16 May 2013

Mama Memoirs: Age Three and our personal struggles.

I don't know why this was so hard to write. But it really was.

Most people told me that Age 3 is much harder than the infamous "terrible two's". Bennett is just a few months into his third year of life, and do I agree with that? Yes and no.

I will just go ahead and admit that age two was dang hard for us. Bennett is a very strong-willed, emotionally sensitive little boy. And his speech delay definitely doesn't help. So needless to say, toddlerhood thus far has been a huge struggle.

Since his third Birthday, however, something has changed with him. He's gotten.....dare I say, "easier". A lot of that could very well be that he's starting to talk more and in turn, he's understanding more of what we're expecting from him. Whatever the case may be, I have thoroughly enjoyed watching him follow direction willingly, behave better when we are in public, give hugs & kisses on his own accord, and say things like "please" & "thank you" totally unprompted. It makes my heart soar to see him starting to be more respectful.

But here is why Age 3 is difficult in a way that Two wasn't.

At age Two, they are still on the "young" side of toddlerhood and their knowledge and speech isn't fantastic yet. But by Age 3, I feel like toddlers are really starting to "get it". You know what I mean? But the thing is, Bennett does not have a desire to learn. Like, at all. Of course, he learns by default, I mean, that just goes along with being alive. But he doesn't have any interest in reading, writing/coloring, or sitting down to do any type of learning activities. And even though I've tried getting more creative with ways to teach him, he is wise to my ways and refuses to participate most times. It's really really frustrating because at Three Years Old, we are struggling to teach him even the simplest of things, like discerning colors, counting to 10, saying his ABC's... things like that.

And frankly, I'm worried. I know that he's SO young and has plenty of time to learn and catch up, but I'm worried that my toddler will fall so far behind, that by the time he gets to grade school, he will have a hard time keeping up. He's still in speech therapy through the school district, and I have him enrolled in Pre-school this fall with hope that he will learn better from a professional teacher. It's just that he is so active and restless (possible ADD??), he just does NOT have the attention span to sit and learn, or retain information. And he goes out of his way to ignore you when you're trying to get him involved in a learning activity.

He. Just. Does. Not. Care.

So although overall, he's more pleasant to be around at age three, I think this year might prove harder than the terrible two's. My expectations are higher and so are other people's. And believe me, I know how important it is NOT to compare your child to other people's kids. But it's so hard not to do that. I want him to grow and thrive, and learn. And I want him to WANT to learn new things. You know?

This part of parenting stresses me out something fierce. It's so hard to know when something is "normal" and when you should start wondering if there is something else going on with your kid. Ya know? It's really hard to watch your child have zero interest in paying attention to you when it comes to the important things. I realize that in the grand scheme of things, he is only Three, after all. But I just want so badly for him progress and continue to take strides forward. I guess I just need to keep on keepin' on, and continue to do my best with this aspect of his personality.

Because dang, my kid is awesome. He has SO much potential and if I could just find a way to work with him more efficiently, he could do anything!

I love him so.

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38 comments:

Megan Landmeier said...

He is adorable. And that knowledge WILL come, as soon as you figure out how he'll learn it. I work with one kindergartener who will write his letters ONLY in the dirt. MAYBE in chalk sometimes. I've been working with him since December and just figured out the dirt thing.

It sounds like you are doing everything you can and should be doing!

Sarah said...

Sounds like you are doing a great job with Bennet. I think reading (and learning letters, numbers, and colors) is just like the motor milestones of the early years--some kids "get it" young and others figure it out later. Whether your kid can recite his ABCs at 2 or 5 isn't going to make a whole lot of difference in the long run. I'll be interested to hear what strategies end up working for your family!

Harrovian Mama said...

Aw, he is adorable! And like everyone says above I really would not worry. I know its easier said than done but he will get there. My brother was like this-he could not care less but my parents supported him and just kept trying. He graduated from college two years ago with a first (the highest grade in the UK), is getting married next year and has an amazing job in a major bank. One day he just decided he was ready and he caught up big time! Just keep praying and guiding and loving, just how you are and he will be fine!

www.samandasha2.blogspot.com

Sarah said...

