April 12, 2012 by Carin
I had heard it from several friends. But didn’t believe it, didn’t want to believe it and thought maybe we would just sidestep any and all the shenanigans described to us. I mean two was a lot easier then I expected, a breeze really with some frustrations and hiccups along the way, but truth be told, quite enjoyable. But the rumors told by friends started to present a few weeks ago and I have a feeling it is just a preview of what is to come. What am I talking about? The Terrible Threes!
At first I thought it was a just an attitude shift from a lack of sleep. Falling asleep late and waking early, short naps and a lot of fresh air due to our unseasonably warm spring. But as the sleep issues got better, the attitude didn’t. As I recalled the day’s activities and happenings to my husband one night during this period of what was thought to be an “attitude shift” and we discussed what it all meant, I looked at him and announced “I think the 3’s have arrived and we are in for it. I had heard rumors about three being worse then 2.” He gave me a look of dread as he dropped his head and I think said a silent prayer.
When Grace turned 2 it wasn’t without incident, but we were really expecting it to be bad. Yes, there were the days when she was learning new skills and was frustrated, learning new words and language and not always able to express herself and the hardship of learning new activities that come along with increased motor skills. But for the most part it was a joy to watch all this unfold and help her learn new things. Age 2 was exciting with its new independence for Grace and us. She has learned a lot this past year and I am so proud of her.
But the past three weeks have been hard. Age 3 is rearing its head and we are still 27 days away from the actual blowing of birthday candles. She is more determined then ever to be independent and she tells us all the time what she will be able to do when she is “bigger”. She has been asserting herself more with every task we ask of her. She has learned how to use the foot stomp, head shake, grimace and screech to defy requests and define her independence. While we know that the main reason for all of this is her need to define her independence and choice in decisions, it is not easy.
The hardest part is that she can’t quiet figure out how to tell us what she is feeling. I have been trying to teach Grace that she can use her words to say “I am…angry, sad, frustrated, upset, ect because of xyz”. But most of they time she knows she is _______(insert feeling) but can’t quite express why she is feeling that way. She just knows she is upset and physically uses her body to show us that. She has been taking more swings at us, hitting her brother and throwing things to show her frustration at her lack of ability to express what she really wants or how upset she is at our requests.
Timeouts have become the norm in our house now. Her physical out lashings will not be tolerated and she is told that. We have expressed that she could hurt herself, her brother, mommy or daddy and that would make any one of us feel sad, an emotion I think she does understand. Each time we go over the rules and what the consequences are, which I think we will be doing a lot of this next year (lets be real, the rest of our lives). But that is parenting isn’t it? Setting boundaries and following through is what my husband and I keep telling each other. We are, like most parents, striving to raise a respectful and empathetic child and that starts early, like right now!
During the next year I look forward to Grace learning about her feelings and how to better express them in appropriate ways, but the journey could be a rough one. She is going to grow in so many ways this next year that I am sure by the time she reaches 4; she will be a whole new kid. That part of the journey is exciting to us. But for now, we will dig in our heels and teach her how to express her independence through her words and give her the choices she needs to succeed.