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3yo playing alone and acting out at nursery

2 replies

webminx · 24/04/2013 19:12

My DS1 has been at this nursery since he was baby - moved up through the rooms as he got older and is now in the nursery room, where he is the second youngest, at 3years old. He has always been happy at that nursery, but since moving into this room, has had a number of issues. Many of them are usual "3 year old behavioral issues" like slapping or shouting no, throwing tantrums etc. However, recently he has really started to act out (pinching and scratching nursery carers), saying he doesn't like nursery and sometimes cries in the morning when he has to go. I should point out that he also occasionally tantrums when home with us, and they have recently picked up a bit so it's not all purely nursery-based!

Nursery carers have also said that he plays a lot independently (e.g. playing by himself in the corner) and often refuses to join in group activities. I have a call scheduled with the nursery on Friday to discuss but just wanted to see what the consensus would be on how much of this is "normal" behaviour for a 3 yo and how much of it may be down to him being unhappy? Really worried as he's usually such a lovely little boy and it makes me very sad to see him having a tough time :(. Nursery are being great - very reassuring and have tried different strategies to manage his behaviour etc. They're keeping an observation diary of what triggers his outbursts etc. and I hope this might help. Sorry for the essay but keen to hear if anyone else has had similar experiences!

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amazingmumof6 · 25/04/2013 05:47

independent play is very typical and normal at this age, and is the correct developmental stage, so he is right on track! do not let them stress you out about that!!
unhappy kids sulk and break stuff, they don't play happily on their own!!!!

Also some children are/act suddenly shy when being put on a spot in a group, I can imagine that he might even fear that situation and reacts badly!

being physically expressive is so much more common with boys, they find it harder to express their thoughts and feelings verbally.
it's a negative reaction to being frustrated, but if he can't say it he'll hit/scratch etc.
not nice, but very common and it will pass as his verbal development progresses.

Most of what he's going through is due to the natural instinct of wanting to gain more control and power, I can't blame him, we all do it!
One way you can help him to calm down and help him feel more of a big boy who makes decisions is to offer him limited choices (only ever between two things!) - ask him "do you want sausages or spaghetti for dinner? do you want to play with the puzzle or the cars?
red socks or blue? and so on.
of course you can let him have a third choice, but don't offer it!

good luck on Friday and don't worry, he is absolutely normal! big hugs, you are doing a great job!

webminx · 25/04/2013 15:19

Thanks so much! That's really helpful and good to read! We're encouraging him to use his words instead of his hands when feeling sad or cross and asking for "quiet time" or "some space" if he feels crowded etc., which he now takes great pleasure in using (mostly around tidy-up or clean-up time, I have to admit! ;-)
Got a bit worried he was unhappy rather than just being a typical 3y/o so really encouraged to read your reply - thanks again!

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