Category Archives: Milestones

They say it’s my birthday

Happy Birthday to me! (And to Johnny Cash.)

Would you like to give me a present? Please post a link (the comments should do it automatically if you just cut and paste from the browser URL window) to something funny.

Thanks for sharing my birthday. Here’s my present to you:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uE1SgU1l46A

Please note the hair, glasses, and beard, as well as the dancing, especially at 1:14.

Q&A: “baby led weaning” for a formula-fed baby

Suzie writes:

"At our 4 month doctor visit the other day, the pediatrician brought up the idea of already starting to feed the little Pumpkin solids (rice cereal, purees, etc.), and my internal thinking was, "OK, whatever, I’m waiting for the girl to want to eat before offering her anything to much on." But the ped did leave me wondering: when you start your baby on "real" foods, do you offer only one thing at a time (a la "wait 2 weeks before adding anything new") or just go whole hog and offer a little bit of everything? How do you handle the potential for allergies?

Also, I know the whole premise of BLW is breastfeeding; but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t give it a go with my formula-fed baby once she shows interest in what hubby and I are eating, right?"

First of all, BLW (baby led weaning) is explained by researcher Gil Rapley on this page, which now has a photo of a woman nursing about halfway down, with exposed nipple. (I’m not sure why that’s necessary. And if anyone knows who makes that sexy nursing bra, please post in the comments.) If you don’t want to or can’t look at that page, just read the quick and dirty on Wikipedia (taking it the same way you take everything you read on Wikipedia). If you don’t want to do that, the basics of BLW are:

Kids will eat solids when they’re ready to, and if they aren’t ready yet they won’t swallow. They tested a bunch of babies and found that in general they were interested in tasting food at around 4 months but wouldn’t really swallow until 6 months. Kids have more control over big chunks of food they can hold onto and shove in themselves instead of purees that are shoved to the backs of their mouths that they can’t control. So in general they develop the smal muscle coordination to pick up small pieces about the time they can safely eat them. Keep giving them breastmilk or formula until at least a year, and they’ll just transition to solid foods gradually and naturally. The End.

Anyway, the trend in the US is to offer only one thing (and people usually start with the totally disgusting rice cereal, which by now everyone knows I hate and think people should skip and go straight to bananas or avocado or something orange instead) for a few days because then you’ll know if the baby is allergic to it before you move on to something else.

The problem is that I don’t think that there’s been any research about whether that has any effect on allergy rates or discovery of allergies, or if it’s just something people came up with because it’s logical. I don’t think there’s any harm in doing one thing every few days, but I also don’t know if it’s necessary. I’d like to see if there are any differences in allergy rates or allergic reaction rates in groups that separate and groups that don’t.

I also think that parents know a whole lot about what our kids may be or probably aren’t allergic to before we get to the solids phase. You know if they have problems with dairy or soy if you’re using formula, and perhaps if you’re nursing (anyone who’s had to eliminate that sweet, sweet ice cream because of a baby’s dairy intolerance is cringing right now). If your baby is your biological child you also know some family history of allergies, and you may have this info if your kid is adopted. Lots of food allergies seem to be connected to skin rashes and other external things you alreayd know about. So definitely take all of this into account, and if your child tends to have allergies to one thing, be cautious about introducing too many new things that tend to be allergens.

And, yeah, of course you can do BLW if you’re formula-feeding. She’s a human baby, after all, so all the stuff about food size and choking and her learning process (which BLW is about, as much or more than it’s about actual nutrition) is the same for her and you as it is for the kid on that site whose mom is wearing that black lace nursing bra. Formula should be her primary source of nutrition for at least the first year, and she’ll tell you when she’s ready to eat other stuff.

Just beware of veggie burgers, because garlic poop is indescribable.

Turning

I’m sorry I’m not doing all the standard potty training and sleep questions this week. I think George’s death, some of my kids’ recent accomplishments, and my impending birthday are making me think a lot about who I am, where I am in my life, and where I’m going.

