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A little boy confused! Baby or big boy?

We have hit a troublesome spot in the Multiple Mummy household. It serves me right, as we breezed through the so-called terrible two’s without a tantrum that sustained longer than 3 minutes and that very rarely occurred. But being three has been a whole new ball game for both me and for Noah. My little boy is very confused as he doesn’t know whether to be a baby or a big boy but what’s more, according to the nursery he is using this to his advantage to get what he wants and manipulating the whole affair.

I never knew three-year olds could be that clever but he has really had me fooled. Not only have I been pandering to his every whim but I had not really even realised this ‘manipulation’ was happening. I feel like the worst parent ever. I could use the excuse of the twins, but that is not fair. Lots of people have more than one child and have to share their time. I think in all honestly I have pandered and buried my head in the sand because it has made life easier.

So the issue highlighted are:

Regression in potty training

By this I mean wetting himself right before my very eyes without asking to go when I know full well he can. I didn’t really know what to do and at times have become quite cross with him, in complete desperation. Apparently, although this is negative attention it is still attention and therefore feeding the problem. The solution in this case has been to change and ignore the wetting, being almost completely silent, and making him get his new pants and trousers to make it inconvenient for him but to really praise the ‘big boy’ toilet time, even if he just sits on it. You see, the issue has been that not only has he been wetting himself but he has also been refusing to go as well!

A little boy or big boy? Multiple Mummy

My little Monster!

Whinging and the baby voice

I think that because I am his mother and so close to him I intuitively know what he wants and so have got what he has needed regardless of the tone spoken in or the lack of language used. If he has not got his own way or one of the twins has upset him he has either burst into tears or whined at the top of his voice getting louder and louder. The simple solution here is to use the phrase ‘use your words’ and ‘I don’t understand you, you need to speak like a big boy” and then praise him when he does. To be fair to him I do feel that he see’s how the twins communicate with their limited language and so copies.

Finally his listening

He is not listening and actually often purposefully ignoring. This had been driving both myself and hubby mad! I do however think that TV, which has been my guilty parenting technique at times has not helped so we are drastically weaning. We are trying to encourage him to look at us when we talk and I am now stating how many times I have asked.

However, he loves his new big boys bed! He is so excited that he can sleep in a bed and open his own door and has taken to it like a duck to water. It sounds like I have been painting a horrendous picture but he can be so helpful and a gorgeous delight most of the time. But we do need to nip the above in the bud. It is my fault, I have been snowed under and distracted and have not given him the quality time he really needs.

Despite this the last three days we have been applying the solution techniques and must say they are working so far amazing well. We have been dry all weekend. He even said in the car yesterday when I told him what a good boy he has been ‘yes Mummy and I have stopped saying No!” I should be pleased that his awareness of how controlling he has been is a sign of brightness.

Using the bed as a tool has helped as well, as saying ‘babies wet them selves and have to wear a nappy and they also have to sleep in a cot, only big boys stay in a bed and use the toilet so if you don’t want to go back in the cot we need to use the toilet’ and this has worked brilliantly.

The ‘use your words’ phrase has been fantastic and has really made him stop and think. It is amazing how quickly he can say ‘Please Mummy may I have…’ so it not through lack of knowing what to do. Cutting down TV was needed but not really affected the listening just yet but that may just be a three-year old thing!

You would think as a teacher I would know all these things but older children are a total different kettle of fish to little ones. I also think that when you are detached and can sit back and observed you see things more clearly whereas in the thick of it you can become a little clouded. I do understand why his behaviour is at it is, it must be hard for him to have to share Mummy with two other two-year olds and he has done this from 15 months! Most ‘sensible’ mummy’s have only just had another newborn by now.

I had really berated myself for being a terrible parent but my husband very kindly texted me during one of my upsets last Thursday saying all kids have different issues at different times and that a bad parent is one that does nothing about it. I hope he is right. I shall let you know how he is progressing in a couple of weeks. As for now, my conclusion is that three is harder than two but what are your experiences? How would you handle this? Any advice is gratefully received.


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31 comments to A little boy confused! Baby or big boy?

