Living with a 3-Year-Old is Like Living in Groundhog Day

Family Matters on 01.07.13
Contributor bio | twitter

Image: Sarah Fernandez

If you’ve ever met a three-year-old then you likely know that they can be stubborn little beings. My parents claim that I was a stubborn child so that it should be no shock that my own daughter is the same way. I insist that isn’t true. I was an angel, but my three-year-old, she, in all her princess obsessed ways, might just be the Princess of Stubborndom. If it’s not done the way she wants it, it must be re-done by her to the point where I feel like we’re doing almost everything at least twice.

Just the other day, she went into the kitchen to throw something away, and while she was en route, I put one of her toys on the coffee table. That was not cool at all. I should have known. She wanted to do it herself! I suggested picking up the toy and putting it back down, but instead she went back to the kitchen, took the piece of garbage out of the garbage can, placed it back in the garbage, came back into the living room, and then moved the toy to the coffee table. My husband had the foresight to get all of her school stuff in the car while I was helping her with her shoes the other day, but he should have known that she wanted to carry her own lunch bag, right? She marched out to the car and got it, brought it back into the house, and then turned around and walked straight back to the car. Crazy? Nope. It’s just that she can do it herself.

Three-year-olds are really into asserting their independence. They aren’t so upset that we’ve done something wrong (although they don’t like that either), but rather that we’ve done something that they are perfectly capable of doing themselves. From unbuckling her seatbelt (before I move the car) so that she can re-buckle it herself to getting the ketchup from the refrigerator to folding her blankie, anything I do that she can do, she undoes just so that she can do it herself.

This of course frustrates me beyond belief and for the past week I’ve really been feeling like I’ve been living the movie Groundhog Day. I do put my foot down, but to fight her on each item only adds to the already exorbitant time it is taking to get anything accomplished, and then re-accomplished. So rather than attempt to change this phase she is going through, I have to re-train myself to not do so many things for her, and to engage her in a discussion when I am doing things.

“Can you get yourself some ketchup?”

“Pull out all of your own laundry and fold it.”

“Get in the car and get buckled.”

For the time being, I’ll just take a step back and give ourselves a few extra moments to accomplish things because doing them twice doesn’t do us any good, and there’s no messing with a three-year-old who knows what they want to do and how they will get it done.

Top Articles on Toddler Behavior:
Scientists Discover How to End a Toddler Tantrum as Quickly as Possible
Hysterical Video of Overdramatic Toddler is a Lesson in Dealing with Tantrums
Ask Rene: How Can I Change My Toddler's Terrible Behavior? (Video)