Tales From Fatherhood: Year Three

Hannah at Fantasy Land in Oakland.
Hannah at Fantasy Land in Oakland. | Source

Things Are Changing

Somewhere around the middle of Sam's third year we noticed some changes in his behaviour that seemed a bit different. Where he would be able to take a fall and keep on trying, he know would fall and immediately start crying.

Actually it seemed like just about anything, depending on his mood, would send him into an emotional rollercoaster ride. The smiling baby I remembered seemed to be replaced by a very emotional doppleganger.

He started to use the word "no" way more often and in a fashion that was far from positive. Then the temper tantrums started and we knew that we had entered into a different stage of childhood.

He was continually irritable and upset and this was enough to make a difference in the way we looked at our parenting. We started to read as much as we could on the behaviour of toddlers and found some interesting things.

The reason why children at this age behave different than the early toddler you were used to is that emotions have now taken the forefront of the childs behaviour.

Emotions have not played a major role in your childs developement until now, the years between two and five.

Our minds use emotions for many different things, including learning, and these are the years where your child is testing these new feelings and coming to terms with his or her emotional selves.

The problem is that, for some reason, the brain overloads the system with emotion and then slowly regulates them, so by the age of five you see a dramatic change from the temper tantrum filled toddler to a young child.

Patience

One of the hardest things for me is keeping my patience. Our kids know all the buttons to push to make us lose it. The problem is if their behaviour makes us behave in a less than ideal way their behaviour may worsen.

How does one keep calm when the kids are bombarding you with whins, tempers, and bad behaviour of all types?

Do some research into relaxation techniques that fit you the best. I like to step back for a few seconds and breath a few deep breaths and then try to rethink the situation that I am confronted with.

Children copy our behaviour and if they see a level headed calm individual, even when dealing with the crazy stuff, they will begin to behave that way themselves.

The Time Out

On top of this time of heightened emotions your three or four year old is starting to express their need for independence. Like emotions this process is necessary for them to grow and become their own human beings.

But what about us parents. We get the double whammy. I feel that during this time in your childs life it is important to put extra attention into parenting. It is important to not only give positive reinforcement for behaviours we support but also to display discipline.

Discipline is probably the hardest thing for me to accomplish. I am a softy and I always want to find a diplomatic solution to problems. One of the most important lessons to teach your child is that certain behaviours have consequences.

Two time tested ways of displaying consequence for bad behaviour is time outs and taking things away.

Let us talk about time outs. The first thing we need to know as parents is that however tired, stressed out, or at our wits end, we must learn to remove emotions from our discipline. Before you begin to dole out the sentence take a second to calm yourself down and center yourself.

Always remember that we are trying to remove a bad behaviour not display aggression. After you have centered yourself, bend down and look at your child in their eyes and explain in a firm voice the behaviour that is not acceptable, and send them to a quit corner, without toys, for five minutes.

Time outs fulfill a dual role, it show the child consequence, and it gives the parent time to calm down and regroup.

After the five minutes is up call your child to you and look them in the eyes and explain again why they were in the time out, this time with a calm voice. Don't forget to tell them you still love them and give them a hug.

It is good to reinforce that the consequence is for the behaviour and not directed at them.

If your child is behaving badly take away some toys and then send them to time out. Taking away is a viable consequence for bad behaviour but keep in mind that all situations are different and should be evaluated to determine the proper course of action.

If you child is frustrated and just needs help, try to figure this out before you dole out a consequence.

On our swings at home.
On our swings at home. | Source

Consistency

Choose your battles. Some days it may seem that your child wants to spend the whole day in time out. On these days let some things slide but make sure that you are consistent with the important behaviours that you want to change.

For instance if you do not allow hurting others do not let one instance of hurting behaviour pass. But if they are supposed to not go near the couch and they do not listen, maybe there is something on the couch that they cannot resist.

Think about all of the behaviours that you want to change and cannot tolerate in your household and stand your ground. One flip flop and they may decide that they can take advantage. Our children do try to get away with things and we should pay close attention to what it is they think they are getting away with.

One way to help with any behaviour that stems from their new found need of independence is to give them choices. Make it seem that everything they do they have a choice, even though we know we are in control. With Hannah I will grab two pants options in the morning and ask "Do you want the pink or the jeans?"

She still has to wear pants but feels she is in control.

Sometimes their bad behaviour may be that they are frustrated with something that they need help with and simply paying attention and helping will stop the behaviour.

This may all seem like a lot of work and difficult. It is, but once you can get a grip on bad behaviour you can start to regain some control in your own life.

Have you found different ways to control tantrums? Leave me a comment if "yes"

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The Supermarket Tantrum

Here is a nightmare situation, you have a cart half full of food that you desperately need in a supermarket full of shoppers when your three year old stops walking and sits on the floor and begins to wail at the top of his lungs and flail his arms around like a crazy person.

The supermarket tantrum is the worst of all worlds and can make parents feel that they can never leave the house again. Here are a few hints to help to avoid and to calm down these situations.

Prepare for your trip, have a toy, some snacks, a favorite blankie available before you leave. Make sure that the family routine hasn't been too hectic that day, if your child feels that the world is not routine, or they are tired they may act up. Has your child had food when needed, or a nap, or are you going into a war zone without any ammunition?

If your child acts up in the store make eye contact and ask if your child needs anything. Sometimes they are just frustrated and all they want is one of their toys or blanket. If this does not work do not be afraid to leave. Just drop your cart and go to the car, at the car you can try a time out, or just go home.

Most of the time the tantrum will work itself out in a short while, let it work itself out in an area free of observers.

