We’ve all heard horror stories of the infamous ‘Terrible Two’s’. We’ve all seen toddlers in action at grocery stores activating full-fledged, red-alert tantrum mode over a lollipop. When my youngest son turned two, my husband and I braced for the impact; however, it didn’t come. In fact, he was a laid back, lovable little guy. Even the pediatrician commented that he was a “Zen baby”.
How naive we were to think that we were lucky enough to avoid the temper-tantrum stage. For our son, he was just cautiously observing the world. Waiting and watching, similar to how a lion stalks his prey before pouncing. He was sitting pretty and preparing to lay down the law the moment he turned three years old.
Since he was my my third child, I had enough parenting experience under my belt to know not to get too stressed over these tantrums. I was able to observe him in action, and I quickly realized something.
Three year olds have it right.
At such a young age, they have life all figured out. When I realized this, I started observing and emulating his behavior. I learned these 11 life lessons from my 3 year old:
1) If it isn’t Raining, Get Outside
The moment my 3 year old opens his eyes, he runs to his window to see what the weather is like. If it isn’t raining or snowing, he wants to be playing outside. He even learned to ask our Alexa device, “Alexa, what is the weather today?” Even though he doesn’t understand anything she sputters off to him, a big smile appears across his face if he doesn’t hear the words rain or snow.
I admire his love for nature and desire to be outdoors soaking in life at all times. We should all get outside more and live out our own adventures.
2) Why Sleep When You Can Play?
For this little guy, naps ended before he turned two years old. Bedtime is always a long and drawn out battle. And just when I let my guard down and assume he will sleep in, I am awoken at 5:55 am by his chubby little fingers prying my eyelids open.
As a parent, this can be a challenge; however, I respect his energy and love for playing. We only have so much time on this big, blue planet, and we shouldn’t waste time lying around. We will have plenty of time to sleep and sit around when we get older.
3) It Doesn’t Matter What Other People Think
His regular attire includes a bike helmet, a Thor costume, and rain boots. All worn at the same time. To him, this is an appropriate outfit that he wears to the grocery store, his gymnastic class, and daycare.
No matter how many people comment about how ‘interesting’ his outfit is, or how many kids giggle at him, he wears his uniform with pride.
We should all be as comfortable being ourselves as a 3 year old is.
4) It’s Okay to Get Dirty Sometimes
Clothes can be washed, floors can be mopped, and toddlers can be thrown in a bathtub. It is okay to get dirty in the name of fun.
Try splashing in puddles or roll down a hill. My 3 year old taught me that some of the best times in life are had when you get a little messy and stop caring.
5) When You Feel Strongly, Speak up
I have always avoided conflict, even if it meant that I felt taken advantage of. On the other hand, if my 3 year old wanted milk in a blue cup but was given a green cup, you better be prepared for a World War III-caliber temper tantrum to erupt.
As a parent, this is exhausting behavior; however, he taught me a good lesson. If you feel strongly about something, even if it about the color of your cup, you should speak up. No one benefits from a person who hides their feelings and lets anger build up within.
Be strong, and speak your mind.
6) Treat Yourself Often
When we started to potty train my son, we found that the best method was bribery. I’d love to say one day he woke up and told me (in a British accent) “Mother, I am going to relieve myself in the powder room”; but, in reality it was a much messier affair. Offering him rewards for successfully peeing in the potty worked the best for us.
We need to reward ourselves more for our successes, even the little ones. Without these little treats, life becomes full of dull, passionless days.
Treat yourself often. Have that bowl of ice cream after a long day. You deserve it.
7) When You Are Mad, Close Your Eyes and Hide
Do you ever have one of those bad days where you just aren’t in the mood to deal with life? On these days it would feel nice to hide behind the couch and close your eyes and shut the world out. My 3 year old thinks that if he closes his eyes we cannot see him.
Obviously we can’t just hide from our problems and responsibilities, but we can still take a hint from this behavior. We can take our own time-outs when we are feeling overwhelmed.
When I am feeling overwhelmed, you won’t find me under our kitchen table with my hands over my eyes; however, you may find me hiding in our laundry room eating a secret stash of chocolate.
8) Take Off Your Shoes and Go Barefoot
No matter where we go, my kids take off their shoes. I am not sure why they have this urge to let their dirty, little, calloused toes air out, but I have given up this fight.
We took my son fishing, and he instantly took off his shoes. The water was freezing and the ground was muddy, but he soaked in every moment.
I like to think that it helps them feel closer to Mother Nature (although I think they really just don’t likes shoes).
Regardless of the reason, you feel a sense of freedom when you walk through sand, grass, or concrete barefoot.
Kick off your shoes more often, it is surprisingly exciting.
9) Sneak a Cookie Before Dinner
My son’s main goal every night is to try to sneak an Oreo before we sit down for dinner. This probably goes against every parenting book out there, but sneaking a cookie BEFORE dinner is actually a little exhilarating.
I don’t think it really has much to do with the cookie. It has more to do with shaking things up a bit. It feels good to break routine sometimes. It is important to try new things and be spontaneous.
Although this is still a nightly battle, I respect his persistency. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sneak a cookie with him sometimes, too.
10) Indulge in Hobbies That Make You Happy
My three year old goes to bed dreaming about super heroes, and wakes up talking about super heroes. Last month, his obsession was construction vehicles. Whatever the latest craze is, he makes sure that everyone knows about it.
He has taught me to find hobbies that make me happy. His ambitious attitude encouraged me to start writing a blog in the first place, and to stick with my photography hobby.
11) Don’t be Afraid to Love with All Your Heart
His love is strong and fierce. He has no fear of rejection, which often develops as you age. He hugs everyone tightly, and exclaims his love loudly.
The genuine smile of a three year old is contagious. The love of a three year old is not blinded by jealously and fear. My son has taught me to let my guard down and express my admiration for the people I love.
Parenting a three year old is no easy task, but be grateful for the life lessons they can teach you along the way.
Although the battles over the color of their cups can be brutal, and the struggles over the pre-dinner cookies can be relentless, I would take those fights 100 times over to be on the receiving ends of that fierce love.
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