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Is this normal behaviour for a 3 year old?

(24 Posts)
spekulatius Mon 11-Apr-16 11:24:52

In general I think DD is a well behaved child but she does some weird things:

- she is too friendly with strangers, ever since she could walk she had been going up to other children and adults trying to play and talk with them. For example, we went to soft play and her nose wad running so u got a tissue out to clean her, she took the tissue off me and said 'grandma' (a little boys grandma) would clean her nose and em then asked rheumatoid lady to do so. If we're in a park she will ask someone else's mum to help her climb, watch her on the slide, do with her whatever the mum is doing with her own child (their shoe laces, put haircut back in, do coat up) while I'm right next to her. She will tell me to do something else. It's embarrassing. Went to the forest last week and she 'joined' another family who where walking past us. If another family is having a picnic she will sit next to them and ask them for her food.

She is very bad at obeying. Lately she only way I can get her to do anything is to shout or thread or punish. I hate it. Other times she listens straight away. I'm wondering whether it is more that she can't focus though rather than deliberately disobeying. She doesn't seem to take it in. Getting dressed in the morning. I give her clear instructions. Please take off your socks. It can take her 15 minutes.

She chews on everything. Pens, books, stones, remote controls, toys, cloths, anything hard. She eats paper, tissues, lipsticks, moisturising cream, candle wax, crayons, pens, sand. She has got all her teeth.

She has real tandrums when we are leaving a place, park, soft play, zoo, friends house. She doesn't want to go home, runs off, goes all floppy so it's impossible for me to pick her up. It spoils the whole thing, no matter how well behaved she has been. So now I'm dreading taking her anywhere. I've got a 3 months old baby has well.

She runs off on her own. It is so dangerous, I've lost her twice at the zoo. I've now bought some wristbands with my phone number on for her. She does not listen if I ask her to come back. She does not seem to understand that it is not alright for her to run off. When I spoke to her about it her reply was: 'Don't worry mummy, the lady will take me back to you.' She doesn't cry when she's lost, she'll be busy talking to people.

She has a phobia of having her hair washed. She won't let me do it whichever way I've tried. She will climb out of the bath. She has afro hair so I can manage it by using a spray bottle with water. She hates having her ears and eyes getting wet so I guess it might just be that.

Lately, she is doing this extensive role play where I have to be the Beast and she is Belle and she will do role play but then she will say things like 'Mummy, do you want to say, what gave you got in your hand Belle?' or 'What are you eating Belle? ' As if she is telling me what to say.

She will ask what objects are saying. E.g. I'm putting on her socks and she will ask 'What is the sock saying?' I'll answer, then she'll say 'And what is my foot saying?' Same with going to the toilet, not every time but a lot. 'What is the toilet saying? What is the water saying? What is my poo poo saying? What is the toilet paper saying?' It's exhausting. But she only foes it sometimes. It might be a game to her, I don't know.

She has a very limited diet. She will not try any new foods, doesn't eat any vegetables.

She seems to be unable to be gentle with her baby sister. I don't think she wantsto hurt her, she is just to impulsive and over excited but she's constantly poking her face etc.

BUT she is a lovely girl, people always comment how well she speaks and how well behaved she is. We usually have a great time together, she loves 'helping' with housework, baking, cooking, playing in the garden. She likes to cuddle and she's still breastfeeding, we co-sleep. She is really sweet and thoughtful and can reason well, I just wish she wouldn't do the above things. Can anyone tell me that this is normal and will pass?

MattDillonsPants Mon 11-Apr-16 13:07:53

From what you describe there seem to be two issues which stand out...some social difficulty and some sensory difficulty.

Is she at nursery and have they said anything or have you asked them about her behaviour there?

spekulatius Mon 11-Apr-16 13:17:59

She goes to a childminder who is always saying how well she is doing and what a lovely child she is. I'm at a point where I can't even go to the shop with her and baby because she will run around the shop, walk from one shop into the other while I'm stuck at the till paying. I'm using reins again. When it was just her I used to have to carry her out a lot of the time but I now have the baby as well who will be in a sling or pram and I can't do it. It's such a shame, we used to have such good times in places like so. I find outdoors easier ad there is no distraction from shops selling icecream, sweets etc, rides to go on.

MattDillonsPants Mon 11-Apr-16 13:23:23

In your shoes, I would consider moving her to a nursery where she will get more stimulation and the help of more than one qualified professional. In a year I assume, she will be starting school so 3 is a good age to expand into a more structured setting.

