The trouble with my three-year-old

The trouble with my three year old is me. 

That sounds harsh but it’s the truth. Not always, of course, but sometimes. Often times at the moment.

I’ve read enough and experienced enough to know that when a child plays up, they are communicating with you. I know when she is squeezing out T’s expensive therapy gel in the bath, purposefully weeing on the carpet (she NEVER usually does this), kicking things around the room… she is telling me she needs me.

She wants my attention. She’s tired because she got us both up at 5am. She’s hurting. She feels unsafe.

And most of the reasons why are down to me.

Age: three. Sass level: 1,000,000

I’m tired because she got us up at 5am. I’m in need of personal space because I spend too much time in the house and with the children. If I am alone here, I am working. If I am not working, I am parenting.

I’m tired and touched out because we co-sleep and still breastfeed and sometimes what I want is a bed to myself for 12 (maybe 20) hours.

I’m reactive because I am not taking care of myself. My unmet needs are stressing me out. I have nothing left for anyone else. And then I am triggered. Then I shout. Then I cannot meet the needs of my three-year-old and the cycle continues.

She wants my affection. I need my space.

She does something to get my attention. I withdraw because her behaviour makes me angry.

I blame and shame her, yet despise my behaviour. She feels hurt and makes a bid for affection in some outlandish ‘naughty’ way (she’s not being naughty of course, but that’s a shorthand for this kind of behaviour ). It goes on until one of us loses it so badly we can both cry and hug. I try to make amends and we move on.

Except I don’t want this pattern for us. I don’t know how much she has moved on. That trauma I have created is there inside her. It comes out later.

I am not creating a healthy emotional model for her. I am not supporting her. I am not making her feel loved.

That’s what’s going around in my head.

This isn’t good.
It isn’t right.
It’s up to me, and only me, to change it.
So I will, for her, for me, for the future.

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