Possibly gifted 3yr old. Discipline issues!? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 01-13-2011, 09:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi, My DS just turned 3 last month. He sat at 4 months, crawled at 5 months, walked at 8 months... He new his alphabet by 19 months, could match lower and upper case letters by 2yrs old, and read at about 2.5. He understands simple math and can solve words problems. He knows most dinosaurs, why mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish are what they are. My DH and I dont really know how he knows these things, he doesnt go to PS and is with myself or DH all the time. He is bilingual (DH is russian). And can recognize Cyrillic letters. He has watched full length movies since he was 18 months old and is now being read the fourth book in the Narnia series and can retell all that has happened thus far. He is VERY into imaginary play. He will make believe 30 min story with numerous other characters and villains by himself in his room with nothing but his bed and blankets. And doesnt really like toys, he would rather play with little action figures (knights, lizards, pirates) or blocks(Has always been this way). He was a robot for halloween (2yrs old) and a fish the previous year (20 months) both chosen and designed by him(we make our own costumes). At the park and other public play dates he plays with the 6-8 year olds rather then kids his own age. He has understood the difference between "fake and real" since he was 2... movies, imaginary friends, books etc..., over chirstmas we found him telling his DGM that santa clause was fake (again he is rarely around other children and this was really the first year we did santa). I dont know if these are signs of being gifted or if he is just bright for his age!? I know it is too young to have him tested. 

 

He always was the type of child to know and understand what was going on and has been trying to negotiate the rules since he was 2. Now he has become very hard to discipline. He tries to talk his way out of everything, he will yell at us, and hit (but not hard enough to hurt, for some reason he thinks its ok to hit if it doesnt hurt). We dont spank, we use a supper nanny method when it comes to discipline(which isnt working at the moment) and in no way condone hitting in our family. He is very sarcastic (we dont discipline this because i feel like it is a part of his personality), and a lot of the times leaves me speechless with his arguments.. I have come to a wall when it comes to discipline and dont know what to do! Any suggestions? If he is gifted i want to nurture that but i do want to discipline as needed...is their a way to do both? Please Help, I am exhausted and my first desire is to help my DS! 

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#2 of 7 Old 01-13-2011, 07:25 PM
 
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If you search archives here you'll find a number of threads dealing with discipline.

 

Here's my .02.  Sarcasm is just cheap and easy, and sometimes can be used for humour and sometimes used to hurt or demean.  I would encourage him to express himself differently as it's not going to help him form mutual, caring relationships with others.  It doesn't mean disciplining him for it, but it could include asking him to re-state his POV or request in a less obnoxious manner, or ignoring him when he speaks that way, or practicing perspective taking.  Video tape him and ask him how he sounds.

 

With the hitting, this is totally normal 3 year old behaviour - his emotions are just bigger than his little body can handle and he needs to get it out.  It's great that he's not hitting to hurt, and I would recommend giving him feeling words when he's acting that way (oh, that's frustrating!) and alternative activities (crab walking or jumping jacks, or figure out what physical input soothes him, like rubbing his back firmly).

 

As for talking himself out of things - ptht.  You're the parent, with the wisdom of experience and the responsibility to ensure he's safe and developing healthily.  I'm raising two corporate lawyers here who are great anglers.  Chaos cannot reign because they're following their impulses and expecting the rest of us to go along.  Give him choices about every day things (but typically restrict it to two {blue or green cup} or you'll be stuck in deciding land forever).  Be honest with him about when and why the choice and direction has to be yours, and remark positively to him when the choice was his and it was a good one (this park is excellent!  I'm glad we ended up at this playground rather than the other because these swings are great!).  Don't be afraid to say "enough, we're not discussing this anymore.  you're losing time doing xx because you're arguing about the details: either get on with it or we drop it for today."  Read up on executive functioning skills.  Gently guiding kids to being able to manage themselves is a gift to them.

 

High emotions, argumentative approaches to seeking independence and control, and lack of emotional control are all part of being 3.


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#3 of 7 Old 01-13-2011, 08:54 PM
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Being gifted doesn't mean you have free rein in re. other people's feelings or bodies.  Giftedness *can* mean that children appear more developmentally advanced than they actually are. 

