My 3 year old has a meltdown every single Thursday, no matter how well I plan.

There is something called “circle time” that happens every Thursday at 11am during playgroup. My daughter no longer gets a morning nap, so I don’t think it’s cuz she is too tired. There are not that many kids there so I know she is not overwhelmed by noise or chaos. I plan a huge breakfast and a good snack beforehand so I know she isn’t too hungry. But every single time circle time is announced she bounces to the mats in anticipation, huge smile on her face. She sits down, hands in lap, beatific smile and looks up at the coordinator patiently. As soon as it starts she is okay for one song. Then, without warning, she will adamantly say “No!” before laying down with her face in her hands and start weeping. I eventually have to take her aside and give her a snack or her water cup to get her to transform from my little monsterĀ  to human again.

I have a hunch it is too much excitement. Or perhaps it is still her adjusting to having a little brother.

What I do seems to work. I take her aside, tell her that her behaviour makes it hard for other kids to hear, and tell her that I love her. I ask her to join us when she is calm and rejoin the circle time with my 10 month old son. The meltdowns have gotten shorter but only time will tell if they will stop. Every time I find something that will work she changes the game plan. Parenting is a steep learning curve.

My father claimed once that we never had meltdowns as kids, my sister and I. But I think that is selective memory. My mom remembers a few. Not long ones, but preschool age is an emotional time. They are still trying to figure out what to do with their emotions, and trying to stretch their independence. It is a hard time for the parents too I think. My parenting style has had to change dramatically.

I have also learned my girl is a smart cookie. She pushes my buttons and then tests me to see if I will stand by my words! Just today I threatened “If you scatter that on the floor again you will be going to your room without any friends (her stuffed animals) and staying there until nap time is over!” So of course she gives me a cheeky look and touches it again. It being a puzzle. She was shocked when I stood by what I said but I am proud of myself for being the parent and following through on my threat. I think she likes boundaries. She knows she is not invisible then. That being said, it broke my heart to hear her say “Mama, I will listen now! Please let me have my friends back.” I didn’t cave though! Too bad there aren’t parenting medals.