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Nearly 3 Year Old - not sure if this is normal or something to worry about?

(18 Posts)
Dollybird99 Mon 09-Feb-15 13:46:56

Hi there.

I write this reluctantly, but feel like I need some help/advise/or just someone to say that my child's behaviour is normal.

My DS is 3 in April. He is a very pleasant, generally happy, sociable boy who speaks well, knows all his colours, can count to 20 and knows his ABC's. He loves people, and can hold a conversation very well.

He is also very 'spirited' (that's what some people would call it). This weekend I've been at the end of my tether and resorted to drinking wine at 4.30pm Saturday afternoon because I'd just had enough smile.

He doesn't appear to hear me when I speak to him yet I know that there is nothing wrong with his hearing. If I say 'no' he still goes ahead and does whatever it is that I've asked him not to. He also asks the same question over and over even though I've told him the answer. i.e is Daddy coming home tonight? 'No darling, Daddy will be home tomorrow', 'Is Daddy coming home tonight.....'. Repeat ad infinitum........

His Dad takes him to football on a Saturday and instead of listening to the 'coaches', he prefers to run around doing his own thing, hugging all the other children (even though they don't want to be), he runs out the door and this week, just laid on the floor not wanting to do anything.

On Sundays I take him to swimming lessons and instead of doing what the instructor was asking us to do, he keeps getting distracted pointing to things that he's seen and generally not doing what he's supposed to be doing.

All of the other children at both activities appear to listen, and then act on what they're told to do. Is it something that we've done as parents, is he a normal toddler, do I have any cause to be worried....? Am I expecting too much? Is he too young to follow some instructions? I really have no idea............

I've been googling ADHD, but there are s many aspects to him that don't match. I am so lost, I don't even know what to do next.

Any advice, help, sympathy, empathy would be hugely appreciated.

Jackie0 Mon 09-Feb-15 13:54:41

Are the other children at football & swimming under 3 as well?
What you've described sounds pretty normal to me. It can be a frustrating age though. It's about them asserting themselves and finding boundaries .

Newquay Mon 09-Feb-15 14:00:06

Sounds exactly like my 3 year old DS too - and certainly it was a stage his older cousins went through -so I'm not going to worry about it. I especially am the same at 4.30pm - I could quite easily go to bed then.

Pyjamaface Mon 09-Feb-15 14:02:59

It sounds fairly normal to me, a lot like DS at that age. It is stressful and worrying and it feels like all the other children are angelic and perfectly behaved.

I think a mix of patience, consistency, DS growing up a bit and great support from teachers etc has meant that DS is miles calmer and able to carry out instructions now. Nit all the time but school have no issues and home is no longer stressy.

DS does have a 20 minute walk to/from school everyday and he charges about during that which burns off some steam (we walk through woods so no cars to worry about)

BertieBotts Mon 09-Feb-15 14:06:25

Nope, perfectly normal. Unfortunately smile

Invest in lots of gin, for about, oh, the next three years.

(I'm sure there's a reason that it's far more common to have an age gap of 2-3 years than 4-5. The 2-3 year age gap parents get pregnant BEFORE they experience this stage!)

Dollybird99 Mon 09-Feb-15 15:39:10

Thank you so much for all of your comments, and especially your empathy.

I was so frustrated on Saturday, I ended up bursting into tears once he was in bed. I felt like a total failure as a parent because I'd lost my temper so many times and had repeated myself so many times - I honestly that I didn't know what to do.

He is such a lovely little boy most of the time, and has been, so far, an easy child that I thought perhaps it was our parenting that was somehow turning him into a little monster.

It is comforting to hear that other people have been through the same thing, and are going through the same thing, and that his behaviour is normal (ish).

A feel an account with a wine club approaching......

Thank you.

BertieBotts Mon 09-Feb-15 16:23:01

Nope, I felt exactly the same thing. They lull you into some false sense of security, especially with everyone going on about the terrible twos. You get the twos sorted and think, right, this is going well then! And then Three happens.