I also wanted to add that in my family, my sister (who is two years older than me) was all about the letters. By the time she was two she knew all her letters and the sounds they made. Me? My mom tried to get me interested but all I wanted to do was run away squealing (quite literally... we have the video to prove it). For years. I did not do the early learning--I just wanted to play. But when we got to school, I was the one who loved to read for fun, not my sister. Each kid has their own time table, and with a committed, supportive mama like you, he's going to figure it out.

krayzid0rk said...

He is so cute and kudos for trying to get him to learn. I would be just walking around singing the ABC's looking like a crazy. He may not directly learn from sitting, but if you sing them and teach them to Easton maybe he would want to participate? Or even just overhearing it a lot will help embed it in his little brain. Also, have you heard tried essential oils? For me they are life changing! Our oldest has ADD and I will be using some on him to help him. They have ones specifically for inattentiveness, ADD, ADHD, emotional etc. Nathan is 10 but he was the same way at school, he couldn't focus at school on things that didn't interest him, it was so stressful watching him fall so behind and not know things he should for his age. I think we mostly have the hang of it now and he's trying so much harder. We've noticed that lots of encouragement and praise of the good has helped him. With all that his "mom" has put him through he doesn't have much self esteem so building on that has helped him. Obviously Bennett doesn't have that issue but maybe you can find something that interests him and if he sees how happy it makes you it may help? I always say kids are a science experiment. All 4 of ours are different and we're always tweaking our parenting formula for each one of them lol. Hugs to you mama, hang in there. Let me know if you want info on the essential oils, they are so worth the little investment!!!

Sarah [NurseLovesFarmer.com] said...

Braden is far from perfect, but he truly wasn't a terrible two. I loved that age so much, the only thing I didn't like was that he wouldn't/couldn't listen due to the age to STAY STILL and not run away from me when I was 30+ weeks pregnant and couldn't chase him anymore! I don't like how sassy Braden has gotten at the age of 3 . I call him my "threenager" for a reason. He gets a bit defiant and has said things like "No way, Mom!" and "go away, Mom!" (yes, he calls me mom now!)...but generally he's still very sweet. He likes to say "no" just because he can...even when it's something he WANTS to do. I don't know what to tell you about the learning things, but you note that there is a potential 'problem' and that's important. My mom who works in a special needs preschool says all they need to know for preschool is to be potty trained! There's lots and lots of time to have him prepared for the basics!

Amanda M. said...

He'll get it....One day, everything will just "click". My daughter had been struggling with reading. Every other child in her class was blowing by her, and she was having trouble, which really hurt her confidence. We kept doing everything we were supposed to, and seriously, one day, it all came together. Now, I can't get her little nose out of her books! If only her handwriting would come together.....but that's another day! :)

You are doing everything right, and it's normal to want your child to progress along with others his age. And he will....Just keep doing what you're doing and he'll get there.

Ariel @ Dreams To Do said...

I think all of your concerns are totally normal. As parents, how can we NOT worry about our children and compare them to others? Especially when there is so much info out there about what is "normal" for each age. I know it's hard, but you really have to try not to worry about Bennett - he is still so little! I think he's just a rambunctious little guy with a lot of energy. Who knows, maybe he'll go on to be a superstar athlete or something! But it is still way too early to tell. There's a reason kindergarten doesn't start until age 5. Before that, kids just don't have the patience. They want to run and play and explore! I think you should encourage the activities he loves doing and is really good at NOW. Keep trying to read to him and color with him, but don't stress. I know, easier said than done. Our kiddos just grow up so fast that it's best if we can soak up their innocence and playful spirit while we can. HUGS!

Erin said...

Bennett is such a cutie! I'm currently going through the motions of some of what you're describing. Jackson recently turned two and I'm seeing so many moms FB updates saying "my kid just counted to 10 and said all of his alphabet!" Not going to lie, I read these statuses then look at Jack wondering if I'm missing something. While I know he is learning numbers, he still preferr to count "one, three, one" and laughs every time. Like you said I'm reminding myself every child progresses differently. Truly, I keep my brothers in mind every day. My mom had a tough time getting them to excel at this stage and again in elementary school. Now one is a successful computer programmer and the other finishing his first year of med school. All good things take time. Just keep at it!

