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Your 3-year-old now
If you haven't heard your child tell a whopper yet, don't be shocked if the day arrives soon. She may vigorously deny having broken your antique china cup even if you saw her do it. Why? It's not malicious, you'll be glad to hear. If the incident happened more than a few hours ago, she may truly not recall it, for one thing. Three-year-olds' memories are still short, especially for anything that makes them uncomfortable. Or she may remember, but understanding that it wasn't the right thing to do, she now wishes that she hadn't touched it. So she convinces herself — and then tries to convince you — of her innocence by wishing the smash away. Children don't tolerate emotional pain, so they reinvent their own reality or pass the buck to someone else. This process is quite automatic as children become convinced of the truth of what they're saying.
Intentional, manipulative, or malevolent intent to deceive doesn't happen at this age. Try not to accuse your child directly, especially if you know she's guilty. Instead, say something like, "I saw you knock over the cup. You need to tell me when things like that happen. Come help me clean it up." You want her to be able to come to you and speak the truth without fearing your anger or harsh reprimands. You can teach her an appropriate response and a way to make up for the harm. Above all, your child needs to know that you love her no matter what mistakes she makes.
Your life now
Amid the sleep battles and tantrums, it's easy to miss the silver linings of life with a 3-year-old:
Your child is endlessly curious — maybe you'll learn something, too. Your child is so enthusiastic — maybe some of that energy will rub off on you. Your child is forgiving — no matter what happens today, you can count on a 3-year-old to start tomorrow with a fresh outlook and ready smile. Your child sees the world with wonder.
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