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Am I being TOTLLY unrealistic with my 3 year old?

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 
Please be honest with me!

I expect, or want to expect him to:

Pick up some of his toys, at least SOME of them, when I ask.
Sit with us at dinner, even if he isn't hungry, so we can get the kids used to being a family at dinner time.
Let his poor dad go to the bathroom in peace.
At least taste what we are having for dinner, at least once.
Play in the other room when his baby sister (11 mo) won't leave him alone.
SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT!

He is 3 years and 3 months. I am sure there are more, I'll probably think of them as I'm reading the responses...
post #2 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by timneh_mom View Post
Please be honest with me!

I expect, or want to expect him to:

Pick up some of his toys, at least SOME of them, when I ask.
Sit with us at dinner, even if he isn't hungry, so we can get the kids used to being a family at dinner time.
Let his poor dad go to the bathroom in peace.
At least taste what we are having for dinner, at least once.
Play in the other room when his baby sister (11 mo) won't leave him alone.
SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT!

He is 3 years and 3 months. I am sure there are more, I'll probably think of them as I'm reading the responses...
You might have more luck making it into a game and/or picking up with him.

I don't know about the dinner part. I completely screwed that up with my first two.

You may have to actively distract him so that dad can go to the bathroom in peace.

I completely screwed up the food thing and have no good advice.

Again it will probably take a lot of facilitation to get them to play separately.

What do you mean by "sleep through the night"?

Sorry I'm not being very helpful. I do hear your frustration. I remember feeling like my oldest (mine about about the same age spacing) "should" have been doing so much more at various points in time and then when my youngest got there, he just seemed so little! (These days, I'm probably expecting more out of him because they both seem like such big kids.)
post #3 of 35
Thread Starter 
Sparklefairy! I'm sure you didn't "screw up" your kids when it comes to dinner and food... I think they just have opinions and some are better eaters (and better at transitions) than others...

DS was, at one point, going to bed and not needing help til morning, but now, he wakes up yelling for his dad every night and doesn't seem to need anything, just wants to see his dad... why can't he sleep like he used to? He was always a terrible sleeper and he's only had about 6-8 months of his life where he actually slept without needing us. I am totally burned out on the sleep stuff because DD is a terrible sleeper too and is getting a new tooth right now. She has also decided it is more fun to try to play at 11 pm instead of sleep so after going to bed for the night she wakes up just as I'm going down. I swear they are trying to kill me.
post #4 of 35
Maybe a little... Personal experience (and an out-of-date degree in developmental psych) suggests some thoughts and observations:

* "Pick up your toys" is generally too abstract for most preschool age kids. I'm much more successful with "Please put the books on the shelf. Great. Now, please put the blocks in the bin." and so forth. Racing the clock (or each other), singing songs, and other games around cleaning help too. Key is that I am involved, not just giving a direction and walking away.

* Dinner -- we've always asked our kids to come to the table, participate in saying grace. And then if they aren't hungry they can leave, or they leave when they are done eating. We've done this since they were infants and its worked pretty well. Asking a child to sit quietly through an adult-length dinner is probably unrealistic. And they won't sit quietly if the adults aren't interacting with them. As for tasting things, that topic causes hot debate around here. Personally, I know there are some things that I don't want to taste -- I don't like the smell or the visual texture. So I figure that my kids have the same taste mechanisms that I do and thus the same "right" to dislike the sight or smell of something and not want to taste. I honor that and am unwilling to "force" them to taste anything. Of course, my response is probably colored by the fact that my parents literally forced us to eat things.

* Play alone? Depends on the kid. One of mine will (and would at that age), one won't.

* Bathroom. Hm, my personal response is that bathroom doors have locks for a reason. After the kids were past the "can't take my eyes off of them or they will get into something they shouldn't" stage, I started going in to the bathroom and closing the door. At 3, both kids would leave me alone. At 2 and a bit, one of mine would hammer at the door and one was happy to let me be.

* Sleep through the night. Again, depends alot on the kid. I don't think either of mine would go to sleep and sleep through the night without interaction with us at that point. We solved this with a hybrid of independent and co-sleeping. Everyone starts the night in their own beds (with books and cuddles until they are asleep), then can move into our bed if/when they need to at night. Generally my 5 YO still moves into our bed between 2 and 4 AM, but my 8 YO rarely if ever comes in during the night. But, I never wake up when they do, so I don't care.

