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Thread: How much do you expect of your 3 year old? (long)

  1. #1

    Default How much do you expect of your 3 year old? (long)

    A bit of background...

    Janae is 3 (her birthday is the end of March), she seems to be a very intelligent little girl, she speaks REALLY well and can hold a conversation, seems to understand even complex (for a 3yo) things, asks when she doesn't undersatnd, and has an incredible memory . For us its normal coz we don't have anything to compare it to, as my younger brother (who's also 3) had a bit of a late start with his speech due to fluid behind his ears, so while he understands, he can't express himself as well, and her friends her age are from daycare, so DH & I don't get to see her interact with them much.

    We get Janae to do things like make her bed (which is just her pulling her blankets up), pack away her clothes & toys, take her dirty plate & cup to the kitchen, she even helps me fold the clothes (only when she wants to, I don't ask her to do that). She dresses herself, takes herself to the toilet etc.

    An issue I'm having at the moment, is some nights when Janae goes to bed she'll get up a couple of times before going to sleep. I'll take her back to bed, as annoying as it is, but DH will tell her to take herself back to bed, and gets irritated when she says that she can't. Also, since I fell pregnant and had Josiah, most days she fights eating with a passion, always wants us to feed her, and will often take an hour to finish her meal. That said, she's been a lot better the last 3 days and I know that it's normal behaviour for a 3 year old.

    Sorry, this has turned into a bit of an essay - My question is this - while we want Janae to enjoy being a child, and we know that there are things that she just won't understand or is physically incapable of at 3, are we expecting too much of her? How much do you expect your 3 year old to do and understand? I know every child is different, but your feedback would be appreciated.

    Thanks girls


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Cairns QLD


    Evan is 3, almost 4. He sounds alot like your DD. He is a very interested in the world around him type of kid. Always asks questions about how & why things work (like a 40 min trip in the car asking the entire way how the traffic lights work & why). His questions aren't those of "why" at the end of every reply. He use to do this as all kids do but now he actually thinks about it & then asks a new question about what ever it is we are talking about.
    He tells us he needs to go to the toilet (I'm sure he would take him self if he could reach the door handle, they are rather high so it will be a few years before he can reach them). He feeds himself, helps himself to things in the fridge (still getting the hang of asking first). Takes his plates etc to the sink. Helps his little brother with things, simple things like if Glenn drops his fork at the table, evan will get ti for him with out being asked. He can dress himself but I still do it, simply because its faster & just a flow of the morning duties (so to speak).
    He shocks his teaches most weeks when he goes to preschool(once a week) with the things he comes out with. Like suggestions on how to get the paddlock undone (it needs some oil!) things to me that are common sence but are they to a 3 yr old?? The teaches seem amazed at what he comes out with sometimes so I just figure the other kids aren't as cluey.
    My delamer is the same as yours, he wont go to bed on his own. He needs to be taken to bed & stay with him till he asleep. He still sleeps in our bed (which is fine), he wont get up on his own in the morning, you have to go get him. he will call out to go get him.
    It is frustrating sometimes but yep, he is only 3. I think it is hard to treat them like a 3 yr old & only expect 3yr old stuff when they comeout with such grown up things. I always try to remember "your arguing with a 3 yr old".
    The fact that your DD has reverted back to some baby behaviour like wanting to be fed is just because of the new baby. I'm not sure if you should hummor her till she is over it or what but I don't think you should get cranky with her. She would be doing it for attention & I think positive attention from you will help heaps (not to sound as though i think she isn't getting it) give her big girl jobs to do to help with her new brother. Make her feel important in the day to day going ons. When Evan is doing something silly. I tell him that he needs to teach Glenn how to do it properly. He has taken on the role of big brother with full enthusiasm (sp?) right down to the "Don't yell at my brother!!" even even a few " your not my borther anymore!" lol its so cute.
    Maybe you could try a few "well i will show you for next time" when you take her back to bed. Then 'remember I showed you how to do it last night?" "
    ok I will show you again, but try to remember".
    Stuff like that I guess.
    I think our biggest "But I can't" comes from when he is busting to go for a wee & he says he can't pull his pants down. Of course he can but I think he is scared he will wet himself if he tries as he will loose the concentration of holding on KWIM?
    Dunno if that helps any but anyway....
    Last edited by *Efjay*; June 12th, 2006 at 12:02 PM.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    May 2003
    Beautiful Adelaide!


