3 simple ways to soothe your three-year-old

Is your three-year-old acting more like a "threenager?" If so, you're not alone -- many parents notice that their three-year-old is defiant, testing boundaries and full of attitude. Even though you may wonder if you're raising a toddler or a teenager, there are plenty of ways to soothe even the most savage children. Below are a few things to keep in mind.

3 simple ways to soothe your three-year-old

1. Respect his or her independence

  • When it comes to psychological and social development, three is an incredible age.
  • Your three-year-old is likely able to speak more clearly, engage in higher-level executive functions and use fine motor skills much better than when she or he was two.
  • However, this can come with a scary side effect: a passion for independence that can result in tantrums when "doing it myself" isn't allowed.
  • To soothe your threenager's desire for freedom, remind yourself that it's normal to want to be independent.
  • Work with your child to find areas in which you can respect his or her independence.
  • Give your child a chore to perform.
  • Buy stools so your child can easily reach things in the kitchen and other work spaces, and let go of power struggles over things that just don't matter.

2. Remain calm

  • Emotions run raw for threenagers, who are finally able to express their desires, but don't yet know how to modify their words or behaviour.
  • Remember to remain calm whenever possible to avoid feeding into negative behaviour.
  • Your threenager might be upset that he or she can't get a rise out of you, but will respect and even crave your level-headed approach to situations that frustrate, infuriate, or terrify him or her.
  • By staying calm whenever possible, you demonstrate rational adult behaviour and maintain control of the situation.

3. Stay realistic

  • It can be tempting to think of your three-year-old as older than his or her age.
  • After all, three-year-olds can dress themselves, eat independently and express precocious opinions.
  • But don't be fooled: your threenager is still a very small child. It might make sense to adjust your expectations when it comes to things like how long it should take to dress, how well your child handles exhaustion or hunger and how much rest he or she needs.
  • When you find yourself locked in a battle with a three-year-old, ask yourself if your behavioural expectations are realistic and adjust accordingly. By remaining realistic, you'll improve the situation for both parent and child.
  • No matter what, take time to enjoy the over-the-top ride that you can only experience with a three-year-old.
  • And remember: this too shall pass.
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