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I feel like I'm neglecting my 3-year old


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I have 3 sons, age 8, 5.5 and 3. My two older sons are at about the same level intellectually. They are both extremely gifted in all subjects and I can read them books above age level, though most of the reading we do is at the 8-11 age level. They also have severe special needs which are hard to explain, but basically, they do not do any hands-on activities, writing, exercises. DS8 sometimes reads books on his own but DS5 does not. So most learning has to come from read alouds. On top of that, sometimes DS8 is not well enough to learn and weeks go by where he cannot participate in read alouds for more than 5 minutes per day. I cannot predict when this will happen and it is extremely frustrating. I feel like I have to make the most of his good times. There were also a few years where he could not homeschool at all even though he was at home and I feel like we wasted that time.

 

Anyways, last year was easier because DS3 was still napping and spent some time in the high chair but those days are no more. DS3 likes reading but he really only likes simple picture books and usually after he has heard them a few times already. So I read a few picture books and then switch to the big boy books. Sometimes he will take the picture books that we just read and go through them again on his own for 20 minutes or so. This is fine if he takes them across the room but sometimes he sits beside the other boys and they really get distracted. Also, often he decides to rip the books after he gets done with them. I have honestly tried to explain that we don`t rip books but it`s beyond him and he just thinks it`s funny and he`s trying to get my attention. He will sometimes sit on my lap when I read the big boy books but after a while he gets bored and starts making loud noises to drown out my voice. Or he`ll walk around the room and sing really loud. If I ask him to lower his voice, he cries. He has noticed that I have tried to distract him with toys and now he often gets very upset if I take out any toys. Sometimes I can manage to get him involved in playing with toys for a while, but then DS5 wants to play too and cries if I don`t let him. I often let him for a period of time which usually works to get it out of his system but then DS3 is done too.

 

Sometimes everything falls into place and I do get a lot of reading done with the older boys. DS3 often insists on taking the books we are reading, whether they have pictures or not, and reading them himself. He reads them with expression, just like me and makes up his own jibberish words. Then I feel guilty, like too many of his hours have been spent watching me read books that he cannot understand. I do spend chunks of time with him throughout the day giving him attention but I am concerned that the big chunks of time I spend reading to the older boys are causing him to seek attention in bad ways and hurting him.

 

He is still at a stage where he wants his way all the time and it is hard to explain that we do this for a certain amount of time and then we do that. A routine works sometimes but not always. I`m finding it really stressful to plan my days and not feel guilty all day long.

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Wow, this is a difficult stage you are in. These seasons do pass and it will get easier, but in the meantime, how about recording yourself reading aloud and then having your boys listen to the tapes when your 3yo gets disruptive? There may be many books at your library that are already on tape or CD. Also, what about having your 3yo play with playdough while you are reading. Your 5yo will probably want to as well and it is a simple activity that makes very little noise. I made hundreds of batches of homemade playdough when my were little just for this purpose.

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Guest janainaz

This is a difficult age when you are hs'ing older kids. I feel the guilt every day because I am not free to do all I would like with ds4. DS9 has several school subjects he can do alone and I try to dedicate that time to one-on-one interaction with my younger one. Some days are good, some days are not. The hours go by so quickly and before I know it, it's lunch and there is just so much to do.

 

I have to dig down deep and set priorities. Education is a top priority and the work has to get done. However, my younger son has to be priority to. All I have to do is to remember the fact that my mother never took the time to play with me as a child. She never took the time to connect with my heart. She was on the phone and I have zero memories of being the apple of her eye or her focus. I played alone and then got into trouble for just trying to occupy myself (sometimes mischeviously). She finally got frustrated enough and solved the issue by putting me in preschool. I don't ever want my kids to have a lack of memory of me enjoying them. I want them to remember hide-and-seek, play-doh, and me having fun with them. It's so important.

 

You have to give yourself a break and not stress out. There is a lot of pressure that you take on when you educate your kids. At the same time, there has to be balance. There is something more important than knowledge. When schooling gets in the way of any of your kids knowing that their hearts are priority, there is something off-balance. The good thing is, it's easy to change.:)

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Given the special needs of your family, I might consider putting ds3 in a lovely part day preschool program for 2 or more mornings a week. He'll get loads of fun, attention, age appropriate activites and come home tired and likely either nap after lunch or be happier playing on his own some of the time. You'll have the entire morning to focus on the olders on those days. . .

 

I might have done that with my 3rd child at that age as she was a demanding baby/toddler and it was very hard for me to get everything done that I wanted to do. Instead, I hired household help for cleaning as well as a helper/tutor to teach my dc on the days I worked. I had the tutor come to teach the olders on the same day as my housekeeper was there so that the housekeeper could take care of the little one while the tutor worked with the olders, b/c as the age of 1-2 or so, it was more than a one-human job to take care of it all simultaneously.

 

I know that those aren't options everyone has, but I just thought I'd throw it out there as that's what I had to do in order to handle my household at that stage in my life.

 

If I hadn't lived in a town where it is fairly easy to find great household help at a modest wage, I would have likely chosen to put my youngest in a preschool for ages 2-4 or so, two or three mornings a week, to give her that lovely experience and to give me time to focus on the big kids. I'd have also hired at least a cleaning service every week or two to take that pressure off as well.

 

At one point, I was working abt 25 hrs a week and had abt 40 hrs of household help. . . It was crazy but it worked. To tell the truth, I never went back and still have help -- just 24 hours a week instead of 40, and I work a lot less as well. I *could* do it all, but I don't want to and I would have to make a lot more compromises than I like to. The housekeeper and tutor make it so I can get more of what I want to get done, done. If I had less help, I'd have fewer choices on curriculum, projects, trips, etc as I would have a lot less planning and teaching time.

 

HTH you at least know that many of us find hs'ing a brood a challenge and have to juggle. It's not easy!!!!!!!!!!!!

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I really, really remember this stage. The guilt, yikes. Yup. I know it, too.

 

Can I give you a bright spot that I see now that I didn't when I was in your shoes?

 

My youngest schooler right now is 6. And his twin sisters are 7. When they started first grade, little dude was in the position of your 3 yo (they were 5 and he was 4). Just hanging around. Being there, and BORED out of his mind. So I let him come and go. He'd crawl up on my lap if I was reading something, then five minutes later he'd be off watching TV or playing with something. He'd 'play' school while I did phonogram cards the girls. He'd 'play' school when we did our counting and math and such.

 

Fast forward to now. He is 6 and in first, and they are 7 and in second grade.

 

He is doing most of the second grade work.

 

I would be going through stuff with the girls and in another room little dude would pipe up with the answer. We'd sit down to do math, and he not only understood it all and was answering correctly, but knew it better than the girls did.

 

I thought he was just playing or being bored and he was absorbing it all like a sponge.

 

So, although your little dude's attention span is shorter, don't think he's sitting there and not getting anything out of it. Just let him come in when he wants, and give him something to do when he's not.

 

If he's not putting things in his mouth anymore, a really fun thing we did was put a huge bag on beans in a bowl and give the little scoops and cups and stuff to play with. Seriously, the beans were such a big hit that the older ones loved playing with them too, and I threatened that they would all get beans for christmas.

 

Hang in there. It IS frustrating, but it's also just a season.

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"All I have to do is to remember the fact that my mother never took the time to play with me as a child. She never took the time to connect with my heart. She was on the phone and I have zero memories of being the apple of her eye or her focus. "

 

Sounds like my mother. I used to listen in to her conversations on the other phone extension because I was so bored. I definitely don't want to be like her with my kids!

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