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Your Three-Year-Old: Friend or Enemy

3.56  ·  Rating Details ·  574 Ratings  ·  99 Reviews
A three-year-old is a real puzzle to parents, sometimes anxious to please and befriend, sometimes strong-willed and difficult to get along with. At the heart of the three-year-old’s personality is often an emotional insecurity—and this causes a host of problems for parents! Drs. Ames and Ilg, recognized authorities on child behavior and development, help parents understand ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published August 15th 1980 by Dell (first published 1976)
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Jan 17, 2009 Allison rated it did not like it
What a crappy crappy bad book. I finished this book a week ago and keep trying to write a review but I'm not even sure where to start...
First off, I only have a barely three year old, but I've talked to people who have had 3yo's and the way this PhD author is decribing the 3s doesn't really match up that well. The subtitle is Friend or Enemy and Ames (the author) seems to think that 3's are your friend and 3 1/2 yo's act like your enemy. And "our best advice" on dealing with your 3 1/2 yo? "enl
Apr 26, 2009 Jenn rated it really liked it
If taken only for the information about the mind, emotions, and development of a three year old child, this is a truly wonderful resource! Each book in this series serves to calm the worries of the reader that their once-delightful child has been ruined, revealing the new an often unpleasant behaviors as completely normal, expected developmental stages. In other words: realax! Your kid is NORMAL. I found it's great help, and entertaining to boot! The anachronistic advice is often silly, but any ...more
Jun 10, 2008 Anna rated it liked it
I have to say that upon reading the subtitle, 'Friend or Enemy', way back around her third birthday, I thought, "how offensive! My child could never be my enemy! That must be an artifact of the dated discipline advice I know to be endemic to this series!" Enter three-and-a-half, when friend/enemy status is renegotiated on a daily-- nay, hourly-- basis.

But yes, this book certainly is full of incredibly dated advice on discipline ("some endomorphic boys seem to need a good spanking now and again,"
May 14, 2014 Amy rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: horrible mothers from 1985 who are afraid of their monster preschoolers
If you’re reading this book, it’s clearly because you have a 3.5-year-old. A parent of a 3-year-old would not need such a book because 3-year-olds are perfect angels. Add on another 6 months, and you’ve got a monster child on your hands. Never fear. This book is here to help.

The first thing you must realize, dear mother, is that you are the problem. The child only acts like a monster around you because you actually care about your child and they can sense this. Thus, the first step is to remove
Jul 22, 2015 Tierney rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, parenting
A thoughtful primer on child development (there's one for every year of childhood up to 14) in terms of what's typical, where kids are coming from and why they feel what they feel and do what they do. It helped me in empathizing with my daughter when she's acting out and in assessing what problem behaviors might just be a phase. Word of warning that it's dated since it was written in 1985, especially in its assumptions about gender roles (for both parents and kids). I was able to mostly ignore ...more
Nov 21, 2008 Tiffany rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting-books
I don't agree with everything in this book, and it's been a while since I read it, but what this series does is give a great overview of what to expect socially, psychologically, emotionally, and in regard to general development. It's a little outdated, but there have been a lot of moments when I was like, ah, yes - now it makes sense. For example, 3's hate it when things are not whole - once I understood that, I had a better grasp of how to help my own daughters cope with some frustrations. Not ...more
Hannah Notess
Jun 30, 2015 Hannah Notess rated it it was ok
I think the word you're looking for is "frenemy."
Jul 13, 2010 Jeff rated it it was ok
I thought that Ames had written what the essential user friendly guides to child development based on the fact that every time I turn around these books pop up. They are at our library, on bookshelves in every major bookstore, in people's homes. They are down right ubiquitous.

With all this coverage you would think they were quite good. However, they were all published in 1985 and might as well have been published in the 1950's with the language that Ames uses and the assumptions that she makes.
Jul 31, 2013 Kristen rated it liked it
Shelves: parenting
Outdated? Yes. Full of dad-at-work mom-at-home assumptions? Yes. Worth reading for some of the child development points? Yes.

I picked this up when my 3 1/2 year old suddenly changed into a new, uncooperative, tantrum-thrower. And I discovered that everything that was going on could be explained by his developmental stage. The descriptions of his behavior were spot on. Unfortunately the only concrete recommendation was to get a babysitter to help us ride out the storm until he turns 4, which is
Shala Howell
Mar 10, 2011 Shala Howell rated it liked it
Helpful for the overview of the developmental state. Several times I found myself saying "so that's why my daughter does that!"

