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Three-year-olds - is it normal to be this emotional/contrary?

(16 Posts)
JimmyMcNulty Sat 03-Oct-09 21:52:57

The slightest thing sets ds1 (3.2) off - usually something we can do nothing about, like the fact that whatever he is eating 'gets smaller' as he is eating it hmm (this has been a complaint every mealtime for at least a week, resulting in tears and not finishing things he would normally love). He has developed a real dislike of getting any part of him wet or dirty (hand washing is always a flashpoint though oddly he still likes baths). He still has a nap after lunch, and is usually so foul-tempered when he gets up that it takes half an hour before the crying/shouting stops, and he can't give a reason for it that makes any sense. He is clearly feeling very needy and confused.

In fact pretty much anything we ask him to do that isn't what he already wants to do results in huge upset. He just seems so unhappy a lot of the time. Except when he has one-on-one total attention playing with exactly what he wants to play with - then he is delightful and funny.

Ds2 was born 9 weeks ago and it has got worse since then, but was already starting before he arrived. It has got so bad I started wondering today if he has some vitamin deficiency or something... he always sleeps 12 or 13 hours at night and for an hour after lunch so it seems unlikely he is overtired.

Any help or advice? I can't remember the last time he did something I asked without him bursting into tears or shouting.

isittooearlyforgin Sat 03-Oct-09 21:54:34

yes completely normal - life is just deeply frustrating for a three year old - ignore, ignore, ignore!!

MavisEnderby Sat 03-Oct-09 21:59:54

Sounds like newbabyitis to me

It does get better,I promise.

slowreadingprogress Sat 03-Oct-09 22:03:38

I only needed to read your title, not your post, before I knew I was going to post "YES"

It is normal!

That thing of him getting upset with his food getting smaller is just priceless, that's the best toddler tantrum justification i have ever heard grin

You clearly have a hard case strong willed little boy!

I agree with isittooearly - do ignore as much as you possibly can. I know it's hard but don't let him set the emotional tone. He needs you as the adult to be the one who can rise above it and jolly him along a bit and change the mood for him; kids this age simply can't do this without help

One thing that always worked really well for me was lots of joking about, not asking straight questions eg rather than 'DS you need to wash your hands' it could be 'DS I bet I can get this on the plate quicker than you can wash - GO!" or some such

I goofed around an awful lot with ds at this age because it distracts them from their need to be opppositional

and it has the agreeable pay off of giving them a well developed sense of humour which is a joy smile

LadyG Sat 03-Oct-09 22:06:05

MavisEnderby you speak the truth (DS was 2 yrs 11 months when DD born, much better now a year on).

KristinaM Sat 03-Oct-09 22:10:55

i agree its normal

my 3yo cries/strops because the food is on the wrong colour of plate or the sandwiches are the wrong shape

he has mostly been refusing to wear shoes for months now but will occasionally wear wellies

JimmyMcNulty Sat 03-Oct-09 22:12:19

That is all good to hear. Am feeling much better already thanks [tired grin].

JimmyMcNulty Sat 03-Oct-09 22:14:09

Especially helpful thought about needing me to set the emotional tone... you are so right but I hadn't thought of it that way.

slowreadingprogress Sat 03-Oct-09 22:21:21

glad it helped jimmy

I think the thing is sometimes when faced with a desperately unreasonable toddler, we are clearly showing in our faces and what we're saying that we are mirroring that mood and then it's just a spiral, and not upwards!

LadyoftheBathtub Sat 03-Oct-09 22:21:38

Yes, it is normal, but of course they don't all get like this - sods law dictates that you will know several charmingly behaved 3-year-olds who make yours look like a monster.

But if my experience is anything to go by this sounds like a phase and should only last a few weeks - I think at 3 they can just get obsessed by tiny things like this and get very upset. My DS had an obsession that was about wanting to turn back time and start things again if they had not gone EXACTLY as he wanted. It was three weeks of near-constant fury and meltdowns - I almost went mad.

Definitely try to keep a matter-of-fact tone and agree with him - "yes that does happen, isn't it sad it's got smaller, never mind" - or try distraction and humour eg ""Oh my goodness, you're right - it IS shrinking - where's it gone!!!???" etc.

However if you lose it and have to scream into a pillow, rest assured you're not alone.

mwff Sat 03-Oct-09 22:22:37

haven't read op, but going by thread title emotional/contrary sounds like a pretty succinct definition of any 3 yr old to me

Cometrickortreatingwithme Sat 03-Oct-09 22:25:32

Normal my three year old wories about everything atm and also has issues with the new baby .

She is starting o become more aware of the world outside the house and family due to starting nursery so gets very tored and whiny at times.

She also hates change her Dad has changed his shift pattern at work and she does not like it.

Cometrickortreatingwithme Sat 03-Oct-09 22:25:59

Sorry for typos I am very tired.

MyCatsAScarierBastardThanYours Sat 03-Oct-09 22:26:47

yes, normal. DD now nearly 4 came out of it about 2mths ago (she got worse when DS was born 7mths ago, so I'm sure that made a big difference and a lot of it was about any opportunity to get attention). It was very waring. Ignore, humour, distraction, just go for whatever works and know that it will get better.

Cometrickortreatingwithme Sat 03-Oct-09 22:27:08

Kristina my DD is a shoephobe too she will only wear wellies or trainers.

KristinaM Sat 03-Oct-09 22:31:28

impressed by trainers....Ds will only do wellies

he told Dh today that he didn't need to wear anything on his feet as mummy could carry him LOL

its wet and FREEZZZING here today

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