Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tuesday Tip: Surviving the Trying Three's

The good news is that you survived the "terrible twos."  The bad news is that no one really tells you about the "trying threes" -- the age from roughly 36-48 months when your toddler makes the official transition to a full-blown kid and in the process, tries everything -- especially your patience!  He will try potty-training... and keep trying until he finally gets it right.  He will try to climb out of the crib... and keep trying until you get him a big boy bed.  He will try dumping water out of the bathtub, coloring on walls, throwing food, resisting the car seat and insisting on having virtually everything his way. Through all of this, you will be trying very hard not to lose your mind and, if you're at all like me, you will find your gray hairs multiplying at an alarming pace!

Fret not though, this too shall pass. Since I currently am dealing with a trio of three year-olds and have two other tykes that have survived and made it to five and seven years old respectively, here are a few tips that help me maintain my so-called sanity during this "trying" time.

  • Stoop to their level.  Literally. Get down on the floor and look your three year old in the eye when they are misbehaving. Whether they are screaming, crying, yelling, kicking or whatever it may be, they seem to respond well to people on their own level.  They seem to appreciate the effort it takes for a "big" person to look them in the face and treat them as an equal, if only for a moment.  So get down there, look them in the eye, speak in soft tones and try to have an "adult" conversation.  You'll be amazed at how quickly they quiet down and then eventually climb into your lap.  This is your moment. Seize it. Explain what was wrong with the outburst and then hug, cuddle, snuggle and enjoy having this small person in your lap while they still fit there!
  • Make 'em laugh.  Whether you're dealing with a three year old or not, laughter is often the best medicine.  Be silly.  Show them how to make light of a tough situation.  Maybe they are frustrated by a puzzle. Perhaps their Lego tower just crumbled to the ground, taking their sense of achievement down with it.  Whatever it may be, silliness and laughter is a great way to create a diversion, to literally turn that frown upside down. Get a giggle out of your tot and before you know it, they'll be happily on to the next thing.
  • Be consistent. I feel like I say this a lot but I truly believe that consistency is the key to success and harmony in a house full of tots!  They like to know what to expect and they need to be taught consequences.  My guys expect 2 M&Ms every time they poop on the potty and they hold me to it. A few M&Ms seems like a small price to pay to avoid changing poopy diapers!  
  • Take a break.  I am truly blessed because even with five kids and a full time job, I do get to take a break now and again; I think it's critically important.  As the saying goes, a happy mom makes a happy family.  Be sure to take time for you and find the time to do what makes you happy -- whether it's a morning run, evening bath, glass of wine, the latest issue of People or a Girls Night Out, just do it.  You deserve to take a break and you'll be a better Mom for it... for the "trying threes" and all the parenting adventures that follow!

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