What to expect when your elder child turns three

What to expect when your elder child turns three
October 11, 2011 CuteCoco

Handling a three years old can be most of time challenging and takes tons of patience. It is because at this stage your child has started developing his ability to handle more responsibilities like taking instructions but also in the same time is eager to do most everything by himself as a sign to be more independent. They can be included in most ‘adult’ activities but they are also still lack the ability to express themselves in words. Behaviour in this stage are varied including ignoring instructions with lots of ‘No’ saying, thinking that they can do whatever they want convinced that nothing bad will happen as they are a ‘big boy/girl’ now like for example jumping off the sofa or table, playing with the doors, hanging on shopping cart, and the list goes on and on.

So it is normal when you have younger child in the addition to your -now- three years old things are getting way out of your hand that exhaust you body and soul. Siblings rivalry is one of the main issues in most cases. Your three years old has not completely done with her bonding and trusting her parents enough, thus she has to share the parent’s attention with her younger sibling. In her eyes she may not understand why mommy soothe the little baby everytime she cries, or mommy rocks the little baby everytime she goes to sleep. This is worsen by the fact that most parent thought the older sibling who is now three years old can already understand what is happening.

If you are one of those extra-ordinary parents who just had a new addition to your offsprings, here are several situations or behaviour that are pretty normal to be displayed when your eldest one turns three years old:

1. Ignoring you

You can keep repeating yourself hundred times but she just won’t listen to you. For example, you tell her not to watch tv too close and ask her to move back a bit. You tell her this over and over but she does not seem to bother to listen or even to move. If this happen, shut your mouth. You will see that she will actually do what you are telling her when you don’t say anything at all. If she doesn’t move at all, then move her.

2. No, No and No

You will be getting lots of Nos too in the addition of getting ignored. Be patient. She is just testing you whether you are serious in what you are saying or not. She will again do the same the next day and the next day until you can convince her that you are really serious for what you are saying to her. One example that may happen to you is when your three years refuse to wear her clothes by saying no and run away from you. After repeating yourself three times and she does not show any sign to give up, you should give up yourself but not for long. Giver her sometimes. She may just want to play a bit. Try again after couple of minute and you will see she is doing exactly what you are saying.

3. I want this, give me that

She knows she should share toys with her sibling but she just doesn’t want to. There are times when everytime she sees her sibling is holding a toy she will throw the toy that is in her hand and run for the toy in her sibling’s hand. Fight for toys is inevitable most of the time. This could be one of her way to tell you or the sibling that if the sibling gets the mommy then she should get the toys.

4. Hitting the baby sibling

She does not know how to express her anxiety in words or she has seen you do the same thing on her so when her baby sibling disturbs her by taking her toy or just annoying her she is likely to hit the baby. Normally along with continous guidance this behaviour will stop after sometimes and instead they can play together side by side as loving sibling.

5. You say A and she will do B

When the younger sibling is asleep don’t tell your three years to not making any noise because chances are she will scream right in front of the sleeping-younger-sibling’s face or blow her younger sibling’s face trying to wake her up.

6. I am a big sister/boy

The good news is she is now on the stage where she has become more independent, developed her skill in recognising her daily routine, identifying her own sex and recognising her own role or position in the family, thus she knows that she is the big sister/brother to her younger sibling. So she will copy some things that you use to do or tell the younger sibling like “don’t go there!” or taking her younger sibling’s hand to help her walking back to the play area, etc. She also now understands rules and most of the time wants to apply the same to her younger siblings.

7. Want to play together with the younger sibling

Sometimes this situation turns out to be an enforcement for the younger sibling than a fun volunteering. Your three years old will demand her younger sibling to play with her whenever she wants to and will not give a damn if the baby doesn’t want to play with her.

8. I am a baby too

She will try a lot to squeeze herself in between you and the baby in your arm insisting that she is a baby too. She even wants to nurse like the baby does. She also likes to see whether you will treat them the same, for example if the baby can get away with throwing toys on the floor she will do the same to see whether she can get away with it too.

9. Do it like me

In some fine days she will be very caring to her younger sibling. Like teaching her to do stuff, or read her some words she know and ask the younger one to repeat, or helping to feed her and many more.


There are thousands of attitudes that will be displayed by your three years old when she has younger sibling. What you need to do is to prepare yourself to be able to play fair. Siblings who are only around one year apart normally can adapt eachother better as they grow together and the older one has become use to the fact that she is sharing attention from her parents with her younger sibling. Unlike those with two or three years apart when a three years old must share attention with a newborn. Rivalry will be much stronger in that situation.

However a special note on this is that situation may not be the same to all children. So don’t swallow this blindly as this is only to draw a rough ideas of what are normally happened when a three years old has younger sibling or what to expect when your elder child turns three.


Share this:

Comment (1)

  1. Kelly-Marie 9 years ago

    I was actually talking to my husband last night saying “You do realise it won’t be long till Josh is doing the whole No, No, No and then smile/laugh thing” 😉

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


9 − 3 =