The rest of it was a bit hit or miss. For example, I wish I had read their prescription for a birthday party before throwing ours. On the other hand, some of their assumptions about family structure are dated. Especially the assumptions about the role of the father, who was described as being a stern disciplinarian out of touch with his children. That may have been true
Jun 17, 2014 Kristan rated it it was ok
I'm not sure how (according to the author) a 3 year old is pleasant to be around, but when they turn 3.5, it's a whole different story. I find my 3 year old to be extremely challenging right now, and I can't imagine his behavior will be drastically worse in 6 months. The one thing I did takeaway was to minimize the stand-offs and battles and not be afraid to enlist outside help.
Nov 23, 2016 Whitney rated it liked it
Shelves: parenting
Basically just told me what I already know (3.5 is a rough age), with not much advice on how to deal with it - except 'hire a babysitter'.
Emily Orgill
Oct 10, 2016 Emily Orgill rated it it was ok
Only a couple of chapters were truly helpful in my understanding what is normal for a 3 year old and what to do to help them. Maybe it would have been more helpful when it was written in the 80s but I feel a more modern book would have had a little more to offer. Being told that the way to deal with this age of defiance against mother is to have someone else tend them as much as possible makes me doubt the authors credibility. It at least makes me wonder how much they align with my views.
Aug 09, 2009 Amy rated it it was ok
What a strange book. I can tell it was written in 1985, because the parenting advice is a little different than what you hear these days. It's part of a series on child development that covers various ages ("Your 3-Year-Old, Your 4-Year-Old, etc) published by a institute on child development.

I picked it up because another book I read mentioned this book as a helpful resource in knowing what's normal in each child's age, and what's going on with your child's emotional, physical, social developme
Jun 20, 2012 Sarah rated it did not like it
Shelves: parenting
I can say a couple of positive things about this book:

1) Some of the developmental stuff is helpful! It's just that I don't entirely trust it based on the fact that the book is based on very old research.

2) It tells parents not to try to break their children's will, and to approach discipline as teaching, and to parent based on a good understanding of what is age-appropriate for your child.

Bad things:

First of all, it's written in such a way that I found it very difficult to read. It's not that i
Mar 09, 2016 Christa rated it liked it
This whole series seems to want for a good editor. The organization of the book results in lots of redundancies. The book switches often from taking about "Three" and "Three and a Half," because the authors posit that behavior is markedly different in each, but rather than break those ages into separate sections, each section has some observations of each. Every time they make an observation it seems to include a caveat that not all children will do these things at these ages, which is ...more
May 02, 2009 Thystle rated it liked it
Recommends it for: folks with three year olds
This is one of those books where there are little bits of information that are very helpful and whole chunks where I read it and cringe. It talks about what three year olds are like and basically generalizes 36 months old vs. 42 months old (3.5years). It also says some things like "an occassional spanking, if it works, is not immoral..." !!! I've tried to ignore all of the sections on parenting if it assumes a control/coercion world view and just look for the interesting parts.

The section on hav
Jamie Holcomb
Dec 30, 2015 Jamie Holcomb rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, parenting
This is an oldie, but it’s still in print for a reason. It takes parents through the difficulties they may have with their three-year-old—or, more to the point, their three-and-a-half-year-old, and how to work around those difficulties. It’s not so much about how to get your kid to “obey” as how to understand what’s going on with your little one and adjust your expectations accordingly. Many kids this age, apparently, seem to go backwards—they are less obedient, less “easy,” and even their motor ...more
Jennifer Ridgway
Mar 07, 2016 Jennifer Ridgway rated it really liked it
This series (it goes up to age 14) is a great source for information, not necessarily advice. It helps explain what typical behaviour and development look like at three and at three-and-a-half (and if my children are any example, the turn at 3.5 is real). While there are definitely assumptions made (and the authors are quick to acknowledge that every child is different and follows a different loop--the ages are generalized based on an aggregate), there have been moments in both the Your Two-Year ...more
Oct 25, 2013 Ashley rated it liked it
At 150 pages this is a very quick read and has helped me calm down about my three year old's behaviors of late. (Don't be turned away by the publishing date-1985-or old photos!) My daughter has been very oppositional and acting out against her younger brother to the point where I felt a bit helpless and frustrated. This book mostly describes behaviors through out this year (vs telling you how to discipline). It has helped me see the world through her eyes and understand why she's acting the way ...more
May 02, 2012 Lauri rated it it was amazing
Your Three-Year-Old:Friend or Enemy isn't your typical parenting book. Louise Bates Ames's series of child development books covers ages 1-14. So far, I've read the 2- and 3-year-old books and plan to keep reading these every year before my son's birthday.

