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Is this normal for a 3 year old?

(15 Posts)
LMonkey Tue 22-Dec-15 22:54:53

He is just driving me insane at the moment. I'll list a few things that are happening:

I took him to toddler group the other day. We don't go very often anymore. At the end of the group the children each choose a musical instrument then are each asked to choose a song they would like to sing. Rather than singing like all the other children with their mummies he ran around shouting "STOP SINGING!!". He threw a paddy when it was time to pack the toys away and another one when asked to hand back the musical instrument. He was climbing up the slide when another child was trying to slide down it and WOULD NOT LISTEN to me when I tried to reason with him, just kept doing it over and over again.

We went to a preschool settling in session. I do realise it is an unfamiliar situation and environment for him but again when asked to put a toy away because it was story time he just kept going back for it even though I explained it to him. At snack time the children had to sit around a table and choose one piece of fruit from the bowls that were passed round, put it on their plate and wait until everyone was ready to start. He couldn't grasp the concept of waiting and just wanted to eat his fruit straight away, ignored instructions from myself and the preschool teachers to wait and then got upset when I tried to stop him.

At home when he's naughty I will tell him to stop, he'll always carry on and I'll tell him again and again until it escalates to me shouting at him and sometimes really losing my temper. He ignores instruction and is completely unphased by being told off. I do the naughty step and this works for a short period of time though I must say I'm rather stumped if he refuses to apologise.

I find it so embarrassing in front of people and quite frankly feel like a totally shit mother as I can't even control my own child.

Is this normal behaviour? Other people I know don't seem to have this problem. How can I deal with it?

eastwest Tue 22-Dec-15 23:06:26

flowers I'm sorry you're having such a tough time. I have a 3.5 year old and I think the years from 2 to 3 were the hardest in some ways, because of the tantrums.
It's very hard to say if it is normal or not. My DS has more or less grown out of having tantrums outside the house (I mean the sort where you have to drag him home as he screams blue murder, with everyone staring at you like you're abducting him), but still has them at home. What works for us, is keeping calm and acknowledging and sympathising with his feelings without giving into his requests.
E.g. when it is time to turn cartoons off (this is a big trigger for him), he starts screaming and saying he doesn't want to. I stay calm and say, "I'm sorry you feel upset. It is annoying to have to turn the cartoons off, but it's time for supper now." I also give him a hug - but, very very importantly, do not ever turn the cartoons back on. Nine times out of ten he calms down quickly. If he wants to stomp around and say he "won't ever never eat his supper" I just let him get on with it - it doesn't mean he doesn't actually eat his supper, he just wants to let his feelings out.
This probably makes me sound smug as shit. I stress that this is the perfect day scenario and we have loads of times when we both end up cross. But when we do manage it it does work.

When your DS is acting up outside the home, as described above, does he seem angry/seeking attention or is it that he doesn't seem in control of his behaviour, more high-spirited or hyper-energetic?

eastwest Tue 22-Dec-15 23:10:04

Fwiw, my DS wouldn't behave as you descibe above, outside the house. He would inside the house, just with me and his dad, sometimes.
If he did behave like that I'd take him out of the situation at once and I'd probably be furious with him and show it in my voice.
That's not to say this is better or worse or whatever, but just because you asked if it was normal- I don't know if it is normal but that's just so you can compare it to one other 3.5 year old at least.

LittleBearPad Tue 22-Dec-15 23:11:35

Yep it's completely normal. Don't worry. 'Threenager' was coined for a reason. Of course I've been told numerous times that they are worse when they are actually teenagers. confusedgrin

Have wine

gandalf456 Tue 22-Dec-15 23:21:31

Is he better or worse at home? My son was worse outside his environment and his behaviour went right downhill but was easy at home. He's only just calming down now at 7. My daughter was good outside at a very early age but awful at home. If it's just one setting, it's probably nothing to worry about

LMonkey Wed 23-Dec-15 00:19:48

Hmmm...difficult to say whether its 'worse' at home. Its certainly different at home. At home its more mischievous behaviour like pushing his baby sister over, emptying his crayons on the floor despite me telling him not to as DD could pick them up and eat them etc. Outside of the home it doesnt tend to be mischievous or him being naughty just for the sake of it or attention seeking, its more about being told not to do something that he's not used to doing... Or something?? It generally seems to come from a place of him genuinely not knowing any better...i think the problem outside the home is getting him to realise and understand, listen and OBEY!! If that makes any sense. He has only just turned 3 if that makes any difference what so ever.

LittleBearPad Wed 23-Dec-15 07:59:52

He's figuring out the world and testing his limits. He sounds absolutely normal. I really wouldn't worry.

threelittlerapscallions Wed 23-Dec-15 09:59:22

I think he sounds perfectly normal, if a bit on the challenging side! I think most children would have problems waiting to eat food if the food was already in their hand. My eldest who is 4 and a half could probably wait if asked but my nearly 3 year old definitely couldn't.