I’m turning 35 at the end of the month, and feel like in a lot of ways I’m starting a completely new phase. When I think about how much more I know about myself, my place in the world, and my potential than I did even two years ago, I’m astounded.

So I’m setting some goals and some wishes for myself for the next year:

* I took a Brazilian Portuguese class last summer, and got the basics, but need to start ramping up. I’m going to make an effort to spend at least a hour a week on Portuguese.

* I’ve just started taking a martial arts class (for the first time in my life) and am feeling completely out of my depth. I will remember that that feeling means growth is about to happen, and will press through.

* Streamline my Ask Moxie process so I can do some of the extra projects I want to do for you guys, actually answer all the emails I get (which I’m nowhere near right now), and maintain a more consistent posting schedule.

* Onward and upward with managing the process for getting everyone ready and out the door every morning.

* Spiritual development: Stop and listen, and move when asked to.

This list is personal, and I haven’t talked about relationships with anyone else or my work life or any of that on purpose, because I think so much energy goes into those things that the personal side often gets shorted. Maybe part of my aging process is realizing that I’m worth my own time and energy, too.

Does anyone else want to play along?

Q&A; Rolling over in sleep…ACK!

I love it when readers answer their own questions. Nancy writes:

"File this under "don’t brag about how your baby sleeps 11-12 hour pernight" as it will come back to haunt you!  We sleep trained our 6 month
old son with excellent results about 6 weeks ago and have had mostly
amazing sleep-filled nights ever since (with the exception of a couple
of teething incidents).  Last night at 1 am, he decided to roll over
for the first time in his crib.  As he found himself on his belly, he
immediately started screaming.  My husband flipped him over and was
able to quickly get him back to sleep only to have him do the same
thing again about an hour later.  This waking was much more involved
and required about two hours of rocking, feeding, shushing to get him
back to sleep.  He has very strong legs but his arms haven’t quite
caught up yet, and rolling over has been a pipe dream of his for the
last month or so.  Any ideas about how to help him get through this?
Is the prescription just lots of tummy time so he can master this
milestone during the day?"

You’ve got it. He’s more wakeful in general because he’s working on the rolling over, and the only way around rolling over is through it.

There’s no way to force a kid to get through physical milestones (hearing stories about someone "teaching" their kid to walk always makes me laugh), but the more a child can work on the skills the sooner s/he’ll get good at them. So tummy time is exactly the prescription to end your nighttime wakeups.

Once he can roll over easily on his own, he’ll stop waking himself up by rolling, and he’ll also stop being up and cranky and needing to be soothed so much, because that part of his brain will be able to relax again.

You’ll probably have to sleep train him all over again after this is over (the dirty little secret of sleep training), but depending on how old he is when he gets through this, you might be in the middle of the 8-9-month sleep regression. Which is one of the worst times to try to change your child’s sleep, and will make you really frustrated. So I’m hoping he comes through it more quickly and you can get on a more even keel first, but if you end up with this movement leap transitioning into the developmental stuff of 8-9 months, just know that it won’t last forever, and he will sleep all night again eventually.

Oh, and here’s a good point to mention that although we’re all told to make sure our kids sleep on their backs, once they can roll onto their stomachs we can let them keep sleeping that way (if they will).

Comments on rolling? Milestones? The upcoming weekend? Which of the new toys are still in favor and which ones have already been ignored?

Q&A: toddler understanding “no”

Dawn writes:

"At what point does a child understand
‘No’?  My 13 month old son is very very active, a climber and so
curious that he gets himself into places and things he really
shouldn’t. I try the calm ‘no’, I try a louder ‘no’, I distract him,
take him away from the object – (the tv, the phone, the dog dish) but
he beelines right back to it. Over and over and over. It’s really funny
sometimes but we try not to let him see us laugh of course! Eventually he gets frustrated and starts to grizzle. I don’t give in
but am I expecting too much to think he does understand the meaning
when I say no?  He does sometimes seem to get it, and will stop or
move off to other activities. I know he is not being ‘bad’ because he
has no malicious intent but is just into everything. He seems to
understand other things, like go get the ball, or do you want a cookie
😉  Advice?"

