Everyone warns you about two. “Terrible twos.” “Tantrum twos.” Two sounds terrifying. But you know what? We’re about one month from three over here, and I have to say, two wasn’t that bad. Dare I say, it was EASY compared to what I can see is coming down the pike with the threes.
When my son was in his so-called “terrible twos,” he didn’t throw tantrums. He was generally easygoing and happy. I could usually distract him from his frustrations with a question or a new activity, and transitioning was usually easy, if I warned him in advance.
But not so with the threes. Now, my child has POWER. What kind of power, you ask? Well. Now, he has THE TOILET. Doesn’t want to go to sleep? “Mommy, have to pee in the toilet!” And, you know, just in case he might be right (which he is about 50% of the time), my husband or I go running upstairs and let him sit on the toilet for some indefinite amount of time, while he reads books and sings songs. Another gem: doesn’t want to sleep past 5 am? “Have to pee in the toilet!!” And…we’re up.
Don’t get me wrong. I love that my son is toilet-trained. That’s nothing short of awesome. However, this is an example of how three-year-olds become infinitely more challenging than tw0-year-olds. They are gaining independence and creativity. And how does that manifest? Often, in challenging behavior. Need more proof? Here it is.
A three-year-old knows how to negotiate. “Why not? Why not?”
A three-year-old is just a little too big to be carried around when he doesn’t listen.
A three-year-old is old enough to choose not to listen to his mother, and pull all the toilet paper off the toilet paper roll. Just. For. Fun.
When your two-year-old broke the rules or played with things that were not toys, he was just “exploring and discovering the world around him.” But a three-year-old certainly knows which choices are right and which choices will probably result in time-out. But, they push the boundary anyway, because well, why not?
My friends with older kids keep telling me that three is harder than two. And even though we haven’t officially entered the year of three yet, we’ll be there soon. And I’m certain it’s going to be harder than last year. My son is already looking at me and running in the other direction when he doesn’t feel like listening. Awesome.
And since last week he decided to spread lotion all over his sister’s carpet just so he could put his cars in a “carwash,” I’ve definitely started to realize that with three comes more independence, more creativity, and more problem-solving. All positive qualities of course, but all qualities that make parenting just that much more challenging.
So I just bought a video monitor.
***Disclaimer: Now, at the very end of four with my son, I can say that for him, three was much harder than two. My daughter is not yet two and a half, so I’m not sure this theory will ring true for her, although so far, the terrible twos have not been so terrible. You know what that means. Stay tuned.