Survived the Terrible Twos? Get Ready for Feisty 3 Year Old!

Parenting your three year old may not seem much different than parenting your two year old! There are still ups and downs, along with challenges and tough times. However, there are also new and wonderful things to be experience by the both of you! Knowing what to expect can help things go smoother and make the transition between two and three a bit less stressful. Here you will find out more about this transition and what you can expect to see from your three year old child.

Most parents will agree that raising children is not an easy job. When our children are born we do not get a manual with them and many of us worry sometimes that our parenting skills are up to par. This is a normal feeling; especially when our little ones turn three! The good news is that these worries can be eased a bit by knowing what to expect dealing with three year old behavior and milestones. Chances are that once you do learn more about the age past the terrible twos (I will let you decide that one for yourself!) you will feel much more secure in the fact that you have a normal child and you are a good parent!


The Transition Between 2 and 3

transition from 2 to 3Having survived the terrible twos, you are now looking forward to smoother sailing with the three year old behavior. Every child is individual which means that they may not grow out of the terrible two behaviors until they are three or four. Or perhaps they may skip it altogether and hit you with it at 5! As individual beings it is hard to tell. Many people do not think about the reason why the “problem” behavior begins around the age of two. If you just consider it for a moment, I am sure you will realize that at this age our children start developing outward signs of their own personalities. It is no coincidence that at this time they start to assert themselves which can come off as “terrible”.  So, if this is true, three years olds have even MORE personality, don’t they? Take a deep breath and hang on for the ride!


Language Skills and Memory Milestones

three year old language skillsThree year olds have the ability to listen to and accept direction. This is because at this age, their language development is growing at a high rate so the concept of rules begins to sink in. But since they are still toddlers, difficult behavior will likely crop up at times. And just because they have the ability to listen and accept, this does not mean that they will! Many times this is not because they are being willful, but because their memory skills are still short term and they may forget a rule. This is why you must continue to repeat it when it is broken; they need reminding at this age. After a while your child will remember the rule, but do not expect it to occur overnight. At this age you can also expect their vocabulary to reach about 600 words and that they can talk in short sentences using pronouns and plurals.


Motor Skill Milestones

3 yr old artAt three years old, your child will have lost some more baby fat and gained more height. This has allowed their muscles to develop so that they can meet their motor skill milestones. They should not be able to catch a ball while their arms are held out, use crayons, paint and safety scissors, draw a circle, and master their precision hand movements. Part of this is due to physical development while the other part is the development of their concentration skills. Their little fingers will be busy flying at this point! This may be the time to turn them into your little preschooler!


Toddler Discipline Tricks

picking your battlesAs with any age group, you are likely to experience behavior problems with your three year old. The good news is that there are some tips, tricks and solutions to help you through this time in both of your lives. The main thing to remember about toddler discipline is that you have to pick your battles. The ones you should chose first at those dealing with safety issues. If you fight over everything then all you will be doing is fighting and this is not good for either of you. When you do pick the battle you want to fight, you then have to choose your weapons of choice. Below you will find some toddler discipline tricks that you may want to add to your arsenal.


Time out

toddler discipline time outThis discipline trick is a classic. Some experts say that this is the way to go while others are vehemently opposed to it. It is up to you to decide if it is right for your child. If you do choose the time out solution, you should put your child in a safe place where you can see them at all times, and let the punishment fit the AGE. The rule of thumb is one minute of time out for each year of their life. Anymore and they will forget why they are there.


Reversing Rewards

toddler good behaviorIt is well known that most children respond better to positive reinforcement then they do negative. Take advantage of this information by using reverse rewards. For instance, if your three year old rewards for being good and withholding rewards when they behave badly. The reward system works well for some children and not so much for others. Give it a try to see what is right for you.


The Color System

color system in daycareThis is a discipline trick they use in my child kindergarten class. Each student has their name on a dry erase board. Under each name is a magnet, and to the side of the chart there are different colors. Each child’s magnet is on green (for good) at the start of the day. If the child misbehaves their magnet is moved down to yellow, orange or red. If they do exceptional well that day, their magnet is moved up to blue or purple. Not only does this help me know how my child is behaving at school, but the children who stay “green” all day get a reward. I have used this with my kids since she was three and it has worked beautifully since she never wants to have his color moved down. It won’t work all the time but it does give them good incentive to do well. Praise them when they do!

The behavior of three year olds can be a tricky thing to get under control. There is no right answer for anyone so you just have to play the game of trial and error. Good luck!