Two and three-year olds have a wide range of emotions that can pull you up and down right along with them. This morning, between my 15-month and three-year-old there may have been five minutes without screaming. It’s a wonder that so many three-year olds make it out alive.
Living with someone who wants to do everything themselves, yet can’t, refuses your help, then screams for it like they are about to instantaneously combust… can easily make a normal human being, a crazy one.
The terrible twos are a real thing. There is no logic to their desires. Sometimes, well, often times, two-year-olds go completely ballistic over not having the “right” sippy cup. Wanting their clothes both off, and on. Wanting the door open and closed. Then having a red-faced-scream-fest on the floor because they can’t make it happen. I mean, I would love it if I could be at a birthday party, but also napping in my bed. I get it.
At three, they can understand some logic, and have a longer attention span to watch TV (which is helpful if you have another child that you breastfeed, or if you need a shower, but, mom’s don’t really need those).
At three they can somewhat begin to understand consequences and patterns which can be helpful when explaining why something isn’t possible. My daughter understands now that she can’t run in a parking lot, or the street.
Oh, and somewhere in between two and three where they ask “why?” ten million times. But with the new intelligence, they are smart enough to use logic without emotional maturity to understand what they really need (like to go to sleep).
For example, we finally got into a good bedtime routine down… and then she turned three. Now she is armed with multiple stall tactics.
Here’s a recent night’s list:
- I need a snack, I’m hungry!
- I need some milk!
- I need some water to wash the milk out.
- I need my “mimi” (stuffed animal of choice for that day).
- I need different pajamas, I’m hot!
- I need you to read me another story!
- I have something in my eye!
- I need to go potty!
- My finger is stuck in my hair!
- Umm… umm… I need…. umm (as she paces in her bed trying to come up with something).
We have a few methods that have helped to curb this behavior, like building in time before bed to take care of the common requests.
I have some friends with easy children who never even needed to baby proof. If you think having toddlers and preschoolers is easy, give me a bit of grace for my constant state of frazzledness and offer to babysit. I have a spunky spirited spitfire who I love dearly, but who is also three.
My conclusion of which is harder between a two and three-year-old is: it’s a tie. They both require more patience than we think we have. The endless demands, the screaming fits, the inability to share, the stubbornness, are a lot for any caregiver to handle.
It is a challenging stage, and for all the parents of two and three-year olds, know that we are all together barely clinging on to our sanity.