Good question, Dawn. Actually, a few good questions:

  • At what age do most/many (certainly not all) kids understand that when you say "no" you want them not to do something?
  • At what age do kids care that when you say "no" you want them not to do something?
     
  • At what age is it reasonable to expect kids to comply with your requests for them not to do something?
  • What are some ways that are as effective or more effective (depending on the age) to get kids to stop doing something?
     

Feel free to give your own answers to these questions, or other related ones you come up with, in the comments section.

I
think that a 13-month-old certainly understands that "no" is something
you say when you’re excited. It’s the sign that the child has gotten a
reaction from you. I’m not sure that at that age the child actually
understands that "no" means you want them to stop doing something. (If
you use pain to punish your kids, then yes, they will stop doing things
when they hear the word "no" but only because they associate that word
with pain and they want to avoid the pain, not because they actually
understand the meaning of the word "no.") In fact, I think sometimes
they take "no" as encouragement because it elicits such a funny (to
them) reaction from you.

It seems to me, based on my observation of my two kids, that
the real understanding that "no" means you want them not to do
something kicks in some time between 18 months and two years. Or so.
However, that still doesn’t mean that they’ll actually stop when you
say "no." It totally depends on the kid. My 5-year-old still sometimes seems
unable to stop when I say "no," and needs me to put my hands on his to
move them away, or walk him away from the temptation, or replace the
sharp stick with a bagel, or whatever. My 2-year-old sometimes stops,
but sometimes looks at me like, "Ha ha, Mama! I know you want me to
stop, but I am not going to!" So from my n of 2, I’ll say that understanding the meaning of "no" is necessary but not sufficient.

I
started writing this answer a few days ago, then asked Co-worker S, who
has a 5-year-old and an almost-2-year-old, what he thought. He agreed
that the ability to really understand "no" happened after 18 months but
closer to 2 years. He also agreed that understanding "no" and complying
with it are two very different things. "Sometimes it’s just not in
their best interest to stop what they’re doing," he observed. It’s
funny because it’s true.

So I’d say that "no" may be understood by 2, but not necessarily
complied with until later on. Some time between 2 and 60, I’d say.
(Although my dad still doesn’t do everything my grandmother wants him
to do, so maybe it’s even later than 60.)

Now, on to the reasonable question. I think it depends on what it is
that you want them to comply with and your general attitude about
obedience and self-discipline and discipline in general. If it’s
something really serious, like not sticking a fork in an outlet or
running into the street, you need to be more serious about enforcing
your rules.

As with the rest of life, follow-through is everything. You can say
"no" all you want, but unless you actually engage with your kids, you
aren’t teaching them anything about appropriate behavior and how to use
self-control. I know a dad who used to ignore his 5-year-old, so the
child would escalate and escalate and escalate his bad behavior as the
dad just said, "Stop!" Finally, the dad would explode in a ball of rage
and overreact to whatever it was the kid was doing and dole out severe
punishments that always left the kid crying. It could all have been
avoided if the dad had just engaged with the kid from the very
beginning and stepped in to stop things before both of them got out of
control.

If you’re reading this and wondering what I mean by engaging as a way
to stop bad behavior, click over immediately to buy Haim Ginott’s
masterpiece Between Parent and Child. It breaks down how to focus
attention in a way that makes you partners with your kids in helping
them learn to resolve situations for themselves, instead of engaging in
a control game that leaves you both worn out, angry, and hopeless.
Other books that people absolutely rave about (not surprising, since
both are based on Ginott’s work) are Faber and Mazlish’s How To Talk So
Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk
and Lawrence J. Cohen’s
Playful Parenting. I think both these books are wonderful and I learned
new things from both of them, but if you only have time for one, go
with the Ginott.

