Congratulations, mama! You’ve mentally survived the newborn phase and you’ve gotten through some of the big emotional toddler years. Now you’ve got a little one with their own personality and a little bit of push back as well. Here are some words for you.
One day I looked at my son who was lying on the floor crying about the color of his cup and I thought to myself…
“What on earth happened to the calm and sweet baby I had?”
Now instead of calm behavior and a willingness to be cooperative, he flipped out if things didn’t go his way. He cried, flailed, and resisted. And it seemed, to me, that he wasn’t even being defiant. He was truly overloaded with emotions he struggled to control.
I was *this close* to getting him tested for something, I don’t know what, when I realized that we were smack in the middle of what some folks might call The Terrible 3’s.
Previously, I refused to believe any age could be terrible. So it just hadn’t occurred to me that it could be a phase. However, when I started to see his behavior as something that was not permanent, I handled situations better. I was less angry and better able to respond kindly to his antics.
I could still be heard saying, “I think an alien has taken our son,” to my husband, but whatever.
5 Things All Mothers of Preschoolers Must Know
These years are so beautiful and trying and important in a child’s life. While we know “the kids are alright” there are some things it’d due well for us to consider.
The Kinds of Choices You Give Are Important
Mothers are the ones in charge. The End. Part of our duties as mother include teaching our children how to make decisions and, ultimately, make good decisions. We do this by giving our kids appropriate choices and then helping them learn the causes and effects of these choices. At this age, children are growing more and more independent and questioning their environment around them.
This means they want to do what they want when they want and they don’t give a rip what you think.
Hence the need for appropriate choices. These choices can include things like:
- what type of clothes they can wear (any long sleeve shirt, for example)
- which activity (out of a selection) they would like to do
- what books they want to read during story time
- whether they want to comply with an instruction or suffer a consequence
We need to give our children choices within our family boundaries so they learn to make good decisions. We don’t need to give them free reign.
The “Emotional” Years Too Shall Pass
I’ve found – with my boys – the age of 3 to be very volatile.
Not the blue truck!
He took my cup!
I want goldfish, no I DON’T WANT GOLDFISH!
Preschoolers’ emotions are right below the surface and you can’t be afraid to make them angry. Sometimes they’ll really lose it and empathy may be your best bet. Sometimes we’ll have to stand back and realize they don’t need us to make them feel better.
Big Emotions happen at your house? Get this free series on how to stay cool!
Explanations Are Now Important
Mothers want to teach their children about life. We want to teach them the hows and whys so they can make good choices whether or not we’re present. To do that we need to explain explain and explain. With our toddlers, there was limited understanding. We could use short punchy phrases to get their cooperation, but now our Threenagers require more explanation.
They are able to engage in what’s happening at a greater depth and this means we don’t need to use the ole “Because I said so” except when it’s really necessary. Of course, we want our kids to mind us. And they need to!
But we also need to explain WHY we want them to mind us so they are better able to make decision when mom and dad ain’t around. Also, the less explanation we give and the more You Must then we run the risk of enacting their counterwill all the time.
Structure Is Still Important
Routine is important for children. It just is. This does not go away when they turn 3 and it might even become more important in the running of your home. You want to let your kids do a lot of things, you want to get a lot done. There is preschool, family time, naps (though they’re phasing out by now), and basic time for errands and life.
You will have age appropriate chores and then time for play. If you want to do things the South African way (which I recommend) then you’ll need some form of a routine still. But never fear, routine does not have to be dull. In fact, it’s the best way to get your kids to eat well, rest well, and behave well.
Their Personality Matters
It is true what they say: no child is alike.
You can discipline the same way, love the same way, and give the same amount of time and attention only to find out some children respond well to your interventions and others don’t. This is neither a failure on your part or theirs, it’s simply because kids have different temperaments.
I’ve written a bit on how a person’s personality really matters. For example, I’m a Choleric ENTJ which means I’m bossy, extroverted, decisive, task-oriented, and have little time for waffling or fuzzies. If I did not focus on purposefully toning myself down a few notches (something I consistently work at) then my kids might think I just want to manage them instead of mother them.
Some posts to help you:
- How to motivate your confident take charge child (choleric)
- How to motivate your calm and steady child (phlegmatic)
- How to motivate your fun and energetic child (sanguine)
- How to motivate your strong and deliberate child (melancholic)
But back to my Alien Child…
He’s 4 now and the aliens must have brought him back. He’s mostly through the Break Down At The Drop of A Hat stage. He shares well. He is helpful. He knows what he should and shouldn’t do with respect to our own family rules, and he is a fun child.
The preschool years can be tough…
They can be challenging…
But stay the course, mama, and you won’t be sorry.
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