Is there such a thing as a hyperactive 3 year old? Or is that an oxymoron?
My son is quite well behaved I'd say 90 percent of the time. He CAN sit still, and he CAN behave. 10 percent of the time, he's just wild. He throws what I can only describe as "happy fits". They aren't tantrums. He throws himself around, flailing his arms and legs, laughing his head off. Everything is funny to him. Getting him in his car seat, helping him get dressed, it's all just a big game, and he makes it very difficult. He doesn't have anger or hit out of malice...it's purely if I get in the way while he's having a "happy fit" that I get struck by accident.
At school, I am constantly getting reports that he "isn't listening". He gets in trouble almost every day he's there now (he attends three mornings a week). They tell me he doesn't respond to any discipline. I have the same problem at home. Every discipline I've tried, he thinks is funny. Every discipline they try, he thinks is funny.
He's a happy kid and always has been. Wakes up with a broad smile every day. Sleeps 12 hours a night and takes a 2 hour nap most afternoons.
He's a chatterbox and is almost never quiet. I'm afraid that it's going to get to a point that the other kids won't play with him (he does seem to be very well-liked by the other children, though). He really only goes to preschool because he's an only child and this is the only socialization he gets.
My husband travels a LOT, so it's just me left to deal with everything, and I fear that I'm not handling it at all well. I get so stressed every time I go get him at school wondering "what he did today". Again, he's never struck out in anger. He's never bitten anyone. He is an active, happy boy and he doesn't listen to his teachers any more, or me. Sometimes he'll listen to his Daddy.
I'm at the end of my rope, I really am. I appreciate any suggestions.
I guess I should add that when I say he doesn't listen, I mean when he's having these..."happy fits". Most of the time he listens and does what he's told. I think his eating habits are typical of a 3 year old...loves something one day, won't touch it the next.
He drinks TONS of milk and loves yogurt and cheese...I've wondered about this.
He's the smallest boy in his class and I've wondered if maybe his big personality is to make up for his small size.
He's a little clumsy and his fine motor skills need work. But his vocabulary and his language often shock people. He has been speaking in sentences and been clearly understood by strangers since before he turned 2. So maybe he's just frustrated that he can't do some of the things his classmates can do (color, etc) and also that they can't converse with him on the same level. I don't know.
Is he the youngest child in his group at school? And what is there idea of discipline? I mean how do they try and discipline him? Have you ever gone to school and watched him?
And yes, 3 year old boys can be very hyperactive. When is his birthday?
Thank you for replying. He's one of the youngest, not THE youngest. His birthday I'd the end of September and he turned 3 1/2 just last week. They put him in time out, make him sit in a chair, have kept him in when everyone else goes outside (I have made it clear that is NOT to happen again...he needs to be able to burn energy off), he has to sit in the director's office and be silent (yesterday apparently he was there all day, even for lunch. I pick him up right after lunch).
They also have a system where they have a wall with all the kids' names, and green cards for each kid. Then when behavior issues arise, if they can't be redirected after repeated attempts, or it involves a safety issue, the card goes to yellow, then orange then red. My boy is quite often the only yellow card on the board. He doesn't care...he thinks it's all funny...I find it humiliating. I don't think it's appropriate for this age group, and I also think it's none of the other parents' business who had a rough day that day.
My son has buddies that are the largest boys in the class. They are almost a full head taller than he. They roughhouse...some days I'm afraid they are going to crush him. :) But those boys don't get yellow cards. This is none of my business, just an observation.
At home, I have done time out on the stairs, time out in his room, time out in a chair, time out with his nose to the wall and hands behind his back. I've lost my cool and yelled. I've ignored.
The school tells me that I need to discipline more. Everyone else I encounter says I have to lighten up, for both our sakes.
I can't give him any more attention. It isn't possible...other than sleep and 9 hrs a week school, he is with me. There are no more hours to give him. He's funny and fun and a great kid. The 10 percent time is what is pushing me to the edge.
I think I could handle temper tantrums. Too much happiness is not something I know what to do.
So the school who has a discipline system that apparently is not working, says you should discipline more - wow. The school is definitely part of the problem. A child that is kind of hyper should never miss recess or be made to sit in the directors office all day. And never, ever should miss lunch recess.
I do think that the school is part of the problem. The good news seems to be that he only goes to "yellow" and not "red'? And ya, I am not a big fan of that system. But it is a system. Its what happens along with the colors that is important. And I would not expect a 3 year old to really comprehend what the board is all about. He is very young.
I do have one site I would like you to check out. Some of the things that you are saying do remind me of a child with "sensory" issues. So take a look at this site and see if it rings any bells. The site is -
And if any of this makes you want more info or just wonder and have questions. We have a great site sensory site run by a mother whose own child has those issues and its here - http://www.medhelp.org/forums/Sensory-Integration-Disorder-SID/show/1396 In terms of what you are doing - I always wonder what a parent expects their child to do when they are being disciplined. Their reaction - thinking its funny for example - has very little to do with the process.