But back to Dawn’s 13-month-old. At that age "no" is tricky, because it
doesn’t really connect with them yet. Instead, you’re probably better
off telling the child what you want him to do, instead of what you want
him not to do. It’s human nature to focus on what someone says, even if
they’re trying to tell you the opposite. If someone said to you, "You
don’t look fat in those pants," it would be a compliment, but you’d
start to wonder if you usually looked fat in pants and it would
probably end up making you feel bad. In contrast, if someone said, "You
look really slim in those pants" you’d just think about how great you looked.

Toddlers (and people older than toddlers) respond the same way. Instead
of saying "no" when your child tries to stick a fork in the outlet, try
"Put the fork on the table." That gives the child something to do and
provides a distraction. Instead of "Don’t hit the dog," try "Clap your
hands together and jump up and down."

You may be thinking that you want to teach your child appropriate
behavior, and if you don’t tell them what not to do they won’t know
what’s wrong. But a toddler has no impulse control anyway, so even if
they know something’s wrong they can’t actually stop themselves from
doing it yet. It’s more developmentally appropriate (and gives them a
greater chance of success) to tell them what you want them to do and
helping them do it.

I was going to get into Hedra’s "safe, respectful, and kind" idea now,
but this post is already too long. So please do two things: 1) Go read
the safe, respectful, and kind post and be ready to comment on how it’s
going in your family when I open that topic up next week, and 2) Tell
us about when you feel your kids were really able to exercise
self-control, and what worked best to help them guide their own
behavior.

Q&A: baby not sitting up yet

Susan writes:

"I have a baby who will be 6 months old in two weeks and I can’t help worrying about his development.  He was very big and strong from birth (holding his head up and putting weight on his legs within weeks of his birth). We do some tummy time every day but it seems he isn’t making much progress towards sitting or crawling.  He still completely topples over when he is in a sitting position (I mean completely – he does not sit unsupported even for a couple seconds) and he rarely rolls stomach to back (though he easily rolls back to stomach). Should I be worried? Aren’t almost all babies sitting unsupported by 6 months?"

These milestones are a pain in my butt.

Because, yeah, it is
helpful to know what’s supposed to be happening when in a general sense
so you can have realistic expectations (I remember thinking that a
one-year-old could probably speak in complete sentences back before I
had one of my own), but at the same time kids are so varied and
variable that you can really make yourself worry over things that don’t
mean anything.

Remember, I’m not an expert (sooooo not an expert), but this
is what I’ve gathered from parents of kids with serious problems,
not-so-serious problems, and no real problems: The first thing to
notice is how your child interacts with you. Is your child alert and
mostly happy (unless they’re going through a cranky phase)? Will /she
make eye contact with you? Does your child smile/laugh? Is your child
interested in things? If all these are true, then things are
probably going to either be nothing, work themselves out, or be managed
in a doable manner. If these things are not true, then please ask your
pediatrician for a referral to get your child evaluated, because the
sooner you can get information the better off you’ll all be.

Now, to specifically address Susan’s concerns: The rumor that
almost all babies are sitting unsupported by 6 months has been greatly
exaggerated. Some are, but a whole bunch aren’t. Lots of times kids go
from just lying there like pitiful, frustrated little lumps one day to
crawling like speed demons and sitting the next. Sometimes they sit
first. Neither of mine sat unsupported until several weeks after they
started crawling (maybe I’m a bad person, but I thought the slow list
to the side and then the topple was consistently funny). Some kids
crawl for half a day and then start running. As long as the child is
given plenty of tummy time and not confined in a saucer for too much
time at a stretch*, they’ll develop the way they’re supposed to, which may not be on the Official Schedule.

