Is it normal for a 3 year old to seem frenetic? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 02-09-2013, 05:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm having some major behavior issues with my almost 3 year old right now, and I'm feeling really confused and lost about what to do.  She has a moderate dose of the "normal" 3 year old things:  Defiance, freaking out when she doesn't get her way, trying to boss me around, etc.  I feel like we have a reasonable grip on those issues, and I find a lot of advice about that type of thing on this forum. 

 

What I'm really struggling with is this not-really-discipline issue of my daughter's intensity.  As I said in my title, she just seems frenetic.  She is very verbal and needs to be talking all day long, and needs to hear a response to everything she says or she can't let it rest.  Her mind seems to move a mile a minute, and every single thing that comes into it is verbalized.  Every input seems to be of equal importance in her mind - i.e. she comments equally on stuff like a speck of lint on my shirt or the sound of the heat kicking on as to "regular" stuff, like what we're drawing or reading or whatnot. She doesn't miss ANYTHING. She asks me for things and then asks me for 16 other things in the time it takes me to get the first thing.  The constant talking talking talking and flitting from idea to idea, the constant back and forth between me and her...it's driving me nuts. 

 

On top of that, she does this talking at the expense of or in addition to all other activities.  She cannot entertain herself at.all.  "Go play, please" has become a punitive thing for me to say, and the more I try to get space for myself, the more frenzied and desperate for my attention she becomes.  When I DO play with her, she continues to talk and talk and talk, and generally tries to get me to direct the play, but we can never get into a groove and it's kind of a disaster every time.  I feel like there's some major need of hers that I must be failing to fill.  Is this all normal 3 year old stuff, too?  I don't know how to cope with the constant need anymore.  (Doesn't help that she has an 18 month old cousin that we babysit who can play for HOURS without asking for a single thing.....makes me feel like I've done something all wrong.) 

 

My sister thinks she needs to be in preschool.  She thinks that perhaps she is under-stimulated staying home with me, and that's why her brain is flying into a frenzy.  She has a point that DD seems most calm in high-stimulation environments, like a party with lots of familiar adults.  In general, I'm not a fan of pre-school before age four.  I worry that if she enters a directed-play environment now that she will never learn how to direct her own activities and create fun for herself. 

 

My sister also thinks a reward chart may help encourage her to play independently more often, and again, I worry that it would work TOO well, and erode the little bit of intrinsic motivation that my daughter seems to have.  She's always asking me whether things she does make me happy.  Now are you happy, Mommy?  Does that make you happy?  I don't know what I did to make her so concerned about that, and I feel really guilty about it.

 

But...she's driving me nuts, and I hate feeling annoyed at her so often. 

 

Is it just a matter of time and maturity?  What can I do in the here and now to help our relationship without negative consequences on DD? 

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#2 of 12 Old 02-09-2013, 06:06 PM
 
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It is normal for that age to jump around from ideas and not let you finish one thing before another. However, being an extrovert just sounds like her personality. I have noticed that extroverts think through constant talking. It helps them process and learn. My kids are the opposite. They seem almost underdeveloped socially but process through silence until they have gathered their ideas appropriately. This often is the personality for imaginitive play. Extroverts really need others to be involved in their activities. It is not good or bad but who she is. I agree that she would probably benefit from preschool in this case. It is not that you are doing something wrong but she genuinely needs to socialize. Creative play is mostly just personality so if she does not possess that quality herself, she may benefit from others who do. In the same manner, her personable nature may help others who do not possess such ease in social situations.


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#3 of 12 Old 02-09-2013, 06:45 PM
 
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Its possible that she is an extremely bright child who needs a great deal of stimulation. I think the idea of seeing how she does in preschool is a good one.

 

I understand your concern that if she is constantly provided stimulation extrinsically, she will never develop the ability to play independently or develop her own interests without relying on another person, but in my experience this has a lot more to do with personality and extroversion vs. introversion than it does environment. My DD is very social and absolutely would not play by herself at that age... now that she is 8, she has been initiating and engaging in activities by herself of her own design for about the last year, something that I never thought would happen. And I didn't do anything to make it happen except be a pretty boring playmate sometimes. Meeting your DD's needs for socialization and stimulation now won't delay the development of her ability to entertain herself later, I don't think.