As her language is good, she should like the social aspect...the games you describe seem to be the games of a child with an excellent imagination. There seem to be some red flags for sensory issues but at this age.

What do you do when she approaches strangers as you've described?

guerre Mon 11-Apr-16 13:27:18

How 3 is she? (3.1 or 3.11?)
It sounds like fairly usual 3yo stuff. They can be v sparky, and loving by clumsy! She sounds delightful but tiring grin

guerre Mon 11-Apr-16 13:28:57

And if she can reason well, explain why she cannot just run off, that she needs to stay where you can see her etc. Some 3yo are v good at grasping that.

pinkcan Mon 11-Apr-16 13:31:50

I think it's always hard to "judge" a 3yos behaviour as they are little more than a baby. Some of her behaviour seems quirky but lots of 3yos are quirky. Some of it is normal stuff, neither of mine at 3 would bother putting socks on if asked - nothing really in it for them!

It is not ok for her to get lost though. I would get a reins, or one of those backpacks with a strap or something so you can keep hold of her. Particularly in a zoo, given that she is prone to eating things that are not food.

As she becomes older, she will become more "reasonable" and learn what is ok and what is not.

clarella Mon 11-Apr-16 13:32:21

I must say I've been having similarly yin and yang experiences with my 3.4 ds.

spekulatius Mon 11-Apr-16 13:40:20

We can't use a nursery as we work shifts and need someone until 20.00.

MattDillonsPants Mon 11-Apr-16 13:46:19

Is she with the CM 5 days a week?

spekulatius Mon 11-Apr-16 13:54:52

She is 3.4. I always thought that she was very stubborn and strong willed but I know feel out of control so many times. The running away thing and the fact that she won't leave a place even though I give her a countdown bother me the most. I do use reins. The other thing is the car. Most of the time when I pick her up from the childminder she she scream that she doesn't want me to put her in the car seat, she wants to do it herself. If I let her she will climb all over the car and I spend another 10 minutes trying to convince her to sit in the seat until I finally manage to drag her into it. Basically the same thing happens getting put of the car once we are home. I've read books on parenting, I try to follow The no cry solution to discipline. It works a lot of the time but not with those issues.

spekulatius Mon 11-Apr-16 13:57:02

She goes to childminder twice a week. I would love to not work so she wouldn't have to go but that's not an option. Childminder is very good though and she's been going since she was 10 months old.

BertieBotts Mon 11-Apr-16 14:00:52

Err - yep. Sorry! grin

Being friendly - she must just be outgoing. It's normal to have no sense of stranger danger at that age. Some kids are shy, others social. She's obviously social, which is a good thing, it means she doesn't lack confidence anyway and should help her to make friends.

It's really normal for three year olds not to follow instructions. That's mostly because they are just realising that they don't have to do exactly what you say and they like to exercise that choice. It can also be that they are too focused on what they are doing to listen, but mostly I think it's about not liking being told what to do (which always seems fair enough to me.) A younger child will often do what you say because they are still in the people-pleasing stage, and an older child will often do what you say because they can see the reason/sense behind the instruction, but a 3 year old has their own wants and whims which often trump yours, and definitely won't make any connections to reason. You can sometimes get co-operation by explaining your reasons in simple age appropriate terms, another good technique is offering a closed choice, where both options are acceptable to you. Or just manage the environment/expectations so that you're not trying to rely on verbal instruction quite so much because it's not a great medium to communicate with children of this age. This article is also good. smile

Chewing is fairly normal, can be a sensory thing. She'll probably grow out of it. DS didn't do this so I can't be of any more help, sorry!

Tantrums when leaving, again normal. They don't have any concept of past or future. So they can't rationalise "We have to leave the park before it gets dark and cold and I get tired and hungry", they just think "But I'm having FUN and you want to STOP?!" They only live in the moment. A great, GREAT technique for this is to keep preparing them for the fact the park (or whatever) is not forever, so talk about what you're going to do after the park, even if it's just dinner, talk about what you might have for dinner today after the park. Or what stories she'd like to read for bedtime after the park. That sets up the expectation that you haven't just transplanted your entire lives to the park and are going to live there now (probably not exactly what they think, but similar to how they feel about the permanence of the present moment.) Then a few minutes before it's time to go, say "It's nearly time to go and have dinner/read stories (whatever you said earlier). You have time to go on three more things. Which three things would you like?" If it's three goes on the slide, great (count them with her). If it's the slide, the bouncy horse thing and a swing, again great. Try to sneak the not open ended one in last (like the slide) but if you get stuck with something like the swing or the see saw then, again, set the number before she goes on (10 pushes) or just count down from the last 5 or so. This is like magic. If she's having a hard time choosing between all of the things then sympathise and say, oh, I know, it's hard to choose. You've had a lovely time and you want to go on everything. Which three are your favourite? Remember we can come back another time." Also, try to time things so that she isn't screamingly tired by the time you leave, as that will make tantrums (emotional overwhelm, really) more likely.