I think that if he’s alert and responsive and grabs for things
and flaps his arms and legs and all that stuff, he’s one of those kids
who will crawl at 8 months (yay!) instead of 5 months (quick–babyproof
everything in one day!).

Now, as a public service, we will all share how old our kids
were when they crawled, sat up unsupported (if you even remember), and
walked. Please state gender and if they had any special circumstances.
I’ll go first: My first boy was born big (9.5 pounds) and crawled at 9 months, sat a few weeks later, and walked
at 14.5 months. He is a supergenius. My second boy was born smaller
(8.5 pounds), and crawled at 8.5 months, sat shortly after, and walked
at 14 months. He is also a supergenius. Both of them run just fine.

(I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that someone will
say that her kid crawled at 5 months, and someone else will say that
her kid crawled at 11 months, and if we put them next to each other at
3 years you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.)

* I’ve heard from a couple of sources that the benchmark
for saucer time is supposed to be something like 20-30 minutes 2-3
times a day. Which is about as much time as it takes you to shower, and
then get a decent start on a meal later on. Or eat an entire dark
chocolate bar slowly while reading Entertainment Weekly. If you’re
saucer-addicted and want to try some options that give more freedom of
movement, check out the article on 10 ways to make tummy time more fun
from SparkPlugDance.org.

Q&A: something wrong with 5-month-old?

Sarah writes:

"I would really appreciate your view.  I worry there is something wrongwith my baby, or else he is just inexplicably unhappy.  He is 5 months
old and only happy if he is in his Baby Bjorn on a walk, or watching
Baby Einstein videos.  He can do any of the following — look at his
mobile, lie on his playmat, sit on my lap, or practice tummy time —
for about FIVE minutes before he starts to whine.  He whines in his
bouncy chair.  He whines in his high chair.  He whines sitting on
anyone’s lap.  He nurses well, sometimes enjoys a little cereal or
banana, and, thank goodness, sleeps extremely well (both naps and
through the night).  Is it normal that he seems so bored and/or grumpy
all the time?  He smiles, but doesn’t laugh often.  Do you think there
is something wrong with him?"

Normal, and normal.

He’s at that age at which he’s figured out that there’s all sorts of stuff to do in the world, and he can’t do any of it. Let’s face it–mobiles and playmats are really only so much fun (almost exactly five minutes of fun, truthfully) but then he needs to be where the action is. He’s a man on the town, a guy with places to go. Only he can’t move around to get at any of that action himself. So it makes him pissed off and whiny.

He zones out with Baby Einstein because everyone zones out when they watch TV (which is why JetBlue flights are always so pleasant–everyone’s anesthetized with the TV so they don’t harass the flight attendants). And he’s happy when he’s up in the Bjorn with you because then he’s up! where the cool people are! and he can see things! and he’s moving! But then you want to get something done so you put him on the playmat and that makes him cranky.

Eventually this will pass, because eventually he will be able to crawl, and then walk, and then run, and then drive, and he’ll be in charge of his own motion. But for now, the more you can keep him up and in motion the happier he’ll be. The Bjorn is probably killing your back by now, so I’d just bite the bullet and spend the money on an Ergo or wrap. You can put him on your back that way and he’ll be happy while you just go about your normal day. The motion all helps the neural connections form in his brain. When you put him down, put him on his tummy, because the more time he spends on his tummy the more practice he gets with the building blocks of crawling, but don’t expect that he’ll like it.

Other options are to borrow a big dog and/or a 5-year-old to entertain him in this premobile phase. But that might end up being more work than you want.

Any reminiscences or ideas?

Q&A: baby too distracted to eat

Sarika writes:

"My 5.5 month old baby boy is very naughty.
It is very difficult to bottle feed him when he is awaken.

He started playing with bottle or me or the
things nearby.So, most of the time we offer feed to him when he is in sleep.

Even he takes very less quantity of formula
hardly 2-2.5 ounce in the interwal of 3to4 hours.

