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Is this a normal 3.5 yr old or is he hyperactive? Attention deficit? Am i mad to consider help

(32 Posts)
notcopingatall Wed 24-Aug-11 08:21:48

DS is 3 1/2 and still driving us crazy. DD is 6 and has always been pretty easy to deal with, sensitive, kind and no trouble. Bit stroppy and odd tantrums at 3 but nothing unusual.

DS is now the middle child (brother is 18months) so MIL and mine keep saying 'it's because he's a middle child' hmm He wasn't great at 2 before his brother came along.

He seriously has a problem following simple instructions....get your socks from your drawer results in him bouncing on his sisters bed, having passed by his own room on the way. Giving him some toilet roll to wipe a runny nose results in the toliet roll thrown around the room and ripped to pieces, while the nose is still running. Punching his sister for no reason, leaping, roaring, poking and hitting the baby. Bouncing around shops, throwing toys around the house for the sake of it. He's started pulling his pants down and flashing people on play dates and thinks it's very amusing. I sound like a broken record 10 times a day, every day every week saying the same things over and over again.

He does not appear angry and when told off, or explained to that his behaviour is unacceptable he smiles. He is not daft but I'm wondering if he is hyperactive or has some attention issues. He never sits still, doesn't stop talkingm makes stupid noises. Short clear instructions are given repeatedly and he just goes off on his own agenda.

We've tried cutting additives from his food, praise and one-to one attention, sticker charts. Over the summer he's got worse and we resorted to putting him in his room to calm down. So he trashed his room in the 5 minutes he was in there. It sounds trivial written down, but it's constant.

I try to keep him very busy and active. Give him creative tasks to do such as lego, painting etc

This summer has been a nightmare and I can't wait for nursery to start so i get a few hours away from him. As much as i love him i feel like running away.....

notcopingatall Wed 24-Aug-11 08:40:14

DH works long hours, i have no help so have all 3, 6 days a week on my own, with no time out. I guess that's not helping my frame of mind......

hillyhilly Wed 24-Aug-11 08:56:40

I'm no expert but I think it's probably normal although completely exhausting and very frustrating!!
The only comfort I can offer is that boys seem to do a lot of growing up around 4 (mine's 4 next week and is so much better than a year ago though I have to remind myself of that!), so hopefully you don't have too much longer before it gets better.
The other thing that can help me is to look at where we were a year ago, it helps me to see that he has improved even though he's not easy even still.
I also think that at 3.5 he should probably be able to understand some consequences, although he doesn't sound like he'd sit on a naughty step (mine has just started, much to our surprise), so you have to keep on being the stuck record.

baabaapinksheep Wed 24-Aug-11 09:07:16

What did you do after he trashed his room?

You say you give him lego to play with and painting, but how about taking him out for a long walk or to the park once a day? If he's tired out he may calm down a bit.

BedHog Wed 24-Aug-11 09:09:13

Most 3 year olds aren't like this, but I wouldn't say it was abnormal. My friend's DS sounds exactly the same as yours - shouting, hitting, biting, flashing, tipping stuff all over the floor, not listening, enjoying the process of being naughty, getting told off, going to the naughty step.

I don't know what to suggest to her, because my method of disciplining my DS (close face-to-face explanation of wrongdoing), which leaves him upset, sorry and promising not to do it again, would have her DS laughing in my face.

So you're not alone, but it sounds like you need some help from a behaviour expert for both your sakes, before your DS's friends start to become reluctant to play with him.

BlueArmyGirl Wed 24-Aug-11 09:12:52

If you're stuggling get some help - whether there's 'something' or he's just a 'typical' boy. The last thing you want is to end up hating having to have ds at home because he's such hard work. It might be that you need some help with managing having 3 dc, it might be that there are specific issues around managing ds or it might be that there are issues with ds - it can be hard to tell the difference when you're stuck in the middle of it all. An objective perspective from an outsider might help.

You could try contacting your local children's centre to see what they offer in addition to groups and drop in sessions (often they do family outreach if you meet their criteria), contact your HV for a chat or go and see your GP.

Have nursery ever expressed any concerns about ds behaviour? Perhaps this is something to ask when he goes back. smile

CMOTdibbler Wed 24-Aug-11 09:23:10

He sounds fairly typical to me - and like more physical activity would do him a lot of good. Someone said to me that some children are like having a dog where you need to get out twice a day, everyday, for a proper walk - my ds certainly needs to. Scooting, cycling, being at the playpark, softplay, frisbee - anything for releasing a lot of energy

OneOfTheBoys Wed 24-Aug-11 09:40:55

I think you are right to raise concerns, he is only a year or so away from full-time education and that sounds like it would be misery for all concerned. The throwing things around and trashing his room do not sound typical to me and must be so bloody tiring and dispiriting for you, so I think the first port of call should be your HV.

