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Typical behaviour or badly behaved?

(4 Posts)
Earlybird Mon 03-May-04 03:52:06

A bit of background - DD is 3.2, and an only child. I am a single mum. DD has a nanny 2.5 days a week, and a few evenings per month. She goes to nursery 2 mornings a week, and is in a class with 14 other children. I am with her the rest of the time.

I've just said goodbye to old friends who came to visit from another city. They didn't stay here at the flat, due to lack of space, but were with us for much of the last 3 days. DD was fine (even delightful!) when attention was focused on her, but an absolute nightmare whenever we tried to have adult conversation. Constant interruptions, constant requests, constant demands at increasing intensity and volume...... I didn't lose my rag, but feel completely exhausted from the effort of being pulled in all directions. I patiently told her "mummy is talking now", or "you need to wait a few minutes as mummy is busy at the moment". But, she'd be back again in no time at all. I even resorted to putting a video on in the lounge hoping we could have some time to ourselves in the kitchen - but with little relief.

I know children want what they want at 3, and have no problems expressing themselves. But, at what point can they be expected to control their impulses, and fit in to a situation without being the centre of attention? Did I expect too much of her? Do they get more frantic for attention when they realise you aren't available to them exclusively? She's generally very well behaved, but I felt I experienced some serious boundary testing this weekend. I wonder if I could have handled it differently/better so that it was more relaxed for both of us.

Skara Mon 03-May-04 04:06:09

Sounds fairly normal to me, Earlybird (glad to see I'm not alone here in the middle of the night ). Mine is still doing it at a year older and isn't an only child, so we're in a different situation but with the same results! We're getting there slowly but it is taking time and I suspect it's just what happens - but it is v. wearing isn't it?

WideWebWitch Mon 03-May-04 08:11:03

Hi earlybird, if there had been other children there you might have got a bit of uninterrupted adult time but ime this is about normal for 3. Well, it was for my son at 3 anyway. He was also an only child and I was also a single mum when he was that age and I do remember it was constant and very tiring being with him sometimes. That full on constant attention can be tiring can't it? I also remember though that if we went for a walk or to the park then I sometimes was able to get some time just to think or have a conversation while he was happily on a climbing frame or throwing stones into the water or something. Did you take toys for her when you went out? I remember taking ds to a pub garden and forgetting his toys and it did mean my friend and I couldn't have a conversation because he wanted our attention. Had I brought cars or something he might have played with them for the odd 5 mins. I do think you can start to teach them to wait as you're having another conversation but I think they can probably only manage it in short bursts at this age. It does change as they get older though (or it has for me, anyway). At about 4 my ds was capable of finding a game and playing it without my interaction for a while.

Earlybird Mon 03-May-04 16:41:02

Hi Skara and wickedwaterwitch - Thanks for your thoughts and advice.

I usually bring toys with us whenever we go out - I refer to them as dd's "props" However, completely took me by surprise when she couldn't manage time on her own at home - when surrounded by her own toys, and with the added "bonus" of a video. She seems to do much better at entertaining herself/being self sufficient when we are on our own at the flat. Perhaps the chaos of extra people around caused her to feel a need to be "connected" to me by demanding my attention. She is accustomed to having attention when she wants it (whether from me, or the nanny - though we are certainly NOT at her beck and call), so wonder if it became more urgent when she knew I was distracted elsewhere. Funny how she did say "Mummy, I missed you" when my friends had gone.

I find it hard to distinguish between what is typical for her age, what is simply her personality, and what is a result of how she's been conditioned through my parenting style. It helps to hear that others experience this too. But, would appreciate any other suggestions of how to guide her toward being more self sufficient, and teaching her to learn to wait a bit when mummy is otherwise engaged.

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