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Three Year Old Mayhem
Terrible two's give way to something worse...
We all know what's in store for us, we have all heard about the terrible two's. Your precious baby starts talking, and then suddenly strikes out for independence. Her favorite word suddenly becomes no, and she will no longer let you feed her, dress her or hold her in your arms. It's frustrating, but we all knew it was coming.
Then they turn three. Suddenly and without warning, it is no longer about independence. It is about control.
They want it. I thought it was that my three year old was "testing" me. Then I realized that it isn't a test, it is a challenge. She want's to wear the same dress every day. As soon as the sun is up she is standing at the edge of my bed telling me that she wants to be a princess...again. And if I say no, then she runs screaming from my room to her room and back again with the dress in hand.
Where is my baby now? It is extremely frustrating, and sometimes I have to remember that she is indeed still a baby, even if I don't see it in the twisted angry little face. But I have learned a trick or two to deal with the sudden bursts of anger and control issues.
This one is not specific to three year olds, but I thought I would share anyway. Helen, my three year old has caused me so much frustration over bedtime for the past two years. The problem started when she was 14 months old. We were expecting our second child and decided that it was time to give Helen a toddler bed and therefore vacate the crib for the new baby. If I could go back and just buy another crib that is exactly what I would do.
I have almost solved the mid night visits, with a sticker chart for staying in her bed, but the bedtime routine has had a lot of hit and misses. She would get out of bed over and over and over, I need to go potty, I want a drink, I need my blankie on, sometimes she would even say " I don't know what I want."
Dr. Greene (http://www.drgreene.com) has something called a bedtime pass program. Basically you make them a special pass to get out of bed, and they may use it one time to get up out of bed, for whatever request they have. You let them use it safely, and then you tuck them back in. If they get out of bed again you walk them back to bed, calmly, no eye contact, no talking. You do it again and again until they get the idea.
For me this has worked magically! We have tried everything else and so far this is pretty good. However...Dr. Greene says that children will usually start to hold onto it throughout the night just in case they need it, but ours uses it within the first ten minutes of being put to bed. But ours is truly a strong willed child so the fact that it works at all amazes me.
So if you are a parent out there with a child that went from cute little toddler to hellish preschooler over night, and you think that you did something wrong, or maybe it's because you didn't spend enough time with them last week, it is not you. No one told me, so I will share it with you, it's called Three Year Old Mayhem. Be warned and be in charge.
Mommy's in charge even if you don't know it
The trick I have learned is to let her think that she has a say. I not going to let her control me. NO you can NOT have Mac & Cheese for breakfast, but you can pick scrambled eggs OR french toast. I give her two choices, because if I give her too many options she can't decide and it will lead to a tantrum.
And whenever she is demanding something, for instance the princess dress drama, I will postpone it and she usually is ok with that. I will say, yes, you can wear your dress, but how about after breakfast so it stays clean, ok? It works nine out of ten times. Sometimes she will even forget about it, because I think she was just satisfied that I said yes. If we are going somewhere and I do not want her dressing like a princess I will compromise and let her have a choice of something appropriate with the promise that when we get home she can wear the dress.
I guess the answer is just that our babies have become little people, with opinions and wants, and as parents we need to let them express that sometimes. I am not claiming that any of my ideas are foolproof, I definitely still have my battles with her. Oh boy do I have my battles with her. But I pick most of them.