Motherhood, Parenting
comments 6

My son’s turning 3 and it’s terrifying!

It’s time to write a mommy update. The last time I actually wrote about motherhood/parenting was a few months ago and with all the recent developments, I thought now would be a good time. Just a reminder: I’m never going to sugar coat my experiences. Here you’re going to get the raw and ugly sides of my motherhood experience, as well as the fabulous and sweet moments.

Like the title of this post suggests, my son O is turning 3 this month and here’s what I have to say about it:

I’m terrified.

Why? Well, you’ve probably heard about the “terrible two’s”, but how about the “terrifying three’s”? We (my husband and I) were kind of hoping that we would skip all of that and have ourselves an easy going toddler from now until, well, forever? The two’s were actually “ok”. Sure he developed more of an opinion and he’s the pickiest eater ever, but he rarely ever pulled full blown temper tantrums at home or out in public. Nor did he outright refuse to listen to us or dared to unleash his rage onto us. We were finally enjoying the ‘sweet spot’ and thought to ourselves “We’re pretty lucky!” But you can probably guess what happened. Yup, all the rumors we’ve heard about all showed up in our little family.

At around 30 months, O’s little annoyances turned into full fledged ‘pain in the ass’ and somewhat offensive behaviors. He would, and still will, yell at both of us; demand something that he couldn’t have for some reason, and tell people to go away, even grandparents. It’s hard to tell whether this is normal or not (being first time parents),  but we can definitely see it becoming a problem if we don’t keep it in check.

Disclaimer: Before you read on, you may start disagreeing with what I’m about to say, which I understand. These are just my own thoughts and opinions. 

I won’t deny it’s really frustrating, tiring, worrisome and ‘crazy making’ for all of us around him, but underneath it all, is something to be understood. O is turning 3 and he’s experiencing all these ‘big emotions’ and ‘needs’ for the first time and has no idea what to do with them. I believe we need to respect it and at the same time set boundaries and limits to help him make sense of it all. So much easier to say (or be skeptical of) – A hundred times harder to do, especially when he’s offending everyone who loves him. Maybe this is sort of a plea to everyone around us, to please, be patient and accept our apologies while we navigate this. Maybe it’s also a plea to ourselves.

Last night, my husband and I got into a mini argument about how we should discipline O. We had already gotten ‘warnings’ from our own parents, and we ourselves were seeing the need to do something about O’s behavior, but just didn’t know quite how to go about it. We couldn’t agree on what the best method would be. Here’s how it played out:

We both thought physical and verbal punishment seemed to be the last resort, though the most tempting. We’ve seen it stop negative behavior really quick, which is what most people would want I assume. But in the long run, I read that it isn’t all the effective in teaching real self-discipline and emotional regulation.

So what are the alternatives? None of which we’ve read sounded nearly as effective. We finally settled on discipline by putting him in a ‘naughty corner’. Sort of like a ‘time-out’ , but we would be right there with him. When ever he starts shouting inappropriately at either of us or throwing a tantrum, we would take him to the ‘naughty corner’, sit with him for a period of time until he calms down or agrees to do something differently, and explain to him what he’s done wrong. It sounds really time consuming, and it sort of is. So far we’ve done it 3 times in one day. We’ve had to feel it out, but I can say so far he’s learned how to calm down a lot quicker and has learned to say ‘please’ instead of screaming. Not bad for a few tries. Not a full success story yet, but there’s hope.

Face the “terrifying” with understanding and boundaries

For me, when he starts screaming at my face for something that he wants and we’re somehow not able to give him, I’m very tempted to either scream back at him or do something really rash just to get him to stop. And I have at times. But he still doesn’t stop or he’ll scream even louder. Thats when I know, I have to try something else and even if it doesn’t fix the behavior right away, maybe on some level, as long as we do what we can and stay consistent, it will be ok. We have to trust in the process and in what we can’t see immediately. Therapist training 101!

