Soooooo, Bean’s three and a half.  And if I had to describe three and a half year old boys in one word, it would have to be “rambunctious.”  Like, REALLY, REALLY rambunctious.


Bean has always been a pretty mild dude.  He gets that from his dad.  He’s a laid back, go with the flow, playing-with-my-action-heroes kind of a guy.  But lately, it is like someone is pouring buckets of testosterone into his system and the BOY is just BURSTING out of him!  He’s running and throwing and yelling and climbing walls.

No, seriously.  I caught him trying to CLIMB THE DOOR FRAME of his bedroom the other day.  When I asked him what he was doing, he said he was climbing like Spiderman.  And then he gave me this look like, “Duh, Mom!”

The other day, he came tearing through the kitchen, chasing Gracie with a giant plastic claw.  When I told him he had to leave her alone, he said, “But, MOM!  She’s my DINNER!”


And yesterday, he threw an entire basket of action heroes down the stairs at one time and yelled out, “LOOK OUT BELOW!”  No apparent reason for that one.  Just decided to chuck everything down the stairs.

On some days, I get really irritated.  He’s just so loud and rough and… and… LOUD.  But, I try to look at him as a whole, not just as his rough actions.  Usually, he’s rough when he’s imagining games and playing pretend.  And I think that is awesome that he’s got such an active imagination.  I love that about him.  He’s also fairly innocent when he’s being rough.  It’s like he truly doesn’t know how loud or rambunctious he is being until you tell him he needs to pipe down a bit.  Then he’s pretty quick to dial it back a couple notches.

I’ve been thinking about him as if he’s just gotten a new body and he doesn’t know yet how to control it because that’s basically what it’s like to grow like a stinkin’ weed.  Every day he wakes up, that kid is bigger.  I feel like I blink and he grows a foot.  I remember when he was around a year old, and starting to look a little bit less baby-like.  I would sometimes catch glimpses of what he was going to look like as a toddler or preschooler.  Now, I sometimes catch glimpses of what he’s going to look like in elementary school.  And that terrifies me.  This past weekend at a birthday party for one of his friends, I found myself talking about KINDERGARTEN with a couple of the other parents.  KINDERGARTEN, PEOPLE.



Okay, minor mommy meltdown over.  Let’s get back to the rambunctious thing…

We are starting to notice now that with the rambunctious actions we are starting to see a little bit of a rambunctious attitude.  His tone is a little more sarcastic when he talks to us.  He can be a little more demanding.  He is arguing more.  He is getting a bit more bossy.  All of these are just part of growing up, I’m sure.  But dude needs to get the tiny ‘tude under control.

And then!  This morning when I was dropping him off at daycare, I happened to stand there a bit longer than I normally do (I’m a quick drop and run kinda momma – usually because I’m running late!), and I noticed a table full of boys “playing” together.  And I use the word playing very loosely here.  They were shoving toys across the table at each other, trying to hit someone with whatever they were shoving.  They were getting in each other’s faces and arguing and snapping at each other – sort of harmless yelling, but it was the same tone that we’ve started hearing at home that we are really trying to curb.

I waited for the teacher (who, thankfully, was not his regular teacher but a fill-in during the morning rush) to say something about speaking nicely or using gentle hands, but she didn’t seem to think anything was wrong.  Finally, I stopped the boys at the table and said, “Hey, guys!  Let’s speak nicely to our friends, please!”  And only then did the teacher come over.


Now, we have a stellar daycare.  Really excellent.  I love both the kids teachers and feel good about where they are.  Which is exactly what I said when I spoke with the daycare manager this afternoon.  I told her how happy we were at the daycare and with their teachers, but that I was concerned about some of the rambunctious behavior and harsh speaking that was going on in Bean’s classroom.  While I certainly understand that little boys are learning how to be bigger boys and that there have to be allowances for the rambunctious playing, my real concern was that the teachers were not helping them learn the appropriate ways to interact with each other.

Kids yelling, screaming, and throwing things?  Fine.  Sure.  As a teacher myself, I totally understand boys pushing the limits.  But there better be a teacher there to redirect their behavior to more appropriate interactions with their friends.

It was one of the only times I have ever had to voice a concern at a daycare, but I think it was the right thing to do.  RIGHT????  Or am I being ridiculous?  Tell me, imaginary friends, how rambunctious is too rambunctious?????

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17 Thoughts to “Rambunctious”

  1. Oh gosh, my 2 1/2 yr old has been rambunctious his whole life! All that stuff Bean is doing now, he’s been doing all along (as soon as he had the strength to throw, yell, move, walk, climb – actually, he was climbing before he was cruising, oy). But so far no attitude. I do think little boys communicate differently than boys and have a steeper learning curve. They’re going to “communicate” more physically sometimes, but they need to be taught the time and place. I don’t think you were out of place, but I also don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that they have to “act out” a little bit once in a while.

