Dear Sandra

Dear Sandra,

I’m a first time parent going through the horrible threes! I’ve always heard the expression “terrible twos” but when my daughter was two everything was great. Since turning three, however, she has become a constant state of irritation for me. I don’t seem to cut her sandwiches the right way and I always pick the wrong clothes. She is always whining. Is it me as a parent? Was I too lenient on her in the beginning and have I now spoiled her? Please help me.

Irritated in Sherwood Park

Dear Irritated,

There is no harder job in the world than that of a parent of a preschool child (I haven’t done the teenage years yet, so I could be wrong). “This too shall pass” should be your mantra right now. Remember in childbirth when you kept telling yourself “this pain has to end sometime”? Well, this pain too will end sometime. The whining will stop, but it will be replaced with other annoying things your child will do; that’s the joy of parenthood.

However, do not assume that your child’s whining is because of something you did or because your child is “difficult”, “stubborn” or just a “pain in the butt”. Accept your daughter’s negative behavior as one of the many phases she will go through. Keep in mind as a three year old she is making the transition from “baby” into “child” and she is trying to achieve a sense of independence. These transitional phases can be tough on even the most easygoing preschooler, so always try to stay one step ahead. Don’t sweat her whining. Give her choices and this may help alleviate her frustrations over the lack of control she has over her life. Before you cut the sandwich ask her, “Do you want your sandwich cut in half or in triangles?” Before you choose her clothes give her a choice: “Do you want to wear your pink pants or your purple dress?”

Most importantly “catch her being good”! Reinforcing the behaviour you want (e.g. her asking in a non-whiny voice for something or her choosing her own clothes for the day) works better than constantly harping on her for the behaviours you do not want her to repeat.

Check out the Student Mom’s Club under the Groups and Clubs heading on the AUSU home page at Sometimes talking to other mothers going through the same stages can help you realize that your child is in fact normal and not the worst child in the world.


This column is for entertainment only. Sandra is not a professional counsellor, but is an AU student who would like to give personal advice about school and life to her peers. Please forward your questions to Sandra care of

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