 

Plus you'll get a break, and be a more present mama when you are with her. She'll get a break from having to focus on how you are feeling and whether you are happy - she might be sensing your desperation a bit. When DD starts asking me if I'm cranky or irritable its usually because I am.

 

And you'll get feedback from the preschool if there really is something unusual in her behavior.

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#4 of 12 Old 02-10-2013, 01:53 PM
 
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I don't have a comment specifically on your DD, but I do want to say that preschool isn't necessarily directed-play. My children spend most of their preschool time playing with whatever they want. The teachers redirect when necessary (throwing toys, etc) and help the children manage conflict when necessary. Just make sure you find a play-based preschool and not an academically focused one. Most 2-year-old programs have a 6-hour per week option (2 mornings a week), so it isn't a ton of time she'd be in preschool.

I agree with PP that preschool would give you a break and also the teachers would probably have a great perspective on if her behavior is normal or not, and suggestions for you on how to handle it at home.

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#5 of 12 Old 02-10-2013, 05:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the responses.  I realize I probably sound like a major worrywart :) 

 

Kaimarb, I'm glad to hear that the "flitting" is pretty normal.  Seems like you may be saying that it IS normal for her brain to be going a million miles a minute, but not every kid verbalizes every.single.thought like mine does.  And really, it's the fact that she tries to make MY mind move like that that's the problem.  I just.....can't.  Whew. 

 

BellinghamCrunchie, I'm really glad to hear the perspective of a mother with an older child with similar traits.  Your response really tapped into my worry that I might do something that will "ruin" my DD, and I'm really grateful for the reassurance that sending her to school early will probably not compromise her ability to play by herself later.  I do feel like we're in a no-win situation at home, and I would love to have more energy for her (and, um, for her to have a little less energy for me). 

 

Tribord, curious, what do you feel your kids get out of a play-based preschool that they would not get from a daycare center?  I really have no experience with either...

 

I think, overall, I'm having a "parent the child you have" challenge.  Typical.  Ever since Day 1 this kid has challenged all of my ideals and plans for her.  Now I feel like my dreams of cozy me-and-her homeschooling may just not be the right fit for us.  And my plan to keep her home with me until age 4....nope.  I am a total introvert, and it is so hard for me to understand where we got this verbal, social kid.  It's hard for me to understand what she needs.  Today I got this great idea to start taking her to visit the senior citizen center as entertainment for the old people.  They would all want to talk to her and she would LOVE it.  Sigh. 

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#6 of 12 Old 02-10-2013, 07:45 PM
 
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From reading this along with a few of your other posts I wonder if play therapy could be helpful. She reminds me a bit of my DS, but also different in some ways. However, play therapy has been amazing for DS. His therapist taught DH & I to do a certain kind of child-led play therapy with him at home -- kind of mini sessions. Once we really got into these sessions, DS's play has made a complete 360. He still struggles to play by himself, but actually sometimes can do it for 10mins here and there, sometimes even longer! For him that is amazing!! But more importantly, even when he needs someone else to play with him, he is way more confident, creative, and self-directive in his play now. Before, when I tried to play with him, it just... led nowhere. I got annoyed, bored, frustrated, or confused because his play was so... off. Now, he actually plays! Like other kids do!! It's amazing. We lucked out in that this therapist came highly recommended and has worked hard to fully understand DS's issues & adjust her treatment accordingly -- I don't know if some random therapist from the phone book would be as effective, so if you go this route, ask around for some recs. (And actually, DS's therapist is only an hour or two away from you, if you want her info PM me and maybe she can refer you to someone nearer to you that does similar therapy? IDK if therapists have info like that but she might!) The improvement with play therapy has been in just a few short months and it has affected pretty much every aspect of our lives, not just his play. I am enjoying him way more, he's so much happier, and our household is more peaceful.

