10 Signs You Might Be Parenting a Threenager


Our home has been in full-blown threenager mode for eight months now and looking back, I only thought I had it rough the first go-around. Child number two has definitely turned me into a veteran threenager survivor. Growing up, I always heard “ohhhhh terrible twos,” but no; “terrible twos” has nothing on a threenager. So, if you think you might be in the same boat, here are some positive signs that you are parenting a threenager:

1) You would rather eat cereal for dinner than try to take her (or him) to the store to buy dinner.

There are multiple reasons for this. Of course, if she is in full-blown threenager mode, you are only dooming yourself for a public meltdown that is sure to attract lots of judgmental stares. You might get lucky and be surrounded by fellow threenager parents who will shoot you a look of solidarity, but most likely you’ll just be stuck with the stares and a screaming threenager. The other option is that your three year old starts out in a good mood, but the moment she realizes you are not going to buy her every single snack in the store, she reverts to meltdown mode anyway. Cereal for dinner it is, unless Dad is home for you to make a solo trip.

2) You could have a career as a hostage negotiator

Seriously. I feel like I do this on a daily basis. 

3) Silence is not golden. Silence is scary.

I mean, really, if I don’t hear the threenager every few seconds, I panic. I still have nightmares about scrubbing Play-Doh out of her carpet, and I do not need a repeat.


For you, anyway. That Play-Doh I had to scrub out of the carpet? Yeah, that happened when I decided to take a 20-minute nap. Huge mistake. Just accept that mommy naps are a thing of the past. Grieve, and move on.

5) You can’t keep up with what meals are acceptable.

I gave up a long time ago and just decided that if she’s hungry, she will eat. Yesterday she loved pancakes, today she hates them, and next Tuesday she will love them again. Five minutes ago she loved spaghetti, and now she doesn’t. It’s a vicious cycle. Don’t even try to keep up.

6) You’re no longer phased by the random things that make her cry.

Her shoe is too pink. She wanted Daddy to get her dressed, not Mommy. She wanted to walk in front. You get the picture. Previously I tried to understand, but now I know that there is no rhyme or reason.

7) You experience the attitude of a teenager in her little body.

A three year old is so tiny and adorable: the little fingers and toes, the funny things she says. But the attitude is big. Don’t let her innocent little smiles fool you. There’s a storm a brewin’ (gearing up for the year of the fournado).

8) Using the bathroom alone feels like a vacation.

Is five minutes of privacy too much to ask for? I mean, my eight year old still does this sometimes too, but it never fails that the threenager immediately follows me into the bathroom. She can be on the other side of the house and as soon as I walk in, she appears. It’s like she just knows. On the rare occasion I have the bathroom to myself, it feels like a mini-vacay. 

9) You’ve considered starting a support group.

Seriously. Is this a thing? It should be. Let’s make it happen. Snacks and Netflix are mandatory. 

10) At the end of the day, you know it’s worth it.

Some days she makes me feel crazy and she pushes every button I have, but at the end of the day when I tuck her into bed and kiss her goodnight, my heart feels so full that it might possibly explode. 

I know it’s hard, Momma, and some days you may feel like you’re failing, but you’re doing just fine. You are the hero of that threenager. And if you’re feeling like you might be at your wit’s end, just remember that it could be worse; you could be Caillou’s mom.

This post was originally published on June 6, 2017.



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