But, like everything else in parenting, "actual results may vary". Your kids, your family, your routines, your values etc. may be different and may take a different approach from any of us here. That's what makes it so gosh-darn hard!!!
post #5 of 35
I have a 3.75 yo. Of course these are just IMO:

-I think kids this age need help picking up. It helps to be specific "put the train track in the bin while I put away the trains." I also sometimes offer a carrot "when the floor is clear, we can run the Roomba!" Also, when he does cooperate, I point out how much faster it goes when two people work together (he's starting to get that just now).

-We have family dinners. My kids are expected to come to the table, but can ask to be excused when they're done. If adults are lingering, I don't think it's reasonable to make the kids wait (I know not everyone agrees with me on this one).

-Do you talk about how some people want privacy in the bathroom? I always ask my ds if he wants company or privacy. He gets it now if I ask for privacy.

-I don't force tasting. I notice that my 3 yo will "sneak" bites of new things when I'm not paying attention to him. I think about how I would not like to be handed something new and strange to eat and have someone watching closely while I tried it. Or how I feel when someone insists I try something I KNOW I don't like.

-with baby, I guess I feel it's my responsibility to distract the baby, not his responsibility to move. Though I DO talk to him about possible solutions (build the baby his own train track, get up and move, offer a trade, wait until nap time to build high towers of blocks, etc).

-Alas, my 3 yo also does not sleep through the night. I ask him why and he says, "I wake up and just really miss my mom." So I try to take it as a complement, though it's VERY, VERY hard having two waking up every night.

zzzzz
post #6 of 35
DD is about the same age as your DS.

We expect her to pick up her toys. After telling her many many times and doing it many many ways (fun, games, beat the clock, etc) she knows (with a reminder, usually) that before you take out more toys, you have to put the old ones away or they will get lost and/or broken.

We do expect her to sit with us at dinner for about 10-15 minutes. She doesn't have to eat anything or try anything. We don't even talk about it. She loves to serve herself, so she puts the food she wants on her plate. (This is a bit of a problem because she always takes way too much, but we're working on it.)

I would tell your DP to lock the bathroom door!

I would not expect him to try something he doesn't want to try. And if he's anything like my DD, if you suggest it, there is no way he'll try it.

DD does play on her own pretty frequently, but she has a very independent spirit.

DD has only slept through the night about three times in her entire life. I really really want her to, but have no idea how to make it happen.
post #7 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by timneh_mom View Post
I expect, or want to expect him to:

Pick up some of his toys, at least SOME of them, when I ask.
Sit with us at dinner, even if he isn't hungry, so we can get the kids used to being a family at dinner time.
Let his poor dad go to the bathroom in peace.
At least taste what we are having for dinner, at least once.
Play in the other room when his baby sister (11 mo) won't leave him alone.
SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT!

He is 3 years and 3 months. I am sure there are more, I'll probably think of them as I'm reading the responses...
Honest hat on from another (often frustrated) mom of a 3yr old

Pick up toys- sure! sometimes... and sometimes not so much...

sit at dinner- hit and miss. and limited time- how long is dinner? If I make it *important* I can usually get 10-15 minutes. She CAN do longer (does fine at restaurants as a rule...) but just doesn't always happen.

Bathroom in peace? dream on... Hey, I can't why should dad get to

taste dinner- don't push your luck. Sometimes! Sure! Always? Not worth the fight. If dd decides it's not going in her mouth IT'S NOT GOING IN HER MOUTH....

Play in the other room- SURE! When there's a reason to? Eh... not so much... I can see where he could feel banished there...

Sleep through the night- hit and miss here. I think we're good to go and on track for that... then we have a run of waking up every night for a week

good luck and lots of sympathy!

-Angela
post #8 of 35
*Pick up some of his toys -- I agree that picking up toys is too abstract. Someone posted in another thread (sorry I have no idea who or what thread) to take pictures of how you want the toys to look and hang them up. I have yet to get this done but do plan on doing it. Again, being specific helps. "Put the puzzle together and put it on the shelf."

*Sit with us at dinner -- Might be a bit tough at this age but you could start small. Serve them at the table. Ask that they sit until they are done. Then slowly try extending how long they sit. Working to include them in a discussion might help. It could be his special time to tell Daddy what he did that day.

