Wednesday, June 25, 2014

threenager status


you guys...age three is tough. i mean, i knew it was coming, but it's even harder than i imagined. everyone says "3 is worse than 2" and it is so true. tantrums at age 2 were a walk in the park compared to what is being thrown at us daily by our little threenager. to give you an idea: 

screaming in my face loud and shrill enough to practically break glass

hitting us if she doesn't get her way

crying hysterically about everything 

wanting to dictate and control everything 

ignoring anything we ask her to do

talking back 

throwing toys and other things when she doesn't get her way

freaking out and refusing to do routine tasks like getting dressed, going to the bathroom, brushing teeth, etc. 

these outbursts are happening easily a dozen times a day and it. is. exhausting. i know she is trying to assert herself, be independent, and test the limits, but holy cow is it hard to stay calm in the heat of the moment. so what we are doing (or trying to do) to help her control her emotions and impulses?

attempting to talk her down from the ledge when she starts to go down that road

picking our battles (i'm not expecting perfect behavior by any means) 

giving hugs and kisses (so she always knows we love her) 

yelling (i don't want to be that mom, but we all get to the end of our rope sometimes) 

ignoring bad behavior (which seems to make her more mad) 

praising good behavior (which sometimes causes her to start up a tantrum - i'm not even kidding)

giving her choices to make her feel she is in control (dressing herself, choosing her plate, etc) 

giving her one on one time (playing candy land, puzzles, etc) 

warnings and timeouts (sometimes it feels like 50/day) 

many days i feel like absolutely nothing, nothing is working, and that i have zero control over the way she behaves. i start worrying that she is going to act like this forever. i know that's not going to be the case, but she is one stubborn, strong-willed girl. we are trying to concentrate on staying calm (vs. yelling) when she gets our blood boiling because all that does is amp her up even more, following through on warnings (no empty threats), which means we often have to punish ourselves too (for example abandoning a trip out for pizza halfway there because of numerous warnings to stop kicking and screaming about nothing). let's be honest, having to punish ourselves just plain sucks :) 

exhibit a: last week i took both kids to ashford's 6 month appointment by myself. maybe that was dumb of me, but azalea was excited to go and i thought she'd do fine with her snack and stuff to color and books to look at. and she did.....that is until the doctor came in and the attention wasn't on her anymore. (azalea generally struggles with me talking to another adult). she started completely melting down because: she didn't want the snack i brought for her, she didn't want to color or read, she wanted to go look at the fish in the waiting room, she "had to pee" (i took her all the way to the bathroom screaming her head off just to have her turn around and say "i not have to pee." stinker) we get back in the room and the melt down escalates to her screaming in my face, rolling on the floor kicking, trying to escape the room, and hitting me repeatedly when i wouldn't let her out the door. the doctor was trying to distract her with fun toys (and a couple nurses heard the racket and came in and tried to help too) and she freaked out at them too. and at that moment.....i just burst into tears! i was so embarrassed by the way she was acting and was feeling like a total failure of a mom because she was being such a monster and there was nothing i could do to stop it. 

the doctor felt really bad, assured me i'm doing everything right, that this is just a hard age and some kids are simply more difficult than others (ummm yep!). she said 3 is especially frustrating because you know they understand what is expected of them, but they act out anyway. over and over. she said the best thing to do is to just ignore it, (which we've tried, but doesn't usually work). i think time and consistency are the only things that will make this better.  

this is getting long, but i don't want to end on a bad note. so here are some things i am thankful for: 

she generally only acts this way towards thatcher and me. not that it's fun, but both sets of grandparents say she rarely throws any tantrums when they watch her, which is nice to hear. 

she is healthy. 

when she is happy, she is really happy and sweet! 

she is funny. 

she is smart. 

she gives me the utmost appreciation for my own parents. 

she doesn't hold a grudge.....2 minutes after a tantrum she's happy to give me a hug or snuggle and then play. 

tell me we will survive....somehow :) 

9 comments:

Jackie and Tom said...

Oh Melissa, I feel for you. A lot. We are right there with you with the 3s being SO challenging. I'm glad to hear we're not alone!

Kris said...

Hugs!! Sounds like a really tough stage!

Becky said...

Ooof, I'm sooooo not ready for this! I'm so sorry you're going through this, but some of it made me chuckle because the thought process of a toddler is kind of funny to me. It sounds like you're doing great! Hopefully it passes very quickly!

Forwarding this to my husband so he can prepare himself - haha!

Becky said...

I'm glad you posted about this. While we're not in full "threenager" stage, I am definitely starting to see signs of it.
You should definitely connect with Jackie! She's talked a lot about the 3-year-old struggles. You are doing a great job, Mama!

Sarah said...

Yes. To all of this. We're in the midst of it right now. Hang in there! You're doing a great job!

Missy said...

I hear you. Definitely not looking forward to that stage again. From the time we spent with you last week I think Azalea is about like Cameron was. Although maybe a little more screechy. I think that's a girl thing - Mallory already shatters glass. We were lucky in that Cameron was better behaved while we were out and about. Probably because he was excited to leave the house. I think we became shut ins when he was at the worst of "threenager" because it was just that bad. At almost 4 it is so much better! Not that there aren't tantrums, but we can go days without a major meltdown. And you can usually reason with him when there is a tantrum. Or at least tell him to go to his room and cool it. We did a lot of good behavior rewards and time outs for the bad. I have no idea if it helped or if he just kind of out grew that stage, but for now it's looking up (really should not have said that!). We had a sticker chart and every time he got 10 stickers in a day he would get a quarter. He really did think of it as a game and would come up with helpful things to do. Reinforce the positive?

I like that you ended with a list of positive. You have to keep that stuff in mind in order to not go insane. Because age 3 is INSANITY. Also, I recommend more wine. ;)

Britni said...

I feel like the start of 2 is bad!!!

I think I need to start think of the positive things when Easton is in the middle of a tantrum.

Carolyn said...

Threenager. That made me giggle. Hopefully she gets out of this stage quickly!

Brittany said...

omygoodness. You are pretty amazing for being able to handle it all. But you're kinda scaring me haha

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