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3 year old horrendous behaviour - how normal is this?

(22 Posts)
RainingPouring Thu 27-Mar-14 19:37:59

My nearly 3 year old DS's behaviour is just awful at the moment and nothing seems to help. He shouts ALL the time, as he knows it winds us up, particularly when his baby sister is asleep and I ask him to be quiet. He screams in other children's faces when they try to take a toy he is playing with. He ignores me when I talk to him and laughs in my face when I ask him to do something. This evening as I was putting him to bed he pinched my nose and pulled my hair. I don't know where this behaviour is coming from.

We have tried start charts, 1,2,3, punishments such as taking away a favourite toy and his bedtime stories but nothing seems to work. I keep calm most of the time but I ended up shouting very loudly at him this evening as he kept pulling my hair when i was helping him go to the toilet. I couldn't think of any other way to get him to stop.

Can you tell me how normal this behaviour is?

We have always wondered if he has additional needs but it is not clear whether he does or not. He is very verbal so shouldn't be experiencing frustration on that front and he gets loads of attention.

WaveorCheer Thu 27-Mar-14 19:40:40

Is it just this behaviour that makes you wonder if he has additional needs, or is there anything else that's worrying you?

notnowbernard Thu 27-Mar-14 19:42:35

I'd say that a lot of the behaviour you describe is pretty normal for a nearly 3 yr old

How old is your baby?

gamerchick Thu 27-Mar-14 19:51:33

Sounds pretty normal.. Most 3 yr old are like attila the hun.

It gets better... little comfort I know grin

You could ask your hv to come for a chat if you want to put your mind at rest though.

RandomPants Thu 27-Mar-14 19:55:30

It is normal I think. My DS goes through phases. Tonight I've had a good cry. He's spent most of his awake time today tantrumming. He'll be 3 next month.

The worst thing is the violence towards his baby sister. It's really a struggle as, when the mood takes him, he pushes her over and puts things over her head.

RainingPouring Thu 27-Mar-14 20:23:22

Thanks for the replies. Waveorcheer - nursery have mentioned that he is not that good at social interaction with other children but they do say that he has improved this term. He is also a bit behind with his coordination skills like scooter and catching a ball.

notnowbernard - baby is 7 months and actually he is pretty good and affectionate with her most of the time. The one and only nice moment today was at bathtime when he was gently pouring water on her and giving her cuddles.

Thanks gamerchick and RandomPants - It's good to know that you think this might be normal - I just felt tonight that I didn't like him very much and though how awful it was to feel like that about your own son.

Do you think the shouting is normal? Not shouting in a tantrum but just during normal activities.

gamerchick Thu 27-Mar-14 20:42:40

If one of mine was shouting a lot I would maybe get a hearing test done to get any potential problem out of the way. Has he had a hearing test since the newborn one?

SerenaJoy Thu 27-Mar-14 20:53:08

My DS isn't 3 till July but today's he's done most of the things you've listed, including hitting, lots of shouting, making silly noises when I try to talk to him (he sounds like Chewbacca half the time!), and generally just doing the exact bloody opposite of everything I've said.

bearcubs Thu 27-Mar-14 21:09:15

Hi my ds is 3y5m and dd in 7m too. Ds is exactly the same we HD his hearing checked after playgroup assistant said that could be the case but its all fine.

Can I ask does he bite?

RainingPouring Thu 27-Mar-14 21:12:03

Thanks, yes maybe we should get hearing checked, but I think he is just doing it to wind us up!

No he doesn't bite thank god. Well, once he bit me on the leg about 3 weeks ago but that's the only time.

bearcubs Thu 27-Mar-14 21:12:11

Hi my ds is 3y5m and dd in 7m too. Ds is exactly the same we HD his hearing checked after playgroup assistant said that could be the case but its all fine.

Can I ask does he bite?

TimeToThinkOfYourFuture Thu 27-Mar-14 21:13:27

Mine is 3 and 4 months and can't catch a ball or scoot on a scooter- fine in other ways though. But currently she tantrums constantly- at least three times an hour, I reckon it's normal!

RainingPouring Fri 28-Mar-14 09:16:27

Thanks Timeto! Good to know that I'm not alone. It always seems to me that other people's children are so well-behaved. I find it really hard to know when to let things slide for an easy life and when to be really strong on discipline to make sure he grows up into a nice person!

FastWindow Fri 28-Mar-14 09:22:32

Ds is 3.9, dd is 6mo.

The last week has been hell, all the things you listed.

My theory is a combination of sibling rivalry resurfaced, (as the baby has started to need much more attention as mobile, weaning etc) and threenager syndrome! We had no terrible twos. Boy am I paying for it.

Sanctions are the only thing that has worked. He's just had three days without Toy Story and the improvement is palpable. That, and dumping him outside the back door the moment he shouted in my face. Pretty cold out... Shock tactic, but it worked. Poor neighbours ears, though...

fruityloopy Fri 28-Mar-14 09:28:00

Interesting. DD is 3yrs and 3 months and boy I like it she has threenager syndrome. We also had no terrible twos.