*Let his poor dad go to the bathroom in peace. -- When I feel like I need to be alone, I tell J that I am going to potty by myself, and then I lock the door.

*At least taste what we are having for dinner, at least once. -- I ask J to try some of everything. Most of the time she says okay and sometimes she doesn't. I try to respect her decision either way. Keep asking him. He may surprise you one time and try everything.

*Play in the other room . -- I totally understand this one. A month or so ago I cleaned out half of a walk in closet and made it a special place for J. If K is bothering J, then I tell her to play in her closet. It has a special chair for her and all the toys that K is not allowed to play with. It has worked really well for us.

*SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT! -- This is a tough one. J has her bed right next to ours. She falls asleep in our bed next to K. When I go to bed I move her to her bed. Sometime during the night she climbs over my dh and snuggles in with me. Sometimes it is 1 in the morning and other times she makes it until 5.
Good luck, these are some tough questions.
post #9 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by alegna View Post
Honest hat on from another (often frustrated) mom of a 3yr old

Pick up toys- sure! sometimes... and sometimes not so much...

sit at dinner- hit and miss. and limited time- how long is dinner? If I make it *important* I can usually get 10-15 minutes. She CAN do longer (does fine at restaurants as a rule...) but just doesn't always happen.

Bathroom in peace? dream on... Hey, I can't why should dad get to

taste dinner- don't push your luck. Sometimes! Sure! Always? Not worth the fight. If dd decides it's not going in her mouth IT'S NOT GOING IN HER MOUTH....

Play in the other room- SURE! When there's a reason to? Eh... not so much... I can see where he could feel banished there...

Sleep through the night- hit and miss here. I think we're good to go and on track for that... then we have a run of waking up every night for a week

good luck and lots of sympathy!

-Angela
: almost word for word substituting she for he, since I have a boy but what she said applies to my ds. He will be 3y 4m the 18th.
post #10 of 35
Mine is a pretty mature 3 yr and 10 months old and with the exception of sleeping through the night (he goes to sleep in his own bed then wakes up and cries for papa to come and sleep with him for the rest of the night around midnight - this seems completely reasonable to me) I do "expect" the rest of the things on your list from him. Notice the quotation marks?

I just mean that those are all things I feel comfortable encouraging in him, but not things I feel justified in heavily pressuring him to do - does that make sense? I mean that there is no forcing or ultimatums surrounding those things, but I will repeatedly request him to do those things. He can certainly choose not to try dinner, but I feel ok telling him *every* night that that is a good, sensible, and valuable thing to do - with the expectation that he eventually will at least try everything in front of him. Might not happen for another year , but I trust it will. Same with all the other things on your list.

eta: on the picking up toys - we always do it together. I expect him to help me, but we haven't gotten to the doing it on his own stage.
post #11 of 35
DS is 3 y 1m

[QUOTE]
Quote:
Originally Posted by timneh_mom View Post
Please be honest with me!

I expect, or want to expect him to:

Pick up some of his toys, at least SOME of them, when I ask.
DS will pick up his toys if i start or do it with him. he might or might not pick them up completely on his own. his sister at that age would not.

Quote:
Sit with us at dinner, even if he isn't hungry, so we can get the kids used to being a family at dinner time.
we don't force that one. what's the point of forced family time at dinner? i think when he is old enough to participate in conversations, he will enjoy the "family time." i don't think it is a matter of habit.

Quote:
Let his poor dad go to the bathroom in peace.
DS would leave me if i ask him. DD at this age would not have. she'd be freaked out. it was more peaceful to have her in the bathroom, both with me or DH.

Quote:
At least taste what we are having for dinner, at least once.
i don't expect this one. i HATE when people ask me to try something that they are eating, no matter how delicious it is, no matter how great smelling or looking. sometimes i'm just not in the mood! so i don't want to do the same to DS.

Quote:
Play in the other room when his baby sister (11 mo) won't leave him alone.
DS would do this, but again, his sister at this age would not.

