Before your kid turned three, you thought that the word “threenager” was a cute way to label a 3-year old that feels more grown up and independent, almost like a teenager. You never considered the darker aspects of a teenager’s personality: moody, picky, indignant, and downright unpleasant at times. You never imagined anything could be worse than the Terrible Twos. But man were you wrong, and here you are, dealing with your threenager. Need some help? We’ve got it right here!
Tips for dealing with your threenager
1. Acknowledge their feelings.
You can nip a threenager’s tantrums in the bud if you get down to their level and show you care about their feelings. It goes a long way towards defusing the situation.
2. Use the “you get what you get, and you don’t get upset” tactic.
After you’ve acknowledged why your threenager is so upset or sad, it is important to let them know that this is life. It is full of disappointments, regardless of what colour the dinner plate or cup is. So, if your threenager throws herself to the floor because her sandwich isn’t cut into triangles, use the line and let her understand that this is just how it is. If she’s hungry enough, she’ll be happy with it and eat it.
3. Warn well ahead of transitions.
It might sound basic, but it is the key to success. Give your threenager a ten-minute warning, then a five-minute warning, and finally, a two-minute warning before something goes down. There will still be absolute heartache when he has to abandon whatever it is he was busy with, but it averts the full-blown tantrum or boneless episode.
4. Plan ahead for the dreaded car crisis.
Threenagers want to get in the car themselves and buckle their seatbelts, which means you’ll have to leave the house earlier. You can also try buying a small, cheap stool so that they can manage getting into the car seat by themselves. Pick your battles wisely and make sure you bring enough distractions like books, colouring books, or iPads to help keep them calm in the car.
5. Use a reward system.
Threenagers need consequences and loads of positive praise in order to keep themselves in check. By rewarding them for a certain amount of good behaviour, you might not get to eliminate tantrums, but it does keep their reactions to certain scenarios much tamer than they can be.