  2. Dur, I meant to say little boys communicate differently than little girls…

  3. michelle u.

    I would have done the same thing. We have the same issues with Henry now. As usual, Bean and him are on the same social/developmental milestone track. Today I actually got so frustrated with his yelling, sassy talk that I told him if he yelled again (at me) that a toy was going to be donated. I got out a big trash bag and it took 5 toys until he realized he had to follow the rules. Kind words, gentle hands and inside voices. It was tough. But it worked. We are donating the toys tomorrow and he gets it. My philosophy: you have to follow the rules of the house to have fun things to play with. If you do not follow the rules (and you always get one warning before a toy is donated) then we give to others who follow the rules. He’s really into “possessions” so it’s one of the only things I can get to work right now. Ugh! I hope I am not screwing him up…. and hopefully no more toys will be donated (like this)! Let me know if you have any other ideas- I am really struggling with this!!!

  4. Sheila

    The attitude has been something my daughter picked up at kindergarten, unfortunately. I think it’s something important for her to learn that it’s not ok to talk to anyone rudely. We had a few talks with her about it and how she doesnt feel happy when people talk to her like that. She seems to have it under control now, just waiting for the teenage years to hit! As far as rambunctiousness, boys are a bit different and my son has been that way from 6 months old. Very frustrating to try to curb! I think it’s important to emphasize that there are certain situations where it is not allowed, but to try to find another outlet for it. We’re still working on that part in our house though!

  5. Katie

    I used to work in a daycare, and it can be pretty tough. I remember feeling like we had no control over the kids some days, as we weren’t allowed to yell (to get their attention), and there were no real “punishments” (like time out, or removal of a privilege) allowed.

    I would find out what their policies are around these things, and then go from there.

  6. Not related to daycare (my kids aren’t in daycare, but I do similar things on the playground at times), but something to read: The Male Brain. It’s a scientific, but accessible discussion of the biology of the male brain in the full course of a human life. Four people in our house, and I’m the only female. It was kind of terrifying, but made a lot of stuff make more sense to me too, so I feel like I have a better idea of what to adjust/correct and what to accept as good parts of natural growth.

  7. Duuuuuude. I had to get up out of bed and come downstairs and answer this on my computer, because my fingers can’t type that fast on my iphone. Seriously, we are right there with you. Ez is three and a half and we have the attitude going full blast here. The dinner thing also totally sounded like it could have happened at my house. On the one hand there’s this huge leap in creativity and energy and imagination (and ohmygoodness we’re in a hardcore “why?” phase), but on the other hand we’ve had some serious tantrums. I think you might be talking about two different things, though. With the tantrums, which mostly involve him yelling, “No!” with varying degrees of emphasis and sass, I’ve just had to start being super duper consistent. I’ve started taking away privileges (especially movies/TV) but the biggest thing I changed was sending him to his room when he was rude, and then waiting til he calmed down to go up and talk to him. Then we do this whole conversation where I tell him that what he did makes me sad, ask him if he knows what he did, talk about why he did it, give a consequence and then ask him to apologize (and for what). Waiting til he calms down has made a huge difference in his understanding of what is and isn’t appropriate, and it’s helped me start to teach him that I don’t just care about his actions, but also where his heart is. So when he’s rude to me, I don’t just want a boy who obeys the second I tell him something, I want him to understand that his heart was not loving me and that he needs to “repent” and be forgiven, which then helps me teach him the Gospel. As far as friends and rough-housing, well, you walk a tight rope with kids. I’ve had to let go of my old-lady ideas of peace and quiet and let him do things that are a little more rough and tumble than I might prefer. It’s winter here and he can’t run off his energy outside. But when it comes to damaging property or relationships it’s over. I’m with you on his innocence, I think most of the time Ez has no idea that he’s doing something to his sister (who’s not really old enough to snap back) or to my hardwood floors. They’re still young enough to not realize that even if play fighting is ok, they can seriously hurt each other. Soooo it’s up to us to make sure that we give them room, but stop them before they poke an eye out (ha! hi mom!). I mean, they don’t need to sit in a circle and share feelings, but there are limits to how nuts you can let yourself get. They have years of college to wrestle in their dorm rooms (wow, I never got that). So, basically, I think you were right to say something. To the boys and to the daycare. At three they’re trying out these new bodies and ideas. They’re exploring friendship and activity and mimicking everything they see. I think we still have a pretty darn active role in making sure that they don’t kill each other (accidentally).