  • I have no advice because I am not at that stage as you well know, but I am sure it will all work out soon, I have no doubt you are a fabulous Mummy and will get to the bottom of his ways! :) x

  • Fi

    Hey lady! Don’t you be so hard in yourself! His behaviour us totally normal!

    Attention seeking- yup
    Playing up- yup
    Regression for attention-yup
    Not listening-yup, oh lovely I could add to your list!

    The thing is you are doing everything exactly right- you are tackling it by talking to him and getting him to talk back.

    Encouraging him to use his words rather than ‘whining’ is exactly right and ignoring negative behaviour (hard to do but right unless hrs hurting somebody or himself) and praising good behaviour is spot on!

    I’d suggest a treat jar-

    Get a plain jar to fill with beads or pasta. All good behaviour is rewarded with a token (pasta/bead) which goes into the jar. Any negative behaviour the bead cones out.

    (It’s always a good idea to start with some in or he’ll be in debt right away!)

    Aim for a target- 10 pastas gets a kids mag or other kind of treat- something he’d like to aim for, it doesn’t have to be expensive, a trip to the park etc. If he has something to aim for it’ll make it easier. Sticker charts are great but the novelty wears off pretty quickly!

    I hope I’ve helped- any questions you can email me. My website runs a FREE parenting advice service and all questions aRe aimed to be answered within 48 hours.

    Oh, and you’re a great mum- stop worrying (and having kids close in age is fab, mine just turned 1&2 last weekend!)

    • phew…normal! I just wanted to check, it has had me so worried. I have really been at my wits end. I am so grateful that his nursery key worker has great knowledge of young ones and talks al of of sense. The strategies seem to be having an effect. I am going to the the treat jar, I think that is such a great idea. Thank you for making me feel that I am not going mad or am the worst parent ever. Your advice and reassurance is gratefully received. x

  • Why am I a stressy mummy? Because I have a little boy who although he is now 6, went through this! He too was the most lovely 2 year old and I often say I wish he had had the terrible two’s. I think it is mainly frustration and this is especially the case if they are really bright. Mine understood so much but couldn’t always articulate. We went through it all with him and although he is still a challenge, you do come out the other side and breathe a huge sigh of relief!!

    • What you have summed up sound so familiar – I think Noah does have difficulty articulating himself at times and this is not helped by seeing the twins get what they want from making noises because they can’t talk yet. I hope we do come out the other side, but we are seeing improvements already and I am so proud of him.

  • Oh gosh – it’s just so hard with three kids isn’t it. There is always something with one of them. I agree – don’t be too hard on yourself. Sounds like you’ve really got it under control and its making a big difference. We’re having the same problem with Molly, she’s just started reception and has got so clingy at nighttime and her sleeping has really regressed. I know it’s because she’s feeling being apart from us for so long in the day. Sometimes they just want to be babied. I think you are doing everything completely right. I always try to have a bit of big girl time at some point in the week and really emphasise all the things we can do which the twins can’t do because they’re only babies.
    Hope you’ve had a better day.

    • That is a really good idea, some big boy time! I might try to do that, like take him out for a hot chocolate as a treat! I suspect thta any time there is change in their lives and they are unsure they want Mummy more – it is reassuring to know you are experiencing similar so thank you. It is a constant juggling act isn’t it? x

  • Completely agree with Fi. It is so not your fault, and you sound like you are doing all the right things. The whining and baby talk continues on and off, and then winding up your siblings comes into it as well. It is just a normal way of getting your attention. My nephews still get jealous of perceived attention to each other by their Mum and they are in their 20’s! It’s not easy this parenting lark is it?
    Oh, and to quote a recent Britmums prompt, if I didn’t think I would be judged harshly I would tell you that GG weed all over the house when the Bug was born. Eventually, when I was in the middle of a feed and couldn’t face letting her go everywhere in her wet things, I strapped her in her high chair while I cleaned up. She was there for 20 minutes, after which she said ‘Mummy, you don’t have to worry about that any more’, and I never did!

    • Thank you lovely. I suppose as Mummy’s we are our own worst critic. I am glad it is not just me and clearly I need to brace myself for lots of this. The sibling thing is definitely a factor, you are so right! Parenting is definitely not easy!

