What a 3 Year Old Should Be Able to Do!!!

Updated on January 04, 2009
C.I. asks from Cape Coral, FL
14 answers

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answers from Sarasota on

My 3.5 year old still has trouble with his shoes and still can't put a shirt on. She is being extreme, but I don't suppose that matters. The fact that you are in the right won't matter I'm afraid. I can't believe she isn't thankful for your help! My mom does two days a week for not as long and I can't stop thanking her because it is hard work!! I think maybe you could sit down with her like another poster said with a print out of what some typical 3 year old milestones are and what not to expect. Sit down and say you work on this stuff, but the yelling at you has got to stop or she can find daycare. Since she can't afford it, she should listen I hope. It sounds like he is getting 3 different treatments on a weekly basis and that needs to stop. It is just confusing him and setting him back. The 3 of you need to get on the same page. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

Hi C.,
IMHO (In my humble opinion) all kids learn differently.

My son wasn't potty trained until almost 3 1/2, we let him take the lead on that. We figured he was the only one that would know when he had to go.

The day that he started using the potty we took him out of diapers. We carried a portable potty with us and I reminded him that he wasn't wearing a diaper and to let me know if he had to go.

I also reminded him as we would get in and out of our car. He only had two accidents.

Instead of carrying diapers with me I carried an extra set of clothes for just in case.

One of the luxuries of him staying home with you is that he can learn to potty at his own pace. IMHO it's better to do it this way, because when he does learn, he will really recognize his signals.

I've heard that when you train a child too early, or any time you potty train, they regress and have accidents or they don't learn to pee and poo on the potty at the same time. Basically because they are not ready to learn. My son never went through any of that because we let him tell us when he was ready to learn.

We bought an it's my potty for boys and we kept it in the living room, and on this particular day we let him run around naked. He sat down on the potty and went pee all on his own. I praised him up and down and stayed home that day and every time he had to go he went in the potty.

We took him out of diapers that day, right into underwear. We put him in a pull up only at nap and night time. I think that if you put them in a pull up during the day instead of regular underwear it can confuse them.

When daddy got home he was so excited to tell him about using the potty, we were going to Orlando that evening, and I thought oh no there is bound to be an accident. We put him in underwear and took off. 90 minute drive, no accidents, we stopped when he told us he had to go. It couldn't have gone any smoother. He was ready to learn and it was real easy.

Another plus of him being older, his bladder was more developed and he could hold it longer. So if we were in the car 2 minutes away from home and he told me he had to go real bad, I could ask him can you wait til we get home or do you need to stop now.

I think your daughter may be getting caught up in the whole "my child was trained at 18 mo" conversation at work. All kids learn at their own pace, there are things we can teach them, but when it comes to potty signals it's their body and only they know.

Another added, problem could be that not everybody has the same expectations for her. When she's at mom's, dad's or grandma's, the rules should be consistent, otherwise it will be very confusing to her.

Sorry to run on and on. Hope this helps!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sarasota on

Have heart, C.. At least your daughter is speaking to you!! Neither of mine do. As a result, I haven't seen my grands for years. I am at peace with this, because I feel that, if a person has anger, s/he has to display it somewhere. Better that than suppressed. And where better to display it than with one's Mom, who can't go away! It is so safe for them. So I keep my peace, knowing that it will change one day. Focus on taking care of yourself. If you don't want to go to your daughter's house, make a good excuse.

Your grandson will not be pooping his pants or not tying his shoes in a few years anyway. The fact that he is well behaved is the most important thing. Keep doing what you're doing, because you're doing it right. Keep up the good work, Grandma!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lakeland on

