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Looking at a cattle marketLife can be tough when you’re three.

Things don’t always make sense. You sort of understand, but there are murky bits that don’t fit together. You think you know everything and you want to do it all by yourself, but you can’t. Not yet.

Frog is going through what I believe parenting experts call a “challenging phase”. Relocating to an entirely new area (even if it is one she loves), coupled with her already strong sense of independence and “switched on” attitude, is proving a little tricky. 

It would be easy to write this blog and articles elsewhere, offering a rosy view of life. I could stick to talking about the wonderful family days out, funny things my child says and nice products I want to buy. But that wouldn’t paint a true picture of our life.

As my little diva grows, I’m aware of the need to strike a sense of balance between protecting my three year old’s privacy and not just showing the good stuff.

So. We have moved to a beautiful part of the world. We wake in the morning to views of fields and sunlit valleys. It’s all very picturesque and peaceful. There are a million and one places to explore and days out to be had. Yet, the last couple of days have been difficult.

Of course they have; moving is never easy. Even though we have moved somewhere that my child loves, her behaviour is proof that she is still getting used to the idea that this is her home. Tantrums are part and parcel of being three, I suspect. But, as vocal as Frog is, tantrums every ten minutes are extreme even for her.

I have never heard the word, “NO!” shouted so frequently and so loudly as I have the past few days. A slight hint of things not going her way results in screams of frustration, a red face, tears and sometimes lashing out at the nearest toy or – a couple of times – me.

It’s a physically exhausting business at the best of times, let alone when you’re living amongst boxes and still striving to meet work deadlines. All my instincts tell me this is a phase, an inevitable result of turning my three year old’s life upside down, something we will ride out together. But, in the heat of tantrum battle, that reasoning isn’t always easy to remember.

For the first time ever, we have had to sit down and discuss a proper “approach” to the issue. The (self-proclaimed) Northern Love Machine and I have never had an “approach” type of attitude to parenting. Indeed, we both flinch at the term “parenting”, preferring to think of the act of being parents as part of life. Basically, we live life, we muddle along through, we don’t read any “manuals” and prefer to act on instinct.

This time, however, we have had to agree that our instinct needs to be channelled into a “plan”. So we have a reward chart, lots of praise at the ready, some lovely things planned for family days, along with the readiness to take toys away for behaviour that just won’t do. Plus, the dreaded naughty step in times of crisis.

I’m all for listening to my child and being patient. I try to see things from her point of view as much as possible. But I also know that my little girl thrives with clear boundaries and consistency. I’m no parenting guru. I don’t always have the answers to how to deal with difficult situations, but I still think that, in this case, my instinct is right.

In fact, this is a strange post to find myself writing, because I rarely write about “approaches” and techniques etc. To be honest, I find it all a bit boring and introspective.

Easy to dismiss it all though, when you don’t need it. Today, I need all the approaches and techniques that I can get.

What would you do?