Strategies for parenting three year olds

There are times I think 'the terrible twos' are misnamed.

I definitely find three year olds more challenging, and so did a friend of mine on facebook, who asked recently for some advice on how to be more effective in parenting her three year old. 

The main problem seemed to be that her child was having trouble following instructions and my friend's patience was wearing thin.

Here's the advice I gave her:

You need to ask yourself: what is it you're trying to do? And why? Examine if it's age appropriate, if there's enough internal motivation for the child to do it, and what are your own motivations and feelings around it.

Then calm yourself down and orient your own feelings and breathing. You need time and patience to change things.

And a plan.

Here's your plan:

Keep your communciation very simple. Get rid of extra distractions around the house (eg. put extra toys away and keep things clear and tidy, tv off, radio off etc)

Get down on the child's level and speak simply and clearly. "Now we will do this: let's do it together." Give enough time to process the communciation and add as much physical scaffolding as is needed. (eg. for cleaning up toys, you could pick up the same thing together and put it in the box, or try a 'one for you, one for me game).

You need to reduce demands and simplify them drastically by breaking things down into steps. 

If your 'regular' parenting strategies don't 'work' you may need to take a deeper look at if your child is having trouble processing what's going on - perhaps he or she has auditory or sensory processing disorders.

FInd out how things go at preschool? Are there issues there or is it just that home life has spiralled out of control? 

Finally, examine if the child getting enough 'non-demanding' parenting love. Or is it all "do this, do that, go here, come there"? It's easy to fall into instruction mode as adults and forget our children also need connection.