I found that you almost have to go the opposite of your natural way a bit - if you're more gentle, negotiating kind of parent then you need to get hard and fast on rules and set consequences, and if you're a more authoritative, firm but fair kind of parent then you might need to loosen the reins a bit and let them have a little more control/input/try empathising as a first resort rather than going with the rule first if that makes sense.

I know well the feeling of "What on earth do I do now?!" when your usual tactics for getting him to listen etc don't work. The secret is do something - anything. The worst thing you can do is keep repeating yourself endlessly because they start to understand "Oh great, mum won't do anything until the 6th time, that means times 1-5 are meaningless!" A great technique I found around this age is called Say - Remind - Make it happen. Ask them once - make eye contact and make sure they are listening. If it doesn't happen remind with a single word. After that you do one of the following.
- Do it for them (putting the coat on, brushing teeth, getting in the bath, etc)
- Stand over them until they do it (may not help 3 year olds)/micromanage the situation (may help)
- Distract them into doing it (which toy would you like to take into the bath, etc)
- Prevent the action (remove them from the situation, remove the item, possibly longterm, get between them and the thing, go "back" one step of supervision, physically hold their hands to stop them doing it, take them to time out etc)
- Apply a fair consequence (time out, immediate loss of privilege e.g. TV time, toy onto a shelf, pasta/marble jar method, etc.)

In situations of immediate danger (safety, violence, damage to property) skip the asking and reminding and go straight to "make it happen".

Try to prepare for transitions. Don't talk in terms of "five minutes" but "One more turn of..."

But yeah. Mostly just expect carnage. Your nice child will be back in a few years.

Jemimabelle Mon 09-Feb-15 20:47:55

This is why I love mumsnet! Makes me feel like my 3 year old is entirely normal and loads of other mums are feeling the exact same way, rather than the perfect world that my friends on Facebook and in RL suggest...

peppapigonaloop Mon 09-Feb-15 20:57:03

You could have exactly described my nearly three year old! It's normal toddler behaviour I think, if you read a toddler calm book or similar it suggests our expectations of toddlers are way too high... Often it does seem like mine is the only one though! Exactly the same at swimming/gym etc..

Dollybird99 Tue 10-Feb-15 14:31:23

Thank you so much everyone.

I feel relieved that what we're experiencing is somewhat normal-ish behaviour and to be expected, and that perhaps we, as parents, are expecting too much from him.

He was, in equal measures, a little angel and a little devil last night, however, I am trying to take deep breaths and try and deal with his 'naughty' behaviour without shouting or losing my temper. I think this makes for a happier household all round!

Many thanks everyone.

waterrat Tue 10-Feb-15 14:38:58

I have a boy exactly the same age - also 3 in april. I think that in the nicest possible sense you are being hard on yourself by expecting a level of concentration that is not common in that age group!

I have not even bothered signing my son up for anything like football or organised swimming as I know there is no way he would have be able to focus/ follow instructions. He will only cling on to us in the pool, or run wildly about kicking a ball in the way he likes to! definitely I think that class instruction is a bit much for that age.

the ignoring thing is partly a game for them I think? my son lives a bit in la la land, quite recently has really developed an imagination and will talk to himself and show no real interest in the real world sometimes!

I always have wine as soon as cbeebies goes on after tea!

melisma Tue 10-Feb-15 14:40:32

I honestly could've written your post Dollybird. Sounds exactly like my very nearly 3 yr old DS, and I have had such similar worries to you too (down to googling the diagnostic criteria for ADHD). Finding this thread very reassuring reading!

Mrscog Tue 10-Feb-15 14:49:27

Completely normal - sounds just like my DS who is 2.11.

FWIW I think expecting a 2 year old to participate in formal lessons of stuff is setting a very high expectation anyway. You'd probably be better off just letting him kick a football around with your DH at the park, and taking him for a splash in the pool together.

