If you haven’t heard the term before, it’s pretty much comparing a three year old to a 13 year old. The I want it, when I want it’s, the rules don’t apply to me, the stubbornness and the sass, oh the sass! I knew these days were coming, I just thought I had about 10 more years to prepare myself.
Let me first say that I really do love this age. I’ve always called AG my best friend but she’s really turned into my little sidekick. We talk all day, she’s full of questions (about EVERYTHING,) she tells me things she likes or dislikes and is pretty much attached to my hip. In an I want to do everything you’re doing kind of way. I love all of that. I love seeing her grow, her personality develop and our relationship blossom. L.O.V.E it.
But, in an instant all of that bliss can turn into a massive meltdown. The world is coming to an end meltdown. I’ve never seen meltdowns like I’ve seen over the past month from my sweet, usually easy going, mostly reserved daughter. I’m talking toys thrown, walls kicked, arms flailing, tears streaming kind of meltdown. They happen in the BLINK OF AN EYE.
Most of the time, they happen for NO REASON and it’s exhausting. Let me give you a few examples….
- She wanted applesauce and I bought up fruit snacks. Or we’re out of applesauce. How dare I!
- Some paint got on her fingers and I helped her wash her hands. She didn’t want ANY help!
- I cut her strawberries instead of leaving them whole.
- Target was out of stickers to give at checkout.
- A commercial came on the TV during her show and she wants her show to come back on.
- Luke touched something. Her hair, her leg, the remote, her toy, the door, her toe…you get the gist. Sometimes her sweet brother can do nothing right on these tough days. THANKFULLY she has yet to show any aggression towards him!
- There were no cows out grazing during our morning run.
- I didn’t have a cake pop for her when I picked her up from school. Sometimes I treat her on Friday if we’ve had a good week. Sometimes. She doesn’t even eat the entire thing but she cried the entire way home.
- Daddy is watching football on Saturday morning and she wants to watch something else.
- I didn’t let her pick out her own straw for her smoothie. OR I grabbed the wrong color.
- I’m not doing something fast enough. Walking, driving, turning the channel, finding a book, looking at a picture, getting a snack, cooking dinner. This is usually the root of many meltdowns.
There are times she’s downstairs with hubs and I hear her cry. I run down to see what I can do and ask what set her off. Hubs always looks at me and says he has absolutely no idea. She was fine two seconds ago.
Two seconds, that’s all it takes.
I’m learning how to navigate these new waters and am learning things I can do to help quickly diffuse the meltdowns. I don’t think there is luck in preventing them unless I give her everything she wants. Which will not happen in this house.
Here is what has worked for us in quickly turning these meltdowns around.
- Acknowledging her feelings. I always tell her that I understand she is sad and upset. I tell her it’s okay, we all get upset sometimes.
- Talk about why she’s upset. Listen to what she says but make sure she understands that throwing, hitting, yelling is not okay. Crying is one thing but the acts of anger will have consequences.
- Lots of hugs and snuggles. I ask if she wants a hug or wants to sit with me while she calms down. I also give her the choice to go to her room and have some quiet time. She always chooses the snuggles. Of course, this isn’t after she’s thrown a toy or done something to that effect. Timeout happens first.
- Ask what will make things better and usually give two choices. Reading a book, going for a walk, coloring, etc. We don’t give into what she cried about or reward the behavior with toys or electronics but we do try to move the focus onto something else.
I’ll be honest, it’s easy to get angry as a parent when this happens. These meltdowns are so frustrating especially because they’re so big over things so little. But in her little mind, these are big things. Me getting angry with her because she’s upset isn’t going to make anything better. It won’t help me and definitely isn’t the example I want to set for her. I don’t want her to have a fear of my reaction when she gets upset. I want her to know that I’m here for her and will be the arms to comfort her. I always remind myself that she’s just three and just as I’m learning, so is she. It’s tough, that’s for sure!
I’m grateful that these moments are just that, moments. Some days there are more than others. More often, we have none at all. Thankfully with all this sass, there is so much more love that comes from this age. The “mama, I love you’s” are overflowing these days and so are the hugs, kisses and snuggles. As with all things, I’m grateful this is just a season and remind myself of that during the trying times.
Not going to lie though, if this is just a sneak peek into the teenage years, I’m going to start stashing the wine now!