I was warned when I complained about the terrible twos that threes were even worse. But as I battled with tantrums, refusal do as I asked and fights to get dressed on a morning, I had no idea what was in store for me just around the corner. Ladies and gentleman I introduce…The Threenager.
Since Jack turned three he has had a sudden change of personality. It’s like someone flicked a switch and…BAM! My loving, happy little boy had been swapped for this tyrant who refuses to do anything that he should, completely ignores all attempts to get his attention and frankly, puts himself in danger. After months of trying to handle him I am at my wits end and cannot wait for him to turn four, and hopefully a corner.
The worst of his behaviour has really shocked me – running across a road on his own definitely tops the list. As does refusing to hold my hand and pulling away so hard he nearly fell into a busy road. He almost split his head open a few weeks ago when he refused to let daddy get him ready for bed and fell onto a table as he ran away. But it is the everyday tantrums that have become overwhelming and almost unbearable. The other day he was in the bath and when it was time to get washed he point-blank refused. Queue an almighty tantrum which involved kicking water everywhere, trying to pour a jug of water over my head and hitting out so I couldn’t get near him. It is so hard to remain calm in these situations and I have to admit I’ve lost my temper on many occasions.
Last night he woke at 2am and demanded the iPad, and then proceeded to scream the place down, thumping the floor and walls and waking everyone up when I said no. When it is half-way through the night and you are so exhausted you can hardly keep your eyes open, it is so difficult to hold your own and not give in the these demands, but I fear us caving in during previous incidents is creating a monster. So I stood strong, his blankie which he holds so dear was removed as a punishment and an hour later I managed to settle him back to bed, blankie returned once he’d calmed down.
This morning we faced yet another meltdown as we left to take Holly to school, as he wanted to watch TV and refused to put his shoes on. Three toys were taken away and eventually I ran out of time and had to carry him to the car shoe-less and kicking and screaming. It’s no fun, and it’s hard on Holly when she is behaving so well but I am tired and snappy so she gets the short end of the stick.
We’ve tried reward charts, jars and threats but none of it works – when he’s in that mind-set he couldn’t care less if he gets a sticker or not. So we’ve recently put into place a new tactic where we take a toy away when he’s doing whatever bad behaviour we want him to stop. He gets a warning and if he still misbehaves I count to three and then the toy goes into ‘jail’ – a plastic box on top of a high shelf out of reach. It seems to be slowly working and the last few times he has backed down just in time, and had his toy returned.
It’s definitely a difficult stage though, and I’ll be glad when we’re out the other side and my little boy is returned back to normal. Jack and I have always been so close and it is hard to feel him battling against me at every opportunity. I know he’s simply testing his boundaries and it is our job as parents to make sure he knows what they are, for his own good, but damn this parenting lark can be hard.