I am a working lady and always worried about
his diet.

Recently, I have heard that it is not good
to feed baby in sleep. Please suggest.

His weight is 6 k.g. Otherwise he is active
and normal. We haven’t started solids yet."

Oh, no! Your baby is NOT naughty. No baby that young is bad or naughty or doing
anything wrong at all. He’s just doing what he’s supposed to be doing
developmentally at that age. Yes, it’s a huge pain for you, but there’s
nothing wrong with him.

This is actually really, really common, and I’m betting everyone’s
reading this and thinking about how frustrating that stage was. You
finally feel like you’re getting the hang of the eating thing, and
suddenly the baby just won’t do it because the world is just too!
exciting! It can make you feel enraged with frustration and scared that you’re doing something very wrong that’s making him not eat like he was.

The solution is, of course, to try to stuff enough food into him in a
dark room with no stimulation, or at night. Yes, this is extra trouble
for you. Yes, you’re going to lose a little sleep. But the good news is
that in a few months it’ll flip back around and your baby will be
eating during the day again. There are no adults who are so distracted
by the world that they don’t eat during daylight, so your son will get
there, too. The tough task is to maintain your sanity until he stops
his nocturnal feasting.

As long as he’s not sick (mood is fine, is engaged with you, normal
diapers), he won’t let himself dehydrate or starve. The only bad thing
about feeding at night is that it makes you tired, but it’s fine for
him.

Please, I beg of you (and this is everyone, not just Sarika), don’t
start ascribing negative characteristics to your baby. Your baby is
only doing what he needs to to get his needs met. Right now his need
for stimulation is greater than his need for food. That shifts all the
time. But if you start to think of your child as "naughty" or "a
troublemaker," you’re going to turn him into one. All he wants is to be
loved and cared for. Your only job is to be steady and consistent and
loving, and realize that sometimes babies do things that annoy us (or
make us think we’re going to lose it completely) but it’s not a big
plot to get us. It’s just their normal process of development. You and
your baby are partners together in helping him grow up healthy and
trusting and bonded.

Q&A: gropey baby

S writes:

"My son is 18 months old and was weaned at 14 months. My problem is thatwhenever he sits in my lap he tries to play with my breasts. Also, when
he drinks milk, he likes to sit in my (or my husband’s or babysitter’s)
lap and relax by touching on my breasts or sticking his arm down my
shirt and just resting it there. I guess this started back when he was
nursing and would touch one breast while nursing from the other. I
don’t mind when he rests his head or hand on them to rest, but he
actually has to fluff them like pillows before he does so. This
behavior makes me very uncomfortable and I don’t know how to get him to
stop. Any advice?"

Oh, this question made me laugh out loud. File it under "It’s funny because it’s true." I remember sitting around at playgroup when my older son was this age, talking about how supremely annoying the groping was. It’s just so undignified. One of my friends who adopted her daughter as a 9-month-old used to say, "I never even nursed her! Why is she so into my breasts?!"

I think they do it because a) they’re there, and b) breasts are fun and comforting. If they weren’t, no one would go to Hooters. Or put carvings of women on the prows of ships.

It doesn’t really matter why they do it, though, when you’re trying to get them to stop. Probably your best bet is to redirect his attention or distract him with something else. Maybe he wants a nice strand of Mardi Gras beads (just to go along with the showing your breasts theme) to hang onto while he nurses. Or a soft stuffed animal, or set of keys to jangle, or something like that. Anything else he’ll hold onto that isn’t you is going to make things easier for you.

Would anyone else like to commiserate or reminisce about the groping thing?

Q&A: 3-year-old freakouts

Continuing with the theme of aggressive behavior…

In the past couple of weeks I’ve gotten half a dozen emails from parents concerned about 3-year-olds and truly agressive behavior, from screaming fits to hitting and attacking other kids and adults, to self-mutilation.

