3-4 YEARS OLD

Tak­ing care of a baby had its chal­lenges, but you didn’t ex­pect it to be so ex­haust­ing par­ent­ing a three-year-old. This is nor­mal, says DR RICHARD C. WOOLF­SON.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - Contents -

Tak­ing care of a baby had its chal­lenges, but you didn’t ex­pect it to be so ex­haust­ing par­ent­ing a three-year-old. How can you han­dle it bet­ter?

Ac­cept that these things hap­pen, and that hav­ing a bad day doesn’t mean you have a ter­ri­ble child or that you are a ter­ri­ble par­ent.

Most days with your three­year-old are good, some days are great, and a few (hope­fully, not many) are down­right atro­cious – don’t worry, though, these things hap­pen to every­one.

So go easy on your­self; it’s okay to al­low your­self to break down. Feel­ing guilty will only lower your con­fi­dence and re­duce cop­ing skills.

Par­ent­ing a child this age isn’t easy, and you’d be su­per­hu­man if you took ev­ery­thing in your stride with­out ever ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a blip. rsu­ally it’s a com­bi­na­tion of small child-re­lated events hap­pen­ing all at the same time that turns a good day into a bad one.

vou can nor­mally cope with all these mi­nor hur­dles in­di­vid­u­ally, but when they clus­ter, that’s when you start to break down.

Sud­denly, the plate that he drops on the floor, the tantrum he has when you thought he was set­tled, and his lost pair shoes that you need to find very quickly, all com­bine to over­whelm you when they oc­cur si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

And if you’ve not been get­ting enough sleep re­cently, the ac­cu­mu­lated tired­ness has in­creased your stress lev­els.

Par­ent­ing your three-yearold has its peaks and troughs, no mat­ter how hard you plan, no mat­ter how con­fi­dent you are.

Be pa­tient

then you have melt­down – whether it’s cry­ing help­lessly, scream­ing at your kid, or fu­ri­ously slam­ming the door – be pa­tient with your­self.

Ac­cept that these things hap­pen, and that hav­ing a bad day doesn’t mean you have a ter­ri­ble child or that you are a ter­ri­ble par­ent. ft sim­ply means you are hav­ing a bad day, noth­ing more. oe­as­sure your­self that you’ll have a bet­ter day with him to­mor­row.

And when you have calmed down and have a free mo­ment to re­flect, think about the events that led up to your mini emo­tional col­lapse. vou might not even re­alise what hap­pened un­til you have time to think about it. Then ask your­self the fol­low­ing ques­tions:

What could I do dif­fer­ently the next time I face these chal­lenges?

Maybe you could ig­nore some of your lit­tle one’s con­stant de­mands, in­stead of con­fronting him ev­ery time, or maybe you could dis­tract his at­ten­tion quicker when his frus­tra­tion builds.

iearn from your ex­pe­ri­ence of this bad day to build your re­silience for man­ag­ing a stress cri­sis.

Is there any­one who could help me if I start to break down again?

vou don’t have to deal with ev­ery­thing on your own. ff your kid’s be­hav­iour starts to over­whelm you, don’t be afraid to ask for help. For in­stance, per­haps your friend could look af­ter him for an hour, while you re­gain your com­po­sure. That’s not a sign of weak­ness.

How of­ten do I have a short break?

No mat­ter how much you love your child, you need to have some time to your­self. Try to avoid spend­ing ev­ery wak­ing minute with him.

Set aside out a few min­utes “me time” each day – for in­stance, when he has a nap or when he watches chil­dren’s Ts shows – so that you can re­lax, take a deep breath, and re­gain your com­po­sure.

Have I dis­cussed my bad day with any­one?

A trou­ble shared is a trou­ble halved. There is noth­ing like a good moan about your child’s be­hav­iour to some­one you trust.

bven if they just lis­ten and say noth­ing con­struc­tive, you’ll feel bet­ter sound­ing off to them. That’ll also help you re­mem­ber that your child is won­der­ful, and that things just got on top of you to­day.

Have I man­aged to put this bad day into per­spec­tive?

Okay, so you had a hor­ri­ble day and you feel an­noyed with your­self that you lost your tem­per with him. But you have plenty of other good days with him ahead of you. heep things in per­spec­tive and try to stay pos­i­tive.

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