Any behavioral modification that you wish to attempt has to be immediate. To punish him for what he is doing or not doing at school absolutely will not work! You can practice things with him at home that he might carry over to preschool. For example there are books aimed at the 4 to 7 year old crowd that are meant to be read aloud to them and then practiced. You might try something like (if thats a problem) "Hands are not for hitting" found here - http://www.amazon.com/Hands-Hitting-Ages-Best-Behavior/dp/1575420775 and further down the page you will see "know and follow rules" and many other good books.
It is a good idea to use short, immediate timeouts. And to repeat them a lot. Experts say that it will take up to 3 weeks to change behavior. However, if you use it for everything--- you will drive both of yourselves nuts. It won't work. When he does not do something the first time, then ask him if he heard mommy. Then tell him he has a choice - he can do a timeout or do what mommy asked. And cut him some slack if he is engrossed in an activity. In fact, I would make eye contact when you ask him.
The most important thing to remember is that to change behavior, the reinforcement has to be immediate, short, and consistent. Rewards and things are always cool, but kids of his age don't deal with the future very well. So I have never been a big fan of charts with rewards. But kids do love to put stars on things and can kind of have fun with charts. But I am not sure what that is teaching.
And you might want to check out the book, Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: Practical Parenting from Birth to Six Years by Jim Fay.
He really does sound like a neat kid. I am kind of tempted to say check around for different preschools - if nothing else to see how they work with young kids. This seems kind of orientated to the older child. By the way, when you say he is not the youngest, is the youngest a girl? Whole different kind of 3 year old there.
And just future thoughts, many states will not let a child start kindergarten unless they turn 5 by Sept. 1st. So that is something to be thinking about.
Hope some of this helps. I've kind of jumped around to many different things - so if you need more explanation please post. I probably should have spent more time on some of the points.
Hello again. Thanks so much for spending your time answering me. You are right, the children younger than my son are girls, and from what I can see, it IS a whole different kind of 3 year old. Our district requires children to be 5 by Sept 1 so he has two more years of preschool, which is probably a very good thing in his case for his maturity.
He is a very neat kid. Seems like the whole town knows him...mostly people I don't even know always come over to say hi to him. He's friendly and outgoing, has an imagination to beat the band, has a servant's heart (he loves to play "Can I take your order please?" then pretend to serve everyone), he's kind and grateful for the smallest things.
Thank you for the sensory site. I happen to have a sensory processing disorder myself. I have trouble with a few things, including loud noises and fast-moving things. I cannot watch HD TV for example. And what is a 3 year old but a loud, fast-moving thing! So I fully admit that some of this is just my perception that it's horrible, because it's very hard for me to bear. But enough of it is real that I have got to fix it.
He couldn't care less about stickers and such. We had a picture for when he potty trained for him to put stickers on...most of the time he was so pleased with our praise that he (and we) forgot the sticker.
See and that's what's sort of "getting me" about the school. At the beginning of the year, even though he wasn't even 3 yet, they wanted him to be a "role model student", because of his advanced language and because he was the only one potty trained at the time (he trained young). And now he's the problem kid. Or so it seems.
I hope I've addressed everything you've brought up. You are very sweet to help me out. I am looking into the smiling face of my boy right now, who wants me to read him a story before we get dressed.
Thank you again. :) My son was early talking, but late in just about everything else. Things like sitting up, rolling over...he was about a month behind in all those, but he was also born a month early. And he didn't walk until 15 months. He potty trained early (I think) because I had him in cloth diapers.
He loves people and has fun with his "school friends", especially the bigger boys that he chooses to pal around with. The little girls LOVE him. During open house night, all the parents came over and said, "So THIS is the famous boy I've heard so much about!" He happens to be the only non-white student in the school. We adopted him at birth (we are white). This is why people in town tend to know him...we have a 1% African-American population by town census.
He is going to be observed by a specialist next Wednesday while he's in school. He had a great day yesterday with no issues. I looked at my book and notice that the "good days" all seem to happen when two particular teachers are there. Not 100 percent but a good number of them. So I'm starting to really question a lot of things now. Yes, I see we have to figure out how to redirect the "happy" behavior when it's out of control at home. I'm very curious as to what the specialist is going to recommend for him.
You have been MOST kind to me and I thank you once again.
Hmmm. That last post you recommended (testing for sensory) mentioned the 123 discipline method. I looked at the book and I find the preview intriguing. I think I'm going to look into that, too. thanks!
Most behavioral modification methods that stress consistent, immediate reinforcement will work. And the 1,2,3 method is a pretty good one. The tricky thing is that if your child does have sensory issues, you want to be careful in what you are trying to change as the child could have very little control over what he is doing. Thats a big difference compared to a child that does not have these issues. That is why redirecting can be very important, among other strategies.