Hi C.,
Believe me I can so relate to what you are going through! I have fought much of this same fight for many years and I would like to share what some of my thoughts have been and what I have come to.
When we love our children and Grandhildren as we so & when we only have their best intrests and want to help as we can it is sooooo hard that our help is rejected and we are attacked. My answer has partly been in deciding that I had to back off some or loose the family and partly in tryung to remember what my emotions and mental state was at that age.
Most of the problem really lies in your Daughter's immaturity and posseviness of her Son. Maybe things will loosen a little aafter her marriage but probably not much. She will open some as she & her family grows older and begins to go through what you have. Then she will begin to inderstand but she may well mot be willing to admit all of it. When it happens I just am happy for what understanding she is willing to admit and know that there is most likely much more practical understanding under the surface than she will admit.
My GrandChildren and I have shared much when we are alone that we can not when my Daughter is around. The kids will begin to catch on as they get older and those awkward moments when they want you to do something she doesn't want will disappear.
Just hang in there, do your best but I always found that it was a tremendous help to remember that I am the peacemaker. I have much more understanding because of my age & experience. Above all, I will not loose my family!!! I try to always hold in mind that no one really wins in a power play even when it appears that they are the winner. Just think of the future consequences!!
Good luck & let me know how things go.




answers from Tampa on

I know it's hard to feel unappreciated. But it's been my experience when a parent lashes out at their childcare provider (even family) that it's usually not the caregiver but the parent's own inner conflicts because they can't be home with their child to do all the things the caregiver does. It's likely that your daughter is upset with herself and feeling defensive because she feels bad that she isn't the one who is with him all day. To keep peace; a good rule of thumb as grandma and caregiver... when you are in charge you play by your rules. But when mama is there she is boss and you play by her rules (whether you agree with them or not). I hope this helps you some.


answers from Tampa on

I figured you would get plenty of responses on this topic. If I remember right this is the couple that refuses to put your grandson in a car seat? Am I correct? That in it self along with what you are talking about here, tells me it's her problem and that she is just young and immature. I agree with all the other posts. She will grow out of this and be grateful one day. Can you handle it for 10 more years? Maybe longer? My niece is the same way. Yes, boys can be potty trained at three, alot don't, but it sounds like she is too busy to deal with it. Between working and her relationship (doesn't he have kids too?) Your grandson is not going to be top priority. He will eventually be potty trained so don't get too frustrated with this. I wouldn't even bother and stress your self out about this until you know she is on board. Maybe you can try and make it her idea instead of yours? She might feel like you are making her look like a bad mother. I am sure at her age she is in a defensive mode. There is also Coordinated Child Care that she can look into that gives EXTREME discounts for childcare. Like $5 per week, full time, the most one of my friends has paid is $18 a week! While you would be giving the quality time your grandson needs, he would be learning and she would not feel so defensive towards you. Which in turn could build a all around good relationship between you, her, and your grandson. Just a thought. I could not imagine putting my child in day care for that many hours, but it may be in the best interest of all of you. Think about it. It may make the time you get with him and your daughter a little more stress free and enjoyable. Some one else can teach him the same things you are, but can bet she will take it in a totally different way! Good luck!! I feel so bad for you!



answers from Tampa on

Your daughter is going to regret this. What she wants is a child that's independent so she isn't bothered so much. Your grandchild is exactly where he needs to be. Also, keep in mind there are some things girls excel at fasted than boys. Like vocab, potty training.



answers from Tampa on

Dear C.,
What a sad tale! You need to sit your selfish brat of a daughter what you have just told the rest of us. Feel free to share the comments you are receiving, mine included. Your grandson is very fortunate to have you in his life, and he sure as the devil would not get this kind of nurturing one on one from some daycare center! She is expecting far too much from a 3 year old...especially boys, they are all developmentally behind girls at that age. Not in a bad way either. Bet her "boyfriend" fiance now, is behind a lot of this bunk, and I would be scared to death that he would hurt this child once they are a family. the potty training thing speaks volumes, and it could escalate into a DCF problem. Remind her of that too.....Most of all, he loves you, and she does too at some level, but you are being used and are allowing it. Don't let her hold you hostage anymore! Stand up for yourself and that sweet little guy! He needs an ally right now



answers from Lakeland on

Hi C.,

Keep doing what you are doing!! Your grandson obviously needs you. I was a single mom at 25 with a 13 month old. I did pay for daycare, but my mom watched my son sometimes. I was the same as your daughter. Looking back, it was me who had the problem. I felt guilty that I couldn't be the one teaching him those things, that I HAD to work and couldn't change things and that his father left us for someone else.
Now, fast forward several years. My son is now 17 and I have 3 other children. My youngest is 5 and is super smart. With that comes the slow potty training, he was 3 1/2 when we started and he was 4 when we were done, but even now there are still accidents. He puts his shoes on, but still needs help. He is fine, but he has other things on his mind, so doing all of this isn't as important. You really can't gauge children, they all do their own thing when they want to. I see your daughter as being unreasonable but I think the feelings are more than just being mad at you.
It sounds to me like you are doing all the right things and since you have your grandson more than his mom does because she is working, then you need to keep up with what you are doing. Maybe getting engaged will help her calm down a bit. I totally understand her side, it is hard being a single parent. She will see how blessed she was to have you, but she will be a little older when that comes. Hang in there and stay tough! That's what we moms do, isn't it:-)

