Do you have a Threenager?
When Jack was two and Luke was one, I would often say I can’t wait to be over the terrible twos. People would always respond that wait till there three, but not many told me about the “threenager.” A threenager is a three-year-old child that has the attitude of a teenager, but worse because they really are still learning right from wrong.
Here are the signs you have a “threenager”:
- They want to do everything themselves. First, you think this is great my child is going to be independent. Then it hits you as you can’t dare to try interfering or expect a major meltdown. In a rush to get somewhere on time but your child insists that he must put on his own shoes by himself.
- No matter how hard you try to ask about their day at preschool they never tell. Seriously, I ask Jack daily when we get in the car and he tells me, “nothing,” “circle time,” or “played outside.” When I ask what you learned during circle time, he says “nothing.”
- Everything must be right there and then. Manners sometimes slip as your child just says, “I want water.” I have said several 100 times now not till you can ask correctly, but he sometimes will and sometimes won’t. If I am in the middle of something and say please give me a minute then prepare for a meltdown, talking back, and possibly an eye roll.
- They’ve started to have comebacks to everything you say. Here are some of today’s comebacks, Momma stop shaking your face no, I am just going to sit here forever, or I can’t do that because of its quiet time. I am currently typing this during quiet time when they are napping. Jack said he couldn’t clean up the mess he made because it was quiet time. However, when I said that’s fine, I will go get a trash bag that was the end of that.
- They start bargaining with you. You may start to hear, “If I clean up all my toys, then I can go outside, or we can go somewhere.” We were going to go to Kings Dominion here in Virginia, but it took three hours to get the playroom cleaned up. We couldn’t go because it got too late to go on a Sunday.
- Parents being put in timeout. Yes, you did read that correctly. I have been put in timeout today because I yelled so I went in the corner with my coffee and sat there. It was kind of peaceful and wish I could almost be in there more often.
During these times I search deep inside for whatever patience I have left. I often must remind myself that he is going through some major life development. He is learning to use his words, independence, and emotions. It is my job as a parent to encourage it and teach how to properly display it.
Some positive changes during this time would be the following:
- They are learning to manage and communicate their emotions. They start to understand their emotions and can tell you that you made them sad because of such and such. My son often tells me I made him cry and that is not nice. I have reminded him that I did that because you would not listen. Their emotions are often intense and can seem overwhelming. The best parents can do during these times is to be patient and understanding.
- They are learning how to solve the conflict. They may hit, bite, or push on impulse as they don’t understand the difference between appropriate and inappropriate conflict resolution.
- They’re learning empathy. When someone is hurt, they can relate and will sometimes act to make the person feel better. It can give you a heartwarming response as they are doing exactly what you have done to all their boo-boos.
The good news is that this just one of the phases most parents face while their children are growing up. They can be hard work, test your patience, and exhausting at times. Other times it melts your heart because they are growing up and holding open doors, saying please, thank you, and so much more.