Dealing with a Threenager
A Threenager is a 3-year old that’s acting like a nasty teenager, going through a puberty of their own.
I thought I was lucky. My son didn’t go through the famous “Terrible Twos” that most mommies speak ill of. He had always been an obedient toddler who listens to instructions and doesn’t throw tantrums. Then all of a sudden, he enters ‘puberty’ just before he’s turning Three (next month)! And I have to admit, it hasn’t been easy, so kudos to mommies who went through dealing with the Terribles Twos AND Threes!
Perhaps it was due to influence from his daycare mates; or perhaps it was because his little sister is about to be due soon; or perhaps we just spoiled him a little too much. But he’s been a handful lately - throwing tantrums when he couldn’t get his way, screaming and crying when he wants something, stubbornly insisting on certain things and being extra clingy! My little angel had evolved into a manipulative little monster!
So how to deal with a Threenager?
To be honest, I’m not an expert. Like the rest of you here, I am learning and growing as well.
1. Never lose your temper
Two wrongs don't make a right. When my son is throwing his temper, it wouldn’t help if I’m going to be screaming at him too. It’ll just become a screaming competition. If you don’t have a good temper or patience yourself, get your partner to handle the threenager. Unfortunately for me, my husband is just another threenager (except that he’s turning 30!). So I’m always the one trying to settle my son, before my husband starts screaming at my son, and my house becomes a warzone.
2. Try to understand and communicate with them
When my son throws a fit, I always try to talk to him; distract him and calm him down. Toddlers are like little adults; they have their feelings and want to express them as well. And because they’re not as strong in communication (yet), they try to express themselves through their emotions. Most of the time, they just want to be comforted and coaxed.
3. Be consistent
Sometimes, the threenager doesn’t understand boundaries and it’s not their fault. Let us be real - everybody has different parenting styles, even between the husband and wife. When there is no consistency in educating your children, it confuses them. For example, Daddy allows TV while Mommy doesn’t - so would it be the child’s fault when he insists on watching TV and cries for it? He’ll probably be confused why Mommy doesn't give him screentime when Daddy always initiates TV sessions! Always make sure you and your partner are aligned on how you wish to handle your child.
4. Stand firm
I’ve mentioned earlier not to lose your temper, but that doesn’t mean to give in to your child’s demands when he is throwing tantrums. By doing so, you will be encouraging this negative behavior of tantrums each time he demands for something. He will be thinking that screaming and crying is an effective way to get what he wants; and will continue to do so each time he doesn’t get his way!
5. Offer an alternative or solution
Instead of giving in, offer an alternative or ‘bribe’ them. So he doesn’t want to finish his veggies? Bribe him into finishing them by promising him a reward - it can be something small and cheap, like stickers of his fav cartoon character. In fact, this was how I successfully toilet trained my son - a sticker reward each time he pees in his potty! Nowadays, he’s resisting bedtime, and I use this same sticker trick to bribe him to get into bed too. It’s amazing how a sticker can stop tears!
Dealing with a child is never easy, whether they’re 3 months old or 3 years old. And worse, 13 years old! Don’t take it to heart if things don’t go perfectly your way. Parenting is not about perfecting; it’s about growing and learning together; you and your child. They’re only this small once, and in a blink of an eye, our feisty Threenagers are gonna grow up into teenagers for real. Treasure these moments and embrace them; be it good days or bad days!
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Amber
Hi, I’m Amber and I’m a mother of a toddler boy and (soon) a newborn daughter. I was previously a stay at home mom and now a working mom. I love being a mother and every part of it, including the struggles and woes. Delighted to share more about my motherhood journey and parenting tips!