We have a lot of whinging and whining it's so hard. She has meltdown if she doesn't get her own way. The only thing I've found is that I've got to not give in (which I'm guilty of doing in the past to simply get a bit of peace) need to break the cycle.. I'm finding I have to walk out of the room or ignore the screams (not great in public) but clearly from number of people in same situation on here most parents hopefully understand!

AShadowStirsWithin Fri 28-Mar-14 09:30:45

With a new baby he will be getting less time than usual and may have learnt that bad behaviour always gets a reaction from you and your full attention. I would try slacking off in discipline as such and just try ignoring. If you are helping him on the toilet and he starts pulling your hair just get up and walk away. Come back a minute later and find something positive to say straight away "wow DS have you done a wee by yourself/aren't you sitting nicely/you're breathing really well (anything!!).

Ge into a place where no matter how much he screams and hits he doesn't eg attention for it. You walk away, shut the door. When you go back act as though the bad behaviour hasn't happened, be positive.

Later on when he's calm you could look at a book together and talk about how kind the little bear looks, that he's helping his mummy etc. that can lead you into "hitting isn't very kind is it DS, it hurts people to hit and shout." And then sandwich that with praise for something he did earlier that day. You don't want the bad behaviour to be the focus at any point, not when talking about it or at the time.

Fwiw I have a DD who melts down in situations she finds overwhelming or she she has sensory overload. Her meltdowns are not what you could call "normal" tantrums. Because of this I don't discipline them at all. She hits herself and me during them but because I understand they aren't "bad" I will pick her up and hold her talking quietly until it passes. It doesn't sound like your DS is having meltdowns but if you do start to feel that there is an issue there maybe try watching for triggers and talking quietly to him so that he is focused in on you rather than the thing causing the tantrum etc. this often works with DD when I can see her becoming distressed (she will start pulling her hair or biting her hand).

HaroldLloyd Fri 28-Mar-14 09:34:53

Yes happening here too. And I had the terrible toes as well. He's just poured all his breakfast all over the table and emptied his drink on the top.


He also hits, shouts, tantrums, kicks very frequently.

battyralphie Fri 28-Mar-14 09:39:08

If he is shouting and possibly has other very slight delays that show a possible lack of balance, then you should get his hearing checked. Particualarly ask about a auditory processing problem. As AShadow says, these could be meltdowns, and it is really important to remember 1) he is definitely not doing it to wind you up, and it is not a result of poor parenting 2) he cant help it. I find that (if you feel it really is a meltdown, and just google the difference between meltdowns and tantrums to see if it fits) then it helps not to try to reason or argue with them, best of all is to leave them alone, as stimulation can make the meltdown last longer. It is really helpful to see what might "trigger" them, and if you feel that loud noise, lots of people etc might be a reason then mention this to your doctor at the hearing test.

Course it might just be the fact that he is three smile)

AShadowStirsWithin Fri 28-Mar-14 09:43:08

With the breakfast don't shout and get cross, just pick him up, put him in the living room and say nothing. Consequences. He tipped his breakfast, he gets to be hungry. In maybe half hour, longer, when he's calm I would very calmly plonk a plate of plain buttered toast down where he's playing, if he eats it he eats it, if he doesn't he stays hungry.

When he hits kicks etc what are you doing? Are you staying within hitting range, is he seeing you look shocked or hurt. Tbh IMO one hit is one thing but lots of lashing out during a tantrum is an out of control tantrum and I would pick him up and hold. Kneel on the floor, pull him into a sitting position on you lap with one arm across his upper body and arms and the other across lower and legs. Just hold him firmly talking calmly and quietly until it subsides. Once he's calm distract and move on, don't talk about it. If he needs a cuddle you know he was scared that he was out of control. Toddlers have huge ranges of emotions that they don't know how to cope with or express. This is scary for them. Yes ignore attention seeking or attempts to get their own way tantrums, but where they seem out of control I think it's time to step in.

FastWindow Fri 28-Mar-14 11:20:37

Sage advice there shadow

RainingPouring Fri 28-Mar-14 12:42:37

Thanks everyone - such good advice! AShadow - 'breathing well', that made me laugh and cheered me up!

I am definitely going to inquire about having his hearing checked and ask about auditory processing problems - nothing to lose there.

Thanks for sharing your stories about your own 3 year olds, it really helps!

The thing is with the shouting and hitting etc, it isn't done during a full-blown tantrum (which he does have occasionally). He does it when he gets angry, eg. if I've told him off, but he doesn't then go onto have a full meltdown. And sometimes, especially with the shouting, he just does it out of nowhere. Eg. he's just now gone up to his room for 'quiet time' (he no longer naps) where he gets to listen to audio CDs. I really needed him to go up quietly so that he didn't wake the baby. So I say he can have two raisins if he goes upstairs quietly - that's literally all he has to do - but he still can't do it!

I am going to try the ignoring thing, it's just hard as sometimes I really need him to be quiet!

SerenaJoy Fri 28-Mar-14 16:14:04

It's so frustrating when you've got a wee baby isn't it - they've just gone off to sleep and you think 'oh great I might have time for a cuppa to clean the loo', and then the toddler wakes them and you're back to square one!

I've no advice as it's a daily occurrence here too, but you have my sympathy!

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