 

A three-year-old might be extremely precocious in several areas but developmentally, have typical weaknesses in executive functioning areas like impulse control.  Most three-year-olds are also still in the early stages of developing a habit of mind.  They understand that other people don't know the same things they know (for example, if a child sees a dog at the grocery store with Mom and Dad wasn't there, a typical 3yo will understand that Dad doesn't know about the dog).  They often don't understand that other people don't share their feelings.  Most 3yos don't know how humor works.  For example, my 3yo knows the format of a knock-knock joke, and she tells them fairly often, but she doesn't understand the connection between the third and fifth lines of the joke.  She thinks knock-knock jokes are funny because of the structure (Knock knock, Who's there, Banana, Banana Who, Something Random, People Laugh - Yay!  I'm a funny girl!), because she hasn't developed an understanding of puns yet. 

 

The form of sarcasm is pretty easy to master.  There's a certain tone of voice and a certain physical posture that goes with it.  Producing the content is trickier, and understanding the content is trickier still.  Most developmental psychologists think that children don't usually understand sarcasm until they reach double-digits in age.  I mention this because I think it's important to be aware that gifted children can be excellent mimics, but they don't always understand what they are saying or doing.  This is a problem, because adults often interpret their actions as deliberate and intentional, but he may not actually understand sarcasm any better than my dd understands the puns in knock-knock jokes.  Because he doesn't have a good understanding of the distinction between his feelings and other people's feelings (as demonstrated by his thinking that it's OK to hit if you don't cause pain - he believes he knows whether another person is hurt when he hits them, an older child would know better) he also doesn't know how sarcasm affects others.

 

However gifted a child may be, they need a lot of guidance at age three.  I grew up in a gifted family.  As kids, my sisters and I could tell any joke we wanted without consequence, but only while we were in the kitchen washing dishes (with only family present).  Outside the kitchen, with guests in the house, and if our hands weren't soapy, we had to be polite.  Setting boundaries when a child is young helps make those boundaries natural when a child is older.  By the time I was ten, my sisters and I would automatically head for the kitchen and find the dish soap when we wanted to tell dirty jokes.  It also gave my parents a chance to give us feedback ("I can see why your friends thought that was funny, but you *really* can't repeat that joke outside the kitchen.")  You can set similar boundaries on hitting.  Find some things your son can hit, and redirect him when you see the red flags that suggest that behavior is imminent. 

 

Three-year-olds negotiate because they want control.  As a parent, you need to set boundaries on this too.  Give him control of things a 3yo can reasonably handle.  Even gifted 3yos have poor judgment - everything is new to them. 

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#4 of 7 Old 01-13-2011, 09:10 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stik View Post

Being gifted doesn't mean you have free reign in re. other people's feelings or bodies.  Giftedness *can* mean that children appear more developmentally advanced than they actually are. 

 

A three-year-old might be extremely precocious in several areas but developmentally, have typical weaknesses in executive functioning areas like impulse control.  Most three-year-olds are also still in the early stages of developing a habit of mind.  They understand that other people don't know the same things they know (for example, if a child sees a dog at the grocery store with Mom and Dad wasn't there, a typical 3yo will understand that Dad doesn't know about the dog).  They often don't understand that other people don't share their feelings.  Most 3yos don't know how humor works.  For example, my 3yo knows the format of a knock-knock joke, and she tells them fairly often, but she doesn't understand the connection between the third and fifth lines of the joke.  She thinks knock-knock jokes are funny because of the structure (Knock knock, Who's there, Banana, Banana Who, Something Random, People Laugh - Yay!  I'm a funny girl!), because she hasn't developed an understanding of puns yet. 

 

The form of sarcasm is pretty easy to master.  There's a certain tone of voice and a certain physical posture that goes with it.  Producing the content is trickier, and understanding the content is trickier still.  Most developmental psychologists think that children don't usually understand sarcasm until they reach double-digits in age.  I mention this because I think it's important to be aware that gifted children can be excellent mimics, but they don't always understand what they are saying or doing.  This is a problem, because adults often interpret their actions as deliberate and intentional, but he may not actually understand sarcasm any better than my dd understands the puns in knock-knock jokes.  Because he doesn't have a good understanding of the distinction between his feelings and other people's feelings (as demonstrated by his thinking that it's OK to hit if you don't cause pain - he believes he knows whether another person is hurt when he hits them, an older child would know better.)

