Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Four tips for Parenting 3-year Olds

Most people have heard the parenting phrase "the terrible twos" and expect that when their bundle of joy hits the two year old mark, all hell will break loose.  And it does, to a point.  But if the twos are a thunderstorm, the threes can bring on a full blown hurricane.  And how is a parent supposed to deal with a two legged, quick fisted, smart mouthed three year old?  Wasn't this supposed to get easier?

Here are my tried and true tips for successfully parenting a three year old terror.

1.  Change your attitude!:  Why would this be the first tip?  Because often times, in parenting, we get ourselves all wrapped up in what is going wrong and forget to look at what is going right.  With an attitude adjustment of our own, our three year old doesn't seem to be Satan's spawn anymore.  Three year olds are intensely curious.  They delight in learning new things.  So if you look at your little one through a rose colored lens, and find joy in his/her zeal for life. The behavior blips don't seem quite as annoying.

2.  Be Battle Ready:  Two year olds will have moments of defiance.  But defiance can quickly can dissolve into tears and a quick scoop up for a hug or lighting fast diversion technique can leave them giggling in the next split second.  Three year olds are ready to go toe to toe to get their way.  They have learned new techniques to argue and whine and push your buttons.  Revel in their amazing capabilities, (see tip #1) but stand ready to keep your backbone in tact and lay down the law.  Remember they are listening and watching EVERYTHING that you say and do.  So only say what you mean.--and then stand ready to enforce it.  If you tell them that you are leaving the park in 5 minutes, call them in 5 minutes and leave the park.  If you say that you will play with them after you fold the laundry, get on the floor and play with them after you fold the laundry.  By CONSISTENTLY doing what you say you are going to do, you are helping them build trust in you and respect your authority.

3.  Boredom is unacceptable:  Three year olds crave action and stimulation.  They need to be played with, read to, talked to, and cuddled.  They want attention.  They "get into things" when they are bored and lacking stimulation.  Three year olds are a full time job.  Recognize this and revel in this.  They grow up so fast and these precious days filled with simple pleasures will become a treasure in your memory bank.

4.  Good Parenting Begins Early:  The sooner you figure out how to combine being the authority in your children's lives with being the loving, nurturing presence to them, the better!  You will laying the ground work for a successful family life.  Little children crave limits just as teenagers do.  A strong bond and working relationship with your toddler, translates into a child who understands self control and respects you as an authority in his/her life.  These skills will prove invaluable in the years to come.  So don't be discouraged by the difficulty your three year old creates from time to time.  Remember to count it as a blessing for growth, and an opportunity for you to strengthen those ever important parenting skills.

5.  Remember to Take A Break:  Good parents spend some time away from their little ones, in order to recharge their batteries.  This is necessary and important.  You will be a better parent if you see to your own needs in addition to your children's needs.  So call grandma or your neighborhood sitter and plan some time for yourself.
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