  • Been there too, it is hard but you are handling everything so well, sounds like you are really on top of it all. Children seek attention in strange ways as they don’t have the maturity to express their feelings. Well done you for picking up on Noah’s needs. Amazing multiple mummy:)

  • what a well written post xxxx

  • Joel regressed too! He wasn’t a total nightmare or anything, but his politeness, toilet training, emotional maturity all went backwards! I worried myself a lot that it was something we’d done wrong, but I now really believe it’s just a stage – something they go through in the transition from baby to little boy. I know it’s hard, but J is just about to turn 4 and after months of wavering, he’s my lovely little man. I wouldn’t worry – you sounds like a great mum x

  • My daughter is also three and goes through periods of regression. As I type this she is doing a number two in a nappy (night time she still wears them . . ahem we are having a lazy morning hence her still having one on!) rather than using the toilet which she is standing literally 10 feet from . . . .
    I agree with everyone else. You seem to be doing all the right things and he’ll soon move on to another phase!

    : 0

  • You are right that it is very different to deal with your own children as you have such a strong bond with them. I worked as a Nanny for ten years and yet with my own I find myself questioning decisions I make etc and just needing the reassurance of somebody telling me I am doing the right thing (even when I know deep down that I am). Everything that you say sounds perfectly normal, and you seem to have a good way of handling it all. We are all guilty of sometimes doing and saying things for an easy life, it doesn’t mean you are a bad Mummy because you recognise it and are doing something about it. Give yourself a break from time to time 😉 x

    • Thank you – that is good to know that someone that is qualified can still have feelings of doubt! I am totally with you on the being too attached to your own children. I do need to stop making life easier and start making things good! x

  • Very interesting post. We had that issue with our youngest (just turned four) for a while then realised it was because his big sister and older brother were babying him. His big sis occasionally loves to spoil him rotten and actually calls him ‘My Baby’. I put a stop to it by getting the seven year-old boy to lead by ‘Big Boy’ example, and as a result he was doling stand-up wees in no time. Treat ’em big, they’ll act big; treat ’em small and they’ll take the piss. In my experience, anyway.

  • My best friend always says to me that only good mummies worry about being good mummies. I have all of these challenges to look forward to and hope that I will cope as well as you x

  • […] read my blog will know that potty training Noah has not been easy and that recently he has regressed, but the twins are proving to be a very different kettle of fish. Deciding whether to potty train […]

  • You are being so hard on yourself. Sounds to me like you are doing all the right things. If you weren’t a good mum you wouldn’t care. I am not sure if ‘manipulative’ is the right word to use – more testing boundaries.

  • My boys are 5, 4 and 1, and the only thing I can say is that they’re all so different. My oldest had the classic terrible twos (from 14 months old to 4 years old!), whereas my now 4 year old never really did the whole tantrum thing, but we had different problems around potty training, and like you, him not knowing whether to act like a baby or a big boy. He’s in school now and that has made him grow out of that (just about). My husband still blames be for his behaviour because he says I baby him! It remains to be seen what my 1 year old is going to be like, but now I just go with the flow. It can’t be any worse than what I’ve already been through (oh goodness, I hope not anyway…..)
    Good luck, and remember that it’s only one stage in his life. It won’t last forever.

  • Oh I feel for you I really do. I have been through this before and am going through it right now with Ozzy.He’ll throw something whilst looking right at me and he knows it’s wrong and yet he does it and watches me for a reaction.
    A lot of it is testing boundaries and another side of it is, for Ozzy, watching his bigger sister and copying her behaviour – so maybe your son is looking at the twins for some behaviour mannerisms in the same way. After all they learn from those they see every day!
    Chin up sausage x

  • […] changed! The have started saying words and are communicating so much better. Noah’s constant whingeing has stopped because I think he realised that the twins are not demanding as much now, as they are […]

  • michelle twin mum

    Perosnally I found that JJ regressed before he improved and so did Miss E. All kids are different and all behviour is pretty normal I find. It must be really hard being 3 to be honest and being the big brother!

    Mich x

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