Every parent knows the phrase “Terrible 2s.” Toddlerhood can be a delightful mess (depending on your mood) filled with more insanity and hopelessness than the next Cleveland Browns football season.
But the truth is, the “INSERT CATCHY PHRASE HERE 3s” are just as bad, if not worse, yet somehow we as a society haven’t labeled the age of extinction for reasonable parenting.
I’ve heard about “Terrible 2s, Trusting 3s and Pleasing 4s,” but let me tell you, whomever invented those last two phrases simply had angels for children.
Taking a straw poll in the newsroom, our writers chimed in with: “Turbulent 3s, Tumultuous 3s, Tremendous 3s, Tiresome 3s, Tempestuous 3s, Thrilling 3s and 3-mendous.”
Our daughter Emma, halfway through the age of 3, is all the above and more, and we have experienced our fair share of screaming tantrum fits to deal with, along with blatant, red-faced stubbornness that could win awards, if there was such a thing.
A mother of two and colleague of mine in the newsroom suggested Emma’s issues at 3 may likely be because she’s smart, and is displaying frustration because more stimulating activity is required to keep her from going off the deep end on a daily basis.
A recent article written by Jennifer Soong, a freelance writer for publications such as the New York Daily News, Boston Magazine and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, pointed out that “preschoolers want to own their newfound independence,” you know, like walking, talking, eating and being able to go to the bathroom by themselves, “but they also want the close attention and love of their caregivers.”
So is that it? We’re not loving her enough? Poppycock.
Soong suggests not straying too much from routines (it’s summer, hello!), don’t focus on the negatives (hard to do when she decided to give the carpet a makeover with mom’s makeup) and certainly don’t encourage whining.
I can agree with that last one.
Psychologist Lawrence J. Cohen, author of “Playful Parenting,” said one of the worst things to do is underestimate the importance of play.
Cohen says signing the kids up for enrichment programs to give them an edge isn’t necessary, and leans towards “free play.”
“Free play is how children’s brains develop best. In play, children will naturally give themselves the right amount of challenge, not too easy or too hard,” Cohen said.
Bring on make-believe play, rough housing and goofing around!
Lastly, and probably the most important thought that I’m certainly guilty of from time to time, Cohen suggests removing distractions whenever possible, such as cell phones or other multitasking, and just get on the floor and play.
“Kids aren’t dumb,” Cohen said. “They know whether we’re really paying attention or not.”
I’m on it.
Brian M. Bergner Jr. is associate sports editor and a columnist for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and SoundCloud at @SportsWriter52, or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.