the terrible threes…

Is it just me, or is three an incredibly difficult age?  I had always heard about the “terrible twos.” For some reason I thought that three would be easier, I was wrong.

Leo reacts as if the world is actually ending when he doesn’t get dessert, if we dim his light too much, if we run out of granola bars… basically if something doesn’t meet his expectations.  And frequently his expectations are created by his vivid imagination and I have little hope of anticipating what he thinks is going to happen.

We took him on a picnic a few weekends ago with my parents.  It was a clear sunny day and we went to the El Dorado Polo Club and watched the ponies while sitting on a blanket on the grass and eating delicious food. Doesn’t that sound like an idyllic day?  Well not to Leo… when we left we literally had to hold him down to get him in the carseat while he screamed over and over “WE DIDN’T HAVE PICNIC!!!” through tears and boogers.  Oh my.

When Leo finally calmed down enough to talk to me he told me that we did not go on a picnic because there was “no cave” and “no beach.”  Huh? Well apparently on an episode of “Yo Gabba Gabba” he watched months ago a few characters went on a picnic on a beach via a cave… so he thought that we were going to do the same.  His disappointment was heartbreaking.

Lenny and I have been reading the book Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting and attempting to use some of it’s strategies to deal with these terrible threes.  Trying to step away from my knee-jerk reaction to his tantrums and figure out what he’s going through is hard, but I’m am starting to see that it works better than yelling.

Taking a pause when Leo begins his tantrum and trying to figure out why he’s freaking out can be almost impossible.  With the picnic incident, it took a good amount of time… but once I knew why he was so upset and he knew that I understood… he calmed down really quickly. “You’re disappointed because we didn’t go through a cave and have a picnic on a beach” was one of the crazier things that I have ever said out loud but it was much appreciated by Leo.

But so frequently the sentence is “You’re upset because insert thing that is never going to happen here” and he just won’t accept that he’s going going to get a cookie, stay at the park longer, wear my favorite shoes to school (is that something that only happens around here???).

I’ve heard a rumor that I am not the only one with a three year old that is driving them up the wall?  How do you deal with tantrums and the terrible threes?

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my monster at work…

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