How to Stay Calm with a 3 Year Old (It's an Evolving Process)

Amanda Clark-Rudolph

I’ve discovered the one person’s behavior I can always control is not my spirited 3-year-old’s, but mine.

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(Photo by Allen Taylor/ Unsplash) Two young boys pillow fight while feathers fall all around them.

“Stop licking your brother.”

“Let’s use a towel instead of the toothbrush to clean your pee off the floor.”

“I see you’re drawing a house, try a crayon instead of watermelon juice.”

These were all things I said to my 3-year-old . . . This morning.

It’s tough having relevant conversations with a tiny human. And it’s even harder when my son knows that he’s getting under my skin but flashes me that adorable (yet mischievous) smile.

The truth is I didn’t think that the “terrible twos” were that terrible. But my 3-year-old exhausts me.

I love him to pieces, and even though he’d give the Energizer Bunny a run for his money, I remind myself that my boy’s right where he needs to be. He’s exploring, testing limits, and discovering this very new world around him.

So much so, that I’ve whispered to myself time and time again, “It’s not easy learning to be human.”

I repeat this phrase over and over again as he pours his juice in to the cat’s bowl and stomps his feet when he can’t have a third clementine.

Deep breaths are my friend.

I’ve discovered the one person’s behavior I can always control is not my spirited 3-year-old’s, but mine.

According to the Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development, “A large body of research on attitudes indicates that parental warmth together with reasonable levels of control combine to produce positive child outcomes.”

But as many parents know, it’s not always easy staying calm with a 3-year-old.

Sure, calm is the goal, but as stated in my previous post “What if I Just Stopped?”, it’s not always the case. Mothers are human, and we all have limits. At the same time, I also acknowledge I am the ADULT, and my prefrontal cortex is done developing.

So, I strive to be calm during these everyday tales of chaos. Although I have my downfalls, I also have my triumphs, and the majority of the time, I keep my head on straight.

The Dalai Lama was onto something when he said:

“In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision.”

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(Photo by Iwona Castiello d'Antonio/Unpslash) A young boy smiles.

Did I mention my little firecracker is emotional? A toddler, who would have thought, huh?

Sometimes he gets upset with the strangest things (to an adult), and he has more energy than the Tasmanian Devil on speed.

I’ve written about how annoying it was being referred to as of advanced maternal age, but this tot makes me feel old. And lately, I’ve been having aches and pains that I’ve never experienced before.

For starters, my back gives out while running after him, and my knees wobble when picking up a Gumbyish 30 pound body.

And sometimes I feel like I’m living in this alternate universe with a different language that cannot be understood.

It cracks me up when I tell my toddler that “we don’t rub cheese on the floor,” because there are just so many things I say in a day that I never thought I would say in a lifetime.

But in spite of it all — even though I’m doggone tired and want to pass out by 1 in the afternoon, I treasure this hectic, crazy life.

I try my best to step back and notice the golden moments; these snippets of time I wish I could capture in a jar.

Like now as my son sleeps peacefully, and as I look at him, I wonder how such a speedy little guy can crash so hard and look so innocent and beautiful while dreaming.

I sit beside him and watch as he breathes in and out, and I remember how I love him so, and I will love him tomorrow at 5:30 a.m. when he climbs into my bed, tucks his head on my shoulder, and says, “ Hi Mommy.”

I’ll love him when he’ll spill his juice, asks for his sixth cup of water, and tells me that he has to go potty — when it’s a lie.

I’ll love him when he’s awake and flashing me that sweet, menacing smile. Because he’s being who he’s supposed to be, after all, he’s barely 3.

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Hi, I'm Amanda - a freelancing mama who writes about family, travel, holidays, and more! In addition to freelancing it up, I'm a Content Coordinator for neighborhood magazines. My favorite pastimes: Writing, slurping lattes, and playing freeze tag with my two sons.

Ocala, FL
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