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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 why. I had no idea what I was in for until I did some research.
What is Threenager?
It is a three-year-old child that has the attitude of a teenager, but worse because they are still learning right from wrong.
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 meltdown. In a rush to get somewhere on time but your child insists that he must put on his shoes by himself.
- No matter how hard you try to ask about their day at preschool, they never tell. 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 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 a quiet time when they are napping. Jack said he couldn’t clean up the mess he made because it was during quiet time. However, when I said that’s fine, I will get a trash bag that was the end of that.
- They start bargaining with you. You may begin 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 I wish I could be in timeout 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 significant 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 display it correctly.
Changes your child is going through during this time:
- They are learning to manage and communicate their emotions. They start to understand their feelings 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. It may involve hitting, biting, or pushing on impulse as they are learning the difference between appropriate and inappropriate conflict resolution skills.
- They’re learning empathy. When someone is hurt, your child can relate and will sometimes act to make the person feel better. It can give you a heartwarming response as they are doing what you have done to all their boo-boos.
How long does this phase last?
The good news is that most parents face something similar to a ‘Threenager’ 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.
This phase often can begin and end with a few months to a year as it varies on how you handle each situation and your child. Honestly, I wish I could say days, but dealing with it first hand back to back with both boys some days are better than others.
What is after the Threenager phase?
Well, you asked, and let me tell you when you think you have had enough, there are the fucking fours. Sorry about the language, but that is what it is. My experience on that will come later because we are currently going through that with Jack while Luke is in the Threenager phase.
Do you have a Threenager at home? What do they do or say that makes you feel like you are in the same boat? I’d love to hear it because of the things are funny when you look back on it after it happened.