Raising a Threenager

People are quick warn you about the “Terrible Twos.” Frankly, I thought I had this parenting thing in the bag, because we didn’t deal have to deal with those… Until she turned three. As much as I was crossing my fingers to skip all of the “terribles,” I finally understand the warnings.

Now I’ll be the first to tell you I am no parenting expert; in fact, I may be just the “okayest” mom in Arkansas. Because honestly, I’m just taking it one day at a time (mostly winging it). But, I have learned a few things since my sweet, baby, two-year-old turned three, and it’s only fair to share my findings with my readers… because hell hath no fury like a three-year-old who didn’t get to buckle her own car seat buckle (can I get an Amen?).

1. Choose your Battles

Life would be hard to live in constant rage from constant battles. I’ve learned to choose my battles with my daughter. I mean is it really that big of a deal for her to wear a princess dress to dinner? No. Not in comparison to holding your hand in parking lots. Right? So what if she wants to carry an umbrella everywhere on a perfectly sunny day… #shade So what if you have a mermaid in tow with you at your yearly eye appointment… #keepingitreal Sometimes parents have to act like Elsa and just “Let it Go!” (Even if it’s the 13902356th costume change of the day…)

Not everything has to be a fight. Not every decision she makes has to be a no, which leads to my next point.

2. Give Her Some Independence

I find that giving her acceptable options can prevent tantrums (at times). This way she feels like she is still making her own choice. Would you like carrots or broccoli with your dinner? Would you like your running shoes or sparkly shoes? Sometimes, she’ll come up with a third option… and sometimes you have to go back to step one and choose your battles. So if she wants to wear her Dollar Store Elsa shoes on picture day, is it really that big of a deal? (It depends: will her shoes be in the picture?? Kidding! (kind of)).

3. Plan Ahead

Another strategy that helps in my house is planning ahead. My threenager is always ready for her next adventure… unless that adventure is getting up to get ready for school… Then she can’t get out of bed, because she’s suddenly “too tiiiiired… *yawn*”

On school mornings, I used to try to let her sleep as long as possible and have everything ready to go (her clothes laid out, lunch packed, toothpaste on her toothbrush, shoes by the door). I thought this was planning ahead. But getting her out of bed became a thing, then getting her to get dressed became a thing, until everything became a thing. My energetic-always-on-the-go toddler becomes a snail-sloth-turtle on school mornings.

So now, I make her get up earlier. This way she has time to adjust and get her mind ready for the day, and I don’t have to rush her to brush her teeth or put her shoes on (because sometimes this task alone takes 198234 minutes).

Anytime we go anywhere, I try to leave at least 10 minutes early to avoid the big car seat buckle debacle (and to account for some of the shoe time). She wants to do it, but the straps can’t be twisted, but I can’t help, because she “CAN DO IT!!,” until she “CAN’T DO IT!”… So yeah, planning ahead for the inevitable meltdowns may not prevent the tragedy, but it can save some of your sanity.

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4. Accept Her Emotions

If you have a threenager, then you know they can say hurtful things prior to, in the midst of, or after throwing a tantrum. Things like “I don’t love you anymore,” “You’re not my friend,” “Don’t talk to me,” “Only daddy and bubby can look at me.” (It’s not just mine, is it??) 

I used to ignore these phrases thinking it would show her I wasn’t affected, but this seemed to only encourage her fury. I had to remember she is only three, not a real teenager. She doesn’t understand what she is saying, and she probably doesn’t understand what she is feeling.

Now, I try to talk her through her emotions. Addressing the emotion face-on, let’s her know it’s normal and it’s even okay to feel these ways sometimes. “I know you are frustrated that your Play-Do dried, but next time ask mommy for help putting the lid on.” “I’m sorry you’re angry you can’t sit on the counter right now, but these pans are hot and mommy doesn’t want you to get burned.” Explaining her emotions and giving her reasoning for whatever she is frustrated with may not always prevent a tantrum, but it can help take away some of the sting.

Also I’ve found that when she is all-out kicking-and-screaming tantruming, this is when she needs me most. Even if she tries to fight me away, I just hug her and let her know I’m there for her even when she’s acting ugly or hurtful. This lets her know I don’t only love her when she’s nice, I love her always. I’ve been trying to let her know when she says hurtful things too, so that she will grasp that isn’t a correct way to deal with her strong emotions.