My middle child who will be three next month has a lot of tantrums and would behave similar to your DS sometimes ie refusing to come out of shops if she is playing with/looking at something eg if it is a charity shop with toys. I pretend to leave her and that makes her come out.

DD2 also climbs up the slide when other children are trying to come down - I try to distract her into something else or her older sister gets her involved in another game. otherwise I just physically remove her.

I wouldn't try to make the child apologise I would just try to stop the behaviour. Pick your battles!!

LMonkey Wed 23-Dec-15 19:44:20

Sounds very similar three, glad to know someone else has similar issues. Ds is very similar with shops and he's such a nightmare in town that I can't let him walk, he has to stay in his buggy. If we do let him walk then he just runs riot which isn't so bad if I have OH with me but can't deal with it on my own, not with a 9 month old as well.

I'm really hoping him starting preschool will help to improve his general behaviour.

threelittlerapscallions Sat 26-Dec-15 14:40:59

LMonkey DD2 is out of the buggy as I have a baby who is nearly 6 months!! So you are lucky. I have seen plenty of other children of that age the same (or worse) so I wouldn't worry. DD2 does walk holding on to the buggy but I have to keep telling her to do it. She is allowed to let go if she wants to walk on a wall/stamp in a puddle etc but has to come back again!

threelittlerapscallions Sat 26-Dec-15 14:43:40

DD2's tricks are to insult visitors ('I don't want anyone here/go away/poo) etc, to refuse to walk and to refuse to play with anyone at groups. Her older sister being off school actually improves DD2s behaviour so is better at the moment as is the holidays. I do think it is a phase and yours sounds fine too.

MsJuniper Tue 29-Dec-15 09:35:45

I think the preschool stuff is normal, it's new to him so he doesn't understand the rules or routine. My DS who behaves similarly to yours upturned a massive box of small beads on his first settling in session at preschool. I was blush but now he has been there a while he gets on ok.

The problem with my DS (3) is that he thinks he knows better and will always do something different than what he has been asked. Sometimes it's a small change, other times downright naughty. I cope by trying to give him ownership within boundaries, or giving him plenty of notice of things we need to do and talking about them in advance, what type of challenges he might face, what sort of behaviour I want to see. I haven't fully cracked it but I can see it working over time and I have to be patient and believe in what I'm doing, not get too frustrated when it doesn't work first time. He also gets very overexcited and overstimulated quickly so I have to manage that quite carefully.

One thing that works well is the option of saying sorry or having a sorry cuddle. He would never apologise before but the cuddle option was a gentle way of ending disagreements. Now he will say sorry most of the time, or will have the cuddle first and then say sorry after. It has taken many months and is a work in progress, but a definite improvement.

Naty1 Wed 30-Dec-15 20:12:05

my dd is pretty naughty. now 3.6
worst when tired
i let her walk but mostly using her reins
preschool has and hasnt helped.
helped with sitting still

constantly tired and ill so naughtier
she has weed through knickers
kept getting up from table

she really does need close supervision.

she starts school in sept
it seems from preschool feedback she is much worse than the others.

i try to go to groups as much as possible to get her used to normal child behaviour.
she actually told me she enjoys being naughty.

CatsRule Sun 03-Jan-16 17:55:26

My ds, who is 3, 4 shortly, is either lovely or totally horrible. Today he was totally horrible! The day started fine then it just escalated and I honestly don't know what sparked it. He seems to be able to handle the bigger things but something small can spark a major breakdown.

He spent 20 solid mins today screaming in the car, kicking and punching the door...he was hysterical and we were on the motorway so not great for driving! Then he fell asleep for 2 hours..he did wake happier but still stroppy. He also just ignores instructions too and really lashes out on dh which he finds difficult.

I've no idea what is the best way to deal with it all, and what works for my child won't necessarily work for yours. I try, where possible and when he is safe, to not give him a reaction. Dh tends to pick every battle and ends up making him worse!

Then other days he can be near perfect, so good and loving. I've tried to see what happens on these days, have I cause it etc but I can't see a pattern. I do think he has been worse this year over Christmas. Possibly too much excitement, definitely not too much sugar as he hasn't had any...yip we're mean! He really needs a routine and with us being on holiday and nursery being closed he seems to be worse.

Pipistrella Sun 03-Jan-16 18:13:21

It's normal. I've had three. My last is three, and shows every sign of being as dreadful as my first, who is now a really, really nice 12yo who is socially as adept as anyone I know.

It's a case of lowering your expectations, avoiding toddler groups (we NEVER go) and just rolling with it till they calm down.

Your child isn't broken, he's just cross, and he's not ready for these social expectations yet.

He will be FINE xx

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