My Love/Hate Relationship with Age Three

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Three-year-olds are kind of the worst. I realize I’m speaking out of frustration. I know that three-year-olds are experiencing lots of life changes all at once; life is rough. People talked a lot about Age Two, but no one talked about Age Three. Maybe all those parents had blocked out this year. I know the parents of high-school-aged children are laughing at me right now. That’s ok, I understand what’s coming, but right now, age three is about to break me, if I’m being honest. So I’m trying to find the positives where I can. Here’s my attempt at reframing some of the worst.

Three-year-olds are building basic problem-solving skills! EX: mom puts something on a high shelf because she said “no.” Three-year-old has figured out that if he scoots a chair over to the shelf, he can climb the shelf to get the item. Clever. #sorrynotsorrymom

Three year olds are growing. They need sleep and they need naps, but they don’t believe they need naps AND they have extreme FOMO. EX: refuses to sleep for fear that they will miss something important going on in the family. Three-year-old is then a cranky pants all day because they are so tired. But hey, reframe, at least you have more time to spend with them! 

They want to do everything on their own. They’re extremely slow, but they’re building independence! All I have to say on this subject is that if you have a friend with a three-year-old and they are late to everything, cut them some slack. They stood by while their three-year-old insisted on dressing themselves, then stood around some more while the same child decided they needed to poop and they wanted to do it all “by myself!”

Three-year-olds lack any real logic EX: it’s 95 degrees and 97% humidity in Indianapolis today, and my three-year-old is wearing fleece pajamas that he insisted on. Creativity, individuality, personal style! I’m trying, guys.

They are developing their own likes and dislikes, their own personality, their own opinions! EX: Three-year-old says he wants cereal. Mom pours a bowl of cereal. Three-year-old says he doesn’t want cereal now he’s “not hungry.” Mom begins to eat soggy cereal, so food doesn’t go to waste. Three-year-old beings to cry screaming “don’t eat my food” IYKYK amiright. 

Do you want to know the worst part about three-year-olds, though? And there’s no positive here. You cannot say bad words in front of them anymore. EX: So frustrated with your three-year-old that you drop a choice word? Best case scenario the word police tosses you a verbal citation. Worst case scenario, that little booger pretends to ignore the bad word, BUT instead secretly tucks it away in his back pocket to use later when you’re all out in public. My favorite cover-up for this is, “wow, where did you hear that word? From Dad huh?” 

My three-year-old is asleep in the back seat of my car right now; it’s 10 am. I am constantly trying to remind myself that there is always a reason for each behavior, but it truly gets exhausting.

I have to remind myself that three-year-olds can be the best sometimes too. Everything is interesting. I’m still really cool, they still want to snuggle, but they can also pee by themselves. They can do more things, and vocabulary is exploding! I can have a meaningful conversation with my kid now. He remembers things and can recognize and react to others’ emotions and facial expressions. His interests are developing, he’s too young to be self-conscious yet, and he’s a social butterfly. He teaches me every day. Some days it’s grace, kindness, and patience, but he teaches me every day and reminds me to slow down.

Age three is kind of the worst and the best depending on the day (hour). This morning it was the worst, maybe this afternoon it will be the best again. To my fellow moms of three-year-olds, hang in there, try to find the positives, godspeed.

1 COMMENT

  1. THANK YOU!!! Our son turned three this past weekend and we’ve been dealing with a quick turn of aggressive behavior. Hitting, throwing, kicking- it feels like it came on so quickly! Chalk it up to turning three…maybe! A lot of this hit close to home and they’re great reminders of the year to come! Thanks!

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