One of the biggest things to remember is to find your patience and not yell at your children or loss your temper. This will make things worse. Take deep breaths, control the situation, and decide whether it is time to retreat or calm.

Love some Hot Chocolate.
Love some Hot Chocolate. | Source
Preparing for a hike.
Preparing for a hike. | Source

Keeping Up Relations

Last but not least, remember your partner. Take time whenever you can to sit with your partner and share the events of your day. Don't hold all of the tantrums and bad behaviour inside, use your partner as a release so you can start out fresh the next day.

Also, ask your partner about what they have been experiencing. Maybe a tantrum can be resolved by something that your partner has figured out.

Don't let these stressful times pull the team apart, use the challenges of the age to strengthen the bonds between you.

Take a deep breath and plunge into the joy of fatherhood.

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19 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

I love this series, Jamie. I think over time you will see quite a few views from it. Well done!


jhamann profile image

jhamann 2 years ago from Reno NV Author

Had to go back and fix some glaring grammar problems, there may be more, but all in all things are easier to read. Thank you Bill, I appreciate your comments. I am going to have to take a break from this series because Poetry Month Challenge is on the way and a poem a day for thirty days needs all my attention. Jamie


old albion profile image

old albion 2 years ago from Lancashire. England.

Great stuff Jamie, trials and tribulations of life my friend.

Graham.


jhamann profile image

jhamann 2 years ago from Reno NV Author

Thank you Graham, it is good to hear from you. Jamie


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 2 years ago from Wales

Wonderful indeed Jamie your sincere love of your family is so lucky. This series I also love and so will many many others. A great hub and here's sending you and your beautiful family a whole load of love from Wales.

Eddy.


midget38 profile image

midget38 2 years ago from Singapore

Discipline is hard in this day and age, Jhamann!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM

Jamie, you are a great Dad! Your parenting sounds cool. calm, collected, and consistent. And this is what small children need. One thing I have found helps: When that day comes when they want to be in time out all day, try redirecting their attention and focus to something else when they whine. Their attention span is short so they will soon forget what they are complaining about or being fussy about. You are do right-it takes a huge amount of patience to parent. I really enjoyed reading this and would highly recommend it to any parent looking for a how to for parenting!


jhamann profile image

jhamann 2 years ago from Reno NV Author

Thank you Eddy for your blessings I hope the everything is good in Wales.

Thank you midget38, it is hard, I find myself constantly questioning my decisions. Doubt is the killer and sometimes you have to be very centered and calm to make a proper choice. Jamie

Suzettenaples-redirecting is a great way to move children towards better behaviours, I do this all the time, a new toy, a different game, anything really. Thank you for your input and your wonderful comment. Jamie


annart profile image

annart 2 years ago from SW England

This is such wise advice from someone who knows! Every parent and prospective parent should read this.

My 3 year old grandchildren (cousins) are treated like this and it works! It never ceases to amaze me that they actually do stay in the time out place, be it a step or a corner or whatever. They rarely move, which leads me to believe that they actually appreciate time to think about it themselves; I can't think of another reason.

Your children are lucky to have such kind, loving and wise parents. Up, useful, interesting, beautiful photos, and shared. Ann


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

Jamie, an excellent write! I can't believe that such little angels ever misbehave, but they don't call it the terrible twos for nothing... this is when toddlers discover they are in charge and tantrums and mayhem gets attention. Seriously; good psychology, this is very useful information for parents, and I agree with Bill, you're doing a great job.


suraj punjabi profile image

suraj punjabi 2 years ago from jakarta

Wow, excellent stuff, sir! I found this hub to be very interesting especially since my wife and I are expecting our 1st child. I can only imagine how to deal with tantrums. In fact now that I think about it, it is the one thing I think of most often when I ponder about what it is like to have a child someday. How you handle such situation shows how good of a parent you are I guess. Wish me luck I will need it. :)


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Tantrums from kids must be hard to cope with and parenting can be tough only if you let it be.


jhamann profile image

jhamann 2 years ago from Reno NV Author

Thank you Annart for calling me wise. I am blushing over here. Jamie

Thank you Jo, I still feel a little uncomfortable sharing parenting advice but your comments are helping. Jamie

Suraj, don't judge your parenting on how you handle each situation. Honestly, there will be times you do not make the greatest decision. What is important is to know you are a good parent for caring enough to try your best. Don't be too hard on yourself it will make things harder. Jamie

You bring up a good point DDE, a large part of parenting has to do with the attitudes of the parent. Try to stay positive and positivity will follow. Jamie


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

This is just the most special time of a child's life to share I think. So innocent and full of love and sweetness. Just savor it, it will be gone so quickly! You are doing great!


jhamann profile image

jhamann 2 years ago from Reno NV Author

Thank you Jackie, it is always good to get reinforcement when it comes to parenting. Jamie


suraj punjabi profile image

suraj punjabi 2 years ago from jakarta

Jamie, you are right. You are spot on when you say that I am too hard on myself. Many times I am, esp when it comes to my work. I guess I should get used to making mistakes, and keep trying my best.


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 2 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

I help out in the "Supermarket Tantrums" by winking at the parent and immediately asking the fussy child "Do you want to go home with me?" Almost invariably the child quiets and clings to their mom or dad. I say "almost" because on one occasion a boy replied with a tearful "Yes."


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 2 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

When faced with a child insisting on an unacceptable choice, one tactic I have noticed works well is this: offer two (alternative) acceptable choices and ask them to choose one.


jhamann profile image

jhamann 2 years ago from Reno NV Author

Thank you Perspycacious for stopping by to read my Fatherhood hub. I agree with your tactics, giving them options seems to work in some occasions. Sometimes there is no control and you just gotta leave though. Jamie

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