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Surviving the Threenager

As a self-proclaimed veteran mom – simply because I have older children as well as younger – I try to be as candid as possible about parenting. In other words, dont expect me to sugarcoat anything. When people ask me to describe my children, many colorful descriptions come to mind but usually the word “terrorists” make it’s way in. And if you were to ask me to describe my 3 year old, well, the kindest way I can do so is calling him “spirited.”

Everyone has heard of the “terrible two” stage but it seems that we are unfairly kept in the dark about the threenager years. Like, as soon as they turn 3, things will get easier. NO. NO. NO. This is a lie to try to keep you sane during the “terrible two” stage. Then 3 comes along and they become absolutely impossible to control and their attitudes become comparable to that of a teenage girl who was just told no to going to prom as a freshman.

This age is best survived with a tribe of other moms whom also have tiny little terrorist threenagers ruling their lives. It is also helpful to read as many mom blogs centered around the threenager as possible – not for the advice per se, but for the solidarity.

At this age, they’re working on developing their emotions and being able to verbalize what it is their feeling. That might be why you’re seeing a Jekyll and Hyde situation where one minute they’re trying to push/punch/slap and the next they’re hugging/snuggly/loving. These little ones dont have the vocabulary to express how their feeling in the moment so they act out their emotions instead.

The best thing to do with a 3 year old is to model the behaviors that you want them to mimic. Easier said than done. Because it is so easy to snap in these trying times when they’ve done the same bad behavior 300 times that day or have broken down for the millionth time in an hour. And it will happen – you will snap. Give yourself grace. Apologize. Give them a big hug. Move on. They have and if you dwell on it, it makes parenting that much harder.

This age is hard. Hell. It can plain old suck at times. Remember that this is just a developmental phase and you’ll get through this one, just like you got through the last one, just in time to start the next one. You will not get out unscathed, but you will come out stronger and able to manage your tiny person a little bit better.

Trust me when I say, I know what you’re going through. G has used a brand new television as a slide. He tells me he doesn’t love me when he doesn’t get his way and then that he does love me when he’s in trouble. He will try to beat O one second and then snuggle him up the next. He runs through this house like an overzealous tornado. Most days I want to cry, pull my hair out and laugh all at the same time.

Just breathe. This too shall pass. Laugh when you can – even if you have to do it so they can’t see. Take a break from them – put them in their room for quiet time so you can breathe for a minute. And remember that one day you’ll be the old lady at the park telling a mom how much you love this age.

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