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The Threenager: It's a Real Thing

Updated: Aug 18, 2021

Black and white photo of a little girl on a bed with her head in her hand
When your three your old turns into a threenager

So my adorable toddler, who I thought was a bit of a handful when he turned two, is now at the cusp of turning three. And let me tell you, if you think the terrible twos are bad, there is nothing like the wrath of a threenager.

So how do you know when your child has turned from a fun loving toddler into a teenager trapped in a three year’s old body? Oh you’ll know.


Big Emotions:

PMS has nothing on the mood swings of a three year old. You think the hormonal imbalances of a woman at that time of the month can be bad, spend a day with my son.

One minute my son could be happy and content, laughing along with his sister, listening to his favorite nursery rhyme and the next minute he could be shaking his finger at me yelling “NO MOMMY, NO!” if I ask him if he wants to eat a snack. Heaven forbid I mention the wrong snack food, and we’re in full on meltdown mode. And forget about asking about nap time. Full on World War III if I even think of taking him away from one of his activities.

Where before my son used to come up and cuddle and go down easily, well let’s be honest, less resistant, for nap times, now I'm met with full on screaming, crying, flailing, and finger shaking.

So why the big change? At this age, toddlers are starting to become more independent. They’re starting to better develop their imagination and vocabulary skills, in addition to discovery and asking more questions. It’s also a time where kids try to push their boundaries to the limits.

So how can you navigate through this time?



Having a routine that your child can count on can make a big difference in surviving the year of the threenager. Kids thrive on route and repetition, and even small changes can disrupt their feeling of normalcy and balance. However, as a parent, we know we can’t always have a routine 24/7, so should you need to adjust your child’s routine, announce it to them. Make them a part of the conversation and let them know that instead of a sandwich for lunch, you’re having chicken nuggets. And repeat. Just putting it on the kitchen table without them being made aware could throw them off.

Yes, that sounds funny that you have to announce this to your toddler, but it helps to prepare them for what is coming and they’re not so surprised, and their chance of throwing a tantrum or fit lessens. Therefore, helping you keep your sanity.


Keep Calm and Have a Sense of Humor:

I know sometimes it can feel like eternity when your toddler is throwing a fit or a tantrum, but the way to keep your toddler in check is for you to keep calm. Yep, that’s right - you. Your toddler is looking for a reaction, and if you can keep calm and keep a calm tone, the less fun your toddler will have screaming or making a scene, whether outside or inside the house.

And if all else fails, you can always drink wine and have a good laugh reminiscing about the threeange years.

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