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My 3 year old

(13 Posts)
zebidee Fri 18-Mar-11 10:22:03

Hi everyone,

this week I've pulled my daughter out of pre-school due to her growing anxiety about attending (long story, sure you all know the jist of how these things go).

Anyway, this morning I took a shower and when I came in to see her she had got out a writing book (the kind to trace over the dotted letters) and some crayons and was dutifully colouring in the pictures and tracing some letters.

The first thing she said was 'will you do this with me mommy' so I said yes, but as soon as I sat us down at the table and said 'which one are we going to do' she asked me first to help her hold the pen and second to do it for her.

Because she'd been doing it so well on her own I refused and encouraged her to have a go. No avail. She's in a right grump about it now and doesn't want to touch it. This has been a growing thing recently, her wanting to do something, but then needing me to practically do it for her when we're both aware she can do it.

How can a kid go from enthusiastically doing it alone, to needing me to do it for her when we look at it together?!

I don't MIND helping her, but how do I deal with this situation? She obviously can do it but wants me to do it with her when I'm there. Is there a way to encourage her to do it alone with me supporting (usually, before, we would take turns but now she seems dependent on me to do it) it doesn't seem to be confidence, it seems to be about control - an aspect of her personality that seems to have grown far too strong during her time at pre-school, my theory is the strict rules and people in charge made her think that's the way you treat everyone and she's become quite the control freak. I'm trying my best to ignore controlling behaviour because telling her off about it only re-inforces the idea!

Anyway, I know it's early days, but does anyone have any experience with this? Shall I just do it for her to help her confidence and lessen the need to try to make me do things for her, ignore it altogether, what?

She's like a child stuck between two worlds at the moment, escaping the strict world of school but not quite adapted to how I want to approach things now so using the only resources she knows to deal with situations.

Bahh I'm talking in circles, any help anyone, please?

FreudianSlippery Fri 18-Mar-11 10:28:45

Although she's only very little there may still be an element of 'deschooling' - she's just come out of an environment that was upsetting and it will take a little time to 'get over it' so to speak, and relax into life at home with you.

I think you shouldn't worry - you know she CAN do it by herself, as you've seen it yourself! I suspect that by refusing to do it with her, you risk making it into more of an issue. This may be her way of reassuring herself that you're staying with her rather than leaving her at nursery, so I'd go with it and try not to get frustrated (tricky I know, my DD is also 3!)

As you've said, she can do it on her own, and I'm sure she will continue to do so - make sure there are always such resources around and she will keep picking them up, and if it's while you are busy with housework then so much the better

zoekinson Fri 18-Mar-11 21:07:16

Hi zebidee, Dont know how long she has been in pre-school so dont know how much time she will need to de-school.
My DD is 4, never been to pre-school. if we do anything together, drawing, painting, jigsaws we each do our own, i will help but i do mine and she does hers. We donot do writing yet.
good luck.

lilyfire Fri 18-Mar-11 21:36:23

Maybe trying different approaches and watching her response will give you an idea as to what works best for her. I'd be inclined to do as she asks because if your theory is right, that it's about control, then she seems to need to work through this and wants your help to do it. I've been reading 'Playful Parenting' so I guess you could also try things like pretending you don't know how to hold the pen, or just getting it ridiculously wrong, so she needs to show you exactly how to do it.

zebidee Fri 18-Mar-11 22:17:39

Great points everyone, thanks!

Freudian you make a good point about being left at school, she's started getting rediculously anxious if I leave the room without her realising, to the point of meltdown tears. I've started doing everything she possibly asks (that's also reasonable) so she gains a bit of trust again.

zoe that's a fab way of working isn't it? It's how we do things like painting, I always do one at the same time (with a theme, like still life painting something like a flower, but I don't ask her to do it, I do mine and if she wants to copy she can, but if she wants to paint her arms bright red and make big splodgy prints she can do that too).

lilyfire I've got to check out the 'Playful Parenting' book, I've seen it mentioned a few times.

