Let’s face it, parenting a three year old can be a pretty challenging job at times. Parenting a two year old can have it’s nightmare moments but at three, some children can step it up a gear. Here is our little guide to parenting a three year old.
Give your child responsibilities
Giving your three year old responsibilities is a great way to keep them behaving well. If they know that their job everyday is to put their winter/summer hat in the basket at the front door when they come in, they feel an enormous sense of achievement in doing this. H helps me around the house. Her favourite job is dusting. Obviously, don’t expect them to do the job perfectly and let them do it (within reason and safely) the way that they would like to do it.
Don’t do everything for your child, gradually give them a little more responsibility as they get older. I’ve seen some parents do it all for their children, thinking they are helping them, when they are actually teaching their child to be helpless and dependent on other people/you. This makes for an increased number of tantrums, in my experience, as the child will demand much more of your time doing jobs that they could possibly do for themselves. Instead, keep in mind that you need to gently and gradually help them to become responsible, independent adults one day.
Praise your child
If your child has helped around the house, read a story to you, listened well to you reading, did what you asked them to do or has done something they needed to do without you asking, for example, make sure you praise them. I usually say something like, “Thank you very much for dusting the piano,” or, “I am so pleased that you know that the letter on that page is a ‘m.'” No matter how small an achievement, children react positively to praise, usually. After all, the small things to us are actually the new, exciting and big things to a three year old.
Realise children have limits
If your child has not met your expectations of what they *should* be doing, in your opinion, do not overreact. Sometimes I think of my child as being older than she actually is. She seems quite mature for her age and is very tall. But she is only three years old. At three years old, she concentrates for a while then gets distracted. Getting mad at her for not completing the task she was doing is not going to help her to finish it. Using the ‘naughty’ label is not always useful either. I’ve found that if it is used too many times, your child can just accept the ‘fact’ that they are indeed, ‘naughty’ so they then effectively have your permission to act in that manner. Let three year olds BE three year olds. Don’t expect them to act like seven year olds.
Don’t do too much
This is one of the main reasons my daughter misbehaves, in my opinion. It is also the same reason my son misbehaved at this age too. Little children don’t last long before they feel tired. My children would over compensate for their tiredness and run about, excitedly as if they had all the energy in the world. Which is the total opposite of what I expected before I became a parent. Surely, if they are really tired, they will go to sleep? Not my children! It used to be harder getting them to go to sleep and stay asleep if they were over-tired. For my children, doing too much in the day time led to having sleep troubles as they woke up with nightmares during the evenings of busy days. I think that was because their minds were full of lots of experiences, which they found overwhelming to be able to process during their sleep. This meant the following day was hard work as they were tired and the cycle continued.
Make time to rest
Now and again, we step back. Giving them time to watch TV, read quietly or just to amuse themselves for a while gives them a bit of a break from the everyday rush. I used to be told that I wasn’t doing enough with the children because they obviously weren’t tired enough to sleep well at night. I was also told to stop them from having a daytime nap. I spent a long time feeling guilty about this. I do a lot with my children and with Nursery as well as School, after school clubs and days out added to the mix, I realised that I was doing too much with them, despite what I was being told repeatedly. We all need a time to rest. If my children needed a nap, they got one. I even have a nap if I need one. It is ok to have some unstructured time to sit and think, to rest and recuperate. Don’t be like me and think you have to keep everybody busy all the time. For me, it had the exact opposite effect on the behaviour of my children.