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VERY smart 3 year old...but underdeveloped??

(14 Posts)
LoopyLizzie Tue 23-Sep-08 19:50:56

Hello all,

Just wondered if anyone could set my mind at rest (or conform my fears!) about this...

My DD (was 3 in July) is extremely bright - I know all parents are biased - but I mean really bright, been talking eloquently and very articulately for over a year (as good as an adult), now reads, draws detailed pictures, does maths etc. Seriously smart little lady!

However, we have always had some 'problems' with her physical development...she is my only child at the mo (next one's due on Christmas Eve) and I have been a SAHM since she was born, so always given her lots of attention. I'm a little bit concerned though, that she's had so much attention that she's now a very clever but very lazy little girl!

To explain a bit - the 'big' things such as potty training, walking etc were very easy, we literally explained what she had to do and she did it. But she recently started preschool and they've picked up on some of our worries, for example...not being able to pedal the little tricycles at playtime, not having a lot of confidence on the climbing frame, not being able to go to the loo independlty. My own main concern is her eating habits - she has exceptional table manners and will eat everything we give her (Thai curry, all manner of soups, stews, pies, casseroles, fish, veg, anything) BUT she needs LOADS of encouragement to actually pick up her fork and do it herself. And quite a lot of the time she requests plastic animals or similar to play with inbetween forkfuls of food.

I'm not against stricter parenting (we Gina Ford-ed her as a baby) BUT my HV's advice of "let her do everything and eventually she'll be hungry enough and wet/soiled enough to realise that she has to do it on her own" seems VERY wrong! Maybe I have babied her too much, she's still my baby (until the 'real' baby arrives soon!) but she is only just 3 - should she really be able to use the toilet by herself at preschool, and eat a full meal on her own?

Sorry for the mammoth post, but this is a real worry to me. Any advice gratefully received!!

TheArmadillo Tue 23-Sep-08 19:56:21

she's only just 3. They are often ahead in one area and behind in another. If they are very ahead in one area then it may just make the rest more noticeable.

Many children aren't toilet trained till they are older than she is so the fact she needs help to do it really isn't a problem/issue. The fact she gets bored at mealtimes (requesting toys) or that she needs encouragement to use cutlery isn't unusual in a child that age. The climbing frame is probably down to confidence and not all 3yos can pedal a trike. Many are still learning at that age.

Of course there will be 3yos who can do all that, but may not be as confident at speaking or the other things your dd can do.

I really wouldn't worry about it. She is still tiny and will develop all this in time. I wouldn't call it underdeveloped, just within the normal range.

And I would carry on reminding her to use her fork and help her use the toilet, she'll let you know when she's ready to do it all herself.

harpomarx Tue 23-Sep-08 19:56:59

sounds like she's just stronger in some areas than others at the moment. My dd was like yours, very early talker, very articulate etc (not reading though) and was and is somewhat less physically capable than some of her friends.

I would have thought the preschool is just observing and reporting back to you rather than raising concerns?

afaik as I know, many 3 year olds are not even toilet trained so it doesn't seem unreasonable that some of them want someone to go to the toilet with them.

as for the mealtimes, I would just step back a bit and let her get on with it.

Overmydeadbody Tue 23-Sep-08 20:04:11

Think about it this way: If all her energy has gone into things like communication and drawing, other aspects of her development would have been neglected as a result. Don't worry about it too much though, she's get there in the end in her own time.

She will know when she's ready to do it herself and motor skills needed for pedalling and climbing need practice to be fine tuned. If she's busy doing other things and not getting practice at these things she's going to be behind in them.

Don't worry though. Continue as you are doing. In ten year's time it won't matter whether she could use the loo on her own at 3 or 5 wil it?

slayerette Tue 23-Sep-08 20:05:22

She sounds normal for a three year old, basically - most of them have areas they achieve quickly in and others they struggle with! As TheArmadillo says, children never hit all the milestones at exactly the same time - children who can do the things your dd can't do may be finding other things harder to master. The best thing is just to let her develop at her own pace for now - it doesn't sound as if she is actually a cause for concern in any area. Have you considered the possibility that because she is doing well in some areas, you now have high expectations of her in all areas? - maybe too high?

lovecamping Tue 23-Sep-08 20:05:38

my 3yr is a very confident climber, goes to toilet independently, only started using cultery about 2mths ago, however cannot pedal a tike and definitely cant read.