FlamingoBingo Sat 19-Mar-11 08:22:15

Go with it. I always do stuff for my children if they want me to, even if I know they can do it themselves. They'll still learn.

greenbananas Sat 19-Mar-11 18:09:13

I've noticed that much older children sometimes do this kind of thing in school situations. It can be for a variety of different reasons, but when I've been able to I have always tended to go with it, as it gives them the confidence to do things in their own time without feeling pushed.

I also agree that 'acting stupid' can be a useful tool (e.g. "okay, how should I do it... is that right?") €

(BTW, my DS is only 2.5 so I'm not exactly HEing yet but am watching these threads with interest in preparation for when he turns 5 and I become an 'official' HEer)

Saracen Sun 20-Mar-11 08:39:01

Beats me!

My older daughter was always a bit of a control freak in the way you describe, despite never having spent much time at preschool. For her, it was perfectionism and lack of confidence. She wanted a "good" result and was never satisfied with what she could produce, so she wanted me to do it.

I think if she'd had her way I would have spent hours a day creating things at her request, and I didn't want to do that. So while I never asked her to do things or said "go on, you can do that, I know you can" I also rarely did as she asked. I just said I didn't want to. Her dad was more willing to draw things for her but he wasn't around for much of the day.

She did eventually outgrow this stage as her fine motor control caught up to her expectations, aged seven or eight. Despite all the emphasis on pencil control at school, I think this skill is largely age-related and doesn't require much practice. I found that although my dd wouldn't pick up a pencil for months on end, every time she did, there was a visible improvement over the previous time.

There were a few things which helped in a small way when she was young. She liked typing on the computer; I set the font on the word processor very large to make it easy to see the letters she was typing. Presto, all the letters came out perfect! And they could be deleted without a trace if she changed her mind. She also liked blackboards, whiteboards and doodle boards because they could be erased so easily and thoroughly.

Saracen Sun 20-Mar-11 08:46:18


Even at 7/8/9 my daughter's perfectionism stopped her trying some things. She really wanted to be able to draw, but would not persist when her first attempts didn't give the result she wanted.

Then she suddenly became more persistent and engaged with drawing and began to sketch for hours a day, throwing most of her work in the bin after just a few pencil strokes but gradually working up to completing some drawings. They never quite met her standards but she was able to say what she liked and disliked about each, and she was actually proud of some and wanted to keep them.

Now she is 11.5. In the last few months she has been doing a lot of anime. Last night she said to me, "You know Mum, I have noticed that when someone masters a certain artistic style then they seem better able to pick up other styles also." I suggested that it might be to do with confidence: someone who has had the experience of mastering anime might be convinced she can also master a different style if she invests enough time. My daughter thought that might be right.

zebidee Tue 22-Mar-11 19:40:21

Thanks for more replies everyone. I like the computer idea Saracen, she'll love that because she's great at recognising symbols, I imagine a lot of it really is a case of motor skills needing to catch up with recog, and the associated frustrations.

Had a chat with my partner tonight and we decided to totally avoid any sense of 'testing' her, i.e. "what's that?" type questions. We think that any sense of getting a wrong answer makes her tense.

zebidee Fri 06-May-11 15:11:18

Update on my little one: she's seriously enjoying being at home, we've exhausted the library supply of books about sharks, watched tons of David Attenborough, played with lego, baked and enjoyed!

I've also got all the resources for the phonics course she had been doing at nursery (with some trepidation) but once she realised she remembered the songs etc she was in love with it. I leave the books and sheets strewed around and if she wants to do it she'll pick it up. Some days she sees it and just mentions it, other days she dives in and starts doing a little writing or a little colouring (only ever a little at a time, I think she gets tired easily with it).

Btw if anyone doesn't already know, the Lego games are fabulous, we've got this one and she is really enjoying it (plus learning about number, strategy and turn taking at the same time!)

charlottebouillot Sun 08-May-11 03:39:31

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

zebidee Tue 19-Jul-11 00:36:27

Just wanted to pop on and tell everyone that the Playful Parenting book is fantastic and the approach really works with my little one smile Thanks for the final push to buy it, lilyfire

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