  8. Ummmm right, that was a mile long. Sorry!

  9. HeatherM

    I think you DEFINITELY did the right thing by talking w/ Bean’s teachers. Being a high-energy kid is challenging. Parents and teachers need to both offer lots of healthy ways for kids to get their energy out each day. And that energy is tied to behavior. I know my niece & nephew are never more obedient than on days when they go swimming, because that just wipes them out and they don’t have the energy to get bored and rambunctious. But while energy is good and just needs to be channeled into safe healthy pursuits, aggression is different. Aggression is learned and it sounds like that is your concern here- that Bean is suddenly learning aggressive behaviors and responses from his peers at school. My guess is there is one kid in his peer group that sees this verbal aggression at home and emulates it, and the kid (and possibly even his parents) think this behavior is normal. I think the challenge is to identify the aggressive behaviors & attitudes, and work w/ Chris and bean’s teachers to redirect all the kids from aggressive behaviors into more assertive behaviors. That being said, Bean NEEDS to know how to assert himself around more aggressive peers. You can help him with this. Moving forward I would encourage you to treat the high energy level and the slightly more aggressive behaviors/attitude as two separate but related problems.

  10. Deepa

    You DEF did the right thing. We went through the same. exact. thing. with Rohan (also 3.5). This was last summer, when we were leaving his day care for a pre-school in the fall, so I was just counting down the days. He was coming home with all SORTS of violent superhero talk, gun play, etc and we were not thrilled at all. The day care was going through a lot of teachers really quickly and we almost pulled him how (I was on maternity leave). When it comes to your kids, you have to speak up and go with your gut.

  11. You totally did the right thing. Porter is a huge ball of energy right now and I am pregnant and home with him most days of the week. It’s tough. I’m not nearly as stimulating as 12 other 3-4 year olds so there are days when I can see that he needs to get energy out. It’s still cold up here so we can’t go out in the yard and play and since I’m not working very much, money is tight so there is a lot of stuff we can’t go out and do right now. But we’re making it work–even if that means I’m ready to lose my mind by the time my husband gets home!

  12. SaraB

    I am so relieved you posted this today. Desmond is about 4 months younger than Bean, and my daughter is 4 months younger than Gracie, so I find the issues you post about to be very similar to what we are facing, but this one really hit the nail on the head. I don’t have any great advice for you, but just wanted to thank you for keeping it real on your blog!

  13. Keri

    Oh my gosh. I have a girl who is 3.5 as well and the ‘tude is out of control. We tell her to stop being sassy, sent her to dinner without dessert last night, but she’s not getting it. I’m trying to figure out what language will click to make her understand that she’s not speaking to us properly. Meanwhile, she’s flipping out every morning telling me that she doesn’t want to go to school because her friends are mean to her or won’t play with her. What? Mean girls at 3? I’m NOT ready for this!!! Anyway, not the same as rambunctious, but still….I think you did the right thing for speaking up. I feel like some of my child’s daycare teachers are not equipped to handle some of the more social/developmental aspects of their classroom. You’ve motivated me to mention it to my school’s director, too.

  14. HollyT

    I don’t think you did anything wrong, but as a preschool teacher of 3 year olds, and a mom of two rowdy boys and a busy little girl I do have a little insight… For one, kids typically are waaaay more rambunctious first off in the morning when they’re just seeing their friends for the first time and they’re full of energy that they don’t know how to handle. In my class the wild behavior tends to drop off once all our friends are there and the class isn’t being disrupted with kids being dropped off. Most likely the sub doesn’t know what rules the normal teacher has in place to curb rowdy behavior, much in the same way a sub in your class has no idea how you normally handle things. Another thing to consider is that sometimes parents don’t like to have their kids disciplined in front of them, even if it’s by the child’s teacher so maybe the teacher was waiting until you walked away to take care of the situation. Also, in our class we say things like “hands aren’t for hitting”, “we only run outside”, “use your inside voice”, etc approximately 1,000 times a day and guess what, they’re still going to do those things! Thankfully Bean has good parents at home to help redirect the rowdy behavior. You’re doing good Mama!

  15. No kids myself so I don`t know how rambunctious is too rambunctious, but I just wanted to say, great photos of Bean- he`s such a cutie!

  16. I just had to say this. Love how many times you use “rambunctious” in this post. LOL. I’m not a k=momma but have had experience teaching. I agree with you. Boys will be boys, as they naturally do. But when what they do moves over to being mean or inconsiderate, it has to be nipped at the bud. For my students, the boys generally don’t realize that they are being rough so I’d have to calmly let them know that. But if the boy refuses to listen and deliberately repeats the said action, then firmer words and possibly a timeout has to be used. Ah… one day when I become a momma, I’ll have better answers, I hope!

  17. Rachel @ The Ongoing Planner

    We are having a boy in June (first time mom) and you have me terrified again! Ah! Boys are just so different. I already have The Male Brain on my to-read list since I have read The Female Brain. At least your blog helps to know there are others out there and I will definitely use it as a great resource in the years to come!

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