Dear SooN Parents of the Internet,
Have you heard the term “Threenager” before?
Threenager is what happens when you take the attitude and stereotypical behavior associated with actual teenagers and package that energy into an adorable three-year-old child’s body.
Now. I definitely have a Threenager. And let me tell you, those twos were a dream compared to this relentless rollercoaster. He’s fast, he’s witty and he’s exhaustingly unpredictable.
As the parent, I feel like my child spends literally every waking moment declaring his independence. I’d probably admire his spirit if I wasn’t serving as the designated adult in charge. Here are three classic examples of what it’s like have a Threenager in your life [and what to do about it].
I can’t wait to hear what your T
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Three Common Signs of a Threenager
#1 Spontaneous Changes to Appearance
Something tells me that his partner in crime [a former threenager] gave him inspiration…
#2 Defying Authority
I first tried the “mother’s kiss” which involves holding the nostril that isn’t blocked closed with your finger, then blowing into your child’s mouth [like CPR]. The hope is that this creates enough pressure to force said object out the other side.
Unfortunately for me, this method was unsuccessful. It took a trip to the pediatrician, a small forceps-like tool and about 1-hour of patience to extract that little translucent bead.
Nostril for Scale
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#3 That Look of Innocence
This wisdom would have been more useful
#1: Guard lowered following the Look of Innocence
#2: Threenager capitalizes on the opportunity
#3: Threenager at crime scene
Threenager 1, garage door 0… *Final*
Three Strategies for Tackling Threenager Behavior
#1: Bring Your Humor
I find this to be especially useful when my Threenager damages things which cost me a great personal expense to replace [such as the garage door].
And in return for that expense, I’ll be telling this story FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE.
#2: Turn it into a Learning Opportunity
While #1 is my own personal coping mechanism, this tactic is how I earn my parenting stripes…
Following the standard safety check, my strategy generally is as follows:
- Replay the incident with the Threenager
- Discuss cause and effect
- Talk through alternate outcomes using open-ended questions. A few of my favorites:
- What gave you the idea to do that?
- Now that you know what happens when you do it that way, can you think of a different way so that doesn’t happen?
- What do you think you’ll do next time you come across [whatever just happened]?
#3: Share your Best Practices
I felt misled after my first
It’s a powerful combination that I only came to realize after experiencing some significant consequences. Rather than cover up my mistakes, I’ve decided to make it my personal mission to
So if I’ve saved you from repeating my mistakes — that’s a win. If you have any you’re willing to share, please do so in the comments. Maybe together we can help a future Threenager parent avoid learning them the hard way. #themoreyouknow
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We cannot wait to hear from you!
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A wise preschool teacher once told me that establishing boundaries and consequences with a three or four year old will pay off when that child becomes a teenager. Threenagers need to learn a pattern of thinking that they will use in future decision-making. He said that you can identify every teenager who missed this step! I remember my father creating hypothetical scenarios to discuss when we were very little. The best time for a lesson is immediately after a child has made a bad decision.
Such sage wisdom Sue, thank you for sharing! I’ll have to look for ways to apply this.