The Alexander's said...

I had the same trouble with my now 5 year old - always felt like he was a "little behind" the curve of my friends kids at 2 & 3. At his 2 year old well-child visit I asked his Dr. about the fact so many of his little friends already knew their ABC's and was concerned that Z didn't. She then gave me the best piece of advice/knowledge and said "children need to know their colors and letters by the time they start Kindergarten, NOT by the the time they are 2/3 - let your kid be a kid". Guess what...Z is 5 now (starts Kindergarten in the fall), he knows all of his letters, most of their sounds, can count to 50 and can identify all of his #'s up to 20. It will happen, just try to subtly throw things in everyday for him. When he wants something to drink - put down two different colored cups and ask him which cup he wants (the blue one or the green one) - that will help him start to identify his colors do the same with clothing if you can etc. He will be ok and I think going to Preschool will be HUGE for him and you will see great strides over next year! Good luck.

Molly said...

Three was so hard for Landon and us. I couldn't believe the difference in his behavior! It was like someone flipped a switch and he became a nightmare to deal with at times. People kept saying, wait until he's four, it gets much better! And they were all right! Now we're going through three again with Brigham and I see many signs that it will be just as difficult with him. But hey, at least I know that there is a light at the end of the (long) tunnel :)

Lauren @ One Sweet Fairytale said...

i'm not a mom but reading this i could feel your worry and pain and it just made me sad so i wanted to comment. everyone learns at their own rate, maybe he's just taking a bit of time. but even if he's a little slow to pick up things now, whenver you post about him he sounds so sweet and wonderful, even at just 3 years old and it sounds like he's on the right track to being a truly wonderful person when he grows up, and while some part of it is just his personality, so much of it is bc you and your husband sound like really wonderful parents who want him to succeed as much as possible.

also, i'm a nanny (so i do have a fair share of time spent with kids) and i'm in school to be an art therapist to work with kids hopefully) and sometimes kids work TOTALYL different with people who arent their parents. maybe just even finding a high school or college student willing to spend a few hours a week with him playing and trying to "sneak" in learning? if i didn't live in VA i'd offer but alas...a bit far away.

Ruthy Taylor said...

i can't even imagine by this age all the pressure parents feel to make sure their kids are pacing...sometimes I wanna just move to a carribean island and raise my kids there without the pressure!

undomestic mama said...

By reading this you can tell what a good mom you are. It sounds like you're doing everything you can for him and you care about him so much which I think is the most important of all. Having twins it's hard not to compare them a little bit - we don't officially sit them down and try to teach them, but one is much more interested in telling us which letter magnets are on the fridge whereas the other one knows some letters but just wants to play with his cars. You're doing a good job!

Heather said...

You are doing a wonderful job and all you can do is keep trying. Enrolling Bennett in preschool is a great idea; not only will it give him the opportunity to learn in a different environment, but it will give you an additional resource should there be any "issues" in the long run (which I'm sure there won't be). I'm not sure what kind of preschool you've enrolled him in, but it sounds like he would thrive in more of a play-based/child-centered environment vs. an academic-focused program. Brady has been in pre-school since he was 2 and they gradually, over time, have started to do more sitting/focused activities. But at the beginning it was just learning to play with other kids, follow rules, and establish routines. He has really thrived in this type of program! Hang in there Mama :)

Kiara Buechler said...

Bennett is awesome. Just thinking about him brings a smile to my face. You are doing everything right, and just like the other posters have said, he WILL get all those things with time. His speech as improved fantastically over even the last month, he is going to be chatting your ear off before you know it. You are in for it mama, with his knack for figuring out how to get into anything and everything you are going to have your hands full when he is trying to manipulate you verbally too. Let's just hope Easton maintains his mellow demeanor in the meantime ;-) xoxo.