    Bel, it is a really tricky one. Whilst Olivia is only 2, we have similar issues with her, in as much as verbally she is really ahead of the game, and understands complex thinking, and is independant. 99% of the time she is happy, independant & experimenting in the world, and I fear I treat her like a bright 7 year old.

    However, with regard to bed, and regressing to baby like behaviours, I think this is REALLY common when a new baby appears on the scene....9either literaly, or when Mum falls pregant again, or when the baby turns a certain milestone. For instance, Olivia didn't regress at all until recently when Charlie started crawling.....)

    I am not sure what the solution is, only that FionaJull has offered good ideas, through talking & asking and showing....

    Olivia has recently started to ask to be "cuddled like a baby" at bedtime, which freaked me out at first, as she had been totally happy to climb into bed without any pat pat rock rock etc. So now I ask her "Do you want big cuddles or to climb into bed?" The conversation seems to diffuse her insecurity, IYKWIM? (Note, I really don't mind cuddling her at all, & am more happy to do it, but like you I am a bit confused as to why all of a sudden she appears to feel insecure?!)

    Anyway, not sure I have helped at all, but I guess with this issue, as with all things parenting, my advice would be to follow their lead, decide what you want the result to be, then gently encourage it for them and with them............

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Sep 2005


    My DD seems a bit similar to Danae, Bel. She is 3 1/2 and is quite advanced for her age, I think (and so everyone keeps telling us). We were the first among our friends to have children, so she was really used to being around grown ups. Her speech is really good, her memory is better than mine, she takes her plate to the kitchen after we have eaten, tidys up her toys etc. She can write her own name and is always asking about what letters words start with and asking how everything works. But she will decide to be a "little girl" if the mood takes her - like if she is too lazy to walk up the stairs and wants to be carried. I think sometimes we forget that she is onlly 3 and expect her to behave like a "mini-adult"

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, Australia


    I second what Lucy said - it is sooooo common that older siblings regress when a new one is on the scene, but it does pass. Marisa was 2.5 when Elijah was born, out the window went toilet training and it went to the extreme, when I would change her on the change table, she would lie there and wee on herself - their behaviours can become infantile and it's just their way of dealing with it.

    Make sure you get one on one time with her regularly. A great article to read is [url=]A New Baby - Second or Third or More Time Around[/url] by Pinky McKay. I think the introduction sums it up beautifully:

    ‘Imagine: Your partner has just brought home a new lover and announced that you are all going to live together. It will be fun! You will be best friends! After hearing that you and the new lover will be loved equally by your partner, you are asked to share your things (all of them) with the new lover.’
    Kelly xx

    Creator of, doula, writer and mother of three amazing children

    BellyBelly Birth & Early Parenting Immersion - Find out how to have a BETTER, more confident birth experience... guaranteed!
    Want To Be A Doula? Everything You Need To Know

  6. #6


    I know what you mean about forgetting that they're only 3. Lucy and sportychick, I'm guilty of treating Janae as if she's older than what she is. We spent the year between when she turned 1 and 2 living at my dad's while our house was being built, so she essentially lived with 8 adults (my dad & stepmum, DH & I, my 2 adult brothers and my 2 teenage step-brothers) so her speech developed really quickly, but her memory and comprehension constantly astounds everyone.

    I was half expecting her to regress a bit once Josiah was born, and I guess I've been really lucky that its only been something easy like bed and food, I'm sure she'll get over it eventually, already since posting the other day she's been getting a lot better with her food. I will read that article Kelly, loved that introduction!!


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