Running off is another common phase. Again not something DS did, but I would take a pushchair everywhere and strap her in if it's dangerous and she won't hold hands, or reins, and yes to wristbands. She's not really capable of understanding why it's bad or dangerous so you just have to wait that one out until she's older. Definitely keep freedom tied to the responsibility of staying near mum/dad. If she can't stay in sight then she has to hold hands, wear reins, or hold the buggy. If she can't do those things then she has to go IN the buggy.

Hair washing phobia, again v common. I'm afraid that we didn't sort this until DS was 5 blush I just hardly ever washed his hair. Then got him slowly used to having water poured down his back, then back of the neck, then back of the head coming slowly forwards and bribed him with a huge chocolate egg for being brave!

The role play and games sound very typical of 3-5 year olds. It's tiresome to play with them in imaginative roles, because they imagine all of yours too and then get really annoyed when you don't magically read their minds and do it as they thought. That's another wait it out one, and maybe keep explaining that you don't know what she's thinking and she needs to tell you, and just keep playing sessions short! grin

Fussiness, again, normal. They do grow out of it. Try to ignore. Just keep offering a variety of foods and try not to lose your mind. smile

Being overexcited with sibling, again, normal. And might be a little bit attention seeking. I only have one so will let others advise there.

And yes, finally, the shopping thing is sadly normal as well. Expect normalcy to return in about three years. By which point #2 will be up to it. So maybe five or six. Don't worry, you'll develop lightning fast shopping reflexes and also make friends with the amazon and tesco delivery people extremely fast.

You will look back on this time and smile smile I promise.

BertieBotts Mon 11-Apr-16 14:02:22

With the car seat, can you challenge her to a race? See if she can strap herself in before you get the baby strapped in? I suddenly seem to recall races happening for everything at that age.

BertieBotts Mon 11-Apr-16 14:05:56

I liked the no cry sleep book, but haven't read the discipline one. Have you read How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk? That is a good one. It's better for 5+ but there are some useful bits in there for 3 year olds. (And you could adapt some - like the one where the towel leaves a note might work well with her game of inanimate objects having things to say. E.g. you can make her sock say "Pleeeeeease put me on DD's foot! I really miss my toe friends sad I'm all lonely without them today." and the foot can say "I'm really cold! Please get me a sock! No! Nooooo! Not the smelly one! I want a clean sock!" (Lots of this kind of stuff in Playful Parenting too if you like it.)

LoveActuary Mon 11-Apr-16 14:14:41

To add a different perspective, it might not be neurotypical ('normal') behaviour. My DD was like this at 3 and was later diagnosed with autism. I have two other non-autistic DC and while some of it could be quirks and 3-year old behaviour, I think as a mum you know your child and if your gut instinct is that she is not behaving like other children you may want to investigate this.

MattDillonsPants Mon 11-Apr-16 14:42:27

I agree actually Love and that is partially why nursery might be a good idea. I there any reason why you don't send her for 2 or 3 days a week OP? Most children of three are at some sort of nursery.

spekulatius Mon 11-Apr-16 14:54:31

BertieBotts, after spending most of the morning crying your comments actually made me smile. I do use races a lot. Who can tidy up first, brush their teeth first, get dressed first. It does work and often works in the car. She is very strong and heavy sometimes it's also physically challenging.

I think being with my friend and her 2 girls at the forest and seeing their reaction has just made me wonder. My friends 2 year old was telling her off for running ahead too far. I have never thought that she was different, she has always been very confident talking to people, ordering her own icecream, asking children to play with her.

The chewing is worrying as she'll chew on sharp things so I'm worried she could damage her teeth. I did look it up online and obviously came across autism. I really don't think she has got that.

