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Three-year-old Horror Stories?

For me, three-years-old is much harder than two. As I understand it, it's that way for most of us. Today, I asked my son what he wanted for breakfast and he said eggs. They ended up in the trash. Then I asked what he wanted to wear today and he said he wanted to be naked. So after trying to catch him to at least get underwear on him for 10 minutes, he went naked. Then at lunch time I asked what he wanted and he said peanut butter and jelly. I always put a stamp on it and, true to form, I did today. Only today he decided he wanted a bear stamp instead of a sunshine stamp. After another ten minutes of arguing, I finally turned the sandwich over and put a bear stamp on the other side. He ate the whole thing. Then it was nap need to say anything else. I gave up after an hour of him just playing on his bed. Then I decided to stop working on articles and just decided to take him to the park. What an adventure! We finished just in time for his playdate with his "best friend" and he was a perfect angel the whole time! Then we got home and he decided he wanted one of the toys from the playdate and I pointed out it belonged to the other three-year-old. It turned into a fight where he screamed like he was possessed and I let him. Then after the screaming stopped, I gave him water and sat him down to watch "Numbers ARound the Globe" on Netflix and started working again. FIve minutes in, he passed out and I started dinner.

This is basically EVERY day of my life right now. Some days, he is so perfect and sweet and some days I believe that he is the spawn of the devil himself. Anyone else wanna share any horror stories about their three-year-olds?

It makes me feel better to know I'm not alone in this stage of his development!

Answer Question

Asked by jessflynn at 6:20 PM on Mar. 13, 2013 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 9 (363 Credits)
Answers (10)
  • Yes, same story here only not as bad. It passes in a few weeks actually. Give them choices, simple ones. "You can wear this shirt or this shirt"

    Answer by staciandababy at 6:25 PM on Mar. 13, 2013

  • Sounds to me like the 3 year old is in charge. Just my opinion!


    Answer by louise2 at 6:51 PM on Mar. 13, 2013

  • mine loved to do cartwheels down three flights of stairs, jump off the back of the couch and basically give the social worker a heart attack every time she came over. (she got lead poisoning at the age of 1 and the worker was there to make sure that she was learning stuff the way she was suppose to.)

    oh yes lets not forget the day that my oldest was three she made eggs right in the middle of the kitchen. six eggs scrambled on the floor with ketchup, mustard and barbaque sauce mixed in it. it really was very messy and gross!

    Answer by noel1978 at 6:53 PM on Mar. 13, 2013

  • There was like a week where my 3 year old REFUSED to go to bed, she would SCREAM like mad and throw all her toys and blankets off the bed and spit on the ground.

    I had no idea why. She has always gone happily to bed and fallen right asleep. Thinking back I think it was because her dad put her to bed and he didn't tell her the same story I always told her.

    Anyways, 3 year olds are very resistant to change. Is anything different?

    Answer by staciandababy at 7:00 PM on Mar. 13, 2013

  • To Louise2 - Of course the three year old runs the house! He's three. The TV never has anything but kids shows or movies on it...because we don't watch adult shows in front of him. The entire house is child-proofed so we have to go through gates and unlock drawers, cabinets, and refrigerators, even the front door has an extra-high bolt on it since he's figured out the door lock and the dead bolt. The entire house is designed around a 3-year-old!
    Now, does that mean we don't teach him manners? No. He knows to say "please" and "thank you" and "your welcome", as well as "excuse me" when interrupting the adults. He knows to practice his good behaviors when we're out shopping, errand running, or eating out. He doesn't get multiple meals fixed for him because he doesn't want what I fixed. But you can't honestly tell me that you NEVER had a bad day with your kid(s)! Honestly, I wouldn't believe anyone who said they didn't!

    Comment by jessflynn (original poster) at 8:06 PM on Mar. 13, 2013

  • They're not called toddler tyrants for nothing!

    Answer by Ballad at 10:24 PM on Mar. 13, 2013

  • I think you both are doing the best that you can. He's a good 3yo & you are a good mama!
    Honestly, to me it sounds like you made the best of things & shifted to a better place several times over the course of the day. To me, either saying "Yes, you wanted the bear stamp but I did the sunshine stamp; you didn't want the sun stamp" and doing that "redo" on the other side (as you did) OR recognizing that this "issue" gives him a very safe thing to be really, really upset about (thus getting some unsettling feelings out) and letting him cry/rage about it while I stay close & listen/care, is an acceptable way to navigate things. The first option delays the "meltdown" & leaves the feelings unreleased so they will surface again (the desired playdate toy, lol!) but it gets you through. The second option really helps him to recover his good thinking & more agreeable flexibility/resilience.

    That afternoon fit wasn't a failure or "bad"!

    Answer by girlwithC at 11:38 PM on Mar. 13, 2013

  • I began responding with reflective listening when my boys were still 2, and it made such a big difference for us. It really gives you a way to respond, in the moment (to ANYthing), that is less likely to trigger their counter-resistance & send you into a conflict or power struggle. In fact, it revealed to me how many meltdowns I'd assumed "inevitable" actually were avoidable, because I saw how my automatic responses were full of unintended negations, and how much (unintended) resistance they contained!
    So that is my first thought: reflective listening.
    Don't go right to yes/no, whether something can/can't happen or to reasoning/explaining. Reflect back what he expresses, what he wants, what he feels. (Rather than essentially evaluating it & saying whether you'll grant it or not.)
    "Oh, that was the wrong stamp. You wanted a different one today."
    "Ohhh, yes, that yellow truck. That was the truck at Jacob's. You like that truck!"

    Answer by girlwithC at 11:55 PM on Mar. 13, 2013

  • It is not like this will fend off the tears. If he needs to cry, he will do so, especially when you reflect back with accuracy how he REALLY WANTS that playmate's toy that isn't available. He is likely to get right to his feelings of powerlessness & grief, and cry or rage them out. The difference is there isn't the escalation from struggling to defend his feelings against your reasoning & explaining (which is basically an effort to show him why he "shouldn't" be upset, which is resisting his feelings.)

    Another thought along those lines is that you might want to check out the book How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. It's the same stuff, just a discussion of how many times we inadvertently negate (and thus infuriate) our kids with our routine responses, and how to shift away from these patterns.

    And in light of your earlier question about managing parental frustration, Becky Bailey's parenting book has

    Answer by girlwithC at 12:11 AM on Mar. 14, 2013

  • a very well-organized set of principles to address the kind of thinking that tends to lock us up in the moment. The book is "Easy To Love, Difficult To Discipline" and I think she lays out the internal process really well with the tendencies she identifies, and the process that can shift things. It's a pretty solid discussion of the "issues" and a pretty solid approach to changing them (or to getting "unlocked" & out of reactive negative patterns right when you're triggered!)

    I could probably do a better job of describing that stuff, but I'm exhausted & bleary.

    Anyway, parenting in a more connected or relationship-focused way has made my day-to-day experience a lot more positive. I would say their level of cooperation is very high, and I just don't feel stressed the way I used to because I have a MUCH easier time allowing their feelings, rather than trying to "fix" things, and failing, and getting frustrated.

    Answer by girlwithC at 12:30 AM on Mar. 14, 2013

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