Just as you breathe a sigh of relief at the end of the terrible twos, along comes the dawn of the threenanger to present a new set of challenges. So what can you do when your three year old stresses you out? Aside from pouring yourself a large glass of wine at the end of the day (duh – standard!) there are a few other tricks which I’ve been trying out at home…
1. Play the idiot/lose your dignity
Let’s face it, three year olds spend a lot of their time feeling like idiots and losing their dignity, so imagine their delight when they see you being an idiot or losing their dignity. All this takes is a little baffoonery (read: falling over, acting like you had a lobotomy) and imagination to play the schmuck. You know that feeling when you realise you’re not the only idiot in this world? Sometimes that’s all your threeanger needs to feel a bit better about what huge emotions they wrangling with at that moment.
2. Make them laugh
Closely related to number one, but seriously, in life if there’s one thing that can defuse conflict, it’s a bit of comedy. Although you might feel like wringing their neck, instead try channeling your desperation into telling a stupid joke or pulling a funny face (without belittling them in any way) and watch that frown turn upside down.
3. Have a wrestle with them
Ok we’re not talking getting all greased up and recreating a World Wrestlers Universe, but sometimes a bit of roughhousing is a great way for them to work out any pent up aggression or emotions that might be burning them up inside and the benefits of roughhousing are well noted. Just be sure that you go easy on them and let them have the upper hand sometimes so they can feel like a hero at the end of it all.
4. Let them be the parent
Life is sucky when you have to do what a parent wants all the time. Most three year olds are absolute control freaks, so let them be the parent and have them tell you what to do for a bit to redress the balance. You can have fun playing the sulky three year old!
5. Tell a story
If your threeanger is driving you crazy about a particular thing e.g. excessive whining, you will know by now that telling them not to whine for the bajillionth time is about as useful as a box of frogs. Instead, try making up a quick little story to try and teach them the behaviour you would prefer…preferably using their favourite character for effect!
6. Just say yes
How many times do you think you say no to your three year old a day? I bet if you counted them up you would have a cardiac. Instead of dishing out the no’s willy nilly, think about whether you really need to say no. If you’re pushed for time, is taking another two minutes out to do what they want really going to be the end of the world? Probably not. And it would mean the world to them too.
7. Play with them
A lot of the time when our threeangers are driving us CRAZY it’s because they really want to connect with us, but instead of doing that, drive us to the brink of insanity instead. Sometimes all they need is a bit of topping up with some attention and a great way to do this is with play. Literally five minutes on the floor playing with them can reward you with another hour or so of good behaviour.
8. Let them take charge on the small things
As I mentioned before, three year olds are raging control freaks. It’s their way, or the high way, and they have to do it ALL. I’m not saying they should rule your world, but let them make decisions about the things that don’t matter too much in the day and you can bet they will be a whole lot less annoying for it.
If in doubt….cuddle. Seriously, I know that this probably the last thing you want to do right now with this sulky, whiny gremlin, but chances are a cuddle with all it’s known benefits, is just what they need right now to reconnect with you and stop being such a pain in the proverbial, so just go ahead and submit and make your life sweeter.
10. Have a meeting
OK, so you might feel like screaming, but if your three year old who thinks they are oh so big now is driving you bananas, treat them like the adult they think they are and have them meet you on the sofa (or wherever) for a meeting to talk about what’s happening.
11. Do a comedy scream
And if you really can’t control your urge to scream, let it out in the most comical farcical way…chances are it will crease them up and you will still get to have a bit of a release too.
12. Accept their feelings
It can be really hard to see things from their point of view but threenagers are going through some massive changes and milestones and they have huge emotions in little bodies. If they want to cry and scream – let them. Chances are they just need to get it all out…and will feel much better for it afterwards.
Does your threeanger stress you out? What do you do when they drive you up the wall? Have you tried any of the above before? Or if not, have a go at home and let me know how it pans out.
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