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WWYD - 3yo won't follow directions

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
To make a long story short, my 3yo dd is about to get kicked out of pre-school because she won't follow directions. That includes not coming when called, not staying in line, basically not doing anything unless physically forced (and then she tries to pull away when the teacher has her hand). The student / teacher ratio is 8:1, so they've explained to me that they can't give her the amount of one-on-one attention that she's been requiring. (She's also hitting other kids and bit the teacher.)

At home, things are a little better, but that's because I can give her one-on-one attention. If I ask her to "come here," she almost always ignores me, even if I give her the reason. She comes along willingly if I come to her and take her hand, but getting her to do ANYTHING without physical guidance is almost impossible. If I raise my voice the second time I call her, she laughs and walks even further away. I have told her that it makes me frustrated when she doesn't come when called. She seems to like that idea.

How can I get her to come when called and stay with me when she seems to have so much fun ignoring these expectations?
post #2 of 8
The first thing I'd do is have her hearing checked. If she's got fluid behind her ears, for example, she may not understand very well what you're saying. For any child who doesn't respond to verbal commands (and it sounds like she's very consistent in not responding), having their hearing checked is the first step.

If her hearing comes back OK, then I wonder if she's developmentally ready for preschool yet. 3 is very young still, and if you read a lot of threads on this board, about 1/2 of them seem to be about 3 year old challenges. Three year olds can be very oppositional.

I would recommend the book "Kids, Parents & Power Struggles".
post #3 of 8
3 is a challenging age for sure.

When ds1 was in that phase, I stopped talking. I simply went and wrapped my arms around him/took him by the hand and brought him to where I needed him to be. I realise the teachers can't do that at school, but you could try it at home.

don't give her an opportunity to ignore you. be right beside her when you say her name, and touch her gently at the same time.

How recently did she start preschool? Maybe she needs a bit of extra loving right now.
post #4 of 8
I would also get her hearing checked and perhaps an evaluation through early intervention. It is free and they can be a lot of help identifying developmental delays that may be causing problems and how to deal with them.
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks, mamas.

I have read Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles, but maybe it's time to
read it again.

She just started pre-school last week, so it's still new, but apparently her refusal to obey is just far more consistent and thorough than what the other students are coming to school with.

I am going to have her evaluated by our school district's early intervention program. Hopefully they will check her hearing, as well as evaluate her in terms of social and emotional development. However, I am fairly certain that it's not her hearing, since she eavesdrops on DH and me when we talk quietly, and asks us to elaborate on points that are of particular interest to her.

I do try to get her attention by getting close to her and down on her level, but that's not always possible, especially since I have a newborn too. And it's definitely not possible for her teachers to do that for her every time.

Usually, I'm a natural-consequences type of parent, but what are the natural consequences for refusing to obey or even acknowledge requests? And DH and I have even considered taking things away as punishments, but she dislikes TV and movies and outings of all sorts. The only things she really likes are reading, artwork, nursing, and building with blocks. I can't justify taking any of these things away since they are all wholesome activities that she needs every day.
post #6 of 8
I think you should just be consistent with going to get her and helping her follow through with what you are telling her to do. I don't think consequences are necessary or even useful for kids that age unless they are immediate and at that age I don't think kids need consequences, just guidance. I had to hold my dd's hand to bring her to do what I wanted her to do for a long time, I don't remember when it stopped but I think it was before she got into kindergarten. It seemed like a long time at the time, but looking back it doesn't seem like a big deal so you really may find that it is helpful to breathe deeply a lot and just redirect.

Are you sure that they are considering kicking her out for not standing in line and needing to be led to where she is told to go? These are common things with kids that age and aren't usually a big deal in a center that has age appropriate expectations. If that is their true complaint then I think you need to look for a different center. The biting and hitting sound like things that would really be an issue though and many places will kick your kid out very quickly if they bite too much, especially as they move away from the young toddler age and into the preschool age.

Also, it should be possible for the teachers to get on your child's level when they talk to her. They shouldn't be anywhere except at the childrens' level for the majority of the day. It should rarely be a problem for them to take a half a minute to hold her hand as they lead her to the line. Needing one-on-one for a couple minutes a day to prevent discipline issues shouldn't be something they aren't willing to provide to each child. If she needs constant one-on-one care because she is wreaking havoc then that is a problem, but needing redirection (especially in the first few weeks) shouldn't be an issue.
post #7 of 8
If she's talking well, her hearing is probably fine. Some 3 year olds still haven't developed impulse control yet. We didn't start my high energy DD in preschool until she was about 2.5 months away from turning 4. She just wasn't ready for indoor group activities or 'listening' to a nonparent adult. When we did start preschool, my DD still had problems with things like sitting in circle and doing something the first time it was asked. We put her in a play based, co-op one so there were always 2 parents in the class too. The s/t ratio in the 3's class is 5/1 or when the aid is in the room 4/1. The things you mentioned wouldn't be a problem at my DDs preschool. The adults would have given her the attention and flexibility your DD needs. The discipline at the school is very consistent and positive.

I think the issues are the preschool isn't a good match or maybe your DD isn't really ready yet.
post #8 of 8
Perhaps she's just not ready for preschool yet. It is preschool - it's not mandatory.
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