Am I expecting too much of my 3 year old?

(33 Posts)
PoisonMountain Wed 05-Dec-12 07:41:39

He is driving me crazy! Every time I ask him to do anything, he just ignores me. Things like get your coat, shoes, don't touch that its hot, pick that up, you can have x after we have done y, please tell me if you need the potty etc. He also gets put in the corner if he hits DD too many times.

I started asking him why he was in the corner, he says "hug". I say to him "you are in the corner because you hit DD. why are you in the corner?" He says "hug". I ask him several times to do something but he just ignores me. I ask him to look at me (which usually involves me putting my face between him and what he is trying to do) and tell him again. Then ask him what I just told him. He has no idea. Surely by now he should be able to follow an instruction and repeat (I'm not expecting verbatim!) what I said to him several times over the past minute or so.

Argh, he really is annoying me. I know his hearing is ok because he can hear me quietly opening a packet of biscuits from the other side of the flat, his memory seems to be ok as he can remember things he wants to remember. Like that DH promised on Friday to take him out in the snow at the weekend (at 6 am on saturday morning he was sitting on my pillow thumping DH on the head saying "snow, snow" grin).

I'm actually beginning to wonder if he understands anything I say. But then I think he must understand me. Any advice?

gourd Wed 12-Dec-12 15:22:54

Agree you need to hug your child if your child asks for hug. You still need to show them you love them even if they are being infuriating! We always give hugs after ours has had a trantrum, even if she doesnt "ask" for them, as she shows signs of sadness/tearyness after a tantrum and she needs reassurance.

NoNoNoMYDoIt Wed 12-Dec-12 15:44:08

i think you aren't expecting too much. when was he 3?

you mention you aren't in the UK? is there another language being used around him as that may make things slightly different for him?

my 3yr old understands absolutely everything i say to her but will often not repeat back to me what i have just told her, if she doesn't like what it is i've said! however, if she likes the instruction, she will follow it. and if i asked her to put something somewhere and she was in the mood to do it, she would get it right.

PoisonMountain Wed 12-Dec-12 20:43:01

He was 3 last month. He does speak two other languages, but English is his main language and by far his most fluent. He's only just putting words together in DH's and I'm not sure at crèche because as soon as I turn up he switches to English. I've only really heard him say words. He doesn't mix languages as such. He only ever speaks to me in English. He's worked out though that DH understands him so if he wants to say something to DH he says the words he knows and fills in the rest with English. We have made a point of never correcting him, DH will just repeat what DS said correctly and then answer appropriately.

I do let him have a fair amount of free will about things, but I never offer him open-ended choices. I always say Do you want/shall we do X or Y (mainly to save my sanity!).

I'm not sure what to do to help him. He's terribly impatient by nature and if things don't work immediately he gets frustrated and throws a tantrum just like DH He won't listen if I try and show him how to do something he wants to do, he just throws a tantrum instead. I'm not a very good mum and I'm a bit worried that he's missing out because I don't know how to teach him these things, especially when he wont listen. I've been trying to teach him how to get himself un/dressed but if things e.g. socks don't come off immediately he just cries. I try to be patient with him, but its so easy to get frustrated with him, (especially when I'm running on very little sleep at the moment) because just being a little more patient, listening instead of seemingly switching off at the first sign of difficulty and he'd be able to do it himself.

dietstartstmoz Wed 12-Dec-12 21:01:34

I would take speak to a doctor about your concerns about your sons language delay. If you were in the UK i would say see your GP/HV. Our youngest son had speech delay, at age 3 he had some words and some phrases, he would repeat things back to us(a coping strategy to give him more thinking time), he has sensory processing difficulties and always has bare cold feet as well. He also has a diagnosis of autism. I'm not saying i think your son has asd but from what you have outlined you should definately seek a referral. Dont be fobbed off, he may just need some monitoring and in 12 months may have caught up with his peers, but please do seek a referral for him. Your description of your son sounds so much like our son was at age 3. Good luck.

Littleorangetree Thu 13-Dec-12 13:10:59

Lots of good replies here. I also have an infuriating DS (3) who has amazing selective hearing! It drives me up the wall when I have to repeat things 50 times and he still ignores me. I've started giving him 3 chances and if he still doesn't do it I take away a toy/switch off tv etc. It works quite often but you have to do what you say you will to make it effective. Also removing distractions can help e.g. switching off tv, making him look you in the eye.
I know how tiring and infuriating it is and how it can turn into a power struggle. Try not to let it get you down, which I know is especially hard when you're tired.

flubba Thu 13-Dec-12 13:21:15

Becoming trilingual may well be having an impact on his speech development and it does sound like he's still struggling with finer things like pronouns (when he put the socks on your bed instead of his), so it may be good to use the word mummy and Bob iyswIm, so 'put the socks on Bob's bed' for example.

FWIW my DDs are 4 and 5 and still ignore me when they're engrossed in something else, and also my DS is not quite 2 and gets very cross if I try to take his coat and boots off when we come inside (the opposite to your son and his socks!), and I can only do it surreptitiously when distracting him with 'ooh, look at the cat!' type things.

NoNoNoMYDoIt Thu 13-Dec-12 16:23:55

i agree with flubba that the trilingual aspect may account for some of his apparently lack of understanding, although not sure how much (not experienced in these things). i think seeing a GP or paed is the way forward here - if nothing else, just to rule out concerns. i think if he was just not speaking much but understanding everything it wouldn't be such a concern. but the misunderstandings / not following what you are saying does possibly indicate another problem.

Yes, I would say you are expecting to much of him. Not exactly because he is 3 but because my guess is that the route of his problems is not a lack of development or ability, but a cross between jealousy for your attention and the fact that with two small children and little sleep your patience is probably not what it might be. There is also an expectation gap that because he seems so much older and bigger than his sister you think to yourself, 'can't you just do that, just get your coat and make my life easier, I know you CAN do it so why don't you??' the answer is probably partly subconsciously because he doesn't want to, he wants you to do it, like you do everything for his sister etc etc.

I look back on my 3 children now and can so see this pattern. My DS is now 3, he can do all the sorts of things that you are describing (most 3 year olds CAN.... the question is WILL they), and he does do them, because his mission in life is to be as old as his sisters, to be grown up, to be as quick as them to keep up. When DD1 was that age I was tearing my hair out, exhausted and stressed with 1 yr old DD2 I expected so much from her, I needed her to behave, not to act up, to do what she was told as I was finding it hard to cope if she didn't. The result of course was that she did none of those things and drove me insane. With DS, I don't need any of that stuff. I am relaxed and happy, to me he is still a baby in a way I didn't see either DD1 or DD2 as babies at that age. I give him much more time and leniency probably and the result is much more compliance and ability.

If I could go back to DD1 at that age now I would be much more slack with her, much more forgiving, many more hugs.

I don't really know what advice to give as i found this stage really hard with my children. All I can really say is allow more time for stuff. Lower your expectations - don't compare him to other 3 year olds and how they behave - it is not an indicator of how he will turn out, more and indicator of your current circumstances - e.g. if I compared DD1 at 3 to a child like DS at 3 I would have been mortified as DD1's behaviour was so awful in comparison, but that behaviour was fuelled by jealousy and the fact I had two younger ones to deal with so didn't have the time, patience or energy for her. Yet she has turned into a super bright, confident, adorable 7 yr old. DD1 and DD2 now love each other more than you can possibly imagine (despite DD1 spending most of the early years trying to bite, hit and generally torment DD2)

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