Okay, I haven't solved the issue of keeping the older kids working, not as long as the 16yo is wanting the provincial high school diploma but really, really doesn't want to be doing these courses, but thinking about yesterday and some of the issues that have been developing with the 3yo, I thought about: What would Maria Montessori say to do? Get her working. Working stabilizes, normalizes, provides something other than one's perceptions or emotions to be the focus. And prevents boredom, which can so often lead to no good. ;)
With the little one not yet sufficiently trained with the stairs, I have to keep baby gates up, which means the 3yo can't freely go downstairs and get things from the shelves. So, I brought up a variety of things for her today and had her come to the kitchen table with all of us. She was the most focused of the bunch. lol. She had her work in front of her and went through every single one of them once. Then she was done. And she had a fabulous day. Oh, we had a little issue with her reverting back to not asking for something--just standing there and wanting you to do whatever it is she wants you to do--but it's getting so much better. I really ought to do some grace and courtesy lessons with her.