Tuesday, September 20, 2011

the terrible three's?

I posed a question to my Facebook friends today, asking them if I was the only one whose child hit three and suddenly caused their mother to feel she was losing her mind.  Well, much to my relief, I am not the only one! 

The big changes have been happening in the past few months.  I've been struggling to articulate what I am finding so difficult about the "terrible three's" but a bit of therapeutic discussion on Facebook helped me to flesh it out a bit.  It's not just one thing that is driving me nuts (as in the infant days, "none of us is getting enough sleep!").  It's the cumulative total of toddler-related things that is doing it. 

Here are the terrible three's behaviors I am struggling with:
--Burrito used to be sweet and compliant and able to be reasoned with.  Now, not so much.
--The whining!  Oh, the whining!
--Wanting constant motion and constant attention (or at least, it seems that way).
--Refusal to sit in one place--at meals, when I am trying to talk to her, during prayers.
--Refusal to focus for prayer time.  Really, they're simple prayers.  Is a little respect too much to ask?
--Squirrely behavior during church.  I want to hear the sermon but I don't want to let her disturb everyone else.
--Getting up earlier in the morning.  Eek!  I'm not a morning person!
--Being able to escape her bed and therefore being able to play when she should be sleeping.
--Thinking hitting, biting, pulling hair, etc. is funny.  I tell her often that hands are not for hitting.  Not that I can get her to stand still long enough to listen.
--Occasionally saying mean things (although it does seem like she is trying on words for size as opposed to really meaning them).

She used to have her opinions, yes, but was far more influenced by Mom and Dad.  I guess she is just discovering her own mind.  And I respect that she has her own opinions.  I respect her.  I just need a little reassurance that she won't always fight me on so many things (recently, when I call her "my precious daughter," she says she is not but that she is in fact Angelina Ballerina).  I need reassurance that she will develop empathy and the ability to focus when it comes to faith.  Don't get me wrong...she has some beautiful moments of empathy, faith, kindness and love.  She is a sweet girl and I love her dearly but the independent streak is about to make me pull my hair out. 

This post would fall under the category, "Not Supermom!"  I would love to hear your strategies for dealing with toddler behaviors such as these.  And I'd love to hear about your strategies for dealing with the tiredness brought about by parenting such a rambunctious, independent girl.


  1. I know one thing that helps with the whining - it even helps with kids that aren't yours! Instead of addressing the issue that she's whining about, I just say (calmly and matter of factly) "I'm sorry, I don't understand you when you're whining. Can you try asking again in a big girl voice?" I do this until she actually uses a big girl voice. At first, this can result in some pretty big tantrums, but after about a week, the whining almost completely disappears (of course, every child needs a few reminders now and then).

    With everything else, it just takes a lot of patience to keep giving gentle reminders of "right" behavior, and some acceptance that behaviors that seem annoying to you might just be normal kid stuff (like all the movement). Stick with it, and enjoy the good moments! And don't feel guilty if you need to take a break once in a while.

  2. Embers, thanks for the words of advice. I think with Burrito, it's less the whiney tone of voice (although it is that sometimes) and more the constant asking for things even when I've already said no.


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