Posted by: Genny Colby | October 5, 2012


Oh my, where does it come from?  I swear, she hit 3 and BOOM!  We had attitude!  Everyone always talks about how hard the two’s are…and they can be tricky, don’t get me wrong.  At two, her vocabulary was increasing by leaps and bounds daily.  She was learning that her words had power.  She could express her wants, needs, wishes and then mommy and daddy would respond.  She was becoming more independent, was starting to be able to do some things on her own, and you could really see her personality coming through in her actions, her vocabulary, her interactions with others.  But she was still pretty easily diverted from unsafe or activities we did not want her doing (yet or sometimes at all!).  And she was still in the phase of “yes mommy”.

Then we hit 3.  And it was like over night a light switch turned on and we got ATTITUDE!  I will say, for the most part, she is an amazing little girl.  But there are moments…whoa!  She also has a flair for the dramatic (no idea where THAT came from, LOL!)

So what is it about 3 that was the big change?  Honestly I think it is because she has learned that not only do her words have an effect, but she can have some control of her life by her words and her choices.  She often asks me “what are my choices mommy?”  She also is more clear in her own ideas, her own feelings, what she wants to do.  She is much more independent, much more confident in herself and her abilities.  Of course there is also the natural tendency to push and challenge boundaries.  This is a natural part of childhood and as they gain vocabulary, confidence, and independence, these boundary challenges are more challenging for mommy and daddy!

In an effort to work on positive expressions of her new-found vocabulary and independence, we have started what we call her “Attitude Jar”.  It has evolved since we begin this process but I think we are on a good path now.  Each day she has the opportunity to earn buttons (you could use beads, pennies, etc.  I just had a bunch of buttons in our art center).  She earns buttons by using her words, not using her tears, being kind, polite, friendly with others, helping mommy and daddy, helping with her little brother,  following directions, paying attention at gymnastics/karate/school time, taking her time to complete tasks.  You get the idea.  She can also lose buttons for NOT doing these things.  Each day she has the opportunity to earn or loose buttons.  On a daily basis she is can earn or lose her TV time in the evening by how she earns or loses buttons.  But her goal is to earn all the buttons of the course of the week.  If she is able to earn all her buttons, she gets to pick dinner and we watch a movie.  Sometimes it will be her choice and sometimes it will be a surprise from mommy and daddy. Then we have a family picnic with a movie.

This was our first week and it was very successful.  She had a great week…she knew what she was working towards, she was excited about the positive reinforcement each time we awarded her with a button.

So what did she pick this week?  She requested chicken, cheese curds, and chocolate milk.  So off to Culver’s we went (yummy, since I was pretty sure she would pick McDonald’s, this was a great alternative).  And tonight’s movie…CINDERELLA!  One of my all time faves.  It was so much fun to share this with my daughter and watch her just mesmerized.  She is my girly girl 🙂

As we move towards the grand old age of 4, I know that the attitude won’t just disappear, but our goal is to help provide her with skills, tricks, and language to be as awesome as I know she is as much as possible.  We will have challenges, we will have good days and bad days, but that is part of growing up.  I want her to be confident and willing to try.  To quote Mythbusters…failure is always an option.  It is how we learn.  Our job is to provide her chance to try, to be successful and use every opportunity to help her be so, or learn from those moments when things don’t get as well as we would like.

So… now to line up a few more movies that she will be excited to work towards.  Madagascar 3 is coming out soon…oh and there is a new Tinker Bell movie at the end of this month!



  1. I’m really excited that you posted this! It gives me some better ideas for how to deal with the attitude of my own 3 year old! I like the positive reinforcement. I think I will be stealing your idea. It is time for a change in my house, thinking I also need to figure out how to start Joshua on a preschool curriculum too!

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