Challenges to brace yourself for when your mini-me turns 3, plus, helpful hints on how to deal with them!

Terrible Threes. Thunderous Threes. Thrashing Threes. Threenager. Going by these less-than-flattering labels to describe a 3-year-old, you can rest assured that the Terrible Twos stage was a honeymoon compared to the road ahead.

At age 3, his sense of imagination is taking shape, which explains why he loves to play act. At the same time, he can understand more complicated instructions, thanks to his expanded vocabulary.

“There were a couple of times when the shopping mall security guard had to intervene because her daughter’s tantrum was that bad.”

Your mini-me’s physical development is taking off in a big way, too. He’s able to walk up and down stairs, jump and put his foot to the bike pedals. Drawing shouldn’t be too much of a problem as well. So, what’s giving 3-year-olds a bad rap?

1) They can’t stop talking

At 2, your child is speaking more clearly and acquiring more words. By age 3, he can now string sentences together and so begins the endless chatter. But hey, at least you know there’ll never be a dull — or quiet — moment.

2) They’ll create a public spectacle

Simply crying is so passé when you’re 3 years old. Throwing a temper tantrum has become the new black, so much so that you’ll be convinced that a monster has replaced your toddler. Kelly Ong, mother of Kenneth, who’s turning 3, recalls how her friend laid bare the pains of life with her own 3-year-old. “She said there were a couple of times when the shopping mall security guard had to intervene because her daughter’s tantrum was that bad.”



3) They’ll make you hate potty training

When he was 2, the day revolved around his naps. Now that he’s 3, the schedule revolves around his naps and bowel movements, especially since he’s going to be potty trained. However, getting him to the throne in a timely way and keeping him there is another matter altogether.

4) They act like they’re stylists

He’ll let you dress him when he’s 2. But by 3, he’ll demand to pick out his own clothes and he can’t decide if he wants to wear the dinosaur T-shirt or the Spider-man one.

5) They’ll want to do everything by themselves

From dressing himself to getting stuff from unreachable heights, he’ll insist on doing it because he’s a big boy. And you’ll be happy to oblige ― if not for the fact that you have a tight daily schedule.

“If no one’s going to get hurt, you may want to rethink why you’re taking issue with his misbehaviour."

Despite all these changes — and challenges — the heathier thing is to start living in the moment and to stop wishing junior will get through this phase as quickly as possible.

Here are helpful hints on managing your troublesome threenager:

* Pick your battles From his choice of books before bedtime to the colour of his socks and his preferred pyjamas — virtually every little decision can rapidly turn into a battle of wills. So, you’ll just have to decide which ones are worth the fight. For instance, messing up the cupboard while picking his favourite T-shirt is less worthy of your attention than his climbing up every surface. If no one’s going to get hurt, you may want to rethink why you’re taking issue with his misbehaviour.

* Meet him halfway You may have entered parenthood with lofty dreams of serving only nutritious fare for all of junior’s meals. Unfortunately, your threenager is determined to have pizza tonight.

Scaling back on the non-negotiable rules should help. For instance, consider implementing a “cheat” day — one day where your kiddo gets to choose whatever he wants to eat. You could also turn pizza making into a bonding activity at home using nutritious ingredients. Mutual interests will save you both from the brink of war.

* Focus on the good stuff It’s easy to get bogged down by the challenges of caring for your child, but you’ll be much happier just paying attention to how much he has grown as a person. Your 3-year-old’s reasoning skills have grown in tandem with his vocabulary since he was 2. This is also why you should be happy he’s able to enjoy better conversations with you!

Photos: iStock

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