So this is my very long way of saying that while nothing in your post sounds alarming or out completely of the ordinary, that doesn't mean you & she just need to suffer it out. Whether or not she has anything major or diagnosable, she could still benefit from treatment. I know you've mentioned maybe some self-regulation and sensory issues, plus high needs, etc. so maybe there is something mild going on there. If play therapy doesn't feel right to you, OT might be something else to consider. I don't have experience with preschool so I can't offer much there but I will say that having DS heavily involved in a homeschool co-op group really backfired on us & all his issues escalated. We had to take a long break and are just now starting to reintegrate into the co-op group. He had/has a high need for adult interaction and struggles with interacting with same-age peers, so even though he loved being around his big group of friends, things at home became really difficult in reaction to that. I don't know quite how to explain it & I don't want to take over your thread with DS's story because your DD may be very different, I just know that for some kids preschool could make things worse instead of better. But since I don't think you can start preschool 'til the fall anyway (can you??) then maybe take the next few months to experiment with drop-off mom's day out or storytime at the library, things like that -- both to give yourself a break and to try to get some idea of how she might respond to a preschool-type setting.

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#7 of 12 Old 02-11-2013, 04:20 AM
 
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My oldest is a talker, like you describe your dd. Everything that crosses his mind comes out his mouth and he needs a response to it. He never.stops.talking. And I'm an introvert, it makes me insane. A play based preschool really helps, it gives him a chance to interact with adults who aren't me and it gives me both a break and a chance to appreciate the fact that's he's really a very charming, bright, friendly kid (his teachers love him) and he's learning about taking turns talking and not necessarily blurting out everything that crosses his mind.

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#8 of 12 Old 02-12-2013, 06:02 PM
 
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Just wanted to chime in and say what you describe sounds similar to my 3yo DD, with the talking and the talking and the required responses and the bossing around and the constant need for interaction. But, my DD has been in a Montessori program full time since 16 months (I work FTOH) - started in the toddler program and is now in primary. She really seems to thrive there. And a foundational aspect of Montessori is that substantial portions of each day are self-directed. Something to consider. Her school goes from toddler to lower elementary (about age 9), and we plan to keep her there all the way through if we can.
 

I hear you on the exhaustion, and I'm not even around my DD all day except on the weekends! Good luck, mama - it sounds like a good pre-school might be a great help.


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#9 of 12 Old 02-13-2013, 06:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

From reading this along with a few of your other posts I wonder if play therapy could be helpful. She reminds me a bit of my DS, but also different in some ways. However, play therapy has been amazing for DS. His therapist taught DH & I to do a certain kind of child-led play therapy with him at home -- kind of mini sessions. Once we really got into these sessions, DS's play has made a complete 360. He still struggles to play by himself, but actually sometimes can do it for 10mins here and there, sometimes even longer! For him that is amazing!! But more importantly, even when he needs someone else to play with him, he is way more confident, creative, and self-directive in his play now. Before, when I tried to play with him, it just... led nowhere. I got annoyed, bored, frustrated, or confused because his play was so... off. Now, he actually plays! Like other kids do!! It's amazing. We lucked out in that this therapist came highly recommended and has worked hard to fully understand DS's issues & adjust her treatment accordingly -- I don't know if some random therapist from the phone book would be as effective, so if you go this route, ask around for some recs. (And actually, DS's therapist is only an hour or two away from you, if you want her info PM me and maybe she can refer you to someone nearer to you that does similar therapy? IDK if therapists have info like that but she might!) The improvement with play therapy has been in just a few short months and it has affected pretty much every aspect of our lives, not just his play. I am enjoying him way more, he's so much happier, and our household is more peaceful.

So this is my very long way of saying that while nothing in your post sounds alarming or out completely of the ordinary, that doesn't mean you & she just need to suffer it out. Whether or not she has anything major or diagnosable, she could still benefit from treatment. I know you've mentioned maybe some self-regulation and sensory issues, plus high needs, etc. so maybe there is something mild going on there. If play therapy doesn't feel right to you, OT might be something else to consider. I don't have experience with preschool so I can't offer much there but I will say that having DS heavily involved in a homeschool co-op group really backfired on us & all his issues escalated. We had to take a long break and are just now starting to reintegrate into the co-op group. He had/has a high need for adult interaction and struggles with interacting with same-age peers, so even though he loved being around his big group of friends, things at home became really difficult in reaction to that. I don't know quite how to explain it & I don't want to take over your thread with DS's story because your DD may be very different, I just know that for some kids preschool could make things worse instead of better. But since I don't think you can start preschool 'til the fall anyway (can you??) then maybe take the next few months to experiment with drop-off mom's day out or storytime at the library, things like that -- both to give yourself a break and to try to get some idea of how she might respond to a preschool-type setting.


