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  • Help!

    Hi, I don't know if I'm posting in the right place. I've just joined and live in the UK and am really just needing a little support/encouragement. We kinda fell into AP with our now three year old and mostly I've felt it's really paid off. He is a very bright, kind and lovely child though I'm not so naive as to think he's perfect! However we kinda know what behaviour is normal for him. Since starting pre-school two mornings a week - really to get him used to the idea of 'big' school next year as it's starts so young over here - I felt like his behaviour had gone downhill. He was getting more grumpy and saying stuff like "Get away from me!" which isn't like him. He has an issue there where he doesn't like them taking him to the loo. I was called in yesterday becausse of this and was horrified to discover he had been rude to them and this wasn't just a one off. They had repeatedly said things were OK apart from the toilet issue and even yesterday morning my husband was assured things were fine. We now find out he's been rude seemingly all along. I'm so cross they didn't mention this as we could have tried to nip it in the bud. We now have a situation where he his behaviour has gone so different from how it used to be. Today he threw such a wobbly and was trying to bite and spoke so rudely to me. I know he is no angel and is very strong willed and emotional but how he is behaving seems like a different child. I thought the "Get away from me!" was something he may have picked up at pre-school but they said he's said it all why didn't they alert us? Maybe they just expect this behaviour when trying to control 26 kids!! I'm now feeling like I've failed as a mum and have another one due in just over four weeks and don't feel up to the task as my confidence has really dipped. I'm doubting our style of parenting and wondering if we've ruined him. We have co-slept with him and still do though he has a transition camp bed in the room now...he is also still breast fed though mostly just morning and night. This along with not putting him into a pre-school type setting earlier has put me out on a limb amongst my peers as it's so out there as regards to normal UK parenting. We didn't let him cry himself to sleep and chose not to smack. We do set firm boundaries though and are not overly permissive. I'm so worried that we have done something wrong and so upset by his behaviour. Any input would be gratefully received. Many thanks, Rachel

  • #2
    What you're describing sounds like typical 3yo behavior to me. I'm confused, as I'm sure you are, as to how everything has been great up to this point and now they're saying it isn't. 3 yo's aren't "rude". That's an adult projection onto the attitude of a child. If he's using words they don't like, then they could kindly instruct him as to which words are acceptable. When he says "Get away from me" to you, you could say, "I'm sorry, do you need some alone time? I'd be happy to move away from you." Then, when he's calmed down later, you could say, "If you want me to move away from you, please say 'I need to be alone'." or some other softer phrasing.

    All children need to be taught social skills from adults. They don't magically learn it just from being around other kids. In fact, submersion around other children usually teaches them all the things we don't want them to know.


    • #3
      Hi Paxmamma...thanks so much for your reply. Yes I'm sure some of it is normal but it's just the way he is presenting is so unlike his previous behaviour. He's thrown his wobblies and had his grumps and meltdowns but suddenly he seems to have adopted things which just seem unlike his usual way of being naughty. I totally agree that socialising with kids is not the way to learn acceptable ways of being - ideally a small group where sharing and being together can be facilitated, encouraged and modelled by several adults would be more to my liking but that's not the way things generally happen over here. I guess we could have opted for a childminder where there'd be less children but then next year he will go to school where it will be a thirty children to two adult ration and I'm concerned that he needs preparation for this. He's not at pre-school for our convenience or out of necessity for us but purely for his benefit. As it is I've left it later than most do over here.

      I feel like we've put so much time and effort into trying to raise him with respect and loving boundaries and suddenly it's all being blown out of the water. I'm terrified of ending up in a nanny 911 situation not least cos I trained as a nursery nurse myself and feel I should know how to control my own child! I absolutely agree that he has a right to make his needs known and try to encourage him to ask me not to do things he doesn't want in a respectful way. I don't know if I've done that with the whole get away from me thing...I've been so shocked by this sudden out of character response. I feel the pre-school is going to major on the fact that number two is due next month but I feel there's more to it than that as he has been very positive about having a sibling throughout the pregnancy even though it has really affected what I can do with him. He doesn't like large groups of children and I feel torn that I have to place him in this situation yet have little choice as school will be even worse. I hate that they go to school so young over here...some of them have just turned four!

      Thanks again for your help...Rachel


      • #4
        Hi Rachel,

        I'm also in the UK and have 2 boys now aged 4 (nearly 5) and 6).

        I would agree that this sounds like totally normal 3 year old behaviour.

        He is dealing with a lot of change and transition at the moment - starting pre-school - the arrival of #2 - the move out of your bed into a camp bed... Even if all these changes are positive and he is well prepared and generally happy about them, it is still a lot of change for a small person to deal with. Especially as the arrival of the baby gets closer he will be aware of this and unsure of what to expect, no matter how well you prepare him.

