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Feel like I am failing my three year old, please help

(13 Posts)
BumptiousandBustly Wed 31-Aug-11 09:24:21

DS is 3.5 and very verbal (which isn't helping). He is generally very well behaved in public (which is great) - but means that when I say how hard I am finding him people seem shocked, and can't believe he is really like that.

He doesn't listen to anything we say. He answers back like a teenager (i.e. can I have x mummy, no darling - oh well, i will just go and get it myself).

He is already substituting his judgment for ours i.e. When he is scooting along and i say stop - if its near the end of the pavement, he will carry on till the end of the pavement - Which doesn't sound so bad - until he then started scooting along the middle of the road, and even though I shouted STOP, he carried on until he got to a dip in the pavement to scoot back on to it - this seemed completely logical to him - and he couldn't understand the problem. (i.e. he things it through when we say no or stop and only does it if he sees why or it makes sense - which at 3.6 he really doesn't have the judgment to do

He either goes into meltdown as soon as I say no or stop to anything, or carries on trying to do it regardless until I shout.

He is lovely and wonderful if an activity is going on, or if he has one on one attention, but at any time I actually talk to his younger brother (1.6) or try and do housework/cooking - while still interacting, etc - he just plays up totally. (and this can happen 2 seconds after two hours of one on one attention)

He tends to parallel play when in any group - though he does play with other children one on one.

He wants ANY attention his younger brother has - so if I tell DS2 to stop doing something, DS1 will come running to do it too - and then refuse to stop till i shout.

I would add that we do use discipline, the naughty step, time out, etc - its not that we are totally lax parents.

I KNOW that some of this is very normal behaviour - but it seems to me that some of it is toddler behavior and he should be growing out of SOME of it.

I also feel that at the moment the options are: he winges constantly, doesn't listen to anything I say and goes on the naught step all the time, and I shout a LOT; I interact with him intensly (and I do mean, one on one intensly) 24/7 - not an option especially as my ds2 does deserve some look in, or I just shove the telly on all the time (also not an option though I do use it as necessary).

I should add that he is not very physical at all (i.e. runs like a much smaller child, not very coordinated etc), but is very advanced with regards letters/numbers/words etc.

Please tell me: Is this normal, is there anything else you can suggest that I should be doing with him, or is this just a phase, that will pass?

BumptiousandBustly Wed 31-Aug-11 09:26:28

PS - the feeling like I am failing him is that I feel I should be able to handle him better - that there must be some better way of doing this that I just haven't thought of, or that I am doing something really wrong, surely he shouldn't be this hard work?

pps - he is no good at playing on his own, wants interaction all the time

Lexiejack Wed 31-Aug-11 09:54:56

Watching this as DS aged 2 is exactly the same but because he's funny and cheeky people dont see the problems. It's exhausting!!

BumptiousandBustly Wed 31-Aug-11 10:22:45

lexiejack - my ds1 is also funny and cheeky and because he is a bit "precocious" - i.e. if asked how he is he will say "very well thank you, how are you?" - other grownups tend to think he is very cute! - and dont' see the problems!

Lexiejack Wed 31-Aug-11 10:25:37

Mines the same. Says you're most welcome if someone thanks him and shakes hands at random saying how do you do. He'll be lovely and a perfectly nice child but all of a sudden it's like i've flipped a switch and he becomes out of control!! Had to rearrange the bedroom as he kept jumping off the windowsil into DD's cot!

BumptiousandBustly Fri 02-Sep-11 09:22:00

LexieJack - it doesn't seem that anyone else has any advice for us. Bumping - anybody help?

20wkbaby Fri 02-Sep-11 09:38:47

I recognise this behaviour as well. Anything I say seems to make DD (3.5) worse sometimes when she is in a contrary mood. When she plays up in a situation where I can't leave her or go into another room as I normally would (eg where it would be dangerous) is when I absolutely lose it and then feel horribly guilty afterwards, especially as she then starts screaming back at me and I can see the results of my bad example.

The only things that work for me (mostly) are keeping calm and repeating myself in an almost bored voice, saying that she doesn't scoot etc if she can't behave and lavishing her with praise when she does what she is told. I also try to explain why I am so worried about it and that it is not so much me being cross but being worried.

It is very wearing though and it seems to start from the moment she gets up. We regularly have a tantrum in the morning over something she has to wait for because we are all trying to get ready.

Lexiejack Fri 02-Sep-11 10:56:20

I keep shouting and feeling guilty afterwards. And the thought of just walking out and not coming back is horribly tempting! Was very worried I was going to lose my temper this morning but thankfully MIL has taken him for a few hours so I can have a bit of space. He seems to know exactly what buttons to press and is beginning to bully DD who's 15months. He takes her dummies and bottle at bedtime, steals her bear that is the only toy she's ever taken an interest in and is usually in her hand and pushes her for no reason. He wasnt jealous at all of her until recently! Bring on Monday and nurseries go back! Hoping the structure/routine being back will calm him down a tad

pozzled Fri 02-Sep-11 11:31:48

I agree with 20wkbaby about keeping calm and just repeating the rules/ consequences. The best way to get through to my dd (3.0) is not to show an angry/upset reaction- much easier said than done I know.

