I was pretty surprised that the post I wrote on our threenager was a such hit globally. I didn’t coin the phrase, but was happy to learn that Emylia’s behavior is perfectly normal, and that threenager’s exist in France, Germany, Spain and Australia too! While most parents agreed that this is a tough phase, some chastised me for raising a spoiled child, or allowing her to rule the roost. (Cue Taylor Swift – Haters gonna hate hate hate…) I can assure you folks, we typically don’t react to these behaviors, nor give in, but we have come up with some strategies on coping with this tough age.
So when your little threenager cops an attitude, here’s how you can strike back!
TOP 5 TIPS FOR COPING WITH A THREENAGER
1. Acknowledge Their Feelings – When a threenagers starts to fume, it is possible to nip the tantrum in the bud. Try saying, “I’m sorry you’re frustrated or (insert any word here) that you can’t (insert any ridiculous thing that set them off).” Getting down to their level and showing you care about their feelings really does help!
2. “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.” – Of course after you acknowledge they’re sad or livid, it’s important to let them know that this is how it is. Life is full of little disappointments, no matter what color your dinner plate or cup is. “You get what you get and you don’t get upset”, is my mantra when she throws herself on the floor because her sandwich is a triangle and not a square. Of course I say it in a polite way, and tell her mommy can’t make another one. If she’s hungry enough, she’ll eat it eventually!
3. Always Give a Warning When a Transition is Coming – This one is basic, but key. We usually start at ten minutes, then five, then the two minute warning. (Dos Minutos!) It doesn’t stop the absolute heartache of leaving the activity, but it does usually avert the full blown tantrum or boneless episode.
4. Plan Ahead for the Car Crisis– If you have to leave early so they can get in the car by themselves and buckle their own car seat, then leave a little early. And better yet, buy a small, cheap stool so they can climb into the car seat by themselves. I pick my battles, and if she needs this to feel independent and like a big girl…go for it! I also bring lots of distractions like a book, DVD, aquadoodle travel or wow coloring books for carline.
5. Use Behavior Charts – The clean up song not working anymore? (Me either.) Threenagers need consequences and lots of positive praise. I used a jelly bean jar for a few days before I realized I was bribing my kids with candy. (I know, I know ok?! My husband was on a long road trip and I needed something!) We do a color chart now similar to my daughters school. If their clips rise to pink they get a prize from the “treasure box”. (Aka something from the Dollar Tree or $1 bin at Target) This doesn’t stop the above boneless episodes when our threenager’s clip is moved down to yellow or orange, but her reactions have been much tamer.
Will these tactics turn your threenagers back into your sweet angelic baby? Probably not. But they will help decrease the frequency of outbursts…and make all of your lives a little bit easier. You know what they say…
I have this coming soon. My smallest will be three in July but already acting like a three year old. 🙂 Thank you for the tips!
I have a threenager… It’s so funny because we say ‘You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit’ Great Minds!! It’s a phase, my Mom keeps telling me that 3 is the worst age as far as fits, and all that fun stuff. I hope she is right lol
I am in the midst of raising a threenager and these are great tips! I love your definition of boneless!
We’re in this season right now 🙂 Hopefully with a birthday coming up in a few months, we’ll start to ease out of it but with our second not far behind, I may just run and hide lol.
I don’t have a threenanger.. currently. I had one and now I have a two-year-old who is still totally agreeable so of course I hope that stays..
That said, in my experience, threenagers are out there and I want to be prepared. I love the part about preparing them for transitions and acknowledging their feelings! That seems to help my five-nager.
These are all such great tips! My two year old is already exhibiting threenager qualities, so I’m bracing myself for a rough year and a half. I know from going through it with my older two that these things really do help!
I saw that your post was visible in France! Awesome!
People chastised you about your parenting skills? Seriously, threenagers are real and they are intense. I have dealt with 3 so far and not one of them has been the same as they passed through this stage. They are learning and growing and the world is a very big place with lots to learn. It is tough for them.
Don’t be scared of the future, they are so much fun as they grow up 🙂 Love your list!
Creative Mama Renee says
My threenager needs options at meal times, that way he feels like he is more in charge than he really is. Simple things, like do you want and apple or an orange , or an egg burrito or cereal (for breakfast). Also, acknowledging that he can do something is huge! Buckling his own seatbelt, peeling his own clementine, etc.