        My eldest was younger when #2 arrived (16 months) so it was harder to explain and prepare him, but he also changed into a completely different child. The month before the baby was born was so hard - he was clingy and difficult and whiny and aggressive and wouldn't settle with anyone other than me. I was so worried about how I was going to cope. Then once the baby was born it was like a switch was flicked and he turned into the perfect big brother. It was like everything finally made sense to him and he could just get on with it again.

        Did the pre-school actually present the "rudeness" as a problem? Or did they just mention things he had been saying in relation to the toilet issue? It may be that they do see it as normal behaviour and didn't mention it to you before as they were not concerned about it?

        The fact that he is having a problem with them taking him to the toilet may well be contributing to this behaviour. It could be seen by him as quite an invasion of his privacy, or feel that they are taking over your role, in ways that he feels unable to express, which could provoke these very strong reactions. How does he normally deal with toiletting at home? If he is only there for the morning, does he need to go to the toilet whilst he is there or could he go with you at the beginning and the end to avoid this problem?

        Does he like going to preschool generally? If you really feel he's not ready for it, perhaps it would be worth waiting a bit longer. There is still nearly a year until he needs to start school, and he will have grown up a lot by then. It may be easier if he is a little more independent with toiletting and dressing etc? He could always try again maybe in the summer term once things have settled down a bit after the baby. You can take him to toddler groups etc to get him more used to groups of children if you think that would be helpful?

        Oh, the other thing is that you said he was going two mornings a week. When I first went back to work after #2 I did 3 days a week - M,W,F and the boys went to a nursery/ preschool. The eldest in particular (about 2.5 by then) had a dreadful time settling and I felt so awful leaving him there. Then about 6 months later I changed jobs and went full time. I was really worried about sending them for even longer, but in fact it worked completely the other way round. As soon as they went full time they settled so much better and were so much happier there - the difference was amazing. Nothing else changed - same nursery etc, so I can only attribute this to a routine thing. Before, every day he would get up and ask "is it nursery today?" - it was like he never knew what to expect. Whereas once it was every day and staying at home was no longer an option, he could plan for it iykwim? Kids like to know what is coming next!

        Also - I'm sure you're aware, but it is not a legal requirement to send your child to school until the term after they turn 5. I think some schools do stagger entry into reception for younger children. I understand that it is not always as easy as this with the competition for places at good schools in many areas though, but it might be worth looking into if you are concerned about this?

        Sorry for the essay! Hope some of it was helpful!


        • #5
          Hi terque, thanks for your reply and encouragement...and please don't apologise for an 'essay'...all the help I can get is very gratefully received and I appreciate the time you took. Believe me the way I can waffle on that wasn't a long post...LOL!

          It is helpful to hear people say this behaviour is normal...I think I do tend to panic somewhat when behavioural issues arise and balme myself for them. I think also that without wishing to come across as a gushy mum my son has been such an amazing little boy that when he acts out of character it seems all the more alarming. His communication skills from the age of two have been phenomenal...he is sensitive to others and has been so kind a lot of the time during my pregnancy - eg picking things up for me "Cos I know you can't bend!" and being so good about sharing his baby stuff with the new arrival. He seems very bright and can also be very funny. He has also been someone I can often reason with and who used to be so much better at sharing. Actually with adults he is often brilliant at practically get a bit of the treat you've just given him forced upon you. I do think he has suffered from one too many situations where he has been hit, attacked, wrestled to the ground or frightened by other kids which has led to some quite defensive behaviour. This really makes me sad and i wish I had taken better steps to give him ore positive social encounters. He seems to get on better with older kids. I think it's that the phrases and behaviour seem so bizzarely unlike him its like he's copying what he's heard and also some of it makes me wonder if he's upset or frustrated about something. He seems to have gone from being a happy child who was a joy to be around to someone who can be so very different. Yes he had his own set of challenging ways...he's very strong willed and could throw a pretty good wobbly at times and would go throug periods where he'd push the boundaries but this seems like something else. maybe it is normal and will pass.

          No the pre-school didn't mention it as a was the toilet thing they originally rang up about cos he needed to go and they can't force him. However it was then mentioned and now it seems to have become a problem but that could be our doing. I definitely am not happy about him being rude to the ladies there nor rude to us at home. I am also concerned as to what is going on that is causing him to be a. so defiant about loo trips with them, b. what makes him end up being rude and c. why he gets so grumpy.

