When my son was close to turning 2, a lot of our friends with older kids started telling us that the “terrible twos” were actually not that terrible. That it was when he turned 3 was when our world was going to be rocked. Hence the term “threenager.” This term is used for that age when your 3-year-old continually acts like they are going on 13.
A lot of people would agree that at this age, they develop an attitude that lets you know what they want, when they want it and how they want it. And it’s not uncommon to find a lot of funny memes, ranting social media posts and blogs about how to handle it. As a mother currently going through it, trust me, I get it. However, even though that might be true, I do think that there are a lot of positives that come with this age. Here are just a few lessons that my threenager has taught me.
Wholeheartedly believe in something – The other night, an hour after I put my son to bed, he started to desperately call me. When I went into his room, a very afraid kid was telling me there was a spider in his sock drawer. No matter what I told/showed him, I wasn’t convincing him otherwise. Sometimes I wish I believed in things the way he believes in them. I wish we all did. I wish all moms believed that we are doing the best we can, that we are enough and that we are seen. I wish my faith and my beliefs were as strong as his belief in that spider. I also wish we believed that our dreams are important and maybe not that impossible to come true.
Not be afraid to talk to a stranger – Our world, and specifically, this country has never been as divided as it is right now. It makes me wonder if we should act more like a 3-year-old that doesn’t see differences. They just strike up a conversation with anyone asking simple questions like why, how and what. Most kids around this age are very verbal and they start asking the gazillion questions that drive us crazy throughout the day. It is exhausting. It is also eye-opening; the fact that their curiosity doesn’t stop and that they will talk to anyone that is willing to listen (or not). I wish I was more open to talking to a stranger, asking them how their day is going or why they are sad. Ask them why they are hurt or how I’ve offended them. Get to know my neighbors and have them get to know me without fear of judgment, just like a 3-year-old.
Share, share, share – Sharing is tricky, hard and sometimes impossible to achieve between two 3-year-olds. However, most parents are adamant about how important it is to share. “Share your toys,” “take turns” and “let them use it while you play with another toy” are very commonly used phrases during this age. Why is it that we tell them to share what they have with their friends and even strange kids in the park but we hold on to what we have to dear life? Why do I have a house but not share it with my neighbors and invite them to dinner? Why do I have an extra $10 and not donate it to the school fundraiser? I don’t think it is fair that we ask our children to share the toys when we don’t follow the same example. I wish I could teach my son more by my actions what sharing looks like instead of by my words. After all, he does share his toys once I remind him about sharing.
Play like no one is watching – One thing we can all agree on is that a 3-year-old knows how to play. They play with toys, they make up stories and songs, they laugh with friends and they can spend an entire day at a park (if we let them) going up and down the slide just having fun. As we enter adulthood and then parenthood, we become busy, focused and tired so much that we forget to play like a child. I am definitely not good about taking time to just have fun like a child, but I sure wish I did. I would love to be able to make it as much as a priority as he does.
Take a risk – It is very interesting the things that you tell your 3-year-old not to do. Don’t put the play-doh in your mouth. Stop pulling the dog’s hair. Wait for me to _ (insert literally anything). Most kids take risks without thinking twice. And as parents, it is our responsibility to teach them healthy risk-taking. Don’t eat the play-doh because you might get a tummy ache. Don’t pull the dog’s hair because he might bite you, etc. However, there is something in the risks they take that I do admire. They do it and they will learn the lesson later, if there is one to learn.
I don’t know if you identify with one or all of these lessons, but if you ever encounter a 3-year-old in your life, make sure you take the time to observe and learn from them!