February 2, 2013 by rebeccaannemarshall
Which is worse? The “terrible” twos or the “terrifying” threes? The “not so thrilling” threes? “Defiant” threes? Whatever you want to call it, it is a wonder to me that this age does not get as much notice as The Terrible Twos do. It seems to me (and I must say nearly every other parent that I talk to with a 3 year old) that the 3rd year is by far much worse then the second. Don’t get me wrong, age 2 is not without it’s challenges (although it is safe to say that every year is challenging no matter the age of your child). Your little one is growing, walking, learning to talk, learning to communicate, not quite independent but more so then before.Testing out new ways of expressing themselves comes with frustrations which can be seen to us as tantrums. It is in the third year however that I find this to be leaps and bounds more evident.
Your three year old has been walking for quite some time now, practically an expert. He/she talks wonderfully, knows exactly what to say when they want something and what to say when the don’t. They have a better understanding of their emotions, they understand what happy is and how they express it, when they pout or scream they, for the most part, understand that they are upset or angry. They are getting taller as well, can reach more things. Being potty trained, they can dress themselves (choice in clothing sometimes questionable and possibly inside out or backwards but nonetheless). They may be in their big girl/boy bed now, they can open doors and use spoons and cups and help clean and bake and everyone understands them when they talk and life is beautiful and wonderful and full of freedom!!
Now comes their time to test their boundaries I think. They are able to do so much and they know they are capable of it, now is the time to see just how much they can do!! I also find that now is the time to become defiant, with all this independence comes this feeling of grown-up-ness (or so I guess from pure observation). To not listen just because mom says no. “Well that’s to bad mom, I am going to do it anyway because I want to see if I can”. With all that comes side effects of tantrums, yelling, ignoring, plain old mean mean meanies. Let me just go through some examples with you. Some possible common occurrences of 3 year old wrangling.
1) Trips to the grocery store often consist of refusal to sit in the cart, they are not babies they can walk. Followed by refusal to hold your hand, they are big now and there is no need for hand holding. Followed by refusal to walk beside you, this isle is boring and they are going to practice their running skills, lets see how far they can get before you catch them!! Grocery trips might also include the grabbing of any and all interesting or non-interesting things from off the shelf. If they can reach it and they want it they will grab it. This might be followed by screaming and/or crying over said object getting put back on the shelf. In extreme cases you may now have a child who refuses to get off their butt, whose legs have some how lost all function in the middle of the cereal isle because they didn’t get the jumbo size box of fruity-o’s.
2) Car rides. This is the best opportunity to test boundaries, push buttons, what have you. Singing squeals for songs… or just random screaming at the tops of their lungs. Let it be known that they are completely aware that they have been asked 23 times to stop being so loud, however they are also completely aware that, unless one of you stop the vehicle, there really is no way for you to stop them… at least not immediately. This is where I believe the boundaries are being pushed, testing to see how long it will take before mommy or daddy have a brain aneurysm. This car ride experience can also come in the form of throwing their blankets, or sippies, or toy, repeatedly on the ground and then
demanding screaming and yelling that you get it for them every time.
3) With all this independence comes the idea that they can do ANYTHING on there own. This includes going into the fridge while you are in the bathroom and breaking the eggs, or in the pantry and dumping the box of cookies on the ground. Painting the bathroom with tooth paste, screaming at you when you offer to help, and then squeezing as much as they can out of the tube before you get to them followed then by throwing it at you when you ask them to hand it over. This is a good example of a mixture of boundary testing and defiant independence.
4) Popular phrases include “NO!” or “I DO IT MYSELF!!!” usually accompanied by a lot of attitude. This often results in being asked nicely to help them after some unsuccessful time has past them by.
5) You might also find yourself being ignored quite often, like they have suddenly suffered from hearing loss, or occasionally loose the ability to understand simple English words like “No” or “Put… the poop… down!” (what? Just me on that last one??)
6) You may experience, foot stomping, toy tossing, smacking, hitting, scratching, arm crossing, face pouting, tantrum throwing, demands, refusals, and disobeying.
Let us leave it at that. I do believe that behaviors like this begin to develop at two, some of them, maybe not all, but I have very much noticed that 3 is a much more hard to handle age. They are older, understand more, more curious, more independent, louder, stronger, more capable, more free thinking, more stubborn, I could go on.
They are also supremely fun to watch play, as you see their imagination grow, their brains capable of figuring out more complex things like counting or patterns. Beginning the building blocks to reading, recognizing and understanding. Everything becomes so much more interesting as they learn new things, discover and know how to ask question. Personality and attitude truly start becoming more and more developed, they are turning into real little people. With their independence comes a sort of independence for yourself as well. It comes with pride in how your child is developing, it comes with excitement for them when they figure out how to do new things. The age when friendships between parent and child grows that much more, if only because of their ability to understand it and their wider rage of play that you can involve them in. They begin to be able to participate in more activities, they are turning from toddler to child in the blink of an eye.
It is a truly magical, horrible, beautiful, terrifying, wonderfully stressful age. Much worse then and much more fun then its previous year. I can’t wait to do this all over again with Jade.
Now if you will excuse me, I have a lunch date with one of my best friends inside her blanket fort…. which she of course made by herself 😉
Until Tuesday! Ta ta!!