Quote:
SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT!
DS sleeps through most of the time. DD started sleeping through the night less than a year ago, and she is still a very light sleeper.

basically, so much depends on each child. i'm not "expecting" the above from DS, as his sister wasn't "there" just yet, at this age. but he is much more easy going, so when he co-operates, i see it as a bonus, and when she doesn't, i see it as a fact of life and don't sweat over it. !

post #12 of 35
Our kids are the same age and I have the same expectations. Except I'd like to go potty alone. She always leaves dh alone.
post #13 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by timneh_mom View Post
Please be honest with me!

I expect, or want to expect him to:

Pick up some of his toys, at least SOME of them, when I ask.
Sit with us at dinner, even if he isn't hungry, so we can get the kids used to being a family at dinner time.
Let his poor dad go to the bathroom in peace.
At least taste what we are having for dinner, at least once.
Play in the other room when his baby sister (11 mo) won't leave him alone.
SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT!

He is 3 years and 3 months. I am sure there are more, I'll probably think of them as I'm reading the responses...
I think those are all reasonable to expect from a three year old. Most of the items in your list are only asking to modify behaviors.

Should you expect him to clean the room the level that you would? No. Should he be able to put some toys away in a box when you ask? Yes.
Should you expect him to like and eat everything he is fed? No.
Should he try new foods and sit at the table until he is excused? Yes.

The sleep through the night thing may be tough as that is not really an act of disobedience. Not that you can't work towards that, but you can't just really expect that to happen.
post #14 of 35
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for all your responses! I'll clarify a few things.

The picking up toys: I DEFINITELY don't expect a spotless room. I would like to not trip and step on things like small toy cars in my bare feet (OUCH!). If he dumps out a box, he can put things back into it, IMO.

Dinner time is very short at our house. 15 minutes maybe. Actually DS is often the LAST person done eating. And I thought I was slow! We don't have lengthy adult conversation. In fact, we rarely have adult conversation at our house for any length of time! The dinner thing is REALLY important to DH, alot moreso than me.

I think the expectation of wanting him to taste a tiny bite of something is fine. I'm not asking him to try weird foods that he's never had, I mean really basic things that are familiar.

I am also trying to make his room a sanctuary away from the baby who is a new walker. He has his trains and tracks and other "special" things in there.

The sleep thing has always been a battle. He has always been a terrible sleeper and slept well for maybe 6-8 months and now he's back to waking at night again. I can't believe this sleep deprivation **** is actually going to end someday. And no, I will not miss these days. Not for a second!
post #15 of 35
A couple of thoughts on the below:

Quote:
Originally Posted by timneh_mom View Post
I think the expectation of wanting him to taste a tiny bite of something is fine. I'm not asking him to try weird foods that he's never had, I mean really basic things that are familiar.

I am also trying to make his room a sanctuary away from the baby who is a new walker. He has his trains and tracks and other "special" things in there.
First- the bites... I really wouldn't push too hard with this. But I have a kid who's odd about food. And I was odd about food (didn't mind weird tastes, but I had and still have SERIOUS issues with some textures) I really really truly hated and resented the take one bite thing. At only 3 I'd encourage, but then back off if it doesn't fly. Instead I'd work with things like letting him help cook and other things to encourage trying the new stuff.

I also really had a thing about being "alone" at times. Even if I wasn't FAR from everyone else, I would seriously get creeped out if I was alone at times. I think in this case I'd phrase it as choices- you're welcome to stay here, but that toy isn't safe for baby (or baby could ruin that toy) so you need to (or might want to depending) put it in your room so it's safe.

good luck! I'm finding 3 to be MUCH more challenging than 2 in many ways.

-Angela
post #16 of 35
The No Cry Discipline Solution by Elizabeth Pantly is saving my mind in these three year old years!
post #17 of 35
Rarely will my 3 year old do much if anything if I say pick up in a general way. If I am helping or very specefic it is usually not a problem.

I don't think it is unrealistic to expect your child to be at the table at dinner time. It will take some work to establish this habit and if they're not eating you'll probably want to let them go play before everyone else is completely done.

I don't get to go to the bathroom in peace.

I try to insist on trying one bite of everything but try to be easy going about food. The key in this is not allowing other stuff if dinner isn't eaten which often means saving uneaten dinner till the little one is ready to eat.

I think sleeping just varies so much by child. Our current 3 year old has always slept very well. DD who is now 2 1/2 I highly doubt will be that great of a sleeper even at 3.

Things will get easier or at least different with time.