Its not unusual for teachers to have totally different strategies for working with kids. I always got the "special kids" because my "partner" teacher did not have a clue how to work with them. It might be worth dropping by some day and seeing how the "good" teachers work with him. It might prove useful to you in working with other teachers next year.
Let us know what the specialist says. And I would certainly mention your concerns about the sensory issues. Best wishes.
Hi there. I'm late responding to this. I do encourage you to look into sensory integration or sensory processing disorder for your child. Many things you write of do remind me of my own son. He was diagnosed with sensory at 4 by an occupational therapist. This was, in truth, the best thing that could have happened as it allowed us to address his needs and to learn how to cope with what he was feeling.
One of the things that really helped me was to not look at his behavior at times as 'bad'--- but rather an output of the things going on inside of him. And then instead of disciplining--- I was problem solving on how he could feel better or adapt the situation. We "modified behavior' rather than looked at him as being 'bad'. Because kids internalize 'bad' and it sticks. My son had enough of it that he still has self esteem issues at 9!
One key thing for behavior and energy levels is activity. If you google sensory processing disorder (SPD) you will pull up a web site by that name. Look for a section called 'heavy work'. This gives a list of activities your son can do that is known to slow down the nervous system. When you work with an occupational therapist--- they show you how to slow down the nervous system, speed it up (when kids are floppy), and help kids stay 'just right'. In fact, they help kids start to identify this themselves and do what they need to do to feel just right. This is really critical for kids as they get older. My son at 9 can now verbalize when his 'engine' or body/brain are hyped up and need to calm down and then he has activities that he can do at home, at school, out and about to handle it. He also knows how to get himself in the frame of mind to focus. This was all through teaching him what works and putting it into practice.
Anyway,, check out that list of heavy work. The more of these things you do each and every day, the better for your son. Better for behavior, ability to sit, etc. I have two boys, by the way, one with sensory and one without and BOTH boys do many of the heavy work activities (which is really just physical activity) as it is good for all kids.
It is unfortunate that your school has such systems as to single kids out at this early age for bad behavior. Because kids do internalize that. If your son is the one getting in trouble every day---- he will feel bad about himself eventually. I'd consider a different school being up front with the new school that there are things you are working on. The school your son attends seems subpar in their ability to identify kids that might need some intervention. Blaming parents for issues is very antiquated in approaching out of the box kids.
My husband, by the way, travels extensively as well. It was me and two boys 15 months apart. Yikes, it was tiring. So, I feel for you. I also remember what it was like getting these 'reports' from school about my child. It hurt a bit as he was so special and wonderful to me. I wanted them to see it too. hang in there and remember------ YOU are your child's advocate.
Let me know what you thnk of that sensory web site. peace!
Thank you!! The person observing my son Wednesday happens to be both an OT and a speech pathologist. NO speech issues with this boy, that's for sure.. I found that website, thanks! I don't see many of the signs in my son...I see lots in me, though! ;). Not surprising. But the work...that's exactly what I needed to read. He and I are going to the beach more now so he can wade through the sand. I appreciate all of you!!!! Will keep you up on how he makes out.
He really is a great kid. I started 123 yesterday and I didn't get beyond 2 even once, so this might work out. I'm going to get him on the beach for sand running as much as I can...it is still chilly here but we go to the beach in the winter anyway. No tourists. :)
You guys have opened my eyes in a big way. Thanks.
Oh, thanks sweetie. I hope it works out. Again, my son is wonderful!! I really wanted the rest of the world to see it too . . . helping him be more comfortable and able to handle situations certainly helped that! Let us know how things are going! Good luck
Well, I do have an update. He was observed yesterday. I got a brief call (I get a written report too) that they see no concerns. I am taking him to preschool screening just to cover the bases but I feel so much better. She remarked on his large vocabulary...yeah, that's my fault for my tendency to treat him like a small adult instead of a child. I feel a lot better! Sadly he had a yellow card when I picked him up. He looked at me,I asked what happened, he said he threw sand. Then he named a few other kids that threw sand, and said, "but they all have green cards. I don't have a green card," while he looked down and shrugged. That hurt my heart.
This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information.
The Content on this Site is presented in a summary fashion, and is intended to be used for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be and should not be interpreted as medical advice or a diagnosis of any health or fitness problem, condition or disease; or a recommendation for a specific test, doctor, care provider, procedure, treatment plan, product, or course of action. Med Help International, Inc. is not a medical or healthcare provider and your use of this Site does not create a doctor / patient relationship. We disclaim all responsibility for the professional qualifications and licensing of, and services provided by, any physician or other health providers posting on or otherwise referred to on this Site and/or any Third Party Site. Never disregard the medical advice of your physician or health professional, or delay in seeking such advice, because of something you read on this Site. We offer this Site AS IS and without any warranties. By using this Site you agree to the following Terms and Conditions. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.