Well, folks, it’s happened. I had heard about the drama of the terrible twos. We sailed right through that stage with a very few issues. I thought we were out of the woods…I was so very wrong. I’d heard rumors about the threenager stage but didn’t really think it would happen to us. Whelp, I guess our luck has run out. I’m afraid we officially have a threenager living in our home. Good thing she’s cute.
What’s a threenager, you ask? The infamous threenager stage can be defined as 3 going on 13. A stubborn attitude is putting it kindly. The threenager has discovered newfound independence and wants what she wants when and exactly how she wants it. Don’t you dare try to put the milk in the red cup when she clearly (though not verbally) wanted the blue one. I am working on my mind reading skills as I type this. Again, it’s a really good thing she is cute.
One challenge is that I have to keep reminding myself that she is only three! Especially when she uses words like “non-negotiable” (which secretly both scares me and makes me proud). Verbally, she’s 30. Emotionally, she’s 3. I have been reading the research from the experts in the field. In “How Toddlers Thrive,” Klein writes that three-year-olds, “are caught between two battling needs: the desire for self and independence versus the need for comfort, security and the familiar — in other words, mama or dada.”
This is a huge challenge for me. No surprise, I am going to admit I am just a bit Type A. I like order and schedules and accomplished goals at the end of the day. I like getting to places on time. As I continue to evolve as a parent I am working on patience, understanding and self-control. This is a learning experience for me, too.
As I never write about challenges without offering solutions, here are my 4 strategies for dealing with threenager behavior.
- Challenge: A threenager will run away from you whenever it is time to get dressed.
Opportunity: Go get some cardio in and start chasing that kid, mama!
- Challenge: A threenager will go boneless (completely noncompliant and limp) whenever there is a transition (e.g. play date is over, time to go to school, etc.).
Opportunity: This is a great chance to work on your upper body strength as you lift the dead weight of your limp child. Because really, you won’t have time to get to the gym today anyway, right?
- Challenge: A threenager (well, mine at least) will go through a minimum of five dress-up outfits per day.
Opportunity: Sorry, no opportunity here. Just more laundry… but also a chance to have your child work on fine motor skills by helping to fold said laundry.
- Challenge: A threenager can argue and negotiate her way out of just about everything.
Opportunity: Who knows, maybe your kid will end up being a super successful trial lawyer…or dictator of a small country?
See, there’s an upside to everything, right? Threenagers can be tough to parent, frustrating as heck and also, oh so loveable. Take a deep breath. You got this, mama!
Carey Bradshaw, Author (& Nursing Aficionado)
Carey Bradshaw is a working mom just trying to balance it all. She runs Hooter Holster by Carey Bradshaw and Creative Butter. In her (scant) free time, besides perfecting her hands-free pumping bras, she loves yoga, reading, volunteering with All for Animals, and just being outside in the sunshine. Carey lives in Santa Barbara with her husband and business partner, George, their volunteer therapy dog, Buttercup, and their rambunctious and lovable toddler.