Alexandra said...

Mandy,
I'm going to be honest with you, as honest as I can be. I don't mean to sugar top anything. You are an AMAZING mom, I mean look at all that you've done. Even with the small setbacks you keep on, perhaps showing both spectrum in a very concise way. I know, and many moms do as well how hard it can be. We all have had the feeling of hopelessness when it comes to teaching, sometimes we set our own bar way to high. It is that ability to do what we must that makes a great mom, regardless of how she does it so long as it aids her children. Dad said to me once that Albert Eisenstein didn't being to speak till the age of 4. Keep on trucking girl, you are doing amazing :)

Karli @ The Bonnie 5 said...

My suggestion..... oh wait! You're already on it! Preschool for SURE!!! That will help in so many ways! Mom is not there, kids have a different authority figure.... he'll see other kids learning colors, letters etc and will (hopefully!) want to be included. He'll see what happens when other kids break the rules and don't cooperate and will (hopefully!) go hey... I don't want to do that. I'm going to sit and listen.
You are totally on it friend. Plus, the preschool teacher can either confirm if there's any kind of attention thing going on, or say nope... nothing to worry about! AND... kids are so different at home vs. at school! Good for you for doing everything right!!! xoxo Hugs!!

Anonymous said...

Try a color day. For instance Monday Blue everyone in your family wear blue and then throw a couple of things in your day that are also blue like playdoh or color water with food coloring, blue sand. Whatever is fun and then just talk about blue throughout your day. Then switch colors the next day and repeat. This is how my daughter learned it made more casual so she didn't have to "sit". Also, I take the sesame street route and hang up one letter and one number everyday for "letter and number of the day in our kitchen I point it our several different times a day when we are eating or just passing by and before I new she was remembering. This repetition was good bit also did not require the sit down type of learning. By daughter doesn't like that either but I will say is getting better with age she just turned 4. Hope ideas help.

Lindsay Okruch said...

Ditto!

London Mama said...

This must have been such a hard post to write, but thank you for doing it, it's hard to share the bad things as well as the good. I want to reiterate all the great points made by the posters above, you sound like you're doing all the right things and Bennett seems such a happy, smiley boy and what can't be denied is the strength of your love for both your boys :)

Lindsay Okruch said...

I wanted to read all the comments, but nap time is short, so I hope I'm not repeating anyone.

My toddler is CRAZY strong-minded. I SWORE I'd never be that parent that 'let' their kid call the shots and she makes me EAT. MY. WORDS. Daily.

We would sing, we would count and I would always give up because I felt like I was singing and counting AT her. It wasn't interactive at all. Then, all of a sudden she counted to 5. BY HERSELF. She had been listening the entire time even though she acted like she was completely ignoring me.

As a parent I think it's really easy to lay the guilt on thick, especially when you see other kids your childs age that feel like they are MILES ahead. I have to constantly remind myself that this is the ONLY childhood my baby will get and I want her to think back on it fondly. I don't want her to feel pressured to keep up with anyone because Lord knows she'll feel plenty of that down the road when she is in school.

Try to take a breather and just LOVE your baby where they are in this moment. Keep being the AMAZING mama you are and providing opportunities for him to learn, but don't worry too much if you don't see results. What our kids need more than anything is buckets of love, and it sounds like you're doing that and then some. <3

mollyhopp said...

Bennett sounds exactly like my oldest son. My son is now 4 1/2 and has come SO far since turning 3. I would say in the first half of his three year old year, he was incredibly resistant to any learning/structured activity. I would try to teach him colors and shapes in natural settings as they came up. I constantly said the color of everything around us- clothes, dishes, things outside basically anything he looked at "you have a blue shirt, look my shirt is pink", "please hand me the black remote" "lets sit in the grass- it's green!" I gave up on asking him colors- what color is your shirt? what color is your cup? because he didn't know or didn't know what I was asking so I just said colors all the time and eventually he caught on. For letters, we started watching the letter factory DVD whenever we were in the car- he now knows all letters and their sounds and I credit it all to that DVD! We also got the letter factory fridge magnets. For numbers, i counted everything like counting crackers at snack, counting kids at the park, counting shoes and talking about more and less, bigger and smaller. Shapes he's really started to figure out since turning 4. He now points out shapes everywhere we go! But at 3, he only knew circle and triangle. We got a shape and color DVD with songs that he watches before nap time (now rest time because he doesnt always nap) Pairing anything with songs/music has really helped him learn.

