Three is a Magic Number

Unfortunately, I think it might be black magic. We are having a week. Spencer is especially… threeful. It’s Fall break so I have extra Spencer with bonus decided to stop sleeping through the night. I think he’s only had one night straight through in a week. I forgot how tired broken sleep makes me. I don’t want to do anything all day which extends the cycle.

This is fun when you are three.

I also started a new star chart, replacing our other failed behavioral star chart. This one is pretty much just for listening. If he does something the first time we ask him (like putting on his shoes, putting away a dish or coming in from outside) he gets a star. There are no second chances and no star removal threats. 5 stars he gets an iPad app. If he doesn’t do something when I ask the first time, I ask him again and then when he finally does the task, I try and remember to tell him that he could have had a star if he’d listened the first time but I had to ask him five times.

He’d been asking for apps all day/every day and since I mostly get free ones, I don’t really care how many we get him. Periodically, I delete the duds. He really likes new apps and this is a short, tangible goal. I’m hoping it works. The nice thing is that he doesn’t have to get the app right then. We can wait until he asks for one and then see if he has a full “star card.”

Three is such a hard age because overall he is such a delight and a little charmer, but he doesn’t listen. Ever. And I get so tired and cranky from using my angry mom voice all day that I never want to do anything fun. Plus, I don’t want to take him anywhere because it takes 15 minutes of cajoling to get him to put on pants and shoes. Did I mention we are also in a hardcore no pants phase? Luckily we have a no pants-no park rule.

I haven’t done much research into parenting the willful toddler and I probably should, but I can never really fully commit to a parenting strategy. At least I didn’t laugh when his teacher opened the conference with “Spencer is (dramatic pause) strong willed.” I didn’t cry either, so I am considering that conference a success.

Any thoughts on three from people who have survived it?

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4 Responses to “Three is a Magic Number”

  1. Audrey says:

    It ends eventually? At 4 Ev is still willful, but the tantrums are shorter and fewer. I think we just plowed through 3 with lots of naughty chair time. Ev never gave 2 craps about behavior charts and stickers. We could never get through a whole day of him caring so I gave up on them. Lots of naughty chair seems to have brought home that he will be punished. He will lose privileges. Period. We use this strategy with dinner. If he wants to watch a cartoon or part of a movie after dinner he has to eat his meal and not play around. If he wants dessert he has to eat his entire plate – unless some part of the meal really grosses him out. If he refuses to eat he gets sent to bed as soon as everyone else is done eating. Which feels cruel, but we tell him what’s going to happen and allow him a chance to change his mind and eat. He’s not going to starve himself on purpose.


    Amy Reply:

    We tried naughty chairing, but I couldn’t handle the screaming. I think I need to toughen up a bit.


  2. Hello my friend. 3 stinks. Our angel is now… difficult. One word, keep up what you’re doing but don’t take away stars, it’s counterproductive. You are just rewarding the good, and eventually (one would hope) that the bad will go away. We use 1,2,3 timeout and are starting a star chart soon. Hugs, I know how hard it is. Everyday.


  3. Jen says:

    Three is so HARD! My boy gets mad, talks back, and just doesn’t listen- EVER. We have tried rewards, “time-outs”, and lots of the Angry Mommy voice, but nothing seems to work. I hear it gets better… I’m still waiting.


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