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What's so hard about 3-year-old?

663 Views 16 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  shayinme
I keep hearing how 3 is the new "terrible twos" in childhood. DD is almost 2.5, and everyone is scaring me that the "tremendously terrible threes" are coming up...

Why is 3 so bad?!
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I wouldn't say 3 was bad for my DD. Overall, she steadily got easier as she got older. The one thing I remember about 3 was that that was the age where I sometimes began to get angry at her for behavior, rather than just frustrated about the situation without blaming her for it. When she was 18 months and cried because I went upstairs for a minute without her, I didn't like it, but I didn't expect anything different from her. When she did the same thing as a 3 year old, I had a hard time being as tolerant.

Now my DS is 3, and I'm finding that he does seem to be more difficult in some ways than when he was 2 (and more difficult than DD was at the same age.) He seems more likely to freak out over small things. Sometimes when he doesn't get what he wants, he immediately starts in with yelling or crying that strikes me as way more intense than what he would have done when he was 2. Some of it may just be that now he's older I'm a little less inclined to cater to all his whims, but I don't think that's the only thing that's going on.
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You can check out the "parents of 3s suppport thread" below for some insight:
for me she was somewhere after 2.5 years and one day just turned into a different person it seemed. It was like are you kidding me?!? What happened to my angel?
If it makes any difference I have found 3 to be different but not really harder. DD went through a really difficult phase from 2.75 to just turned age 3, when she had to be in control of everything--flushing all toilets, starting the dishwasher, opening the door with the key, pushing the microwave buttons, starting the washer and dryer, etc. If she wasn't in charge of it, the world would melt. For us, that eased up at age 3, and now she's usually pretty easy going unless she's tired or hungry. I think it really depends on the child. DD has always been high needs, though, so I'm used to it, more so than most moms I think. Anything is better than when dd was a newborn who had colic and would not sleep!
though i'm sure there is huge variation in kids, this was true for my family. my guys both became very intense right around the 3 year mark - mostly wanting to be in control, not listening, or wanting me to do things the way they wanted (without explaining it
). this resulted in tantrums galore. to me, these changes felt like they happened overnight.
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Yep right about 2.75 was when it started with ds. I thought , "where did my little boy go?" Everything seemed to set him off and his tantrums were much more intense. It usually was about control, when he wanted to do something, where, and how. It got much better, about 3.5 yrs, and although he still has his moments it now tends to happen only when he's overtired or over hungry.

Originally Posted by Daffodil View Post
The one thing I remember about 3 was that that was the age where I sometimes began to get angry at her for behavior, rather than just frustrated about the situation without blaming her for it. .

This describes my experience exactly. Yesterday we were at the grocery store-- something she does with me often, and we usually have a lovely time shopping together. This time she wanted to poke the meat. I turned around and she was pressing her little fingers into the shrink wrap over all the raw meat packages. After several rounds of "I ned you to stand beside me, please keep your hands to yourself, raw meat has icky germs, if they break we'll have to pay for them all" I tried, with one hand, to bag the single package of cicken that we needed- while using the other hand to physically hold her away from the meat (she kept laughing and lunging). I then had to carry her and the basket through the store, didn't get half the things I needed, to be faced with wailing "I forgot to get a lollipop!" after we finally made it to the car. I will admit that something, very briefly, snapped in me as I pulled her away from that stinking meat for the 3rd time while she laughed. (and seriously-- if anyone dares to post an explanation of how they think I should have handled it, I very well might scream right here-- we all do the best we can without needing to feel judged)

A year ago, this wouldn't have phased me one bit- I had infinite patience with silly baby/toddler games- really, I was an awesome, sweet, fun, mama. My patience with a 3.5 year old-- not so much (definitely not what I'd like it to be) I still try to be sweet and fun, and we still have lots of lovely time together, but there are now "those" moments when I feel like I could almost explode. The book "Your 3 year old- Friend or Enemy" basically says that the half-years tend to be the worst-- so I'm looking forward to 4.
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I'd heard the phrase "terrible twos" and was like, pshaw, my two year old is the most pleasant being. It wasn't until she was about 2.75 that she really started to assert her independence in ways that might be contrary to what DH and I were trying to teach her. And she became just that much more conscious about what she could do, how she could manipulate us, etc. So it was like suddenly she wasn't a blameless baby anymore but a little girl consciously trying my patience.

That said, the majority of the time she's still a pleasant, wonderful child. Just sometimes she can really get on our nerves now.
2 was wonderful. 3 was fine. 4 was hell.
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Three was our rough time, too. It was mostly about flying totally off the handle over every tiny thing. The tantrums got longer, more intense, and more focused on trying to influence me, rather than just blowing off emotional steam the way it was when she was smaller. Also, the whining kicked in at three.
Meh, My son just turned 5 and things have never been "terrible". he's a really easy kid, he was an easy baby. My daughter (19 months) makes up for it. Some kids are just easier than others, and people like to pigeon hole a reason for that. They feel the need to label it by age, or parenting style, or zodiac sign. When it just comes down to the fact that there is no formula, every person is different and so is every child.

And Sweet Potato you hit the nail on the head. I find I get more short tempered with my 5 year old when things happen like my 19 month old is fighting me about putting on a diaper and clothes and he will not stop talking. That's it, he's just talking. But I can't even begin to have a conversation with him while his sister is screaming her head off and I feel like and alligator wrestler as I try to get her into some clothes because we are already late for school. And I want to snap at my son, who has done nothing wrong, "Can you not see what your sister is doing to me, can you please just shut the hell up!!!!"
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My DS, who is 3 and a couple of months, just started the 'terrible three's', a few weeks ago. Crabbiness, talking back, attitude, wanting to do EVERYTHING on his own (which is great), but then wanting me at that very second if it doesn't work out for him. It's certainly a phase and we're taking it day by day. He still has his angel moments, loves to play, snuggle, give hugs & kisses and listens to H and I for about 80% of the time, but the other 20% is when we find ourselves banging our heads against the wall. It's amazing how it happened overnight. I don't have any real solutions, per se, but just to deal with each moment the best way you know how......that's what we're doing and it seems to be working well.

Originally Posted by 4evermom View Post
2 was wonderful. 3 was fine. 4 was hell.

Yeah, I'm finding 4 to be the hardest age so far. I wouldn't quite say it's hell, but it's definitely much more challenging than 2 or 3 was. I think now that he's 4.5 we're finally turning a corner though. (I hope!)
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I didn't find the 3's to be hard at all with my son. I loved age 3! In fact, for me it all just steadily gets easier each year. My experience so far has been:

1st year - Hell
2nd year - better, but not fun
3rd year - okay
4th year - starting to love being a mom
5th year - wonderful
6th year - even better than 5th year

DS just turned 6 so we are starting the 7th year of his life and WOW! it's so much fun and so great! DD is almost 18 months and I'm in that "this is better than the first year" stage, but I'm not liking it at all. I actually can't wait for her to be 3! I loved age 3! The older they get, the better it gets for me. Nothing frustrates me like the lack of communication for the first 2-3 years. I'll take a tantrum and irritating behavior over the lack of sleep and crying of the first 2 - 3 years any day!
Crabbiness, talking back, attitude, wanting to do EVERYTHING on his own (which is great), but then wanting me at that very second if it doesn't work out for him.
Exactly. It's like having a teenager and a toddler all in one package.

Originally Posted by EVC View Post
Exactly. It's like having a teenager and a toddler all in one package.
That is exactly how I feel about my dd who is 3.75, and it was so unexpected because I have a 17 yo ds who at 3 was so fun, so mellow....

I love my dd but 3 is driving me mad.
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