Also the HUGE thing was starting preschool. He has a December birthday so he was 3 1/2 when preschool started. I was so worried and thought he'd just run crazy and never sit for circle time- instead, the opposite has happened! He really follows along with the group and has gotten a lot better at staying focused during centers. It helps so much to have another person "teach" him and seeing what all the other kids are doing- he'll naturally follow along.

Just keep working at it and don't give up hope- I promise you will be so surprised at how much he'll grow and learn in the next year! I never thought my son would be where he is now. At his last preschool conference he knows all letter names (expcept Q) and sounds, counts to 16, and knows all shapes and colors. He knew none of this at 3 so it just takes time. (His younger brother is 16 months younger and is almost 3- he already knows all letters and is getting there with colors and shapes- but he is definitely a "learner" kid. he focuses and does puzzles/coloring learing activities for up to 30 min at a time- so I know what it's like to have both.

Bennett will definitetly get it!!

Lamielle here! said...

Hello Mandy, thank you so much for sharing us your experience. I feel you, because my 2 year and 5 months old toddler is also the same. I felt so bad when I am with a group of mothers and their kids are counting 1 to 10 and singing at least 8 songs etc. I always think that maybe, just maybe I am not teaching him the right way. It feels good to know that I am not alone in this journey. I wish I could thank you in person and tell you how your story makes me feel good.

And just like you, I am trying my best to be patient and stop comparing my kids to others. I believe that his time will come and hes gonna surprise me one day.

Cheers,
Lamielle
www.lamiellelincke.com

Branson said...

I rarely give parenting input because I never feel like I know enough, but I would hesitate to send Aiden to school right now just because little boys are not wired for it at this age. If I could recommend one book ever to boy moms it would be The Way of Boys by Anthony Rao, and I would also really strongly suggest not even thinking the letters ADD. Just accept the letters BOY and give him time... I bet he will be just fine when he naturally develops the interest.

Branson said...

Amen :)

fifth house on the left | family blog said...

this describes rawley exactly except for the fact he just turned two. we are starting the process of getting into speech therapy now, but he has no interest if we try to teach him anything. flash cards? nope. he just wants to take them from me look at the BACK of it and throw it. coloring? nope. he wants to eat crayons and throw them. learning animal sounds? NOPE. and i could go on and on. once he catches wind i'm trying to teach him something he will deliberately ignore me or he will just leave the room and leave me sitting in there by myself. fun kid pinterest pins? these will never apply to us because he will never sit long enough to do a craft or a creative learning activity. like you, i'm worried as hell about how he will progress or how far behind he will be once he starts preschool. his cousins never had this problem are just leaps and bounds more advanced then him when they were his age and it makes me sad, frustrated and often cry a lot about this. i know he just turned two and i need to chill and see where this speech therapy takes us, but it's so hard not to sit here and compare my child with others his age or even younger than him or to think if something else is wrong with him. i just don't want him to struggle. i want him to be with every other kid his age learning, playing. i don't want him in a special class because i couldn't teach him these things. ugh. i'm crying even thinking about this. i'm just holding on to the hope that one day he will just get it and surprise me!

Mandy@ a sorta fairytale said...

Thank you, Heather!! I am definitely excited to see how he progresses being in that kind of environment! It will offer him structure, but also I know that the teacher really allows them time to play and interact with each other. So I'm hopeful!

Mandy@ a sorta fairytale said...

Thank you!! And that's wonderful about your brother!! Definitely gives me hope and makes me realize that so much changes from the time they are little to when they get school aged, and even as adults!

Jess Gougeon said...