Published first in the 70's, what makes these books different from most parenting books is the focus on behavioral information. This book won't tell you how to deal with your 3-year-old's tantrums exactly, but it will tell you WHY your child ac
Aug 14, 2012 Kristin rated it it was ok
My son is 2 1/2 and I read this book to prepare myself for the upcoming year because so many people say 3 is worse than 2. I found the developmental cycles helpful, but most of the time I found myself saying "My son does all this already." I don't think it's because he's ahead of other children his age or the developmental schedule, I just think children are progressing faster than they were in the early to mid 80's. I also found it confusing that what to expect from a 3 year old was immediately ...more
Oct 27, 2011 Grace rated it it was amazing
Possibly the most helpful parenting book I've ever read, and I've read quite a few. It is nice to see my issues addressed honestly for once, and her tips are priceless. Some of my favorites: if your kid freaks out about getting dressed in the morning, put their new shirt on the night before so that you only have to wrestle them into clean pants the next day. If your kid flat out refuses to bathe and turns daily grooming into a battle to the death, head to the beach. I'm sure whatever gross stuff ...more
Jan 21, 2009 Christina rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned, parenting
Perhaps the publication date should have been a clue. And maybe the sections on child behavior (what's typical for the age, how this age interacts with other kids) might have been interesting, if that's what I was looking for. But some days, my three-and-a-half year old drives me crazy... and the authors' "best advice" is to hire a babysitter. What, I'm supposed to hire a babysitter to raise my daughter for me for the next 6 to 9 months? Why not just put her in full-time daycare and go get an of ...more
Dec 19, 2013 Kristi rated it liked it
As it turns out, more enemy than friend. (Kidding. Sometimes.)

The insight of this book is the recognition that three-and-a-half-year-olds are creatures very different from three-year-olds, and often not in a particularly pleasant or comprehensible way, which can require adjustments to one's parenting approach. That part alone made this book worth reading, especially as I downloaded it in somewhat of a panic ("why the hell is [my three-and-a-half-year-old] acting like this all of a sudden?!?") an
Jul 19, 2008 Jeannette rated it really liked it
Shelves: mommy-books
This series, one for each age through the teenage years, is indispensable. It goes through developmental behaviors, expectations, difficulties...everything you need to know about that age group. So when you're about ready to pull out your hair, it's nice to know that it's developmentally appropriate, and how to direct children to maximize the benefits of their age as well as be able to show them grace by setting reasonable expectations for their age. The series was written several years ago, so ...more
Breanna Leigh
Sep 04, 2013 Breanna Leigh rated it it was amazing
Of all the "Your _ Year Old" books I've read so far, I found this one the most helpful. It was nice to know how common things like my son's sudden excessive blinking are among three-and-a-half year olds. Or that it's not just in my imagination, he really is pushing harder against me than he does anyone else. And this is all normal. And this too shall pass.
I am so grateful for these books, not only because they teach what you can expect from your child, but also because they put in a few tried a
Jun 01, 2009 Annemarie rated it really liked it
My other mother-in-law introduced me to these wonderful books. I love that they are small and each one focuses on one year. one book related to the next. I love these so much more than the what to expect books. They were written a while ago, but they were done at Yale, and I don't think any of it is outdated or no longer true. Well, expect for the part about children playing with records - I don't know what children have records anymore. ... I wonder if my parents still have mine... I loved ...more
Dec 24, 2013 Michel rated it it was ok
My copy of this book is from 1985 and you can tell. There is so much "stay at home mom" assumption along with "hands off dad". Times have changed! There were some really interesting parts of the book. There were many times that I found myself thinking, "Evan does that!" For example that at this age, they start to use time references even though they don't really understand what they mean. They might say "let's do that at 8:30" even though they have no idea when 8:30 is. It was worth reading but ...more
Jul 17, 2014 Jessie added it
Shelves: parenting
It's hard to give a star rating for this, because it's so outdated in some ways (1976 publication date). Some of the research holds up, and I found her examination of the marked differences between 3 and 3 1/2 really interesting. However, some of it is useless. It amazes me how much thoughts have changed on potty training in just one generation. Now it's pretty common to have 3 year olds still in diapers, while back then it was practically unheard of from what I can tell.
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