Parents of 3 yr. olds, post here (support thread)! - Mothering Forums
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The Childhood Years > Parents of 3 yr. olds, post here (support thread)!
catemom's Avatar catemom 02:58 PM 11-12-2008
Since I've been having trouble with my 3yo, I've noticed quite a few others in the same boat, so maybe, as someone else pointed out, we should have a support thread.

My own DS turned 3 in Sept., and since he has been very diplomatically described as "tenacious" by his teacher last year. He had a few problems last year in his montessori preschool, but he has been increasingly engaging in power struggles to the point where his new classroom teacher (and the school director) are basically telling us to shape up or ship out. We're not sure what to do, but I'm doing my research on how to effectively deal with him while keeping in mind that I may have to find a new preschool or caretaker soon (I"m due with #2 in mid-April).

Please share your 3 yo issues!

flowmom's Avatar flowmom 04:35 PM 11-12-2008
I just want to say that it does get easier after they get past the 3.5-4.5 yo stage IME :. Not looking forward to going through it the second time :.
captain crunchy 06:40 PM 11-12-2008
Oh my word.

I was just talking about this with my very close friend who is another mdc mama of a 3 year old. DD will be 3.5 in December and wow is this the hardest age EVER.

Here I was thinking being a mama of a newborn was hard.. HA HA. That was a walk in the park compared to this age. Just demanding, whiny, OCD-like tendencies, out of this world tantrums, controlling, easily dissatisfied, etc -- I miss my sweet, loving child who I felt so connected to I feel like sometimes I am hanging on for dear life from one loving moment to the next to prevent myself from going all punitive.

Can you tell it has been a rough day?

I mean, sometimes she can just be an absolute joy and of course I love her more than life itself, but other times I feel like screaming WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU... JUST STOPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP. I don't of course, but I am screaming it on this inside as I struggle to remain patient and calm on the outside.

I hope this passes soon and I get my child back
Caneel's Avatar Caneel 06:57 PM 11-12-2008
Just chimming in to say that our DS is 3 years and 2 months and WOW, what a change we have experienced recently.

Up until recently, I have now realized, we were living in a (likely atypical) dream world.

Our challenges right now are:

He has to do things on his terms ALL THE TIME and it doesn't matter what it is, it is his way or no way.

Sort of related to above, there is absolutely no sharing - it is me, me, me!

When we set boundaries we get "I dont like you or I don't love you anymore" I thought this wasn't suppose to happen until the teen years?!?!
NicaG's Avatar NicaG 07:38 PM 11-12-2008
I am really struggling with this age, and struggling with my own reactions to ds's behavior. It's really hard to explain to others (without 3-yr-olds) what makes the days so difficult. It's like every single thing you do during the day is questioned, challenged, rejected, changed slightly, subjected to complaints or whining...after a while you just feel sort of worthless, from being pushed around all day. At the end of the day, I just wish I could hear ds say, "ok, Mom" to something, anything.

I am really struggling not to just lose it and start yelling. I always thought I was a pretty patient person, and I was really patient during the "terrible twos" but I am really losing my patience. We have a new baby, and I think the sleep deprivation is contributing. I think I need to think of some things to do when I'm at the end of my patience--leave the room, start vacuuming (as someone suggested on another thread), what else?

Had to take a break from typing because ds told me he just wet his pants. Why can he tell me that, but he can't just tell me when he needs to go to the potty?! We're lucky, the potty problems could be worse, but I'm tired of him wetting his pants every day. He won't tell me he needs to go, and then if I try to walk him over to the potty at regular intervals, he kicks and yells.

Oh, man, I am just burned out! It does help to have somewhere to vent.
sacredmama's Avatar sacredmama 07:45 PM 11-12-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ksenia View Post
I just want to say that it does get easier after they get past the 3.5-4.5 yo stage IME

NOooooooooooo. I was hoping that when DS turns 4 in Dec. it will be better.

For me the issues are the bossiness and all.the.time defiance.
Caneel's Avatar Caneel 07:46 PM 11-12-2008
I have yelled, really yelled a few times and thought, OMG I sound just like my mother. not a good feeling.

I am part way thru Playful Parenting and some of the things mentioned in the book are working for us.

Potty? Ha! What is a potty? All summer DS would go in the morning, at daycare and whenever we were not at home. We were just on the cusp of getting things moving at home..