          You're right regarding the independant thing...whilst he is very bright and articulate it has taken him longer with things such as toilet training and doing stuff like self-dressing. He was three before we cracked the toilet training. He also does need help regulating his emotions and as his mum I've learnt the ways to do that though by no means perfectly. If school didn't start so young I'd be happy to give him some more time at smaller groups...apart from anything he doesn't like or thrive in large groups of kids. Does the law re. being five apply in hubby thinks it's just Scotland. Trouble is he'd then be going into a group who had already gelled and that was if a shcool more slowly and provide him with a smaller group situation I wonder if I take him out if it'll just be harder for him to adjust to school or pre-school next year. I feel out on a limb as it is amongst my peers and others what with still breast-feeding, co-sleeping and only just starting pre-school. I have a real horror of regretting my choices for him too late when he's turned into a nanny 911 nightmare due to me being too alternative. As to him liking it...I think he does in some ways...he certainly mentions the girls a lot...LOL! I think he likes aspects of it. Maybe it's a bit like a recent party we went to at our church...he was so excited to go and dress up as a pirate yet once there didn't join in until it was quieter, smaller group activities. Yet he still seemed to get something out of just watching. Similarly we go to a group on a Monday morning and try as I might he just does not usually like joining in with the often noisy, busy music and movement bit at the start. In the end I've respected his individual personality and make less of a deal of it with him. At pre-school I know he gets choices but not for everything and it's gonna be harder for them to work with him on these than it is for me. That I guess is the down side of larger instituionalised settings. Don't get me wrong I know I blow it with him loads and lose my patience but I guess I just know him better than they can based on two mornings a weeks since September.

          I hear what you're saying re. going more but I really don't want him to have anymore time at pre-school right now. Maybe I'm wrong but I want to make the most of the time we can spend together before he has to start schooll.

          Anyway I think that really was an essay...sorry...thanks for your input and take care, Rachel


          • #6
            Hi - just a quick note to confirm that the legal age of 5 does apply in England - see here for more details:


            I do appreciate that there are a number of other potential issues (eg social and practical) in deferring school entry until then. And caveated to say that mine have both been in nursery / school since they were very young (and I personally think, for them - not necessarily in general, it has not overall been a bad thing). It is hard, but in some ways also wonderful, to see them learn things which have not come from you!

            And whilst rudeness is never a good thing, he is probably just trying out something he has seen somewhere to see how it feels/fits. We have an endless stream of stuff coming home from school (nothing too horribly inappropriate yet thank goodness!). Generally a couple of reminders that it is not "polite" or "kind" to speak to people like that is enough - they just need to test it out! If its accompanied by unusual aggression though, there probably is something that is bothering him.

            Best of luck!


            • #7

              When my child is acting "rude", I really try to get to the bottom of it and find out what's going on in her life to stress her out. And then figure out ways that we can meet both of our needs.

              The other day, we had 2 friends over, and they were playing a game and having fun. Suddenly, my daughter grabbed the toy and tried to hide it, saying she wanted to play something else. I acknowledged her feelings and asked her why she was trying to put the toy away. I told her I didn't like that because her friends wanted to play with it. Eventually, she let me know that she was feeling upset because the game was too hard for her. So, I asked if we changed the rules of the game up a bit to make it easier for her and one of the other girls, if she'd want to play. It was an immediate yes, and they went back to having great fun.

              For what it's worth, we are one of many families who has made a connection from attachment parenting to home schooling. To me, it feels like a natural continuum. Not saying that school is wrong or not for everyone, but, for us, schooling her at home is the best way to continue the type of environment we want for her. Just something to keep in mind, that school is a choice.

              Wishing you the best!


              • #8
                Thanks for your response Adrienne and sorry it's taken so long to reply. Yes I totally agree that children need their reactions got to the bottom of as there may be things bothering them that are causing them to then act up. We have tried to talk to him but don't seem to be getting to the bottom of it.I know that part of this may be normal growing up and part of it is because he is a strong willed little fella but I still feel that since starting at pre-school there seems to be a change in how he is. And we still have the issue with him not wanting to go the loo there. I now dread him being there as I'm worried about how he'll behave and what they'll least at home I can try and calm him down and deal with this as consitantly as I can and I can know exactly what's going on. He seems to be getting so much more frustrated and disobedient and yet I feel I must persevere as a. I might be way off thinking pre-school has anything to do with this and b. I don't want to just delay the problem of him needing to integrate with large groups of children. I know he has to learn that with grown ups you just have to sometimes do what you're told cos teachers at school are not going to get into debates about the why's and wherefores. Re. home-schooling I guess I'm just nervous about that for me personally though I can see why people choose it. I just wish we had the option for schooling and pre-schooling which is in a much smaller group setting as I think this would suit him better. Anyway thanks again for your input...take care, Rachel