 

However gifted a child may be, they need a lot of guidance at age three.  I grew up in a gifted family.  As kids, my sisters and I could tell any joke we wanted without consequence, but only while we were in the kitchen washing dishes (with only family present).  Outside the kitchen, with guests in the house, and if our hands weren't soapy, we had to be polite.  Setting boundaries when a child is young helps make those boundaries natural when a child is older.  By the time I was ten, my sisters and I would automatically head for the kitchen and find the dish soap when we wanted to tell dirty jokes.  It also gave my parents a chance to give us feedback ("I can see why your friends thought that was funny, but you *really* can't repeat that joke outside the kitchen.")  You can set similar boundaries on hitting.  Find some things your son can hit, and redirect him when you see the red flags that suggest that behavior is imminent. 

 

Three-year-olds negotiate because they want control.  As a parent, you need to set boundaries on this too.  Give him control of things a 3yo can reasonably handle.  Even gifted 3yos have poor judgment - everything is new to them. 


I think this is a great post.

 

My possibly gifted 3 yo just turned four, and I'm so glad to be out of that! I don't know for sure if he's gifted - he has far fewer of the "gifted" characteristics that your son does, and it was still hard to remember how young he was. He is very verbal, so it often seems like he should be able to reason as well as he can verbalize. But he definitely cannot.

 

I don't know a whole lot about Supernanny, but I seem to remember it involves isolation and a "naughty chair"? Are you using T/Os a lot? Those didn't work AT ALL w/my 3 yo. He would become hysterically out of control if he was sent to his room, and I felt that any lesson he may have learned was certainly erased by the intense negative emotion. Routines were/are very helpful to him and empowering him to do whatever he could on his own.

 

Instead of sarcasm, he used lots of insults. I felt these were best ignored, and that would probably be the same for sarcasm. I agree with the pp, that he doesn't really get sarcasm, but has figured out it gets a rise out of you.


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#5 of 7 Old 01-14-2011, 12:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you!

Today we tried letting him figure out the consequences of his actions with our guidance and so far so good!

Example: In the car in front of the house. 

Me: DS where are you going? 

DS: Im going to sit in your seat

Me: Dont you have your shoes on?

DS: Ohh yes mommy's seat will be all dirty! 

Me: Then what will happen when I sit down?

DS: You will get all dirty! I have to stay back here!

 

Usually-

Me: DS dont go up there!! 

DS: - ignoring me - 

Me: Mommy said NO

Me: Do you want to go in TO 

DS: But I want to sit here...

and the melt down begins.... 

 

Hopefully this will keep working! 

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#6 of 7 Old 01-15-2011, 08:28 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stik View Post

 As kids, my sisters and I could tell any joke we wanted without consequence, but only while we were in the kitchen washing dishes (with only family present).  Outside the kitchen, with guests in the house, and if our hands weren't soapy, we had to be polite.  Setting boundaries when a child is young helps make those boundaries natural when a child is older.  By the time I was ten, my sisters and I would automatically head for the kitchen and find the dish soap when we wanted to tell dirty jokes.  It also gave my parents a chance to give us feedback ("I can see why your friends thought that was funny, but you *really* can't repeat that joke outside the kitchen.")

 

I just wanted to point out how BRILLIANT this idea is. Your parents were very cool. Two birds, one stone - you get an outlet for dirty talk, they get to "monitor and contain" it, AND they get dishes done.
 


You know the attributes for a great adult? Initiative, creativity, intellectual curiosity? They make for a helluva kid...
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#7 of 7 Old 01-16-2011, 05:43 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AshleighMach View Post

Thank you!

Today we tried letting him figure out the consequences of his actions with our guidance and so far so good!

Example: In the car in front of the house. 

Me: DS where are you going? 

DS: Im going to sit in your seat

Me: Dont you have your shoes on?

DS: Ohh yes mommy's seat will be all dirty! 

Me: Then what will happen when I sit down?

DS: You will get all dirty! I have to stay back here!

 

Usually-

Me: DS dont go up there!! 

DS: - ignoring me - 

Me: Mommy said NO

Me: Do you want to go in TO 

DS: But I want to sit here...

and the melt down begins.... 

 

Hopefully this will keep working! 



Yes, I think you're going to find this new approach yields the behaviour you would like to see more often, and bring you closer to your son, and will be more effective in coaching your child how to evaluate and make good choices than your old method.

 

I highly recommend the book Kids, Parents and Power Struggles.


Mom to a teenager and a middle schooler.

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