Now, nothing. He could care less if his pants are wet. Tells me he doesn't need to pee than seconds later crawls up on the couch and pees everywhere and so on. V. frustrating.
catemom's Avatar catemom 08:12 PM 11-12-2008
Great to hear from others with difficult 3 y.o.s. I'm glad we are all in good company with our problems. I don't have any answers, but just know you're not alone in your struggle!
MrsAprilMay's Avatar MrsAprilMay 08:24 PM 11-12-2008
All those people who say terrible 2s...they just stopped paying attention at 3.

DD threw a screaming/hitting/kicking fit at Grandpa's today because I told her she couldn't have juice and offered her water. After struggling to get her shoes on and taking her outside it was like she was released. She turned around, smiled and asked if she could pick up a pinecone to take home. Then she went back in to tell Grandpa sorry for hurting his ears and give him a hug goodbye. She's so sweet, smart and funny : but when she's displeased...watch out!
jaxinsmom's Avatar jaxinsmom 09:53 PM 11-12-2008
Quote:
It's really hard to explain to others (without 3-yr-olds) what makes the days so difficult. It's like every single thing you do during the day is questioned, challenged, rejected, changed slightly, subjected to complaints or whining...after a while you just feel sort of worthless, from being pushed around all day. At the end of the day, I just wish I could hear ds say, "ok, Mom" to something, anything.

This is what I try to explain the dp. It can be soooooooooooooooo exausting dealing with ds all day.

Today I decided to go to this indoor playground that we used to go to. We went for three hours -- he made friends and ran around the entire time, and dd (9months) had a blast in the baby section.

Then, during dinner ds says to me "I love you mom." I said "I love you too, boo". Then he says "you didn't get angry with me today, mom. I had lots of fun at cosmic adventure!"


Made me realize he needs to do SOMETHING to get that energy out.

Needless to say we now have a 1 year membership to Cosmic Adventure
aylaelise's Avatar aylaelise 12:48 AM 11-13-2008
Bedtime has been terrible for the past month or so. We do it everyday, how is this questionable.

Everything is "no", I used to be able to convince her and give choices was an easy answer now its "I don't want to do anything" (talking about the choices I gave her).

Food is always "I want something else". This is before she even knows what we're having.

I need to learn to let things go....do I ignore her when she goes on and on??? I always acknowledge how she is feeling but it could go on and on forever.
Hokulele's Avatar Hokulele 02:16 AM 11-13-2008
nak but :
marieangela's Avatar marieangela 01:07 PM 11-13-2008
Ds1 was an super easy child until he hit 3.5 or 4 years old. Ds2, on the other hand, started to make life interesting (to say the least!) as soon as he started to walk/run/climb all at the same time. Right now ds1 is approaching age 6, ds2 turned 3 in the end of August and I'm pregnant with my third child. It is a rough time for me. My 3 year old is indredibly strong-willed and stubborn. Ever since Halloween he has been having fits almost every mornign because he wants candy. The candy is "all gone" now and he finds other things to ask for before breakfast (like popsicles) and continues to ask about candy. As far as potty learning goes, he recently went from often peeing and never pooping on the potty to always pooping and rarely peeing on the potty. Some day we'll get both down pat. I don't push it too much and thankfully his preschool is okay with him wearing pull-ups. The hardest part is the interaction between ds1 and ds2 when ds1 isn't in school. Ds1 tends to instigate and get ds2 to act crazy, then ds2 hurts ds1 and ds1 comes running to tell on him. We have been playing at the playground after school at ds1's school whenever the weather is decent and ds2 is already known and quite involved with all of the boys from ds1's class that play on the playground. They play very rough and ds2 has been knocked down by kids that are twice his size more than a few times. It doesn't help that my patience is not what it used to be and I get irritated rather easily these days. I hope it's just the pregnancy hormones!
jacob'smom's Avatar jacob'smom 01:13 PM 11-13-2008
Thanks for this thread! I think my son has forgotton how to say "yes" or "ok". Everything is "NO!" and that's if we are lucky and its not a tantrum. I have been praising even tiny shreds of good behavior even though I feel crazy for saying things like "thanks for looking at me when I'm talking to you" (which is rare). The only thing that has seemed to work consistently is a behavior chart. He loves getting prizes at the end of the day.
catemom's Avatar catemom 03:00 PM 11-13-2008
aylaelise and jacob'smom My DS says "no" so much that he sometimes mistakenly says "no" to things he actually would like to have.

marieangela Yes, we've been having candy battles also. He wants skittles for breakfast, ice cream for lunch, etc. The pregnancy hormones are really making me lose my patience with DS. I think I would definitely need a straight jacket if I had another child to deal with right now.

jaxinsmom I wish I had the energy to drag DS and myself out the door, I'm sure he would love something like that.

mrsaprilmay Oh, the meltdowns can be sooo embarrassing! I always imagine what a brat people think DS (and a lousy parent I am) when he does that.

