Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hardships of Three

Hazel's growing up, and we have been caught off-guard. Child psychology doesn't come as naturally to me as some people but I've been watching and thinking and trying to make sense of new behaviors. She's adopted one of the moving boxes as her own, and walks around the house with it saying she's the mail carrier with a package, or she's the mommy and I'm the baby (and I have to call her Mommy). Experimenting with adult roles? Dealing with the move? Wanting to interact with me on a new level? Then the next minute she's sitting in the baby bouncy seat we have out for packing, and telling me she's a baby again, and Ginger's the big sister. More role experimentation? Vying for attention?

But the main thing that's been tough lately has been sudden and intense resistance and defiance at every turn. We're having spaghetti for dinner? "I want eggs!" I chose the red striped dress for church? "I want my beautiful white dress!" Ginger is sitting in her high chair for a snack - LIKE SHE ALWAYS DOES? "No! Ginger sits in my seat and I sit in your seat!" This is usually followed by much whining, slouching and forced or sometimes real crying. Our responses to this have been far from consistent - I guess we're testing the limits, too. Kindness and patience sometimes, firm discipline others.

Of course my parenting books are packed - one of the few things that have actually been put in a box around here and taped up - but anyway those are mostly for 2 and under. A long time ago I signed up for pregnancy updates from parentcenter.com and have since gotten monthly or occasional updates on Hazel's development by age. It's usually pretty relevant and interesting, and today I got one that included this article on defiance. Nothing too revelatory but some good direction and ideas.

When they're little they change so fast, every few weeks, and while it makes you crazy you come to expect it. Then as they get older some of the changes are farther apart - months or years. You get comfortable and forget they could change any minute. And especially with Hazel as the oldest, we never know what to expect when. So we're back on our toes, scrambling to keep up. Trying to understand and support. Crossing our fingers, loving with all our might.


Nells-Bells said...

I have really enjoyed parentcenter.com. I loved the updates when I was pregnant and love still receiving one for each of the kids. I have learned to give Mason a choice while still being in control (somewhat). I pick out two shirts, and then give him a choice, "Do you want the yellow shirt or blue shirt?" "Do you want applesauce or yogurt?" Not that you WANTED advice...your post just made me think of that. :)

The Finck Five said...

I think Jake sturggled a bit with our last move. someone gave us advice which I think worked. Let you kids pack thier own box with thier favorite things and keep it close. It gave Jake some security knowing at least his trains were going to make the trip safly. I do not envy you, I hate moving, we have moved 5 times in our marrige, no fun.

Kelsey Carreon said...

We are only moving across town and Christina is freaking out. One day she is excited for the new house complaining our house is broken and the next day she says she will stay here and we can move. We have the advantage of seeing the new house get built so she is starting to view it as an adventure. What I did was we went through her toys the other day and she decided what she wanted in the new house and what could stay in the old house (garage sale! she just doesn't know it) and always remember a three year old is simply a 2 year old with experience behind them.

Rachel said...

My friend recently wrote a similar post bemoaning her three year old's defiance and asking for advice. I know, a brave thing to do on a blog?! But I bet this part of my response to her applies to you too so I'm sharing it even though you didn't ask :). Oh and she was especially concerned b/c her lil' one listens to daddy better than momma and that is hard on the old self esteem.

"YAY! Kaya is amidst the very important milestone of learning how to say NO! That is cause for celebration! And she is practicing her NO on the person in her life with whom she feels the safest – her mom. Who better to push back on, than the one you know would never cut you loose even if you push too hard? She must practice with you or how will she ever know how to defy her friends who are teasing the special needs girl crying in the corner? How will she know how to say "Stop and I mean it!" to the man who would touch her inappropriately? How will she someday say "No thank you." to the alcohol and drugs that would blur her clear eyes? She is finding her voice!"

Hazel and Ginger are so blessed to have you to feel safe with. I'm sad Ginger and Sophia won't be playing friends, but at least we can read about your little family - I sure enjoy it!

P.S. If you're itching for more unsolicited advice, here are the links (ok I don't know how to link in comments!) to my whole letter and Davey's too - his were surprisingly insightful! And in mine I linked to my absolute FAVORITE parenting article in the world. If you're looking for "revelatory", this one takes the cake!

And thanks AGAIN for your AC units, blessings, blessings and more blessings from the Hickmans!


Jenifuz said...

Oh the Threes!!! It's so much fun. Sometimes I think three's are worse than twos! I've decided that it has to do with making decisions and control. They have to feel like they have control over their life. I've tried to make sure I give Cayden a couple of choices instead of me just telling him what I want. I give him usually 2 things to choose from, sometimes 3. I have also found that's it's very important to make sure you're fairly consistent. It's hard during a move especially but make sure they know they don't have a choice in the moving but they will have a choice in maybe how they decorate or maybe they get to help you pack up their stuff. It's hard and so much fun to figure out but you can do it!! Great job on getting so much done already for your move!

Maren said...

K- you're doing great. Don't let the rocks in the road get you down. Keeping you on your toes is one of their jobs. I like Rachel's friend's approach; kids push to experiment with where the limits are- starting with you. The best thing you can do is be pretty much in the same spot each time and don't let them push you over (which you don't, I know).

Three is tough, as they figure out gender identification/roles and "I am a part of the world/ I am apart from the world", but then they grow out of it... and into the "watch me!" (at least 4-7 yrs old) and 5 year old bossy girl stages. More fun up ahead!

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