My 3-year-old is super-bright and super-high-energy. I am super-lost. (Sorry, this got super-duper long.)
posted by Sockish American to Education (69 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Things came to a head today when he was sent home from preschool for behavior issues, after we've been struggling with preschool issues for a month. I am at a loss, and I am losing my mind.
We had my 3-year-old assessed this summer for a speech impediment. (The system goes, they do a general assessment first, then follow up.) He does, in fact, lisp a bit. But the rest of the assessment - he was in the 99th percentile for everything but fine and gross motor skills (where he was perfectly normal), and social-emotional development (also normal). His vocabulary and sentence construction were, according to the early childhood specialist psychiatrist, "off the charts." She said she'd never seen a three-year-old with such advanced skills and that the scoring system on the assessment wasn't designed to accommodate a child with such advanced language abilities. She also said he was "near the far upper range of normal" in terms of need to be in perpetual motion (but that this did not interfere with his concentration or ability to finish tasks, but that it possibly we be the sort of thing we'd hear from teachers about).
Well, we're hearing from teachers about it. He has trouble following directions and NOT doing whatever comes into his head, which of course is normal at this age but this is to SUCH an extreme. And he is exhausting to be with - we were talking him for mile-long walks at 18 months just to wear him out enough to sleep. It takes at least three miles these days. We try to be outside for at least a couple hours even when the weather isn't very good. He doesn't nap. He doesn't move at a speed below "running" and he can't NOT mess with everything. I know other kids this age do similar things, but mine does it all the time, 12 or 13 solid hours a day. He can open every door and deadbolt in the house, operate every child safety gate, undo all of the child-safety locks. Some doors have three or four child-safety locking systems on them so I can at least get to him before he manages to remove them all. If something is out of reach, he moves furniture - heavy furniture! - to reach it. I literally had to just go pull him off a couch he moved to get to an out-of-reach window blind while I was typing this (not dangerous, he's just wrecking all my blinds). He has absolutely no fear, and walks up to strangers and strange dogs and runs off from us all the time if we let go of his hand when we're away from home. It's impossible to leave him alone long enough to take a shower, and I understand how in a preschool classroom he is a force of considerable havoc even when he doesn't mean to be. We frequently have to hire two babysitters because trying to care for my 1-year-old while keeping up with my 3-year-old is a LOT for someone who doesn't have practice. A couple weeks ago he started disassembling my heating ducts just to see how they work. He's taken apart my thermostat more than once while I've been in the bathroom for a quick pee; he moves a heavy chair so he can climb up to it, and then starts disassembling it with whatever makeshift tools he managed to come up with. You forget a ballpoint pen on the table and he's freaking MacGyver. He figured out how to climb up to the windows, disassemble all the safety mechanisms, remove the screens, and open the windows on the second-story windows. After bedtime. In the pitch black. I found him on his way out a window. (We now have second story windows that don't open. We've actually spent a lot of money doing insane things to childproof this house against baby MacGyver, like my very expensive non-strangluation window treatments.)
Without any specific teaching (we're a "sing children's counting songs that we happen to know" family, not a flashcard family), he has taught himself addition and subtraction. He reads long polysyllabic words. He recites long stanzas of poetry and entire poems, sometimes after a single hearing. (Not just children's poems and Dr. Seuss, but e.e. cummings and Shakespeare.) He follows simple recipes and cooks meals.
On the one hand, this isn't entirely unexpected. Both his father and I were "gifted" children with slower emotional and social development. (We both have doctoral degrees from top-10 programs in our field.) But my son is having SO much trouble with behavior because of his perpetual motion, and is SO advanced in terms "academics" ... I'm just not sure what to do. I work(ed) in education so I know that labeling a child gifted before 6 or 7 is generally meaningless, and I actually hate even typing this question because I think it makes me sound like a crazy person to be all "my 3-year-old is super-gifted!" But I don't even know what to DO with him. We're starting to have more and more yelling at home because he is just CONSTANTLY getting into things and once he starts, he can't stop until he's satisfied his boundless curiosity. He'll go back to it every time I look away for a second. My husband has jokingly/despairingly suggested putting everything in storage that isn't toys and just sitting on the floor all the time.
My husband and I used to work opposite schedules. I was fairly recently downsized. I am home with my kids all day, every day. In the month of October, I had two hours away from them, one time, when I went to see a psychologist, who basically just referred me to a psychiatrist, whom I am still waiting to see. My husband is working 12-hour days and is our sole income right now. I sleep lightly because, well, my child attempts things like climbing out windows, and because I've been very stressed since the downsizing and my younger child was quite ill. (He is fine but I get up to check on him several times a night.) I am both lack-of-sleep exhausted and been-coping-with-this-preschooler-for-months exhausted.
My questions are twofold, I guess:
A) How do I cope with a child that is SO precocious at getting into stuff and SO active, that I literally can't make a space safe and that I never get to sit down? When does this phase end?
B) He is bored and I am not sure what to do for him "academically." We don't want to sit down and "have lessons" (if he would sit down at all), but he's clearly in need of more stimulation intellectually. But what do you do with a 3-year-old who's already taught himself subtraction and memorizes reams of text for fun and WON'T SIT STILL EVER? Both the public school system and his private preschool say he needs more intellectual stimulation but that they aren't equipped to handle a child as advanced as he is. The child development experts he's seen have universally agreed he is unusually advanced and needs support to help him develop, but none can point me to any local resources in our small town. (One suggested that if he continues on this path, I would be best-served by moving! To be close to some particular program for gifted children in Colorado or somewhere.) We have talked to specialists in the nearest big city, three hours away, who also agree that he is absolutely off-the-charts and needs unique support and challenges, but there just isn't any support available nearby, so it will have to come from us. I am overwhelmed trying to figure out how to support his development, and a lot of the resources available are more along the lines of "My child is gifted because every child is gifted!" (or, gag, "my child is an Indigo Child!") and aren't of a lot of help to me.
Obviously we are also a family in crisis with the downsizing and the health crisis and I am doing my best to address that at the same time. I know this question is long and all over the place, so I'll try to answer questions that arise. I am very overwhelmed right now.