In summary, it’s a trying time again as a parent. It’s terrifying when you see your baby act in ways that are problematic. But he’s not a baby any more. He’s a growing child and his world (both external and internal) are getting bigger and it’s probably overwhelming. I’m overwhelmed just thinking about potty training, discipline to figure out, and social pressure. But in the end, he’s our child and we are responsible, even if we do things in a way that other people may not agree with or understand. We also need to calm our own fears so that we can help him with his.

I want to end with giving O some credit. We’re still pretty lucky parents. He’s an incredibly bright, inquisitive, sweet and humorous boy in the making, but like all of us, we need a little help with things that are new and even exciting!  The future may not be so terrifying if we approached it with courage, compassion and support.  Yes, I think it can be extremely bright and wonderful.


Share your disciplining stories! Even if we might disagree, I’d love to hear them!




  1. Great post! Toddler challenges and disciplining can be a big point of tension. Its not easy to hold your tongue and exercise self control when your child blows a gasket or acts disrespectful, but how we respond makes a huge difference as they are young but very watchful learning from how we respond.

    One of the most helpful and insightful books i read on this subject was the book, “loving your kids on purpose” by Danny Silk. It was like a light bulb had turned on for me. We read it in our mamas group and found it to be very practical and biblical in intentionally using love and consequences to respond to a child’s misbehavior.

    I love how you take the time to set o aside to speak to him about what’s ok and not ok. Keep at it! It ends when they become adults…?! lol (which seems like forever!) These teaching moments are for both the child and the parent.

    Thanks for the encouraging and honest post.

  2. nicole says

    Hey Jen!
    Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on this post. I think the fine line between love and discipline are hard to distinguish. I know its both one in the same, but its hard to figure out the discipline part of it on a practical level. I’m sure many parents can relate to that. We often just default to what we’ve experienced growing up ourselves, but it’s not necessarily what will work best for your child. For one, I’ve learned that shouting at O to get him to stop doesn’t work! haha.

    I really like how you said its a teaching moment for both child and parent. So true. I love that.
    And yes, the key is to KEEP AT IT. Staying consistent is probably the hardest part for me because I hate routine and repetitive things. But its really important for them! Teaching moment for parent for sure!

  3. Disciplining kids is SO hard and with two I have found what works for the oldest doesn’t always work for the youngest. We have moved away from trying to spank (how my husband and I were both raised) and instead use more techniques like from Positive Parenting Solutions (where you don’t have to scream or yell but they learn the rules of the house) and that seems to help me.

  4. nicole says

    Thanks for taking the time to read and comment Alissia! I will definitely look up Positive Parenting Solutions as well. I really like the idea of following house rules, thats a great idea! I’ve seen people create “house rules” boards as a family, ie. how we treat each other etc.

  5. Wonderful post and very reassuring to hear that my little firecracker is not the only child displaying this behavior. She will be 3 in May and we have been dealing with the terrible 2s badly. Which at moments can be really isolating because do I really want to take her out and deal with a full blown tantrum. However, some things that have worked thus far…. 1. Ignoring the tantrum and only respond to hear when she is calm and quiet. Yes, aounds crazy and can be loud but when I don’t respond with her screaming and crying, the tantrum is over quicker and she usually just explains what is wrong. 2. Daniel Tiger (if you allow TV) has a great episode about being mad and how to deal with emotions. Sometimes I just acknowledge her feelings and ask her what does Daniel do when he is mad (he takes a deep breath and counts). 3. Trying to figure out what triggers the tantrum and avoiding at all cost. I hope that your little guy will be over the tantrum phase soon! Good luck and stay strong!!!

    • nicole says

      Hi Maya!
      Right there with you! I’ve definitely tried waiting out the tantrum as well, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. When we’re outside its a little harder to put him in a naughty corner, though I have talked to him about it. ie. “Think its time for the naughty corner!” to see if he’ll stop. The good news is that I think he’s beginning to understand what it means. Thats the first step I think.

      I will definitely look into Daniel Tiger, and see if he’ll get into it.

      You’re doing a great job by acknowledging your daughter’s feelings. If you can talk to her about them, thats amazing! Sometimes they’re just communicating something and its important that they feel heard and understood. Even at such a young age!

      Hang in there! And thanks for sharing your tips!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.