Parents dealing with potty issues I think there is some kind of link between highly intelligent parents and kids who really struggle with potty training. Some of our very smartest friends (IMHO) have the worst time getting their kids out of diapers. Hang in there!

I just ordered some books to help me deal with DS. One of them was a book in the STEP series that I only ordered to appease DS's preschool teachers (and their overly simplistic advice), and one, entitled "The Difficult Child" because the reviews looked like something more useful for our situation. I'll let you all know if they are helpful.
maryeb's Avatar maryeb 04:15 PM 11-13-2008


Things have changed quite a bit over here too. Two was nothing. Two was easy. This constant challenging, saying no with attitude, clinging, refusing to grant me some space, etc that has started to occur is much harder!!! And the asking for something but then not wanting it when it's given has started to happen too. Yesterday was great though. We were out at a park for over two hours, digging, climbing, running, getting covered with dirt. It was awesome for ds and me too to just be out of the house. He was so chill the rest of the day!!! I think that is the key. He needs to get that energy out and just get muddy. Also, I took some rescue remedy in the morning and that seemed to help also.
Caneel's Avatar Caneel 04:26 PM 11-13-2008
Another thing I noticed with DS is his new need/desire to be on me all the time.

Not nice cuddling on the couch or sitting on my lap at the table, oh no, he wants to be ON me like trying to sit on my head, laying on top of me in bed, crawling up, over and down me when we are playing on the floor.

The bone on bone (think 3yo elbow bon rubbing on your skull over and over again) drives me absolutely bats.

On a positve note, I am just tickled with his mental and verbal development, it is so interesting to talk to him and hear his stories and memories. Remember when...conversations are important to him and I am amazed at the small details he has remembered from events that took place months ago.
jacob'smom's Avatar jacob'smom 05:45 PM 11-13-2008
Caneel, thanks for reminding me of the good stuff. I'm also really intrigued that DS remembers so much.and he really does have such a kind spirit. I think that's why its so baffling when he becomes so beastly for no reason I can fathom. I'm going to try some first thing in the morning outdoor play tomorrow and are if that makes a difference.
paquerette's Avatar paquerette 05:52 PM 11-13-2008
Count me in.

I was flipping through Parenting Power yesterday... I actually hate most of this book, but the section explaining 3 year olds was pretty good. I don't recommend buying the whole book but if you see it in a bookstore read that section; it's been sort of grounding. One thing it talks about is the emerging sense of self and how every little thing threatens that in their minds. Like does anyone else's 3 freak out about every little booboo or bump? He talks about that and how it messes with their sense of their body. And how they're clumsy because they're trying to coordinate all these different processes that they used to just do individually. Pretty cool stuff.
maryeb's Avatar maryeb 11:53 PM 11-13-2008
Curious...is anyone else's 3 YO scared of being alone in a room/dark? Today I was nursing my little one in the bedroom while ds ate some cake in the kitchen. All of a sudden he started calling for me, saying he needed some love. Sweet. Well, I told him I would be there asap. He starts to freak out, cry, and throw his bowl of food on the floor. I run in, meanwhile the babe is crying because ds1 is crying, etc. Ds1 was scared to be alone he says, hence the freakout. This is so not the first time. He will not play alone in another room because he hears people talking in the ceiling he says, or he hears a loud noise. I always want to validate his exp. since I can sense energies too but I really wonder if he just wants to be near me all.the.time. Anyone?
Surfer Rosa's Avatar Surfer Rosa 12:11 AM 11-14-2008
Interesting about the clumsiness-we've noticed lately that DDs been kind of spazzy!

DD turned 3 in August and has been fairly exhausting since about 34 months. She has always been high energy, and her mood is just always overwhelming-ie. if something is kind of frustrating for her, her reaction is incredibly dramatic...and then five minutes later, she's smiles and sunshine. It is exhausting! I find she is either totally independent (goes to the toilet herself, gets dressed, cleans up, will fetch things for me...) or wants to carried around, fed, dressed. I know some of this is because of her new brother (2.5 mos), so I'm hoping it'll even out.