Quote:
Originally Posted by timneh_mom View Post
Please be honest with me!

I expect, or want to expect him to:

Pick up some of his toys, at least SOME of them, when I ask.
Sit with us at dinner, even if he isn't hungry, so we can get the kids used to being a family at dinner time.
Let his poor dad go to the bathroom in peace.
At least taste what we are having for dinner, at least once.
Play in the other room when his baby sister (11 mo) won't leave him alone.
SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT!

He is 3 years and 3 months. I am sure there are more, I'll probably think of them as I'm reading the responses...
post #18 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by timneh_mom View Post
Pick up some of his toys, at least SOME of them, when I ask.
mine does not, ESPECIALLY if i use the words "clean up". i have learned from another thread here that it's too early to expect them to clean up after themselves. now i just do what some of the others have suggested - give a very specific instruction. about 50% of the time, she complies.

Sit with us at dinner, even if he isn't hungry, so we can get the kids used to being a family at dinner time.
not an issue here, my dd loves eating and will sit for a long time.

Let his poor dad go to the bathroom in peace.
DH doesn't mind that she comes to the bathroom with him, but if he did i would encourage him to tell her he needs privacy, then lock the door. if she gets upset and bangs on it, i would help her get through it.

At least taste what we are having for dinner, at least once.
this one's tough, because i understand where you're coming from. i watched a program about how children can learn to like foods, by tasting them several times over a period of time. in the show, a child that hated avocados actually got to the point of liking them after tasting them just once every day for two weeks. what i do is strongly encourage her to take just one bite, and gauge her reaction. sometimes she will do it, sometimes not. i don't push it beyond that.

Play in the other room when his baby sister (11 mo) won't leave him alone.
SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT!
no siblings here.

..
i encourage you to lower or drop your expectations wherever you can, though. once i let go of mine, i felt all my anger about it just drain away, and i was able to be so much more patient.
post #19 of 35
I have a 2.5 and a 3.75 yo. They both pick up toys before bedtime. We make it a race - although they don't actually win anything, and everybody helps.

Sitting with us at dinner. Sometimes, we eat dinner while we watch a movie together in the living room. Then, they are free to roam around and do whatever as long as they come back for bites every now and then. When we are sitting at the table together, we ALL sit there together. They are both VERY verbal, and we have some of our sweetest, cutest conversations at the dinner table. At dinner, I always make one thing that I know they love. Then I will make something else that they may not be crazy about, but if they have never tried it before, I do ask them to take one bite when they are ready to do so. If we have had it before and they said they did not like it, I just put a tiny bit on the plate in case they want to try again, but they don't have to eat it.

The bathroom - my dd will NOT go to the bathroom by herself, thus I am not allowed to go by myself. If I close the door, she stands outside and scratches like some sort of burrowing animal. But my ds (the older) lets me go in peace.

Neither of them are great at playing alone, but me dd (the 2.5 yo) is much better at playing by herself then my ds (3.5 yo)

Sleeping thru the night - I can commiserate. I am a bit of an insomniac anyway, and it never fails -- when I FINALLY go to sleep, one of them wakes me up about 5 minutes later. DS sleeps very well and for a good length of time if he doesn't have a nightmare, which has been happening more and more frequently lately. DD is up and down all night, but usually doesn't wake me up. She gets up and plays for a while, then gets back in her bed and goes to sleep. She's kooky! HaHa! But I know if she wakes me up, she really needs something.
post #20 of 35
The not leaving dad alone in the bathroom and waking at night for dad...maybe he is craving a bit more daddy time? Is there any way your DH could spend a little more one on one time with him? Maybe go in his room with him after work and play trains/read books/play cars/whatever for 15-20 minutes? DS is 5, but even at 3, he would get like that if he was just craving a bit more attention from one of his parents, and just a few minutes could make a big difference.

The baby sister at that age is tough too, because she is just big enough to be interested and want to play along, but does not understand that she is wrecking things when knocking over train layouts, etc. For us, the "babyzilla" phase got better when she got to be about 18 months, and now they play together awesome (2.75 years apart), so there is hope there too! I had to do a lot of redirecting with her at that age, or just suggest something different for him. One thing that worked well for us if she was REALLY bothering his stuff was to have him do something at the kitchen table so she could not reach, like drawing, or puzzles or playdoh or whatever.
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