

It sounds like he needs more attention not more toys.

ShapelyBingoWing Sat 18-Nov-17 11:47:17

IME I've had small bursts of what you're describing with DD (3) but it's definitely not been a constant state of being. I wouldn't say that was entirely 'normal' at this age. Have you thought about contacting your health visiting team or nursery nurse to come and see if they have any helpful tactics for managing his neediness? On days where DD is like this, it drives me batty. I imagine you must be in a constant state of exhaustion!

hockityponktas Sat 18-Nov-17 12:39:25

I would say that this is typical in short bursts but not if it’s all the time.
How are his speech and social skills with other children?
It’s worth asking what he’s like at nursery/pre school and asking if they have any concerns about any aspect of his behaviour/speech/habits/interactions with others.
I would then speak to the go or health visitor about your concerns and they may advise you or give you a referral for an assessment of his behaviour and development.

hockityponktas Sat 18-Nov-17 12:40:44

Sorry just seen his speech/vocab is good.

Iwasjustabouttosaythat Sat 18-Nov-17 12:47:32

Is there a new sibling on the scene? Or about to be? My DS got very controlling at the end of my pregnancy and had pretty much stayed that way...

What's he like at the museum or zoo? Maybe he's just highly intelligent and going down a slide over and over doesn't do it for him?

WallisFrizz Sat 18-Nov-17 12:50:09

Is he in nursery a lot? I ask as I have just had to put my nearly 3 year olds hours up from 2.5 days a week to 3.5 days a week due to a change in working pattern and I’ve noticed that although she seems happy at nursery and goes in without any problem, she has become much harder work and clingier at home. I think she is starting to get a bit better though, I’m hoping that it was just an adjustment phase.

Mishmishmish Sat 18-Nov-17 13:55:52

Thanks all. Yes he is in nursery 4 days a week. The talking to the HV suggestion is a good one although the lady who came for his 2 year check up was rubbish. He is a strange boy in many ways eg just about his fave things are barcodes (reading them and commenting which numbers are not in the code) and car number plates and it may be he doesn't get the simple enjoyment of a soft play/trampoline park etc (we treated him to a session at a trampoline place the other week and he wouldn't bloody go on them with DH holding his hand and participating).
As for giving him more attention I don't see how I possibly could...he gets so much already which is why we are desperately trying to encourage him towards solo play a bit.

Crunchymum Sat 18-Nov-17 14:01:51

I don't have a 3 year old for a few more months but I have had one before. Found 3 harder than 2 with my eldest actually.

hockityponktas Sat 18-Nov-17 14:08:41

GP may be a better idea then if the health visitor is not up to the job!

Ignore the post about the attention, not helpfulhmm

Dashper Sat 18-Nov-17 14:25:59

If he likes numbers, give him a maths or science book? There's nowt wrong with being very in to numbers grin.
DS was crap at playing by himself at that age. He's got better in the last 6 months (he's just turned 4).
They're all different but 3 is hard. Has he started arguing with you yet?

Dashper Sat 18-Nov-17 14:28:51

And I've found starting a thing with DS, then gradually withdrawing from the playing but staying in the room helped. Like the gradual retreat sleep technique.

MonochromeUnicorn Sat 18-Nov-17 14:34:46

The controlling behaviour is often a sign of anxiety. I would also say that him wanting you to help him in soft play is also probably anxiety related. He might be struggling with the busy environment and feel safer if you're with him.

I can see why you're concerned, and I think a chat with nursery and/or your health visitor might be helpful.

Emabrmsca Sat 18-Nov-17 14:40:48

My dd is exactly like this. She has just turned 3. I have no advice but just wanted to say you're not alone. I feel like crying most days because she is so naughty, doesn't listen, constantly needs our attention, does things she knows is naughty but does it anyway. She's well above where she should be intellectually. I wonder if it's because nothing is stimulating enough for her.

user1471459936 Sat 18-Nov-17 14:46:19

Ignore the post about gp. What can a gp do?! He is obviously needing you i.e. wants more attention. Some children do.

calamityjam Sat 18-Nov-17 14:51:03

Both ds1 and DSD were both a bit like this. They were both pfb. They were also onlys for quite a long time. With Ds, I worked evenings, so he had my undivided attention for most of the time. This resulted in him having excellent communication skills, full complex sentences from 18 months, at 21 he still is very opinionated and talks to anyone and everyone. However, he would always prefer the company of adults and never got on with his siblings and didn't like to share the attention of me or his dad. He wouldn't play with toys, just broke them and always wanted to sit with and talk to grownups even at 3. DSD grew up with dp and his parents and was the same. Hated sharing dps attention and always wanted to be with the grownups not play with other kids. I found groups helped. We did bloody all sorts. Karate, football, horse riding, swimming, youth groups ( from 5), cricket. Not all at once but, anything to give us a break and get them to play with kids their own age.

Mishmishmish Sat 18-Nov-17 16:41:22

Some useful tips, thanks. Emabrmsca sorry to hear you are in the same boat - I think you are right about the stimulation. He's very bright e.g. we just made biscuits and he will remember the exact quantities of everything we needed now even if we don't make them again for months. He likes baking anyway!

One good thing is he has lovely friends and plays nicely with them def' follows their lead with the toys, he wouldn't be bothered with the toys normally.

Another thing I wonder if it the nursery is such a stimulating environment he has just got used to it and now requires the stimulation.

ShapelyBingoWing Sat 18-Nov-17 18:40:05

If he likes numbers, give him a maths or science book? There's nowt wrong with being very in to numbers

Completely agree with this. What he's into is far less relevant here than the fact that he doesn't seem able to go without your input for more than a few minutes on a permanent basis. Children of this age do have bloody difficult days but should usually be able to occupy themselves for more than a few minutes at a time, whatever it is they choose to occupy themselves with. DD loves her numbers, letters, songs, and has a few toys that can keep her going for ages.

As another poster has said, your GP really isn't your first point of call though. Child behaviour and development isn't their area of expertise. Nursery nurses work with this kind of stuff as their bread and butter and health visitors are a good set of eyes too, though it may well take several visits for any if them to completely understand how persistent he is.

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