Crunchy_mommy, thank you so much for this.  "Annoyed, bored, frustrated or confused," yes, that's exactly how I generally feel when I try to play with my DD.  I hadn't considered something like play therapy, but it is something I might consider if these issues don't resolve themselves in other ways.  My DD has always seemed like there is almost something I would take her to a specialist or therapist for.  It's hard to describe to other people, but whenever I read posts about your DS they sound very familiar, so its nice to hear your perspective.  We've never done a Mom's Day Out type of thing, but we do storytime and a gymnastics class each week.  She recently started doing no-parent gymnastics.  She has no anxiety about me leaving, and she LOVES following teachers' instructions, but she really monopolizes the teacher's attention.  I'm not sure how that would translate in a preschool environment, but I'm thinking I might try out a week or two of summer camp and see how that goes. 

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#10 of 12 Old 02-13-2013, 06:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My oldest is a talker, like you describe your dd. Everything that crosses his mind comes out his mouth and he needs a response to it. He never.stops.talking. And I'm an introvert, it makes me insane. A play based preschool really helps, it gives him a chance to interact with adults who aren't me and it gives me both a break and a chance to appreciate the fact that's he's really a very charming, bright, friendly kid (his teachers love him) and he's learning about taking turns talking and not necessarily blurting out everything that crosses his mind.

 

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Just wanted to chime in and say what you describe sounds similar to my 3yo DD, with the talking and the talking and the required responses and the bossing around and the constant need for interaction. But, my DD has been in a Montessori program full time since 16 months (I work FTOH) - started in the toddler program and is now in primary. She really seems to thrive there. And a foundational aspect of Montessori is that substantial portions of each day are self-directed. Something to consider. Her school goes from toddler to lower elementary (about age 9), and we plan to keep her there all the way through if we can.
 

I hear you on the exhaustion, and I'm not even around my DD all day except on the weekends! Good luck, mama - it sounds like a good pre-school might be a great help.

 

You don't know how good it feels to hear this.  My sister is hard to take advice from because she give the subtle impression that she thinks my parenting is to blame.  I sometimes start to feel that way, too, and I'm glad to be reminded that personality is a HUGE factor that I really can't control.  I have actually been thinking about starting my DD out in a Montessori program next year that runs to the early elementary grades, mostly because we plan to move around that time and I like the idea of planning the move around a natural break in her schooling.  Would you (both) advise a mixed age class over a same-age class?  I feel like my DD thrives with older children because my DD's play is ALL language based, but I'm not sure if that's a relevant factor in a school setting?

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#11 of 12 Old 02-14-2013, 04:22 PM
 
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You bet - we're all flailing along, doing the best we can. Montessori generally works on the principle of mixed age classes, part of the theory being that children learn from one another. It sounds like, with her verbal ability, that would work out well for her.


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#12 of 12 Old 02-14-2013, 07:57 PM
 
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Tribord, curious, what do you feel your kids get out of a play-based preschool that they would not get from a daycare center?  I really have no experience with either...

As a SAHM, I actually never thought about daycare, I probably just assumed that they wouldn't let you send your child there only 6 hours a week. Even if they did, I think the experience of attending a daycare for 6 or 9 hours a week ( when most of the other kids would be there 20+ hours a week) would be very different than a preschool class that is set up specifically just for 6 or 9 hours a week. As I don't have any direct experience with daycare and other than my own childhood preschool experience have only experienced my kids' preschool, I don't want to generalize on the differences between daycare and a play-based preschool. I think it is a valid question and hopefully someone else will chime in.

Edited to add: What I would consider a "day-care" like situation, like a drop-in care center, may not be a bad place to start to give yourself a little break and give your daughter the socialization she seems to enjoy for a few hours a week. Heck, the gym I go to has an awesome little childcare room (max 8 kids at a time) with the same lady working there every morning. Preschools usually require more of an application process and a commitment and the school year typically ends in May, at least where I live.

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