3 Parenting Lessons I've Learned As A 3-year-old Mom

Parenting isn't always smooth sailing. If you've read one or more mommyhood posts here or if you're a parent yourself, you'll know how stressful raising a child can be. Eczema is our biggest frustration agitator. More here.

But hey, it's not always drab and gray. As I've told my husband on one of our bedtime convos, "Flare-ups, be they emotional or physical, are fleeting like melting ice on a warm Spring day. But beautiful moments last forever. They are the ones worth keeping."

I will never forget the very first time we laid our eyes on our little bundle of joy from the ultrasound monitor.

He was about 2-inches in size; long sitting 90 degrees to his right. When the transducer probe hit where he was chilling, his torso and face quickly look front as if aware he is being watched. Then, he raised one arm to say hi (well, that's how it appeared from the display).

And then the cutest thing happened. Assured that he is watched from the outside (again, I'm making assumptions here), he shifted his focus on his newly formed limbs and kicked and kicked to show his thrilled audience he exists: happy, healthy, and growing normally. Cutie!

Today our little boy is three. And we are proud parents. Here I'm going to share the 3 life lessons I've learned as a 3-year-old mom. Keep on scrolling down...

Lesson #1: Choose your battles wisely.

Our little boy doesn't want to be told what to do. He asserts power and demands control. He acts bossy, defies the toddler rules, and does risky things out of curiosity. He flips out when we say no. When mom says it's time to brush his teeth, bathe, sleep, or whatever, he throws a fit.

Many times, you feel helpless and lose control. As I look back I realized not every tantrum is worth the stress. There are battles worth fighting, some are just a waste of energy. Draw the line.

Here's a simple tip to make toddlers do what you want them to do: make it appealing.

For example, if we want him to brush his teeth, we show him a video of other children brushing their teeth or let him see mom brush her teeth. If we want him to take a nap, I'd lie down in bed without telling him what to do, he simply follows.

You just have to let your creative juices flow and make it look like doing the activity is their own idea. After all, you yourself don't like it when others pushed you to do something.

Lesson #2: Break the will, never the spirit.

When you discipline, discipline. Correct the behavior. There's a stark difference between a child's personhood, that's who he is from what he does or fails to do. Wrongs actions are the ones needing rectification.

Never demean or compare your child with someone else. Don't call names or put negative identifications. Or say "You never" "You always" (I admit, I'm guilty of the last one. If you erred just like me, it's okay, we are learning together with our children.)

Labels as harmless as they appear, forge identities, shapes tomorrow.

Little children don't have knowledge of good and evil yet (Deuteronomy 1:39). They don't know what's right from wrong. They still have to learn how to navigate this world. It's our responsibility as parents to teach them and lead the way.

And when you discipline, explain why or what they did wrong. Children understand.

Lesson #3: Respect your child's choices.

So long as it won't harm them or put them in danger.

If your child says no to the white T-shirt, then offer other options. If he says he no longer wants to eat, then stop. Don't shove that leftover food into his mouth just because some kid in Africa is starving.

Whether he eats the leftover food or not, that imaginary hungry kid will still be deprived. In fact if you force your way to clean his plate, you risk upsetting your child's natural ability to listen to his body after it signals satiety. You'll enable unhealthy eating patterns when your child says 'no more' because he is already full.

Respect his decision or offer it later if you think they haven't eaten enough. Of course, if they want cookies and they haven't eaten anything yet, then that's a different story.

Let your children know they're heard, that their voice matters. Because when you sow seeds of respect, it will multiply back to you.

What parenting lessons help you so much it change the way you raise your kids forever?