The age of three – imaginative, curious, creative, and MESSY

Calvin turned three a couple of months ago. There are so many aspects of this age that I love. He is so curious and imaginative. He can now sit and play a game by himself and take just about anything around the house and transform it into something else.

Pans in the kitchen line up on the floor to become his drum set for his one-man band, a paper towel tube and a basket become the little home for “his creatures” who visit at various times throughout the day to eat up some of his snack that he leaves out for them, the floor is the sea and the coach is the boat for which he is captain making sure nobody steps on the floor and gets eaten by the alligators, chairs and pieces of furniture are lined up as his train and he is the engineer in the caboose. It is so fun to see him create, imagine, and explore and turn anything and everything into something exciting.

The excitement and creativity the three-year old brings to every game is so amazing to see


Calvin spreading little bits of styrofoam all over the room

Yesterday’s creation evolved from a rectangular piece of styrofoam that was in a package from Amazon. Calvin started crumbling that piece of styrofoam, first into “snow.” He then created a device out of pillows and blankets that was his “snow-making machine.” The styrofoam then evolved into a bunch of baby chicks that were breaking from their shells. And the device added a paper towel role and another blanket to become a “chick-hatching machine.” We had to get some food and water for the baby chicks (small balls of styrofoam) and as he was caring for them. He was so involved in this work; it was to see his imagination at play. I let him be imaginative and dive into this little world he created even though I’m still picking up these little pieces of styrofoam despite multiple vacuuming and sweeping attempts. Sometimes as parents, we just have to let go of the worry of the mess and let them play.

The other part of this mostly wonderful, imaginative time is the mess that ensues.

When he has to dump the individual puzzle pieces out of the box, with the playing cards, with the craft balls into a big pile because he is the garbage man dropping his load off. It is hard to let this happen. I like the playroom to stay neat and orderly and when he has to pull out so many different things at one time and bring them all together in one game, it’s so hard to stay calm. I remind myself that he is learning to create, to use his mind, to imagine so I let him do it. Of course, after he has to help me clean. That is whole other topic, getting your child to clean. But letting him create and enjoy his work does make all the cleanup worthwhile. Clean-up is one area where our new discipline/reward system has really helped.

You have to just let go of the mess and see it as a creation the way our children do. 

Beyond the mess with our imaginative little three-year old is some of the most intense and challenging meltdowns that I have ever encountered so far as a parent. That is the part of this age that is really tough. The child who you love can become an absolute terror as he fight you on leaving the playdate at his neighbor’s house, cleaning up the playroom, eating his carrots—you never know what it will be or when it will strike. Though for my son, the signs are all there, and I can pretty much predict when it will happen. A discipline/reward system has become a must for us. But I take the mess and the occasional melt-down with stride, because I know he is becoming an individual, learning how to live and with all that he is taking in, there are times that he gets frustrated. Intense frustration that is as strong as his imagination.

So if I had to sum up three so far, I would just say Three is Imaginative

The three-year old’s imagination is out of this world, so strong and vivid and amazing to see. It can be used in positive happy ways when he is playing, but it can also be used in negative ways with the most intense meltdowns you could every think of. But this is life with children and I’m trying each day to take it in stride, be calm with whatever happens, trusting that i can handle it and most importantly—enjoying it and appreciating it, because I know before long he’ll be on to the next stage.

What imaginative things has your toddler done?

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  1. Pingback: Raising a happy three year old – implement a discipline strategy that rewards good behavior | EverydayEverymom

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