In an interview with Parents, Hilaria Baldwin, actress, fitness expert and author of The Living Clearly Method, revealed that she thinks 3-years-olds are the most challenging to parent.
She said, "They have such complicated emotions, and they are able to articulate so many things, but not able to self-regulate as well as when they get a little bit older. But you know, at the same time, they're still super cute, so we're very forgiving."
Baldwin was referring to her son Romeo, who is almost three. Baldwin also has four other young children, making her the mom of five kids under seven. (And we bow down.)
We also totally get how hard it can be to have a three-year-old. They are positively amazing beings, of course. But sometimes, it's just really hard—and it's okay to talk about it. Admitting that your child is having a hard time (and that maybe you are having a hard time, too) is allowed. It doesn't make you a bad mother, or ungrateful in any way, and we are so appreciative to celebrities like Baldwin who help us normalize these conversations.
So if you have a 3-year-old and are finding it to be challenging, know that you are not alone (hey, there's a reason that the expression threenager exists). In fact, there are some fundamental milestones and changes that happen at around the third-year-mark that can add some new levels of complexity to your little one's behavior.
Psychotherapist Ilene S. Cohen, Ph.D. told Motherly that 3-year-olds are learning how to deal with their emotions—and those emotions tend to be big. They are also learning how to handle conflict (as in, mom said I have to stop jumping in the puddles and I think that is a terrible idea). When you take big emotions with lots to learn about conflict resolution, the result can be a bit explosive at times. It's important that we parents stay as calm as we can through this (even though it's totally normal to feel triggered by your child!).
3-year-olds are big fans of instant gratification (patience is not a virtue that comes easily to most of them). This might explain why so many 3-year-olds love telling jokes; they love the instant gratification of your laughter!
Lastly, these sweet kiddos are learning how to make friends (and even learning how to be empathetic). This is a wonderful milestone, but keep in mind that it can be hard too. I once heard that milestones are like the kid equivalent of getting a new job or a promotion—it's very exciting and positive, but it's stressful and even scary, too.
I have had three 3-year-olds, and I have to say, I am totally with Baldwin on this—it's hard. What helps me every day as a mom is to remember that it's normal—and that I am not alone. And neither are you, mama.