So in the scooter example where he carried on in the road, I would then have taken the scooter and made him walk along holding my hand or the pushchair. If he'd had a tantrum or answered back, I'd just keep repeating something like: "You didn't stop when I asked you to, so now you can't go on your scooter." Then once he'd calmed down I'd explain why I was worried and why it was important for him to stop as soon as I said it.

Same thing with him demanding attention- I'd say "I've been playing with you a lot, so now I am talking to you brother. I'll be able to play with you again soon." And then just ignore the resulting behaviour. If he started hitting or something I'd move him without saying anything and then go back to DS2.

Sorry if this is very similar to what you've been doing, but I do find it works with my DD.

pozzled Fri 02-Sep-11 11:35:23

Oh and the whinging- I have started asking my DD to 'take the whinge out of her voice'- she pretends to take something from her mouth, crumple it up and throw it away, then she tries to ask again in a normal voice. I don't think she realises she's doing it until I point it out. Sometimes it's enough just to say "I don't listen to whinges and whines".

RememberYoureAWomble Fri 02-Sep-11 13:22:47

Been there too and it is fearsomely difficult. And utterly exhausting.

I found the books "How to Talk so Children Will Listen and Listen so Children Will Talk" and "Siblings Without Rivalry" were very helpful. Still learning to use the techniques, but I've found that just reading them has made me more aware of how I'm handling a situation so that I wade in shouting less. I've also stopped using timeouts since reading them as they didn't really seem to help anyway.

One technique I use a lot from "How to Talk" is to give your child in fantasy what you can't give them in reality. Eg if you have run out of their favourite cereal, don't just say "Tough, you'll have to have cornflakes instead", say "I wish I could magic up a huge box of Weetabix for you. In fact, I wish I had a Weetabix factory so I could make hundreds of boxes of Weetabix for you" etc. Outrageous exaggeration helps as they find this funny and usually join in. By the time we've finished, DS has usually forgotten to cry or sulk.

A few things that I find do help are:
- Not shouting - this almost always makes things worse - but it is oh so tempting and I still do far too often.

- Pick your battles or you will be paying only negative attention to DS1 all day. Eg. scooter example or hurting DS2 is something that has to be dealt with as dangerous, but failure to put shoes away or say thank you could be ignored sometimes and instead praised when does happen. Had to remove scooter from our DS several times when he didn't stop where told - caused complete meltdown, but if you wait them out (and this can take 10, 20, 30 mins...) they do get the message eventually. If he doesn't then you have to bite the bullet and leave the scooter at home or only use it in the park until he can be safe on the roads.

- Praise every bit of positive behaviour, especially in relating to DS2. Emphasise how important it is for DS2 to be able to learn how to do things from DS1. My DS loves to teach DD things (though she doesn't always want to learn). And I sometimes tell DD (16 months) to ask her brother to put her shoes on for her when she brings them to me. DS loves this as makes him feel v grown up. Let them conspire against you in small ways, eg hiding under duvet together when you want to make the bed.

- Ignore statements like "I'll get it for myself" unless he actually follows through on them or you end up arguing over something that hasn't happened yet.

- Make everything a game. This works well, but is difficult to do when you're tired. So, for example, at bedtime I tell them how many minutes we have left until storytime and then we all rush to get ready before the time runs out. Seems to work best if say 7 or 4 and a half minutes, rather than 5 or 10. This needs to be a team competition - all of you against the clock, not one child against another. Until they can tell the time, you can stretch it out as long as you need to so they don't actually fail.

- Currently my DS is responding well to "Hurry up and get into your pyjamas because DD is waiting for you to blow raspberries on her tummy while I change her nappy". They both find this hilarious, especially when I am mock disgusted by the squelchiness.

Sorry, that turned into a bit of ramble. Hope there's something helpful there. Most importantly, remember it will pass. DS, at 4, is much easier than he was at 3-3.5.

Gilberte Fri 02-Sep-11 13:37:23

Maybe forget the time-outs/naughty step as they are clearly not working and they take up a lot of time and are a form of attention really.

My DD is 3.5 and an angel in public but makes my life a misery at home. Like your son if she has 1:1 attention she is usually fine but if I try to talk to anyone else/tend to the baby, she starts whinging and moaning, faking a faint, lying on the floor, pulling out the telephone wire and tries to talk over us. Consequently DP and I can only have a conversation when she is in bed.

I get very stressed by the constand demands and my downfall is that I start arguing back which continues the conversation wheras, if DD says "I want a...." I should say "Not until you've had dinner" and then just leave it at that. Instead I try and explain why she can't have something, DD keeps on and I end up repeating myself x1000.

I do try to give dedicated mummy and DD time and spend as much time as I can with her when the baby is asleep but she wants more and more and it is very, very draining. Babies are so much easier in my opininion.

It is much better if we are out of the house doing something. I think bright children just get bored very easily. I too don't like to put TV on too much but DD won't play on her own either.

All I want sometimes is ten minutes to dish up dinner/ go to the loo/ not have to respond to endless requests/have a cuppa and talk to DP so you have my sympathies.

Some days are better than others though and the days when you get a break are so much easier.

stella1w Fri 02-Sep-11 20:27:27

I thought it was just me...
agree with all the above. Love the book "how to talk so your kids will listen". Tried "Setting limits for your strongwilled child" - worked brilliantly for three days (although I felt like a constant policeman) and then dd started having accidents, night wakings etc!
naughty step doesn't work
I think Womble has the right idea..
But it is exhausting and I am tired of shouting!

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