Happy New Year!!




answers from Sarasota on

You're doing a great job! I agree with the mom who said she (your daughter) probably just feels badly about herself. I would do anything just to have my mom in the same state, let alone babysit!! You are a great mom/grandma! Please don't personalize when your daughter acts this way. Keep up the good work. He's very blessed to have you!!!



answers from Tampa on

What is the father doing? I know you said he see your grandson every other weekend, but perhaps you can get him in the loop. Even if you feel like he isn't doing much, at least he is there, many children can't say that much... I know I couldn't. Try standing up to your daughter, if she has no other option than you for childcare, she needs to be more respectful... this is not to say you should walk on her, but she should not walk on you. I think a 3 year old should be completely potty trained. What does the doctor have to say about this? My 2 year old is completely potty trained, well he sits on the potty, but he uses it. Keep trying to potty train (especially if he is getting it, this means he is ready!). Also try talking to your daughter, just because she is a mom now does NOT mean she isn't your daughter. You are still HER MOTHER, not his, but you are HER'S- she sould respect you and be able to discuss things like an adult. Being a mother means being a great role model- I doubt she would want her son talking to her the way she seems to be talking to you.



answers from Lakeland on


The problem you are having is this: YOUR DAUGHTER IS LAZY!!!!!!! 3 year olds are not supposed to be doing things on there own. They do need help and the potty training dilemma you are having is she is not doing it at her house. I am sure you have a routine with him and it sounds like she just doesn’t have the time or want to make the effort to have the time to do this. Now please don’t get me wrong, I used to have those hours too. It is very hard between getting dinner ready, eating dinner, bathing and getting them to bed. It can be overwhelming most of the time but the thing is you have to suck it up and make the time. I am not sure if her boyfriend lives with her but if he does he better step up to the plate. He needs to know that he is responsible for him, also. I really think you both have to do is sit down and discuss your routine with him and talk about his routine at home. Then discuss how you both can stay on the same page and stay consistent. It is like having another spouse, if you both have different ways of doing things he is getting mixed signals. It sounds to me that he does better with you then your daughter. I understand her side of it too, since my Mom lives with me and also helps me out with the kids. She is great with my daughter but is terrible with my son. We are trying to work on with her to understand that yelling at my son does not work and talking in a firm voice and following through on discipline does work. (My son has ADHD and other special needs so you have to approach him in a different manner than you would my daughter) I will admit it is very frustrating to me and she does give me hard time, so don’t take it personally and she might be jealous that you get to spend all the quality time with him and she doesn’t. Also, there is another equation-boys are a lot slower in doing things than girls. If she has a friend that has a girl and she is more independent then your grandson that could be the cause, but there is one thing she has to keep in mind; all children are not the same. My son is 5 years old and my daughter is 2 years old and she is so much more advanced the he was at her age but then again she does not have the special needs situation, so you can’t compare the two of them. My son did not speak until he was almost three and we are still having problems with that and my daughter you can have a total conversation with her and she understand everything. It sounds to me that you are doing a great job and I wonder if we could trade. LOL I would make it your New Years’ Goal to both of you to sit down and get on the same page or you could play hard ball if she doesn’t want to do that and say you won’t watch him and see how fast she appreciates all that you do for him. Good Luck!!!!!!

Happy New Year!!!!!

K. P



answers from Tampa on

I believe, in psychology, it is called "projection". You are doing all the right things, then he comes to you on Monday and he's back to square one? Either your daughter or your grandson's father or both are exceptionally lazy people that sound as if they can't be bothered by the needs of their child. Your daughter maybe knows that either she or Dad aren't doing the right thing (just the easy thing... God help that child someday when he's old enough to argue and need actual discipline.) so it sounds as if she takes it out on you.

