By Leah Maxwell
Any parent who complains about the “terrible twos” clearly hasn’t had a 3-year-old. Yet for all their hardheaded, bossy, and all-around exhausting ways, that extra year also makes them a hundred times more awesome. For every tantrum, there are a dozen moments of sheer joy as you watch them become themselves and embrace the world as only a 3-year-old can. Here are eight things to celebrate about the thrilling threes.
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They dress themselves.
Even if it takes them forever and ends up being more work for you, it’s awesome to see their personalities shine through the four different skirts they chose to wear with that motorcycle jacket, party hat, cowboy boots, and swim goggles.
They’re more creative.
Their imaginations are popping with possibility, and their improved motor skills mean they can do craft projects beyond aimless finger painting. Learning to cut paper and mold clay and string beads and draw recognizable shapes with those fat preschool crayons is not just great for their development but also their burgeoning creativity.
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They say what they mean, they wear their emotions on their sleeves, and they dance like no one’s watching (while insisting that everyone watch with full attention).
Image ©iStock.com/Cathy Yeulet
They’re more independent.
They’re not able to make their own lunches or do their own laundry (yet), but their longer attention spans mean you can at least sit them in front of the TV or by a stack of books while you take a shower/exercise/make dinner/play a dumb game on your phone, and that’s something to be grateful for.
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They can help.
They may not always want to, but they can -- with meal prep, with chores, in the yard, at the grocery store, with younger siblings. Most 3-year-olds love having big-kid responsibilities, so use that to your advantage!
Or at least you can attempt to reason with them. Disciplining a toddler or infant is more about distracting and redirecting, but 3-year-olds can understand cause and effect, which means you’re on the path to having them make “good choices” all on their own.
At this age, kids start to understand jokes and how to tell them, they do silly things just to get a laugh, and they revel in the absurd. Do something as simple as wearing your shoes on your hands and you’re the star of the show! It’s easy to feel like the funniest person in the world when your audience is 3 years old.
This trait has its disadvantages (hey, get down from there!), but it also means your 3-year-old is confident, brave, and willing to try new things without worrying about failure. Watch and learn, because your 3-year-old has a lot to teach you about life.
What do you love most about 3-year-olds?
Leah Maxwell is a book editor, freelance writer, cereal addict, wife, and mom to two young boys. She has been blogging at A Girl and a Boy since 2003.