I 6hink I need to come up with better tactics for when we're in public. Hopefully baby will sleep better at night, that will give me more patience. Make a diary and look at linked behaviour. Speak to cm.

Cuttheraisins Mon 11-Apr-16 14:59:18

Individually, the issues you are stating don't raise any concerns for me, I am a childminder and parent of three children and all of them have had issues such as your daughter's at one point or another. But all of the issues together might point at a more general developmental issue. I am not in any way qualified to point towards a specific area of development but my advice is to write things down and speak to your go and ask for a evaluation by a paediatrician.

However I can try to give you some tricks for individual issues.

Obeing: practice with her games such as musical statue, when you play music, stop the music, and ask her to stop. Then add the word stop. When she 'gets' that she stops when you say stop, just shake an instrument, jump, skip whatever and shout stop. Encourage her to stop as a game when you say stop. Integrate it in games, etc and try to apply it when playing in the park, running about in a safe place. It does help I have done this loads of time with little escape artists.

Washing hair. Find a doll that you can put in water. Then fill up a washing up bowl, put it in a safe place and let her play with water, wash the baby's hair, and get wet herself. It might help, it might not!

Ignoring bad behaviour or tantrums does not always work. Try to see what triggers it and work on changing her focus. Keep a musical toy that she likes in your bag to try and take her attention away before she starts fussing. Or have a special snack (a healthy snack) for when you need to leave the park. So you don't say 'we have to go now' you can say 'let's have snack I bet you are hungry after all this playing' but she can only have it when she is sitting in buggy/car. More later I have to do the school run!

plantsitter Mon 11-Apr-16 15:03:08

Bertiebotts what a lovely post.

My DD was like this, even down to the socks/shoes talking. I used to think she wanted a different family. She is much better at 5 but still zany... I like it (now she can go shopping reasonably sensibly).

spekulatius Mon 11-Apr-16 15:36:19

MattDillons she goes to a childminder twice a week, they follow the early years curriculum the same as nursery. I am on maternity leave, why do you think she should go more often?

BertieBotts Mon 11-Apr-16 18:48:08

I don't think that you should worry about things like autism or adhd. It's too early to tell about any of those things. Even if you could tell, there is nothing that you can do to influence how they will affect her in the future. Just keep trying different approaches for the child she is right now until something feels right. Three is a challenging age but very cute and funny as well. Don't have too high expectations, let her be the baby for a bit if she needs to, and you'll be fine. I don't see anything in your post which is giving me cause for concern. Just a normal, cheeky, happy, lovely toddler.

spekulatius Mon 11-Apr-16 19:40:32

Thanks BertieBotts. I'm sure it's not autism. She is very normal. If you know what I mean. I'm gonna look at ways to encourage better behaviour and just enjoy being with her. And allow more time for everything so I don't have to get frustrated when it takes forever. Maybe go to places where it's not busy until things improve. Thanks for all your helpful suggestions.

InionEile Mon 11-Apr-16 20:13:21

You're describing my DS almost word for word, spekulatius! He is now 4.5 and we had a baby when he was 3 years old as well and all the behavior you describe is very, very familiar. Running off, not listening, taking forever to put on socks or pajamas or anything, hating having his hair washed, talking to strangers and very elaborate role play. That all describes him to a T.

The behavior was worst between 2-3.5 and it has definitely gotten better since he turned 4. He still is very impulsive and wants to just jump in feet first with everything and constantly bugs my DD (now 1.5). Like you say, it's not that he wants to hurt her or is hitting her but he just is always jumping on her, chasing her, trying to pick her up or cuddle her and she gets so wound up.

I have wavered over the past couple of years and worried sometimes that he might have ADHD and some sensory issues. He has been enrolled in the same preschool since he was 2, however, and they only have high praise for him. At one stage I wanted to get his language assessed as he stammers and struggles to get his words out a lot but the report the school wrote for the speech therapist reassured me. They have never suggested having him assessed. My pediatrician has been similarly reassuring and told me that he is just very bright with a big imagination and a lot of energy.

I hope they're all correct. I can only rely on the opinion of the professionals around me but I still do worry sometimes. He is starting school this year in August and I am concerned that he is going to have a hard time. It is reassuring to read another parent with the same brand of mischief-maker though! If it helps, my DS has calmed down so much since he was 3. He now has the focus to work on Legos or read or do some artwork himself and that makes it easier on me - so hang in there smile

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