Once upon time, I had a precious daughter that was kind and full of joy. Then one day, under the radar, someone snatch her and replaced her with a 3 year old who erupts into fanatical outbursts of anger, cries inconsolably for every reason under the sun and expresses her independence in varying degrees of irrationality every chance she gets.
Please return my daughter to her family, we miss her gravely.
Is it surprising that mothers from this survey say their satisfaction with life reaches rock bottom when their children turn three years of age? I’d have to say, nope – not surprising at all.
I admit it’s rough at times and I consider myself pretty optimistic and happy with life – I can only imagine how it feels with women who are already pissed at the world before having kids- yikes! No wonder there are masses of people doped up on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
So how can I arm myself not to fall victim like so many others before me to this small creature that has taken over my sweet little girl?
Here is what I found that helps me stay sane while holding on for this wild ride known as the ‘terrifying 3’s’.
1. Strengthen your relationship with your partner.
In the survey that I mentioned earlier, the number one most important factor in regards to the mother’s satisfaction with life was the happiness experienced with the couple’s relationship.
If you haven’t already, then I would suggest making it essential that you and your partner take time for yourself. Make a date night once a week. Even better, make time everyday – it doesn’t have to be long, just 15 minutes that you talk without having to manage kids.
Take this point seriously. It is essential. Don’t wait until you “get time” – the time will never come until you seriously make it a priority. Do it!
2. Be an example
This might be a tough one but remember this – you’re an adult. Act like one.
When your child is in the throws of unyielding dismay that brings you to the point of considering placing a gun to your head to drone out the cantankerous screaming, remind yourself this is the exact time that you teach a child how a person is expected to react to frustration and disappointment in life.
Right at that moment, you are modeling future behavior for your child. So, unless you want more of the same – you better act the part and calm down!
If you can’t that moment, that’s ok – we all have those moments – go sit in the bathroom by yourself for a few minutes or something. Ask for help if you can from your partner and go get some fresh air.
Do anything except act like a 3 year old.
3. Get inside their head.
If you consider this, your little one has approximately 1,000 trillion synapses which has form in response to environmental stimuli over the last 3 years -this is twice the number found in our adult brain.
The neural commotion going on inside the brain is breathtakingly chaotic. Their advancement in sensory and motor skills is remarkable, however they lack the emotional regulation and self control it takes to act like a normal human being.
Don’t hold it against them.
It’s ironic, in some ways, that we demand our children to master their temper and restrain their emotional outbursts when most adults don’t have aptitude to assert self-control.
I think it’s important to understand that it’s not easy being the brain of a 3 year old. At times, we’ve got to everything in our power to pull from every corner of our being to muster up the amount of compassion which is needed to deal with the situation at hand, and we must.
Light at the end of the tunnel
I look at it this way - maybe nature purposefully made this stage for both the child and the parents. We all know there are always great lessons to be learned in the greatest of obstacles.
What are the greatest lessons you’ve learned so far in parenting?
Really, take a minute to think about it.
I hope my experiences and lessons I have learned so far strength your reserve. Please hold your delicate 3 year old in soft, compassionate hands – even when they act like lunatics – because ultimately, if you don’t, we’ll end up with a bunch of adults acting like 3 years olds for the rest of their life.