All of his transgressions have a learning aspect to them. Really it's the mess that bothers me and that's an issue that's mine and he should not feel the backlash from it.
That being said he does need to learn that we do not paint the filing cabinet green and yellow while mama's making supper. We do not put mascara on our lips and teeth while mama is on the phone. We do not pour all the toothpaste, aftershave and moisturizer into a container and stir it up into a fabulously pretty, sticky gloppy mess with mama's favorite tweezers while mama is putting D down for her nap. I really do marvel at how quick he is in his creations. Now, how to get my point across without losing my temper and raising my voice? The most important realization for me is that he is not doing this to defy me. He is doing it because he lives in the moment and at that moment his wild imagination thought up this extremely fun, extremely messy thing for his little hands to do. He cannot comprehend consequences and he really has no scruples or morals yet. He will imitate what he sees so if what he sees is me angry and lashing out at him that's what he's going to do. Time to add some more tools to my parenting toolbox.
I thought I was home-free when we made it through the "terrible twos" with this sweet well-behaved child. However I have now realized that three is the age of destruction. 3 yr olds have this huge capacity for learning, imitating and manipulating objects. Seriously, if you showed a 3yr old how to start a car he could do it! A 2yr old would not be able to. These newfound capabilities are what is causing the destruction in my house. It's time to channel this energy, enthusiasm and creativity. Projects and nature time that's my plan. It fits in with the rhythm of the day.
There are key times when he is destructive. At these times he is tired or bored. 2-3pm is now going to be rest time. 3-5pm will hopefully be outside time. There's snow on the ground today and M has no snow boots so that is the first order of business.
Realistic expectations are something I struggle with. I often think "he should be able to ..." That's when we start having the battle of wills. Just because he can one day does not mean he can or will the next day. He needs gentle physical reminders and help from me if the first request is met with a "NO!"
From Parenting Passageway
Typical developmental things about the three and a half -year-olds include (this is according to the Gesell Institute, not necessarily my personal opinion!):
- Turbulent, troubled period of disequilibrium, the simplest event or occasion can elicit total rebellion; strong and secure gross motor abilities may turn more into stumbling, falling, at this age; new- found verbal ability such as “I’ll cut you in pieces!” and lots of whining
- May refuse to do things a lot, or howl and scream, or say a lot of “I can’t” I won’t” kinds of things
- Three and a half to four may be the height for the most “WHY?” “WHERE?” “WHAT?” kinds of questions
- Demanding, bossy, turbulent, troubled but mainly due to emotional insecurity
- May refuse to take part in daily routine