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(First few months)
I was blessed with a sweet baby girl 3 years back. Like any other newly 'born' mother, I enjoyed those precious moments with my baby feeling amused at her cute little things and the pace at which she was learning new things. Even though she couldn't speak anything in early months, her caring gestures, hugs after tiring day gave me boost of energy. I sensed some special warmth and comfort with her.
(The journey from 0 to 3 years)
As my daughter was growing, I became even more excited about her developments. Her newly developed hobbies like colouring, composing songs with own words and dancing, increased socialization with our friends and neighbours made me proud. Seeing her dance on tunes with her cute steps and her cutest expressions, was the best stress-buster thing.
(…and she turned '3')
But now, since she turned 3, things are changing. Her understanding of surrounding things is building exponentially. She is putting efforts to do most of the things on her own and hence trying to gain control over her life. The change is exciting but it's the beginning of the clashes that kids and parents have among themselves. She observes people around her, their choice of clothes and accessories and builds her own choice. Nowadays, I need more time and hell lot of patience while dressing her up. She would reject the dress that I have chosen, would expect her hairstyle to be 'perfect' and would spend time on selecting a pair of shoes from her 4-5 pairs. Sometimes she would behave like a grown-up and be adamant about her demands whereas sometimes she would behave like a crawling baby and would ask you to pamper her and lift her up on the road. Patience-testing moments begin as the day begins and would reoccur in between throughout the day. Sometimes, looking at her 'for-no-reason' tantrums I wonder if I should be lenient to her or a bit strict.
(Where is it going wrong?)
It was same 'me' who faced challenges of managing new born baby during postpartum phase with lots of patience and I was really proud of it. But now, I see myself struggling in this phase. What could possibly be the reason? Is it because of my daughter's self-realization or is it because of the things influencing our lives – like work-life balance, intrusion of smart-phones/ youtubes in kid's life or is it because that I was not really prepared for this phase?? Yes... that was the truth- I wasn't really prepared for this phase. I had heard about challenges a mother faces during postpartum phase and was mentally prepared to face that phase. Some of the influencing things we cant change or avoid but thought of listing few changes that we can definitely try at this stage to reduce this stress.
1. Spend 'those first 5' minutes
If you are working woman you You might be a working woman who get very little time with your kid during weekdays or a working woman who manages to find some good time for your kid everyday. In either case, when you meet your kid after a long break - i.e. after office hours or say after night's sleep or say when you kid is coming home after school- spend first 5 minutes with the kid, show how you are excited to meet your kid after long break, try to open a dialogue with kid to check how the day has been. If you miss those five minutes and find you kid being cranky for-no-reason, now you know the
2. Listen to her 'explanation'
Yes. It sounds obvious but you tend to forget that when you loose patience. The experience I talked about the selection of clothes was driving me nut till the time I started understanding the reason behind her selection. Although not always but most of the times, I realized my daughter selects clothes which were soft, to be precise of a particular brand. She doesn't understand any clothing brands yet but there is some comfort that she has with certain type of clothes, she prefers them over others. So instead of simply rejecting kid's decisions or getting worked up because of the arguments, try to understand their thoughts - it need not be always their whims!
3. Complement role play
As your kid is growing, as a parent you would always want him or her to behave and show good manners. It is obvious that we need to be strict sometimes with them. But make sure that both you and your husband do not play the 'bad guy' to your kid at the same time. Ensure that when one person is angry or pretends to be angry, the other person shows empathy towards your kid and explains kid gently where he or she is going wrong.
4. Don't forget she is just '3'
When you see your kid growing and gaining understanding, your expectations from him or her also increase exponentially. You need to remember that your kid is just 3 and you cant expect him or her to be perfect and clean when it comes to table manners or similar cases. She is still a kid who would enjoy splashing water on the floor, playing with kitchen trolleys, jumping on the bed, making loud noises when excited and even demanding to buy those balloons. You need to accept the fact that although her demands are growing, her maturity might not grow with the same pace.
5. Take a break, mommy!
This is the most important of all. You too need a break from the role of 'mother'. Do not forget you have your own personality, your own life, your hobbies and ways to refresh yourself. Take some time out regularly to live that life, taking break from your 24x7 responsibility. You need not feel guilty if you plan an outing with your friends or take time for work-out or join back those music classes you enjoyed. These moments away from your kid not just help you regain your calm and look at things in different perspective but also help your kid. Don't forget - the positive difference in your mood and composure would positively affect your kids temperament and responses. And who knows- your kid would also show interest in your interests and would possibly respect you for the same in future!
Giving advice on how to deal with a kid at 3 doesn't mean that I have mastered it. I am still learning and reminding myself to follow these everyday! But sharing the experiences with mothers reaching this phase would certainly help them prepare themselves.