Let me preface this post by saying that our 3 year old daughter has been and continues to (usually) be easy. She has a vivacious and laid back personality, uses manners impeccably, and is always inquiring about the world around her. However lately, she has been silently defying us on occasion, and while this behavior is beginning to ramp up a bit here and there, we are trying to get ahead of it before it becomes a major issue in our home.
While her defiant behavior doesn’t usually come in the form of a temper tantrum or yelling, she will simply ignore our “no” and try to do whatever it is she has set her mind on. After we stop it, she sometimes then falls to a pouting face and tears. Usually when she does this we give her a moment to calm down and catch her breath. Then we follow up with a conversation explaining our actions and words, and then a distraction to make her laugh. After that, she usually is over it quickly (thank goodness) and is on to the next thing.
After some research online, I have found a few ideas on how to combat this behavior and you know, make it disappear. According to an article found on Nurture & Thrive blog, the best way to revert defiant behavior in a three year old, is to teach them how to reflect on their emotions, feelings, and actions. Nurture & Thrive go on to say that, “Our role as a parent is to help our kids build that bridge in their mind between knowing and doing.” The difference between what a two year old is capable of and what a three year old is capable of is great. They seem to blossom into full fledged tiny human beings who can hold a conversation, be independent, and create ideas and questions all on their own. However, it is critical to remember that while they may have matured in some ways, their brain is still so little and cannot quite form and apply logic to every and all situations.
The Washington Post also had another great article on this very topic. According to the author Meghan Leahy, there are a few ways to work through this tough time in parenting. Well established rules and routines are key in developing a co-pectic home. Additionally, determining your negotiable and non-negotiables is also important – read: pick your battles. Most importantly though, Leahy emphasizes that this behavior is truly developmentally appropriate and normal for this age, and that “every day is a new day”.
My take away from all of this, and hope, is that this phase is going to be fleeting. Since her birth, we have emphasized taking a deep breath when calming down, promoting (appropriate) acts of independence, and most importantly – laughter. Perhaps with some more time and patience and laughter, this phase will disappear as quickly as it came.