Do nursery have any concerns? They might be better placed to comment, seeing a lot of 3.5 yr olds.

Have heard it mentioned a few times on here, but look at Magic 1,2,3 or 1,2,3 Magic (can never remember which way round it is) which might work for you as the parent looking for a simple consequences system.

Fwiw, ds1 has a friend very like this who has had a lot of support at school to make it work and is now 7 and is turning into a reasonable human being - he's still hard work but so much better - in fact he did his first ever sleepover here last week smile. He is not ASD, although raised as a possible, but he now is realising that if he's rough or horrible people won't like him/won't want to play and he's very gentle with my younger dd.

notcopingatall Wed 24-Aug-11 11:06:14

Thank you all.. I keep getting told he is an active boy. Which is true but that doesn;t help me when it comes to him following basic instructions.

In many ways I think he is more advanced that a lot of 3.5 yr olds i've met. His speech and vocabulary seems reasonably advanced for a start.

Pre-school never ever had a bad word to say about him. Angel outside the home!

belgo Wed 24-Aug-11 11:14:12

He does sound fairly normal. I've experienced all of that behaviour at some point or another (sometimes all at the same time) with my three.

I agree with CMOTdibbler regarding more activities, some children are incredibly lively.

Swimming, cycling, jumping up and down, running the length of the hallway 20 times, regularly walking 3 miles, throwing and catching balls, all help with my children.

And this is exactly why I think formal education from the age of 4 is a very bad idea for many children.

belgo Wed 24-Aug-11 11:15:25

There might be something in the 'middle child' thing as my middle child, dd2, is the least helpful child of my three children.

sandyballs Wed 24-Aug-11 11:21:36

One of my DDs was like this and as others here have said, I think exercise helped her enormously. I made sure we got out of the house for a really long walk and trip to the park every single day regardless of the weather.

She still has bundles of energy at 10, and doesn't enjoy sitting down doing things, would rather be on the go but she's a lot lot better than she was at 3.

notcopingatall Wed 24-Aug-11 12:00:13

See where you're coming from Belgo but I'm hoping a calmer environment might be good for him. Or you think he'll rebel?

His pre-school involved lots of running about, but with older boys who weren't the best. I'm hoping a new nursery with more structure will be better. And that he'll be mentally worn out as well as physically.

notcopingatall Wed 24-Aug-11 12:07:26

We are often out and about too, playbarns, park etc and we have big garden which he bombs around whenever the weather is ok. And often the more tired he gets the more crazy he gets so it can back fire.

I;ve noticed a lack of food has a bad effect on him so have been trying to feed him healthy snacks little and often to keep his blood sugar up. That has helped somewhat...

When he trashed his room, i stood there til he cleared it up. Brought him down for dinner then bath and bed.

notcopingatall Wed 24-Aug-11 12:08:54

And was really hoping to come on here and you all say, all fine, just a phase, chill out woman sad

In his defence he's not aggressive or nasty to other kids or me (and isn;t at home either) when we're out, so doesn't stand out as a nightmare child....

belgo Wed 24-Aug-11 12:13:29

'And was really hoping to come on here and you all say, all fine, just a phase, chill out woman'

I am saying that more or less! Of course no one on the internet can say for certain he hasn't got ADHD, but to me, he just sounds very active, very common in boys but also seen in some girls of this age as well.

You make good points about not letting him get hungry - he's behaviour is probably very susceptible to hunger, too much sugar, and lack of sleep. A good, regular diet and a strict bedtime are vital.

I find my children respond best to guided activities- not just aimless running about - but sports and activities with more structure and purpose.

notcopingatall Wed 24-Aug-11 12:21:29

Thanks belgo

Have never been one to give them crap to eat, but have made a more effort recently. I never buy sweets or biscuits, tons of fruit instead. he's a juice monster thought (fresh not squash which i water down) but have started to ration this and give milk or water. He (they) rarely get processed food. And i'm a stickler for regular bedtimes. That's why i feel a bit lost as i do think i try bloody hard to be a decent parent.