I have to say, I totally understand what you mean about how it is SO tough not to compare one kid to another. Not only have I found myself doing it all along, with Elliot... comparing him to his friends, to his cousins, my bloggy friends' sons who are the same age... now that Emmett has come along, we catch ourselves CONSTANTLY pointing out things that Emmett does and saying, "HEY! Elliot definitely did NOT do that when he was Emmett's age" etc. It makes me feel a little bad, but I think it's human nature to compare.
I'm sure Bennett will catch up soon- or at least, I hope so. He has wonderful parents and it sounds like you are doing everything right, so hopefully things will just fall into place for you both soon. Elliot receives speech therapy still, although we were told he would soon be phasing out of the system since he is not so much behind anymore, which makes me a little sad. I'm always looking for new educational games/toys/activities/etc, so feel free to blog about anything you try with B!
Enjoy him :) He only gets to be so innocent and carefree for a short time.

Heather said...

My son turned 4 in April and was the same way at 3 but smart as he could be but cared less about talking, letters, numbers, etc. He is in speech with the school system but his pediatrician suggested we put him in daycare to help encourage speech and it helped alot! He stayed sick way more than ever before but started talking and hasn't shut up since! He will talk when hes ready and as for learning my older son started kindergarten not knowing letters, how to write name and teacher even said at first he may have to be held back well he caught on and has been top in his classes ever since and hes now a 6th grader so don't worry and stress he will be fine!

Anna said...

Hi, I just recently started following you on instagram and reading your blog. Both of your boys are sooo adorable! I also think that you don't have to worry. Every child learns at it's own speed and I'm absolutley sure he will get there. Maybe right now his focus is more on learning physically? Like climbing, riding a bike etc... And do you know the book "raising your spirited child" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka? It really helped me understanding my daughter better. I'm from germany, so please excuse my english :-)

Keshiaporcincula said...

I could go on and on but I am simply going to say thank you! Thank you so much for this honest post Mandy really. Thank you. I feel so much of what you said that I'm crying with thoughts and emotions. So again thank you! Wish we could get the boys together sometime.

Keshiaporcincula said...

I could go on and on but I am simply going to say thank you! Thank you so much for this honest post Mandy really. Thank you. I feel so much of what you said that I'm crying with thoughts and emotions. So again thank you! Wish we could get the boys together sometime.

Kim Cunningham said...

I can tell that you love your boy so very much, and your concern is so normal. As a mom of 3, former teacher, and now homeschool mom, I would say don't sweat this right now. It seems to me that there is this grand rush towards academia at younger and younger ages. I understand why that seems good, but often it just isn't even appropriate on some levels. I think a great investment right now is just to encourage play. Read to him, let him explore, encourage activity, and imagination. Don't worry about the "pen and paper" stuff just yet. I think the gentle approach is so much more rewarding when they are young. Teach and talk as you go about your day, and he will pick up more than you realize.

Megan said...

Our kids have to be twins because Caleb is pretty much exactly as you described. The only time my kid will sit still is to watch a movie or read a book. So, I decided to take advantage of that brief attention window and had him watch the "Leapfrog" movies. They worked wonders!! Once it "clicked" with him, we were surprised to find what he had been picking up a lot more than we realized.

Within a few weeks he had learned his letters, numbers, colors, you name it. We reinforced this by counting when we climb the stairs, and getting those big wooden letters to put up on his bedroom wall. Whatever works, you know? The other moms are right, learning through play is the way to go. Best of luck to you!

ADSchill said...

On my phone so I can't say all I want to but I think you are doing what you can. I know how distracted Bennett can get and how he seems to reject typical learning styles. getting him into preschool will help. I'm sure of it. Hopefully with her help and your efforts Bennett will pick up speed. If I can help let me know. Maybe he would want to learn from me?

Julia @onlinephduk said...

Oh Bennett looks adorable and he seems to enjoy playing outside the house. Same here, I’m having a hard time with three year old baby boy named Kaiz. He just wouldn’t sit and stand still. He often would crave for cookies and yogurt. I’m happy to have shared my experience with you. Have a nice day!

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