We’ve all experienced it, you’ve just had a baby and everyone you meet has a piece of childrearing advice to share.
Their counsel always varies, some simple methods, others complex, while others sound contradictory to what you’ve been told previously, yet despite the differences the heart of the one telling you is the same – that of a helper, a person with experience and a suggestion that worked for them.
As the mother of our child(ren), it is our job to sift through and determine which to accept, and which to forget.
For me, the most valuable piece of advice I ever received was right after my first child was born. It came from a wise woman who told me that life has a way of tempting us to wish our child’s life away and that as parents we must fight that temptation and live each phase with intention.
I didn’t fully understand what she meant in that moment, but as weeks passed and my sleepless body ached for rest I found myself saying, “I can’t wait for her to just sleep through the night.”
It was with that thought that I realized what that sweet woman meant. This sleepless phase was hard, but we were going to live through it, and it was my job to see these late-night rendezvous’ as gifts (albeit sleepy ones).
No matter how frustrated I was pulling myself from that cozy bed, I understood that I really would look back on those moments and long for them at some point (no matter how far off that point might be).
Raising kids is hard, and slipping into the wish it away mentality is so easy as we say to ourselves, we can’t wait for them to do this or that – but those days are not quite yet and what we have right here and now is wonderful in its own way no matter how hard it might seem.
The phase of 3 is an interesting one.
It’s a beautiful, and challenging phase that can easily slip us into that, “wishing it away mentality.”
It’s a time when I question whether the person that coined the phrase “Terrible Twos” had ever had the opportunity to parent a three-year-old.
This is a year when children not only form opinions but they now know how to vocalize them, and when they don’t get what they want – they’re going to make it known (really loudly) – but don’t yet understand what is or isn’t appropriate when it comes to communication.
What I’ve found in raising my four little ones is that three-year-old’s want independence, and this is an age where they think they are ready to dominate the roost.
This sounds terrifying (and sometimes their tantrums can actually be slightly terrifying), but it’s actually pretty incredible to watch as we step back to accept the truth that these little ones are becoming comfortable in their skin and someday they are going to step out on their own.
As parents we understand now is not the time, so it is important to reign them in while at the same time keeping in mind the words of Proverbs 4:23 (NLT) “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
Allow your child a bit of independence, but as parents, maintain control in a manner that protects their heart careful not to stifle the independence mustering within them. They will need that before we know it.
Three isn’t just a year of challenges though, it’s also a year of leaps and bounds in the development of their mind. This phase is one where they are chomping at the bit ready to learn; letters, shapes, numbers, spell their name, know their birthday, and many other things. It is a year of growth and opportunity.
In raising my own children, I’ve been able to identify four things that I find valuable to help embrace the phase.
Be patient – Patience is hard especially when you’ve just answered the 100th question, and there they’re asking 101. Deep breaths and counting to 10 are huge helps, but what I find most helpful is stopping to realize that they are not purposely trying to wear you out. They truly are curious and really want to know the answer to their question.
Be consistent – These little ones are testing the limit. It is natural. Consistency is the only way to be sure to assert control, keep their behavior in line, and maintain a place of authority over their lives. Do not let their cuteness persuade you otherwise, we still have so much to teach them, we need them to see us with eyes of respect.
Focus – In the middle of those questions, remove the device from your hand, pause the TV, or shut it off all together. Our children are a gift from the Lord, and they are our greatest responsibility. They deserve our time and attention. Allowing our eyes to meet is so important in letting them know we care, we are listening, and they can come to us about anything. This is vitally important to establish at a young age.
Teach them –A three-year old’s mind is a sponge. It is important that we help them to stretch it, give them an opportunity to think – challenge them to learn. Don’t minimize their ability, instead – sit with them work on puzzles, read to them, get them outside, and allow them to interact with the world around them. Parenting is not for the faint at heart, it is so important that we are intentionally engaging our children by spending time with them invested in their learning.
The phase of 3 is incredible not only is it packed with our children growing and learning, but as parents, we experience a shift in our rearing of them.
Yes, they need us, but their dependence is less – they can grab that snack from the cabinet, feed themselves, pick up their toys, brush their teeth and perform a lot of other tasks.
Now is a time when we need to embrace this change by taking just a small step back to watch them grow.
This post is written by JD Hartz from Choose Him Blog.
My name is JD and I am a follower of Jesus Christ. It is through him that I have been trusted to become a wife, as well as a mother to four children. I live, breathe, and love the chaos brought on by working full-time outside of the home, becoming the dedicated wife I am called to be, and raising the energetic little ones God has gifted me to mother. In my free time, I can be found having fun chasing our children around the yard of our home, curled up next to my husband (when we actually find the time) catching up on the DVR, or digging into God’s word growing more deeply in my relationship with our Heavenly Father.