I need some help with this one. I have four year old that fits this description. What I see more often though is that when the other parent comes into the room, she acts up. Is this common for you all?
that cute little angel? i don’t believe it. and congrats on exciting global success!
Thanks and yes, she is a little tyrant! But we love her spirit and independence and are praying this phase ends soon. Luckily she’s taming down by using the behavior charts.
Another term for boneless- “limp toddler technique”. This gives true emphasis on the threenagers innate ability to use specialized methods shared in the close knit circle of toddlerhood.
Kate Williams says
I’ve had a threenager so I totally feel your pain! Of course now they have turned four its totally different… 😉
Elaine A. says
Oh man, #3 has always been a biggie around here for that age! For sure! I had to learn that one the hard way… Great post! I love the term “Threenager”. 😀
Mine’s 4. Yes, the transition one! It never worked for me completely but it was a bit of a buffer. She still has trouble w/ transitions, but then again so does her mom so I guess it’s fair and genetic!
We all do don’t we?!
Julie @ Don't Lick Your Sister says
Love this follow-up post! And cannot believe how nasty people can be! After reading this, I started using the method of going up and down on a color chart and earning a prize. It has really helped me to do more praising and positive reinforcement and has worked wonderfully, overall! Again, not that tantrums and hitting and screaming have gone away entirely, but it is BETTER!! Thanks so much for the tip!
Oh I’m SO happy this helped! We love the color chart, and have seen such an improvement as well.
This was so funny! I remember the threenager stage well. My oldest is almost five now, and it does get better!
Great post with great advice! Found it on Sugar Bee Craft’s Link-up.
These are all really great tips, and say this would work great! We always used to say you get what you get and you do not throw a fit, and it worked great.
Alyssa @ Piece of Home says
Great tips! I love the “threenager” word. It’s so true! So nice to see you acknowledging things that make things go smoother! Thanks for sharing at OMHG Wordless Wednesday this week!
Aurie Jenkins says
threenager! Love it. I have one of those right now. so fun!! 😉 Everyone always said 2 was the worst but after 4 kids Im pretty sure 3 is the worst. Thanks for the tips.
4 kids? Maybe you could share your tips with me!
I’m so glad you linked this up w/ us at The Wednesday Roundup this week. I have a 3 year old from hell. Nothing works w/ her that worked w/ the other kids. I’m not sure where she is picking up some of her attitude but it’s brutal. I too, pick and choose my battles ie: if she wants to wear the same princess dress over her clothes everyday, who cares. I go with it. But you better believe that if she isn’t being a good listener, that dress is getting yanked away! I’m not sure there is a “right” thing, I think I’m going to close my eyes, cross my fingers and hope for the best, lol.
In my opinion, there is no “right” way with parenting. We just have to go with our guts and do what’s best for our kids. It is a TOUGH phase….good luck!
Lysa Co-Host OMHGWW says
Great blog post and tips for dealing with a threenager! Hahaha! I love that term as I had never heard it before but how fitting it is! 😉 Thank you for linking up to the Oh My Heartsie Girls Wordless Wednesday Linky Party!
Wishing you a fabulous week!
I am past that stage but I survived 3 times! I enjoyed reading your blog very much. Thank you for joining us at #purebloglove. We enjoy having you every week on Thursday night at 8PM through Sunday night. ~Cydnee
Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom says
I have a threenager and I totally follow most of these tips. Planning ahead and giving warnings for transitions are biggies over here. The world ends if we neglect either of these.
Oh, and I have a parenting companion for the threenager stage… wine… lots of wine.
Thanks for sharing.
I can’t see you drinking wine for some reason, but I’ll raise my glass to you tonight. At 7pm when she passes out!
Crystal Bissonnette says
My oldest is four and some days it blows my mind how he acts. From the crying to the back talking it is like I have a 14 year old, not a 4 year old. Some days I parent with much more grace than others. I am pretty strict with him and hold him accountable. This parenting thing is not easy!
It’s funny that I’ve always told my kids “you get what you get and you don’t fuss a bit.”
Live from the playroom says
Awesome post, these are so constructive. I need to get on the behavior chart.