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anyone else's 3 yr old a pita when encountering unfamiliar places/people? and what to do about it...

(13 Posts)
deaconblue Thu 20-Aug-09 20:56:49

Ds is finally (and it has taken over a year of hard slog) fairly well behaved at home, at friends and family homes, in the park and other places he visits regularly. He is grim when we visit people he doesn't know or go to strange places. eg fine at MIL's house, horrendous on his first bus trip with MIL; fine at park but had rare trip to beach today and was a total pita.
So it seems to me he is ok when he understands what behaviour is expected of him but struggles when it's unclear. I think I compound the issue because I am so keen for people to see him as the lovely boy I know he can be, that I get really wound up when he goes a bit loopy in said situations.
Anyone else experience this and some tips for ways to cope would be great

normanthehairdresser Thu 20-Aug-09 22:48:29

Poor you

mine is great in many situations (3.3) but the summer holidays are throwing things - again a case of being out of his comfort zone I think.

What sort of behaviour are you getting? I assume you explain over and over again what's going to happen? And can you keep him very close to you in unfamiliar setting?

normanthehairdresser Thu 20-Aug-09 22:51:15

sorry, P.S.:

My experience is that anxiety about DS's behaviour will just make it all worse - does for me.

I think anyone who has met a 3 year old in passing will know they are erratic in behaviour!

You know he is a lovely boy and that's what is most important.

notnowbernard Thu 20-Aug-09 22:55:49

I just think that they are finding their way

At 3, at least they can get away with piss-poor behaviour... it's work in progress grin

DD2 is just 3 and is 'well-behaved' in social situations but does have me hiding behind my hands quite a lot - the sort of child that will relay our family secrets to total strangers and ask inappropriate questions etc. She's often to be found on someone else's picnic blanket inviting herself to join in blush x 100

Hey Ho

deaconblue Fri 21-Aug-09 18:39:21

thanks for replies. Typical behaviour when out of comfort zone is constant running off in opposite direction, tantrums and whacking other children. He was a terrible whacker in his 2's but for the past 6 months only seems to whack when he's somewhere new with children he doesn't know. Beach was horrendous as he kept heading off the other way and either didn't even look back or would look back then refuse to come back. I walked/ran miles chasing him.
Nearer home I would have just warned him then taken him straight home so I think he played up knowing that wasn't an option.

lingle Sat 22-Aug-09 13:52:11

maybe some sensory issues? Some kids hit out when they experience sensory overload. In familiar settings they can use their increasing maturity and experience to deal with the sensations but in new places it can become too much.

deaconblue Sat 22-Aug-09 18:46:53

that's interesting lingle - he is very noise sensitive (although conversely is a very noisy child himself)and I think he doesn't seem to have an instinctive understanding of social interaction so I've taught him phrases like "my name is shoppingbags' ds, what's your name, would you like to play?" for approaching new children otherwise his attempts to make friends consisted of squeezing their cheeks

lou031205 Sat 22-Aug-09 19:00:36

How is his eye contact?

lingle Sat 22-Aug-09 19:37:33

"he doesn't seem to have an instinctive understanding of social interaction"

that makes it sound even more like sensory issues. For some reason, kids who don't have that "instinctive understanding of social interaction" very often have subtle sensory issues too.

Experiences that seem minor or even welcome to you and me might be really, really hard to bear for him. This could be more than naughtiness.

Don't suppose his language developed in an unusual way did it? late/all in sentences at once/seeming to understand commands a bit later than other kids/more repeating back at you - that kind of thing? Am asking because my son has a big language delay plus subtle sensory issues and again they often go together.

deaconblue Sun 23-Aug-09 19:13:52

eye contact fine and language really good. He spoke early and was combining simple sentences by 2. He's not great at why questions and answers though. I do think it's more than naughtiness because he was a horror on the beach and then within minutes of getting in the car to go home he was angelic. I wonder if we'd do better to limit similar experiences til he's more mature and can understand better when I explain what will happen.

lingle Mon 24-Aug-09 10:13:14

OK, so he doesn't really "own" WHY questions and answers yet. Hmm, so lengthly explanations ("because....")are probably not going to soothe him as they would another child. It might be good to go back to some more basic techniques like saying "First X then Y" (always in that order), a visual timetable showing that he'll be going back to a "safer" place soon, and also to bring a timer with you to show how much more time there is to elapse during the activity he finds hard.

You could also keep a diary : sleuth-like, you could try to find all the common themes that trigger his behaviours.<dons deerstalker hat>. Children can have unusual sensory preferences (oversensitivity or undersensitivity) in relation to any of the five senses. They can also have difficulty reading social cues/reading body language - hence hitting out in defence when another child makes an approach. I appreciate that it isn't the whole answer of course- he's still a little boy who can be naughty sometimes, with his own personality! And even if it was a sensory thing at 2, it might now be more of a psychological thing, a habit he's developed.

Anyway, you're obviously doing a grand job as you've basically cracked it at home smile.

deaconblue Mon 24-Aug-09 19:42:23

interesting idea. I will try to keep a mental diary. He definitely is funny about his own personal space (we put this down to him having a couple of operations and lots of hassle from doctors when he was 1) but is also prone to invading others' space. I think the idea of being clear when he can go home would help too. He often asks when he can go home even if we're out doing things I hoped he would enjoy. btw thanks for all the input, it's really helping me to think through how I can help help him cope next time we're out somewhere unusual.

lingle Mon 24-Aug-09 19:46:25

I skim-read a book called "The out of synch child" - turned out it didn't apply to my lad - was mainly about kids with unusual responses to touch and movement - they call it sensory processing problems or something like that but that's just a name they pick I think - anyway I think it might be worth you having a look at that book - it was well-written as I recall.

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