I am so excited to announce that the e-book pre-order for Misbehavior is Growth: An Observant Parent’s Guide to Three Year Olds is NOW AVAILABLE!!

E-Book Pre-Order

The e-book pre-order is available at the following sites. The pre-order price is $3.99. This is less than HALF of the regular price!

On the below websites, the pre-order will show that it’s scheduled to be released in July 2021. This is only to give the me ample time to get it in. I expect to release it in early 2021. I’m working towards January 2021.

Paper Copy

A paper copy will be available at Amazon when the book is released. The paper copy will be available at:

  • Amazon US
  • Amazon UK
  • Amazon DE
  • Amazon FR
  • Amazon ES
  • Amazon IT
  • Amazon JP
  • Amazon CA

Misbehavior is Growth: Three Year Olds

I document the age-related “stages” children go through. It is times when children “fall apart,” but it’s because their brain is going under construction. After the “irritable” period they have some new mental abilities. My work documents both the irritable stage and the new abilities, the “misbehavior” and the “growth.”

Three Year Old Misbehavior

Three year olds can be bossy, rude, defiant, cheeky, wildly fantastical, perceptive, destructive, competitive, and impressively knowledgeable—and it’s all for good reason.

Three Year Old Growth

I argue in Misbehavior is Growth: 3 Year Olds that the most important development taking place at age 3 is core personality integration. They become aware of who they are as a person and what good/bad traits they have. It is important this goes well. It can go disastrously: How Understanding Child Development May Prevent Personality Disorders

I also argue that their imaginations–the monsters they see in their closet–play a much bigger role in their development we know. I map their imaginations to their new abilities in this book. I offer this “Developmental Map” for free below!

Misbehavior is Growth

The idea behind Misbehavior is Growth is that these times of age-related turmoil are not naughtiness but internal growth. Therefore, they are not times to punish nor ignore but as something to lean into. The difficult behavior is a design feature of tiny growing humans, not a problem.

My argument is that this age-related demanding, sometimes aggressive, behavior is an instinctual call from children to adults to come help them at developmentally critical times. It is a bid for connection and mentorship. We, as such, do not ignore these bids. We do not pressure them to behave. We don’t try to subdue the behavior. These cycles are an incredible clue. We look at the behavior with wonder and wait in anticipation as to what is about to grow, as if we are watching a caterpillar about to come out of chrysalis. These cycles all but ensure children’s needs get met and all but command us as caregivers towards interest-led, child-led learning: the best kind.

If we can understand the cycles of misbehavior and growth, we can unleash an enormous potential. Each developmental milestone provides an opportunity to do this. If we can manage our own emotions during these difficult times and approach children with love and compassion, even when they are at their worst, we can help them develop the astonishing new skills growing inside them. If we see these frustrating times as the investment opportunities that they are, we can give wings to the new skills, unlocking a potential in ways never seen before. We stop trying to “transform” them and just get on this otherwise entirely unstoppable wave that is their development.

Be sure to check out Misbehavior is Growth: Toddlers, which has testimonials. I also offer the first chapter of that for FREE. It summarizes the idea of Misbehavior is Growth: Introduction to Misbehavior is Growth: Humanizing Toddlers.

Three Year Old Developmental Milestones


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Developmental Map for Three Year Olds

I am very excited to offer in this next Misbehavior is Growth something new: a Developmental Map for Three Year Olds. Downloadable PDF below.

Expand to see my note of appreciation to people who take an interest in the inner world of children:

When I look at a three year old child’s development, I am fascinated. As I did this work, it became clear to me that a three year old’s famous wild imaginations were linked to their new abilities. For instance, at around 3 years, 2 months, when can reliably hold on to information over about one day’s time, they start to have visions and nightmares. It made sense to me that these skills were linked. What is a memory except something imagined in your mind? Hence, when their mind is capable of vividly remembering something from yesterday, they also can conjure up the image of the bad guy they saw in a movie once.

I struggled and fought to understand how a three year old truly sees the world. In their early 3s, children think they can bring entire rooms to themselves magically. In their mid 3s, they think they can shrink into their toy trains. What is going on? These are children who, in their late 2s, can know how to get to the grocery store. Why are they so wildly fantastical in their 3s? Do they not see the 3-D world in the stable way that we adults do? Is it a fuzzy blur to them? Does their brain development cause them to “regress”?

I plotted the highlights of each milestone to get a better picture. Each milestone is a time when children fall apart—a clue that something is going on in internally—but which results in new mental abilities. I was especially interested in how a three year old’s wild imaginations matched to their new abilities. So, I mapped, for each milestone, their new abilities and the kind of new fantastical thoughts they had. I read this mapping back to myself, over and over, which read as a story, marveling each time at both the insights I could form from it and at child development itself.

My conclusion is that three year olds still see the world as an infant does: they expect their primary caregiver to do everything for them. In the same way that infants expect milk to magically arrive at their lips when hungry, (young) three year olds expect that they can magically bring ceiling fans to them. It’s not that they can’t see reality straight. It’s that this is a fun thing to think. If you spin a child at 3 in a chair and ask them if they are spinning or the room is spinning, they say it’s the room spinning. It’s important to understand that this truly is their perspective still. The world is a bit of a whir to them—but a fun whir.

The Development Map features these visual maps about a three year old’s development.

Download Now: Three Year Old Child Developmental Map!

The book itself has the summaries, this developmental map, AND further descriptions about the milestones, non-punitive conflict resolution ideas for typical issues at each milestone, and activities to nurture the new mental growth. Each milestone starts with a child who falls apart but then has some new mental ability. The idea behind Misbehavior is Growth is to see this period of disarray as a clue that something is going on and to lean into it harder. I argue the behavior, often demanding in nature, is an instinctual call from children so that adults come to them during a developmentally critical time.

Preorder now!

Truly my goal is to put parents in touch with their children’s developmental needs. It’s not misbehavior: it’s growth!

Send your friends to www.theobservantmom.com for more about the age-related stages children go through