This week, I had a conversation with a mum about our three-year olds and how their behaviour seems suddenly more challenging. We both agreed that the so called 'terrible twos' were a breeze and that it's really now that we are encountering the more difficult side to parenting. Later in the week the same topic came up with some other mums, all experiencing the same.
A common example that was mentioned, was the child telling the parent to stop talking! Generally, the mums were saying that the attitude of their three-year olds seemed comparable to teenagers, with a lot of answering back and asserting themselves!
It is difficult and I find myself despairing some days. I am pleased to say my son has not yet told me to stop talking but he is definitely doing a lot of answering back. I am not used to my son acting this way and so it comes as a bit of a shock and not something I was prepared for. The hardest thing I think is to deal consistently calm with these kinds of situations. Yet, that is probably the most important thing to do, as big reactions will only encourage the behaviour.
I'm sure it's just part of their development, as their use of language gets more sophisticated and their character and personality is defining itself more and more. As parents, we don't want to stifle their individuality but we do want to encourage pleasant interaction. Some things I try to remind myself of to better cope with 'the trying threes' are as follows:
- He's only three! Still very much a little child who needs nurturing and understanding.
- Children learn by example. Responding calmly to fractious moments, however difficult, will in turn help the child to deal calmly with situations as they grow older.
- Remember the high points of each day. The difficult behaviour probably only makes up a very small part of the day, so it's good to get it in perspective and think of all the fun, happy, light moments from each day too.
- Your child loves you to pieces. Sometimes the words that come out of their mouth sound like a very unreasonable way to be spoken to and it would be in the case of an adult. However, at the end of the day, your child loves you unconditionally!
Have you experienced trying times with your three-year old? Do you have any tips to share on dealing with the kind of behaviour I mentioned?