Now remember that I’m no expert. I only go by the things I’ve tried and seen work or not with my kids and all the other parents I talk to (including you all in the comments and by email). I do believe that you know your own child best, and that careful observation is a parent’s best friend. So let me break down the things that I’ve observed seem to make 3-year-olds into strange tantruming fiends.

Stuff they’re ingesting. Occasionally I’ll get an email from a parent describing a child who seems to be completley unable to contrl his or her out-of-control behavior. Discipline and even outright punishments don’t work, and the child seems to be held a prisoner of his or her outbursts. It’s as if the kid has no ability to stop.

To me that indicates that there is something physical going on that is making the child act this way. (If you’ve ever been in pain for a prolonged period, you get what I mean. So much of your energy is going into dealing with the pain that you just have no control over the rest of you, adn you can be pretty vicious with other people.) SInce it’s doubtful that your child has suddenly developed some strange illness, I’d take a look at what’s going into your child’s mouth.

By the age of 3, most kids are not under their parents’ control at all times anymore. Any hope you had of controlling everything that goes into your kid’s mouth is completely out the window. Either they’re at daycare or preschool eating who-knows-what, or with a babysitter or adult relative (who may be feeding them candy or other treats) or at playdates with other kids. That means there’s plenty of opportunity for your child to be eating things with artificial colors and flavors, preservatives, and MSG. You’re going to ahve to be a real detective to figure out if your kid’s eating this kind of stuff. If s/he is, enlist the help of the other adults you child interacts with to go cold turkey on that stuff for 2-3 weeks to see if it helps. For some kids it seems to be a huge factor in negative behavior, and ocne their systems are clear of the chemicals they gain control of the actions like any other 3-year-old has (which is to say in a limited by improving way).

Transitions. Normally we think of transitions as being a problem for young toddlers ("Say goodbye to the trains"), but it hits 3-year-olds, too. Maybe even more so, because now they’re able to really be absorbed in an activity, and also to know what’s going to happen next. If you have a 3-year-old who’s having problems with transitions, try to build more time into your schedule to cushion the transition time. Maybe get to preschool/daycare pickup a few minutes early so you have time to sit down and play for 5 minutes with your child before it’s time to put on coats and go home. Develop some ritual that the child can look forward to as soon as you leave school, so there’s something positive to go toward. Talk about how hard it is to leave or switch activities. Whatever you end up doing, validate your child’s feelings, because that will help him or her feel more open about talking to you about what’s making him/her so upset. More talking means less acting out.

Loss of control. It’s still such a big issue for this age. Hey, who am I kidding? It’s still an issue for most 50-year-olds I know, so how could it not be for a 3-year-old? They still ahve no control over most aspects of their lives, from when they wake up to where they go to whether they have to share their parents with a younger sibling. It’s enough to really just piss a person off and make her want to throw something or bite someone. Giving kids as much choice as you can (with what they wear, what they eat from two or three options, what music you listen to in the car, who they invite over to play, what games to play after supper, etc.) the easier this will be for them. That might cut down on the tantrums.

Problems dealing with scary emotions. This is just a variation of loss of control, but it’s different because the loss of control is coming from inside themselves. Kids (yeah, adults, too) have problems managing and processing big emotions. It’s good for your child to have big emotions, even negative scary ones. You’ll help your child accept and manage those emotions by giving them the vocabulary to talk through them. Keep on talking your child through the tantrums and feelings, even if your child seems to be verbal enough to do it themselves. "You’re feeling really angry because you couldn’t stay at Jack’s house. It makes you mad!" Helping them give a name to the feelings is going to validate those feelings and also release some of the need to use violence to express them. Eventually you can help your child think of ways to feel better, like making a plan to go back to Jack’s house in a few weeks, or playing with Play-Dough when you get home, or something like that.

Those are the big things I can think of for this age. Anyone else either in this phase or past it who’s noticed something else? Anyone just want to commiserate about how challenging 3 can be for both child and parents?