Clingy Toddler Alert & The Three-nage Years – Lessons Learned

Dealing with a clingy toddler (he’s nearly 3, can I still class him as a toddler?) in my view challenges parents to the extreme.

At 3 years of age, my son is now old enough to declare (loudly) what he does and doesn’t like but the skill of rationalising opinions and decisions is still a rather complex matter for his little developing grey matter.

During mid August, I was very lucky to go away for 4 days with my friend for some husband and child free girly fun. We certainly explored the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and it’s array of street food and beverages to the full. This resulting in me returning with what I can only describe as man-flu – 3 days off work confined to bed with aches, pains and a miserable cold.

In true female form, I bounced back just in time to head off on another girls jolly to Ibiza with my sister. I’m not going to deny it was bliss – sunshine, uninterrupted beach time and the odd glass of rioja made for a fantastic break.

Having returned refreshed (well, as refreshed as anyone is after a 4 day break on the party island) I was completing final preparations for my sons 3rd birthday. However, my best laid plans for a kiddy-centric celebratory day were promptly thrown out of the window when he suddenly became very poorly and was diagnosed with pneumonia. Don’t worry, he’s recovered well and we’re returning to some semblance of normality. So why am I telling you all of this? Well it would appear that following my unusual absence on holibobs (I’m NEVER away from home overnight), a poorly episode and a birthday, we appear to have in our midst the dreaded Three-nager!

Now, my son has always been the fairly chilled cuddly but confident general picture of loveliness. We’ll gloss over the biting stage at 18 months, that’s for another post. However, since recent events he’s become an emotional and extremely clingy little terror. When I reflect It’s certainly been an unsettling time for him but when, on a Monday morning it takes a full hour to stop the tears and tantrums to get him in the car to nursery, the calm reflection goes out of the window. Whilst we’re certainly not out of the woods of this behavioural stage yet, I can share with you a few nuggets of wisdom I’ve learned along the way so far, for what they’re worth;

  1. Stay calm

If I get upset, he gets upset. I’ve I get angry he goes nuclear. Me having an extreme reaction doesn’t stop his frustration but staying calm definitely eases it

2. Offer comfort

Now, I tried the discipline bit to stop the tantrums but that didn’t work for us. Comfort and cuddles did work, but with a firm approach. I don’t want to be a walkover but when sometimes you just need to cry it out, a cuddle always helps to ease the sobs.

3. Distraction and reward

I’m not a reward chart kind of mum. Don’t get me wrong, they have their place and never say never, but it’s not an approach we currently use. What does seem to work is to distract to a positive event that’s coming up, be it a day out or meeting up with some friends to take the attention away from the current moment of angst.

4. Wine

Ah yes, the solution to most things of a parenting nature, after bedtime of course so you can drink uninterrupted! Seriously though, sometimes when you feel you’ve tried absolutely everything a break is what you need to re-group, gather your thoughts and be ready to face the next day. It may be wine, it may be a session at the gym but some unwind time seriously helps you to think of some more tactics to face the next day with!

Good luck parenting friends and if the UN ever have a vacancy for a negotiator, feel smug in the fact that you would nail the job description in spades!

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