More stucture i think.....He's started swimming lessons, but everything else round here he's too young or times clash nursery and other things we have (not making excuses as i've seriously tried to get him in football, rugby karate...)

paddypoopants Wed 24-Aug-11 12:25:44

Chill out woman. My ds (3 ) sounds similar- quiet and well behaved at nursery and when we are out and a whirling dervish at home. I think the fact he is good at nursery should rule out there being any real problem. Ds has suddenly become much calmer and has a longer attention span recently so there is always hope it is a phase. Otherwise it sounds like there is not much more you can do but grit your teeth and carry on.

belgo Wed 24-Aug-11 12:37:55

notcopingatall - I can tell you it does get easier. My eldest child is 7 and does a lot of activities - dancing twice a week, swimming, piano, four hours of roller skating every week. This summer she has had three weeks of gym, acrobatics and ice skating as well as walking regularly. Only now do I feel that she has enough exercise and is more calm when she is at home.

You are right to cut down on the orange juice, it gives a very fast sugar hit in my experience (and is bad for the teeth) - milk, water, and pieces of fruit are far healthier.

cat64 Wed 24-Aug-11 12:41:10

Message withdrawn

belgo Wed 24-Aug-11 12:42:09

cat64 - swimming was my saving grace as well - with arm bands on they were safe in the water compared to at the park where they would just fall off everything or run off.

bizzielizzie999 Wed 24-Aug-11 14:34:49

i have the same prob with my ds 3 half.... im am actually afraid of my son. i know its sad but i am... im on the verge of leaving.. i cant take anymore... iv got 2 older children 15 and 19. .. he hits me and will not do a thing i tell him hes like it with me and it seems everyone... he just seems so angry all the time... hes been throught alot in his short yrs... iv been ill and spent alot of time in hosp, then he was ill and we nearly lost him then me and his dad split and got back together. we are getting married soon...... i just dont know what to do any more. iv tried naughty step, time out, even smacking but that was a no brainer.. my eldest 19yr dd has adhd and have wondered if he has but hes really bright so i dont think he has. my 15 ds is abs fab quiet, bright and funny.... we just need some help with him.....

Oblomov Wed 24-Aug-11 17:21:45

Oh I have every sympathy. Ds2(2.11) is, everyone describes him as, "a-hundred-mile-an-hour", and nursery have just asked me if they can put him on a behaviour chart. Not good. He is really hard work. I am beginning to wonder if he is hyper, or if this is just normal toddlerhood. If it was just normal toddlerhood, why does everyone comment on him, why is he on a behaviour chart at nursery ?
Ds1(7) is hard work in a different way, being Aspergers. I used all my paretning skills with ds1, all my mums advice, and my sil (being social worker and a sn co-ordinator respectively) and i came on MN (endless times) and the nursery and the school. Everyone kept telling me nothing was wrong. And it turned out he was ASD.
You have all my sympathy.
Why don't you do yourself a favour and go and speak to someone who really does know. And get them to categorically tell you thta its not ..... ADHD/hyper/whatever. Atleast you'd know, for SURE.

fromheretomaternity Wed 24-Aug-11 22:38:03

Ds1 has much in common with your ds. He is also 3.5, he has always been very active and attention seeking, but he also has a tendency to be aggressive to other kids. I kept being told by nursery that he would 'grow out of it' (the aggression) but it actually seems to be getting worse. He does the throwing toys, ignoring instructions, smiling when getting told off etc etc.

I haven't found that much that has worked so far. He is extremely active during the day but still plays up, so the 'outlet for energy' doesn't appear to help much. I have found that in telling him off he will sometimes take it more seriously if I really confront him with the consequences of his actions, ie turning him to face the crying child and telling him he has made him sad. I've also tried reward charts but the effect doesn't seem to last long. It's very, very hard work...

I have just ordered from my library a book on ADHD children by Christopher Green - I don't think my son is ADHD at this stage, but I'm hoping it will have a few practical tips on how to manage hyperactive / impulsive behaviour. I'm also going to call our HV tomorrow to see if I can get some advice. Will post again if I come up with any inspiration...

notcopingatall Thu 25-Aug-11 08:53:25

We sound in a similar boat! Will be very interested to hear what response or help you get from your HV. I'm tempted to call ours and see if she has any words of wisdom.

DH and I have agreed to try a day of no shouting as it's been getting worse. We're getting so fed up that it's resorted to that. Our energy has been zapped. Even his sister is so sick of him, it's getting really sad.

I realsie it's my 'job' to help him behave better so am going to try and look at it that way,and not take things personally and try to approach each situation differently. Will go back to ignoring stupid behaviur (attention seeking) and use distraction too.

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