I feel like it's a taste of the teenage years-irrational, demanding, overwhelming...I try to remember the sweet and funny moments...serenity now, serenity now....lol. There are some really great things too-lke DDs imagination has really taken off and it's so cool to see what she comes up with.
mama naturale's Avatar mama naturale 12:48 AM 11-14-2008
Lots of crying from my three year old. He has started saying up late again.
Could it just be tiredness?
allgirls's Avatar allgirls 01:22 AM 11-14-2008
I am on my 4th three year old and I came looking for a thread.

I hear ya! And it's all developmental, better or worse to deal with depending on their temperament but yeah, 3 is very very hard!

From 9 months to almost three I spent just trying to keep my littlest one alive..now she's pretty much stopped all the death-defying stuff and is focussing on driving me completely and utterly around the bend.

And the hardest part...she's so freakin' cute...I want to squish her with hugs one minute and just squish her the next.

But it does pass. Punishment doesn't work. Boundaries don't work. Hugs, playfulness, fun, nature, reading to them, involving them in your day etc. helps but the only thing that works is time.

So she just turned 3 in October. I'm pulling up a chair. I'm here for a year or so!
jacob'smom's Avatar jacob'smom 01:33 AM 11-14-2008
Yes! My ds is all of a sudden completely freaked to be by himself. He won't play in his room, and if I have to leave him alone for even a minute he starts to cry and say he's lonely. I feel sad for him but sometimes I have to go pee, you know!
catballou24's Avatar catballou24 03:37 AM 11-14-2008
hello all! we are experiencing many of the same challenges over here as well. my quiet, sweet little babe has turned into this demanding, loud, OCD, child who i find challenging on many days. her latest thing is whenever anyone who was visiting is leaving, she has to have hugs and kisses. not a big deal, but before she even asks she starts panicking that she won't get them. so we have to go through the routine, "use your nice words please and gentle voice to ask", still freaking out..."take a deep breath and then ask again", etc.. we got through this for a few moments until she finally realizes that no one is going to forget her hugs and kisses. after she is given many hugs and kisses, we have to walk out the front gate and stand in a certain spot while we watch the car drive out of site. if i move from that spot she gets mad.

i seriously started to worry that something was wrong with her until i talked with a couple other moms whose 3 year olds are exhibiting similar behavior. before about 3 months ago, she was so quiet and easy going. but now that i know it is normal i don't worry and just try to remain calm within myself. my oldest dd was "spirited" from the get go and is only now just settling down, she's 5 and a half. so there is a light at the end of the tunnel!
catemom's Avatar catemom 02:49 PM 11-14-2008
Hello brave parents!

I was thinking about DS's behavior and when the stuff at school started getting bad and decided that I need to try to re-institute his early afternoon nap. I KNOW he is overtired b/c he falls asleep at the table about 4:30 or 5 (while he is chewing food!!). If I try putting him to bed then, most often he wakes up after a couple of hours and we're up until almost midnight getting him to bed. Wish me luck!
apriljoy's Avatar apriljoy 04:53 PM 11-14-2008
We're there, too. It amazes me how quickly he can go from sweet, cooperative, make-my-heart-melt darling to defiant little monster. I agree w/pp...it's the constant challenges, the refusal to get along, that makes this stage so exhausting. I think I've only recently come to understand the true meaning of the phrase, "hard to get along with." Because sometimes, even though I'm 100% open to whatever it is he wants to do, he still finds some way to make it into a battle.
XanaduMama's Avatar XanaduMama 05:23 PM 11-14-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caneel View Post
Another thing I noticed with DS is his new need/desire to be on me all the time.
See, this is interesting. I've just realized (after reading through all these posts) that one of the craziest "symptoms" of being 3 (I like to think of it as an illness!) is this combination of (a) insistent independence, in which I'm not allowed to do ANYTHING for him at risk of a major meltdown, and (b) clinginess, fear of empty rooms, need for bodily contact. ds has developed a fear of going to his room alone, or going potty by himself, even though he's been doing these things for months--he says the "baboons" are going to get him :

Anyway, I think this is interesting. Clearly being independent is both something to be desired (even fought for), but pretty scary at the same time.

But yeah--we're struggling here too. Lucky for them they're so cute, right?
leerypolyp's Avatar leerypolyp 06:34 PM 11-14-2008
Can I just come sit with you guys for a while and not talk?

ah. I'll post more when I'm feeling up to it.
catballou24's Avatar catballou24 06:57 PM 11-14-2008
yes you can!

today is a very whiney day. everything she says is whining or yelling...i'm just gritting my teeth and trying to maintain a sense of calm so i don't lose it with her. she can be the sweetest little thing, giving me hugs and kisses. but oh goodness, don't tell her we are out of blueberries! :
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