It’s hard being 3!

No I mean it, it’s really hard being 3 years old. The goal posts move all the time, us grown ups but boundaries and rules in place that stifle freedom and expression then the next minute something that’s not allowed is allowed because the situation is different, but at 3 years old that’s hard to understand and comprehend. Plus on top of that at 3, you can’t regulate your emotions yet (hell I struggle sometimes with that still at 35) and things can just all get a bit much and overwhelming. Cue meltdown, temper tantrum and the inability to lower the volume and pitch of ones voice. And that’s just me as the mother…jokes…maybe!

Anyone that knows little P or has read previous posts, will know that she’s a determined and strong little madam that knows her own mind and wants to run before she can walk. She often, similar to me has a picture in her head of how something will pan out and then she will get very emotional when things don’t go according to plan. When she does get upset it’s so hard to reason with her, mainly because she’s unclear in what she says, you know that ugly crying where everything just comes out as a screech and because she’s not willing to listen to what you have to say. And of course not. She’s 3, she’s not learnt yet to manage her emotions in this way. It’s my job to teach her.

Now we’re peas in a pod so often that doesn’t help when a threenager tantrum begins, I get too frustrated too quickly and then feel exasperated wanting to end the battle but not wanting to back down and give in, yet also knowing that my tactics aren’t working. I’ve a new trick of late though, can’t remember where I got it from is unfortunately can’t link to the author or fellow blogger for them to take credit. But we blow up an imaginary balloon. I ask her to help me and then stand there looking odd, taking a massive breath in and then out pretending to blow up a balloon. After a couple of goes she joins in and and counts on her fingers with me as we breath in and out. Low and behold I’ve suddenly taught her breathing techniques to calm herself when she’s stressed and touch would it works.

Another I’ve done is leave her as she throws a wobbly, to go and pick up one of her books and start reading it out loud. Just to myself, after a few minutes she usually (I say usually, a couple of times she’s screamed at me that she doesn’t want to read that story so please don’t call me Mary Poppins just yet) climbs on my knee and has a teary cuddle and let’s me dry her eyes.

The thing is these are our latest tricks. You may have your own and find these don’t work but it’s always good to find them because let’s face it we all need as many toddler magic tricks as we can. And that’s just what they are, little magic tricks that we all try, test and share to get us through when parenthood gets a bit tricky (to say the least).

The thing is, it’s like I said before, they’re small little humans that haven’t learnt how to handle difficulties that everyday life throws at you. In fact most grown ups have but we’re older and more articulate in being able to say when things are tough. 3 year olds can’t and so we’ve got to help them through it. Sounds a bit like the behaviour training we do at work, we’ve to help the students regulate and manage their behaviour.

I often find as well that it’s about making little miss P feel in control. Giving her what she thinks are options or choices, changing “would you like an apple?” which gets a “no I want sweeties” response, to “would like an apple or a banana?” so it makes her think she’s getting a choice, truth is, I couldn’t give a damn whether she had a banana or apple, I just want to get something decent down her and not E numbers and sugar.

It’s about tricking them isn’t it? Making things a game or like you need their help. “Ooh P, can you help me hang the washing out to dry?” I don’t need her help, I just need her to stop bouncing on the bed or trying to make a bridge from one sofa to the other out of cushions and toys before she breaks her neck! Asking her to try for a magic wee before we go anywhere, you know when she’s adamant that she doesn’t need a wee but tries for a magic one and low and behold she gets on the loo and a wee wee appears after all!

I didn’t come up with these things myself, they’re all things I’ve seen and heard other parents use and I’ve add to my toolkit because let’s face it, especially whilst parenting during a global pandemic, we need all the magic tricks we can get! What are your tried and tested tricks of the parenting a threenager trade?

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