When they say terrible twos, I think they mean terrifyingly terrible three’s- threenager if you will. Most of them can somewhat get their point across, but their vocabulary is still somewhat weak. They almost always know what they want and if they don’t get it right away, the meltdown from hell usually occurs. Climbing on the refrigerator like Spiderman, screaming to the point of neighbors asking if we are okay kind of meltdown. Or then if they try to talk to you and you don’t understand what they are saying, forget it. You might as well just hide and get some noise cancelling headphones. Seriously, having a toddler is like having a blender without a lid.
Three-year-olds are just as curious and test their boundaries like their “terrible twos” counterparts, but this time, they do it with attitude and stubbornness. My strong-willed toddler has been tough from the get-go- always testing her limits and when she does, it’s not pretty. She can go from 0-100 within seconds, vice versa. I noticed that distraction works best with her, but she definitely puts a strain on our marriage. Woof. So hard to discipline a defiant toddler. She understands consequences, but not doesn’t full grasp the concept.
Having 2 kids at the ages of 1 and 3 is actually heaven and hell. I love them to death and I want nothing more than to spend time with them, but I feel so guilty because sometimes I want to run far away from my house and when I’m gone sometimes I don’t even miss them. And that’s okay. When my mom tank is empty, watch out. And when it’s empty, her tantrums seem to be amplified. Screaming is a huge trigger for me. I can’t stand when she screams at the top of her lungs and then Hudson is scared and he wants me but really Jules is begging for attention and she probably needs it the most. Let’s be honest, all 3 years old think the whole world only exists for them and no one else. When they want something, they want it now. When they talk, they expect you to understand everything they are saying.
A temper tantrum is the emotional equivalent of a summer storm – sudden and sometimes fierce, but often over as quickly as it starts. One minute you and your child are enjoying your dinner in a restaurant, the next she’s whimpering, whining, and then screaming to go home.
When tantrums happen, they happen with a vengeance. I know I’m not alone saying this either, but my toddler is unbelievably defiant and loves to test her limits, especially now that she has a brother. She wants to play with her dollhouse or her toys, but Hudson is usually her shadow and wants to do everything she does. Cue the hitting because Juliana thinks that these are her toys and her toys only. Although, she does okay at daycare with sharing. She is dying for attention and when I am home alone, I feel like I can’t even give either of them attention because the 2 of them are like bullets on steroids. She is using the potty and he is trying to play in the potty. I try to go potty and the 2 of them are my feet. Or if I do try to use the bathroom then I hear screaming and Hudson is climbing onto the couch about to dive head first off. She is a great big sister, but when she is tired, overtired, hungry, or hot, WATCH OUT WORLD.
Threenagers can be tough to parent, make you weary, and zap you of all of your patience and energy. But on the flip side, this time can be so completely rewarding. As a threenager’s independence blooms so does their vocabulary, and you sometimes hear lovely things like, “You’re my best friend mommy, I love you soooo much, I want to keep you forever! –Huffington Post
Juliana talks and talks and talks and talks some more. There really is no peace and quiet, but I do make sure I always reciprocate conversation and answer EVERY single question. My favorite thing in the world is when she says to me, “I love you in the world.” OR when she says a lot of the same things that I say like “Take a deep breath,” “You are beautiful or I am beautiful,” Hudsie, I love you baby boy.” Threenagers are like sponges and they soak up everything you say. As tough and defiant as she can be, she has a heart of gold and my job is her mama is to foster that heart and tap into the love. I want her to spill love and kindness all over the world.
I am petrified to raise her in today’s world. I want to keep her locked up in my house with Hudson forever because the real world is freakin’ scary enough for me. I don’t want her heart and mind to be swayed or molded into something bad and I can only protect her for so long. Threenagers are so pure and innocent and full of life. They love everyone and are so curious about their surroundings and life.
My favorite thing I do with Juliana is look in the mirror and say how beautiful I am. It goes against my reflex because I usually do the opposite, but because she is my little shadow and thinks I am her hero even when I lose my shit at 3am, she is internalizing everything I say. I want her to grow up to be a strong, independent and confident woman and so many of us trash talk ourselves and we don’t even realize it…even under our breath or to our significant others. I also tell her about 50 times a day how beautiful she is. She will often say throughout the day, “Mama, I am beautiful.”
Stay beautiful baby.
Threenagers are tougher than terrible twos because they are finally realizing they are their own person and they are saying it in a BIG way.
Three-year-olds have no sense of time. They can focus, but only on what they want to focus on. They have big, strong emotions and they are starting to express them, but they get overwhelmed by them, too. The trouble comes in, says Klein, “when you think that you’re speaking to a very reasonable human being. Verbally, they sound older than they are.
Here are a few tips and tricks I have learned, but also found on other blogs and websites that I thought were worth sharing and helped:
- Make sure everyone’s, including yourself, needs are being met- SELF-CARE. Take time for you and don’t feel guilty. These are not selfish things, as they will give you more energy for your kids.
- Know your child and adjust as needed- Really pay attention to their temperament and personality. Are they introverted or extroverted? Calm or not? Strong-willed or cautious? What kind of behavior strategies to they respond to?
- Change your point of view to theirs- What are they thinking? They are not adults, even if they acted like spoiled teenagers, they are still babies.
- Answer EVERY why question or question- This is a critical learning age; emotional intelligence and empathy develops around this age too. Explain in detail why something might be unsafe or why someone is in a wheelchair, etc.
- Teach self-control and turn taking- This is a tough age because almost all threenagers want it NOW and don’t understand how to wait. Juliana doesn’t respond to a timer, but she will respond to helping me do something “in the meantime.” For example, she needed a cup from the counter, but I was nursing Hudson. She was screaming and throwing herself on the floor and I had her get me napkin quick and then praised her for a great job helping, but also told her I was so proud of her for waiting because Mommy needed to finish feeding Hudson. She understands and the more you explain, the better they understand and reason.
- ROUTINE is so important. Life can be hectic- rushing in the mornings to get the kids ready for daycare, get them dressed, get breakfast, change their clothes a few more times, coffee spilling, etc. But with routine, it can alleviate stress from mom, dad, and the kids because we know what to expect. Things may not always go as planned, but if you have a basic routine, it helps with regularity and communication.
- Adjust your expectations of behavior- Remember threenagers are THREE! They are still babies and really don’t mean any harm. They are developing into their own person and we need to let them. Let them ask, explore and fly. Expect meltdowns.
- PLAN PLAN PLAN- This is just like routine. I always plan the night before- I pack their lunches, mine, get all of our clothes picked out, etc. Sometimes I even get breakfast out and ready or at least write it down. I always need to be one step ahead, but it helps keep us in routine.
- Give choices and try to let them be in control- In the middle of a meltdown, Juliana doesn’t respond to tons of people talking or loving- she wants to be left alone to scream while her eyes roll back. The art of distraction sometimes works, but I noticed that after a meltdown or RIGHT before it, if I give a choice or that control- would you rather do this or that- sometimes she snaps out of it.
- Allow yourself to laugh- Don’t take this too seriously. Don’t laugh at them, but allow yourself to have a sense of humor a little or you will most likely lose your shit more. Nothing is more trying than a screaming toddler who doesn’t know what they want.
- Allow yourself to cool off- have calming strategies for yourself. If you lose your cool every time, your threenager learns that behavior. Always reconnect with your child after the meltdown- you or them!
Some books I found helpful-