agree with harpomarx that you should leave her to get on with it a mealtimes. you'll need to once baby arrives. it might help to encourage her to become more independent so that it'll be a little easier when baby comes, although they will do it all in their own time.

hth and good luck

LoopyLizzie Tue 23-Sep-08 20:14:29

Slayerette - I have thought that exactly! When we go to friends houses I can sometimes hardly understand their children, so I think it is a case of just not really knowing what's 'average' (as if that even exists!) for a 3yo. You've all voiced pretty much exactly what my mum's been telling me - to relax mainly - and I do understand that fine motor skills and gross motor skills don't come from the same place and so of course don't all happen at the same time. And I know that when DS arrives I'll have far less time to lavish on her, and she'll just have to learn!

I think the main thing that prompted me to post was the preschool leader saying that we'd 'work together on the areas she was slow in', which just seemed a bit OTT.

Thanks for all the input though.

lovecamping Tue 23-Sep-08 20:17:20

i think its VERY off that yr preschool teacher said that - definitely OTT. how about praise for all her other achievements ?? how many other 3yr olds do they know can read??

harpomarx Tue 23-Sep-08 20:18:18

don't think that was OTT, Loopy, think it was actually a really nice thing to say. They are perhaps aware that you are slightly concerned and trying to reassure you by saying they will work on building her confidence in those areas. That's what pre-school education is for, after all!

LunaFairy Tue 23-Sep-08 20:18:31

I agree with the other responses.

My nearly 3 yr old ds has been a slow starter with his speech.

He is now doing well on that front but was excelling in other areas at a very early age e.g completing puzzles without assistance, knowing his alphabet. Some of his friends can't do either yet, but they excel in other areas.

He also was toilet trained within 1 week (a few months ago) and still asks me to help him with his trousers etc. He is a very active boy but doesn't like bikes very much, he would have trouble with pedalling as well. My ds needs to hold an interest in things he does - if he isn't keen then he can't be bothered.

I would not worry. You have such a bright dd and she will catch up on physical- she hasn't been at pre -school for very long and she'll soon catch on to what the other children are doing with the climbing frame and bikes etc.

harpomarx Tue 23-Sep-08 20:20:24

interesting we have such a different reaction to that comment, lovecamping!

Thomcat Tue 23-Sep-08 20:21:53

I would say that it sounds a teeny bit like, as she is so bright in many areas, you are perhaps expecting a little much from her? Perhaps a bit of that is going on?????? She is only 3 and so bright in so many ways, she can't be brilliant at everything all at the same time aged only 3. Just my opinion, and whadda I know? smile

nowwearefour Tue 23-Sep-08 20:22:35

she seems amazing to me. soooo far ahead (i also have a dd who turned 3 in july) in some areas and just completely normal in others. my dd cant read, pronounce all her words that clearly or do any maths at all! she can just about pedal something but onl just learned. she doesnt usually toilet herself by herself (still does poos in nappy and still wet at night). and if she doesnt reall reall like the meal wont feed herself and always requests books at mealtimes. so she sounds just perfect. ignore stupid hv. you know best and she sounds absolutely fine to me. you have done v v well with her- a really bright little girl. enjoy her!!! and enjoy being a mum of 1 for as long as you can!

chipmunkswhereareyou Tue 23-Sep-08 21:56:46

Development IS really asynchronous in most children. I think you are indeed worrying too much and should take the 'slow' areas comment with a big pinch of salt.

She sounds like an academic little girl who probably just isn't that interested in riding a bike etc.

She also sounds like my ds who seems to do a full-on health and safety assessment when looking at a climbing frame (which almost always until the last week or two results in him deciding not to bother). Perhaps she realises she might fall and doesn't have much confidence in that area. Well that's what my ds is like. It's pretty annoying sometimes as I think he'd have more fun if he just got stuck in instead of contemplating everything and being over-cautious. Just keep on encouraging her with things like this and I'm sure she'll get more confidence soon.

Your dd really is doing fantastically well in plenty of areas. Ds can't pedal a trike either btw but can go to the loo alone (although he manages to persuade me to go with him quite a lot!) Chocolate button/ sticker bribes sometimes work with this sort of thing with him.

From what you say she doesn't have any 'problems' with her physical development in the real sense of the word - she just has areas she is more 'typical' at.

Btw - just curious - what kind of 'maths' does she do - addition and subtraction type stuff?

I imagine she's a really sweet, good little girl and you should count your blessings, enjoy her and stop worrying!

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