5. Praise Her More

Lastly, I’ve made it my mission to praise her multiple times daily. To make her feel special. To make her feel appreciated. To make her feel loved.

I do this by telling her how strong or smart she is. I tell her when I am proud of her for being kind or brave. I give her specific examples of things I love about her including physical, mental, and demonstrative things.

To conclude

Threenagers are little, but man, they are fierce! And it is up to me to help my children through the good and the bad times and give them grace that my Heavenly Father so freely gives to me. I’m just striving to be a model of His unconditional and unfailing love through the “Trying Threes.” And beyond.

Final advice from my husband’s perspective: may the force be with you.

People are quick warn you about the "Terrible Twos." Frankly, I thought I had this parenting thing in the bag, because we didn't deal have to deal with those... Until she turned three. As much as I was crossing my fingers to skip all of the "terribles," I finally understand the warnings. Now I'll be … Continue reading Raising a Threenager

She Won’t Remember…

She won’t remember how anxious I was to be in labor, anticipating her arrival. How I whispered, “We can do this,” to her during each push.

She won’t remember the stress and shakes my body endured or the added worry her own stress caused as she was coming into this world.

She won’t remember the relief that rushed through my body when her cries filled the room… and my heart. Or the way I nustled her face to mine as I marveled at my new creation.

She won’t remember the number of times I repeated “I love you” every single day of her new, little life.

She won’t remember the first time she touched my face in acknowledgement and the way I could feel her tiny fingers grasping my heart in that very same moment.

She won’t remember the way I hovered as she learned to crawl, and then again as she learned to walk… or the way I never took my eyes off her.

She won’t remember throwing her head back and laughing at all of the silly things she came up with… or the sweet way she took care of her own baby dolls.

She won’t remember the kisses I stole in our game “Just Oooone Kiss” when I always cheated and actually stole 100.

She won’t remember the heartache I felt about her losing her role as my one and only… or the joy I felt when she immediately adored her baby brother.

She won’t remember the prayers I pray for her heart and her soul… or how often I second guess myself and pray I’m getting this right.

She won’t remember asking to be held or the way I actually needed her more than she needed me…

She won’t remember these things, but I will never forget. ❤

 

Happy 3.5 years of silly, sweet life, my love.

She won't remember how anxious I was to be in labor, anticipating her arrival. How I whispered, "We can do this," to her during each push. She won't remember the stress and shakes my body endured or the added worry her own stress caused as she was coming into this world. She won't remember the … Continue reading She Won’t Remember…

10 Things I Love About You

Dear Daughter,

As an ever-adjusting mother of two and a working mother at that, I don’t get to spend as much time one-on-one with you as I’d like. But I need you to know, I still love you. I still notice you. I’m still in awe of you and everything you do. I’ll always be your biggest fan, and you’ll always be my first love… And these are a few of my favorite things… Continue reading

Dear Daughter, As an ever-adjusting mother of two and a working mother at that, I don't get to spend as much time one-on-one with you as I'd like. But I need you to know, I still love you. I still notice you. I'm still in awe of you and everything you do. I'll always be … Continue reading 10 Things I Love About You

A Letter to My Best Girl, My Firstborn 

Dear Heart and Soul,

Dear First Love,

Dear Daughter,

Any day now and you will no longer be my only. While I am excited to meet your baby brother, my heart is breaking as our days of only us Continue reading

Dear Heart and Soul, Dear First Love, Dear Daughter, Any day now and you will no longer be my only. While I am excited to meet your baby brother, my heart is breaking as our days of only us are quickly coming to an end. I ache from missing this time already. For the past … Continue reading A Letter to My Best Girl, My Firstborn 

First Night Alone

Being a mom is scary. The past two+ years (Whoa! Where has the time gone?!) have been full of fears and failures. As the time is getting closer to have your brother, I can’t help but remember the first night you cried Continue reading

Being a mom is scary. The past two+ years (Whoa! Where has the time gone?!) have been full of fears and failures. As the time is getting closer to have your brother, I can't help but remember the first night you cried inconsolably. You had been such a good baby, a good eater, and a … Continue reading First Night Alone