On the other hand, I find it hard to believe that she and dad together can't afford some sort of childcare. My son was in a pre-k 1/2 day program at 3, and it was maybe $280 a MONTH for it. Children learn well from their caregivers, but it's amazing how quickly they learn social/play skills from children their own age. You love your grandson, but 11 hours a day of taking care of him is A LOT, especially when your daughter doesn't sound like she even says thank you. I would highly recommend you approach her and dad either together or seperately. Google "Milestones for 3 year olds". Tell her that these are the skills that you are working on. Every person in this child's life should be on the same page and AGREE with what he's learning. You could also look around for a 1/2 day three year old program so he could at least have 3 or 4 hours a day with his peers. If mom can't pay for it, so be it, but it's in his best interest all the same.

I was a first-time mom at 20, so it's not necessarily an age issue with your daughter, but sounds like a real maturity issue between her and the father. I'm willing to be there is some guilt there, too. I mean, look at it this way, if you're watching your grandson 11 hours a day, then by the time your daughter picks him up, they have dinner (unless he even eats that meal with you) then it's probably bedtime. Then he spends the weekend with his dad. She probably doesn't know ONE thing about her own child. What quality time does she ever have with him?? It's very sad really. I feel so blessed I was able to be a stay-at-home mom, with my husband working really hard for me to do so.


answers from Tampa on

Hi, C.!!

I'm a licensed home daycare and a mom of 3 kids (one of them turned 3 years in Oct, too!)

First, remember this child is in a bit of a mess. You are the only stable he appears to know. Of course, it would be ok if he were "a little behind", but sounds to me he's right on course. My son is lazy in the potty training area. And with your daughter's apparently busy life, it's probably easier for her to slap a diaper on him.

You might want to check www.babycenter.com for ages & stages. Coordinated Childcare (www.childcarepinellas.org) also has free services to check things like that. They also have scholarships for childcare ... perhaps your daughter would qualify financially? Has she applied?

Also, you can find great play date groups on yahoo groups (I like st pete working moms) but my favorite site is www.cafemom.com ... they have kind of a facebook feel, but with tons of groups you can join and get support. They even have grandma groups ;) My screen name there is roses4mary

With all that's going on in her life, it's easy to understand her frustrations. Not to condone, just understand... and understanding is your first line of defense. With an engagement and planning for a wedding on top of her already busy life, not to mention having a son from her ex, things are sure to become even less secure for your grandson. Hopefully, the changes in his life won't cause him to act out. But if it does, at least he has one-to-one attention from YOU.

Just continue with what you're doing. You're the GRANDMA and sounds to me you know what you're doing. He will need your love and affection even more than ever. Try to do as your daughter asks when she's around, if for no other reason than to keep the peace. "pick your battles"

I'd suggest having a chat with her when you have a calm moment where no one is rushing here or there and when she is in a good mood. Start out by saying that you love them both dearly and love the arrangement, but it makes you sad when she gets frustrated at you.... and if she could please find a way to lovingly and/or respectfully give her ideas of how she wants her son to be. Her wanting him to put his own shoes on is not unrealistic, but sometimes kids just want to have someone else do it for them ... simply out of love, not laziness.

If my 8 yr old daughter asks me to brush her hair, I know she just wants me to give her some attention and so I do it... because I love her. Who doesnt want to have their hair brushed by mommy, right?

Be patient with your daughter. I'm sure she's had a hard time with her son's dad.... and you could expect things to get even more tense in that area with her getting married (ex will be jealous, i bet).

This is her first child, has huge responsibilites with work, and now a wedding.

Sounds like you're doing a wonderful "job"! I wish I had one of you around! I would hug and squeeze you every day and bring you gifts of appreciation, yes I would!!!

Oh, and all 3 of my children didnt get fully potty trained until after the 3rd birthday... my 3 yr old still gives me a hard time! He'll do the business when I ask him to get on the potty (especially with a bribe of chocolate), but won't go to potty on his own or even tell me when he's had an "accident"... and most days doesnt even want me to clean him! Little monster. gotta love the 3's!

Happy New Year!