Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The dark side of the 3.5-year-old.

The day Linna turned 3 1/2 years old in Singapore.
Well, we're about a week into Linna being 3 1/2 years old... and I'm already over it. In just one short week, this kid has proven the strength of her lungs, vocals, and her ability to throw a record-breaking temper-tantrum. Papa Saigh and I have found ourselves just starting at each other in horror when the 3 1/2-year-old gets into one of her "moods", while I'm pretty sure we're both thinking...

A. How quickly can I make up an excuse to leave the house?
B. Linna obviously gets her rage issues from you.

"Threenagers" sure are a treat.

Quick example: Papa Saigh skyped us from India yesterday afternoon when Linna got home from school. Our laptop is hooked up to our TV so Linna can watch her shows on Netflix. When Papa Saigh called, I had to turn her show off so we could chat with him. Papa Saigh watched with his jaw on the floor as Linna started screaming at me, and hitting me with "Snuggles" (her blanket). I chose to ignore it at first, but after a few minutes of her disgusting behavior, I told Papa Saigh that we'd call him back after I put Linna in a time-out. That time-out lasted 45 minutes, and how our neighbors never called the police is beyond me. I took away the 3 1/2-year-old's "Snuggles", and she completely lost it. With a bright, red, vein-popping face, she screamed "NOOOOOOO!" at me in an almost possessed-sounding voice, flung her body around, etc. I was sweating, but I stayed calm and didn't raise my voice... even though I seriously wanted to lock her in a cage for acting like an animal. I explained to her why "Snuggles" got taken away, and that when she calmed down we could talk about it. This tantrum definitely landed a top spot on Linna's "Epic Meltdown" list.

On this same day, I received a note from Linna's teacher saying that Linna had a "not so good day" at school. She said that Linna became angry easily, didn't want to participate, and just wasn't acting like herself. This, accompanied by the "threenager" behavior we've been noticing at home, made me realize that something needed to be done.

Linna's teachers in Singapore are really great about letting the children decide
what activities they'd like to do each day. The water-play table is on of Linna's favorites.

When I really take time to break down the situation and Linna's current behavior, I realize that we/I don't really let Linna make that many choices/rules. We simply tell her how it is, and that's that. Lately, when Linna becomes angry, she'll shout things at me like, "If you don't do that, I will put you in a time-out", or, "I don't love anyone anymore, because you are having bad behavior". I'm honestly shocked by some of the things she says.

While I think it's important that all kids know that their PARENTS make the rules (not the kids), it's also important to give our little ones the ability to make their own choices, so they feel like their voices are heard. I'll be honest and say that the "control-freak" side of me hasn't really let our 3 1/2-year-old make many decisions lately, when that's all she really wants to do. How can I blame her for getting so upset over me turning off her TV show yesterday to answer Papa Saigh's Skype call, when I didn't even ask her if it was ok before I did it? I'd sure be pissed off if someone just turned off my TV show without warning or asking me first. These kinds of things happen every day, and as busy parents we kind of just over-look our own behaviors toward our children... when it's our behaviors that they're learning from.

After yesterday's epic meltdown, I apologized to Linna for not asking her if I could turn her show off, but I also explained that it is never ok to hit... EVER! I told her that I would work on asking her questions and letting her make decisions, as long as she would work on using her words when she becomes angry or frustrated. I also made a point to let her pick out her pajamas, the towel she used after shower time, her dinner, and her snack for school today... you know, the things that really don't matter. These decisions make her feel valued, and her voice heard, which I'm hoping will make for a much more peaceful household. And if not, you'll continue to find me numbing the "threenager" pains with a bottle of vino.

Fellow "threenager" parents... we got this!

Making patterns at school with Miss Wallace. Another activity Linna loves to do!

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