MewlingQuim Tue 10-Feb-15 15:00:36

Sounds normal to me. I'm pretty sure DD would be too young to concentrate for long in a formal lesson, and she goes to nursery every day and is fairly used to a school type environment. DH expects her to be perfect and get really frustrated, I remind him she is barely 3 FFS! He says oh yeah I forgot hmm

Dollybird99 Wed 11-Feb-15 10:04:33

I can't tell you how pleased I am that I wrote this post - I wasn't going to, but I was genuinely at the end of my tether. It's so re-assuring to see that what we're going through is mostly normal!

He's been going to football for some time, it's Little Kickers which is designed for children his age and based around play, rather than formal football skills. A lot of the other children, whom are around the same age, will sit on the mat, listen to the coach and do what they're told. 70% of the time, my DS will do it too, but the other 30% he's off doing his own thing, talking, not listening, running out of the hall, and generally mis-behaving. As I mentioned it my original post, last week he just laid on the floor and couldn't even be cajoled by the coach to do anything.

But you're all so right. We're expecting far too much from him. The reason why he's going to these things now is because we're doing what's expected of us (that's what our peers are doing), and partly because my parents could never have afforded for me and my siblings to do anything like this, so in part I am trying to ensure that he has every opportunity that we can afford to give him. Mrscog - you are right. He'd probably benefit just as much from going to the park with his dad, and going to our local swimming baths for a splash and us waiting until he's a bit older to enrol him in formal lessons.

I can't tell you how grateful I am for all your responses, and hearing that some of your are going through the same thing has put my mind to rest. We just need to give him space, patience and time and not expect too much - and not put ourselves under too much pressure either.......

Thanks all!

Mrscog Wed 11-Feb-15 10:12:09

smile Nothing better than getting cheered up by other people's similar experiences.

I suffer from frequent guilt pangs that we don't enrol DS in anything formal (mainly for selfish reasons that we like weekends as free and open as possible while we can), then I have to remind myself that in the 80's/90's no one under 5 really did any of those more formal activities, and it doesn't seemed to have harmed us!

flipflopsonfifthavenue Wed 11-Feb-15 10:53:14

My 2.5yo is like this. Like talking to a brick wall. I know its normal but I sometimes can't help saying through gritted teeth "LISTEN TO ME!!"

With the repeating Qs I end up saying "what do you think?" Or "I just told you darling" and he'll then usually answer himself. The one that drives me potty is about where things have gone: so, walking home from nursery-
DS1 " where nursery gone?"
Me " it's still there we're just walking away from it"
DS1 "where nursery gone?"
Me "nowhere, it's behind us"
DS1 "where nursery gone"
Me "......"
DS1 "where nursery gone"
Me "I don't know, what do you think?"
DS1 "yeah! Mummy? Where my shadow gone..?"

Took him to a gym/agility class which he loved. You had to go around the different stations in order with a couple of other kids. DS1 wanted to try each station in his own order and kept pulling me back to ones he enjoyed. He just thought it was like a soft play or playground. When everyone else sat down for the singing bit he didn't know why he couldn't just keep on playing!

Dollybird99 Thu 12-Feb-15 09:49:50

Ha ha flipflops - my son is exactly the same...

'Where has Nanny's house gone'
'Nowhere darling, it's still there - it's us that's moving'
'Where's Nanny's house gone'....
'Nanny's house hasn't gone anywhere, but we're going home now'
'Where's Nanny's house gone...?'


Mrscog - I never went to anything, apart from Sunday school and that's was only because my Mum wanted a couple of hours on a Sunday morning to herself. We weren't a religious family at all..!!!

We have also realised that by having these classes every weekend, it seriously restricts what we can and can't do, and where we can go. I think once the terms are up, we're seriously going to think about whether to do them again! Better perhaps to spend some time together as a family at the zoo or the park, rather than forcing him to play football if he doesn't really want to!

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