The Threenager – My story

The ‘threenager’ has landed.

People talk about the ‘Terrible Twos’ but to be honest I think it’s more about the ‘threenager’; you know the ones I mean, the kind, generous, playful little things who suddenly snap and turn into bolshie,  obstinate balls of aggression and attitude at the flip of a switch.


Don’t get me wrong, I never thought this parenting lark would be easy but once we were past the ‘Terrible Twos’ (and of course the jealousy that came when Benjamin was born) which I didn’t find too horrendous, I thought we would have a relatively easy ride until the teenage years. How wrong could I be! The ‘threenager’ has come to land and has taken complete control of my daughter.


Only yesterday morning when dropping Isabella off to pre-school did we have one of the most epic tantrums in the playground and it was all because she refused to say one little word. All she had to do was answer one of my friend’s questions with simple ‘yes’ and she could have continued her day but instead, she refused; she got silly and then it became ‘a thing’. Without meaning to, this was now a standoff between Mother and ‘Threenager’ in the playground. (If there’s anything that gets me riled at the moment, it is rudeness.) I can’t bear her being deliberately rude and ignoring people but at the same time I didn’t want it to turn into a major standoff either. But it’s too late; I can’t back down now I’ve threatened the sad face on the sticker chart. If I backed down now, the sticker chart foundations would be cracked and ruined. It really was so silly, especially when looking back but it went a little something like this:


At first I gently remind her, ‘Isabella, X has just asked you a question.’.


I am ignored.


Next, I ask her to answer X’s question, ‘Isabella, can you answer X please’.




I then bring out the big guns, ‘If you continue to ignore me, you will get a sad face on your sticker chart. 1, 2, 3. Are you going to answer the question?’




‘Ok, you will have a sad face on your sticker chart.’


EPIC TANTRUM NOW IN FULL SWING (the power of a sad face!) All the other parents and the Pre-School teachers are there. Everyone is trying not to stare but doing that awkward side glance instead. I felt horrible. I felt like I’d failed. Isabella was crying but I didn’t back down. Through snot, tears and stamping feet she finally answered the question. I give her a cuddle and kiss but the bell has rung and all the children are lining up. I have knelt down beside Isabella to explain and to tell her how much I love her. I am given a cheek when I ask for a kiss goodbye. She’s still crying as she has to be walked into the class by one of the teachers. She doesn’t want to go in and I just want to hold her but I know she has to go. 30 minutes later, she’d probably forgotten all about it while I’m at home stewing over it. I really felt rotten. Surely I’m not the only one this happens to?


I was not prepared for these tantrums. It’s just hit me, smack in the face over the last few weeks and boy, it’s painful.


We went through a few little toddler tantrums  before but the tell-tale signs that this has switched into a battle with a ‘threenager’ is the hand on hip, stamping foot while saying ‘NO!’ in a very teenage, sulky manner. Oh and she can hold a grudge. When I went to pick Isabella up after the above insident, I received the cold shoulder for at least 30 minutes – typical teenager ‘threenager’


 Isabella seems to be able to manipulate and push our buttons in an instant. I know it’s a ‘phase’ and she’s just experimenting with her new found independence now she has realised she is a ‘big girl’ but I really hope it will end soon. The thing that I have to remember is that she wants a reaction, she is looking for a reaction and that’s why she’s got a glint of cheeky in her eyes as she’s doing something she knows she shouldn’t but that doesn’t always make it easy to ignore.


We’ve had tantrums of epic proportions from things as little as:


  • She can’t get her arm in her coat because the sleeve is inside out
  • I want her to brush her teeth
  • She needs the toilet but doesn’t want to go
  • She dropped her wand on the floor (SO PICK IT UP!)
  • The rain is going in her eyes
  • She told me she didn’t like a toy anymore and to put it in the bin … so I did! (oh boy, this one was monstrous – okay I probably brought this one on myself!)
  • She dropped her brother
  • She wants a different sandwich
  • I’ve dared to say no
  • She doesn’t want to go to the park (she did 2 minutes earlier


Oh the list seems endless so what can we do with this new species of ‘threenager’?


I am certainly trying to pick my battles and let the smaller things slide but there’s only so much of that I can do surely? I’m sticking to my guns once I’ve made a decision so I don’t undermine things. I have been eating copious amounts of chocolate and biscuits (having a secret stash seems to be the way forward) and most of all I’ve been trying to laugh it off after. It can be really painful at the time and can really hurt but it does blow over in the end. This morning, Isabella woke up a different child again and we had the best morning; she was polite, she played nicely, she listened (to almost everything) and she went to Pre-school happy. She was delightful. I’m just hoping she’s still as happy when I pick her up!

Have you had any experience with a ‘threenager’? Tell us about your story!tantrum









  1. I don’t miss that age It gets better

  2. Oh god don’t tell me this! I have a two year old who decides every sentence has to be a whinge and people keep warning me about the threenager being worse – I am choosing to ignore!!

    • Yes, just ignore!!! I don’t want to scare anyone as each child is different! I chose the head in the sand route too ? hopefully your little one won’t be a threenager!!! X

  3. I remember it well! I also work with pre-school age children, my top tip is ignore all the bad and praise the good, if she tantrums pop her somewhere quiet and then ignore until she calms down, hard I know if it is outside! Good luck.x

  4. She’s finding her feet still and growing her personality. I think it’s important to be consistent but also not make it a battle ground. Good luck!

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