Is your toddler a threenager?

We’ve all heard about the terrible twos – when our precious toddlers turn into tantrum-ing terrors – but not much is mentioned about the ‘threenager’. When your child has blown out the candles on her third birthday cake, you may think she’s past the worst of the bad toddler behaviour – but for a lot of kids it’s only the beginning.

When your toddler is centre of the universe

When your child hits three, she can often think she’s the centre of the universe – and start to act like it too. The biggest difference between toddlers aged two and three, is that a three-year-old can start to realise the power they have and articulate themselves much better. Your toddler is now starting to assert her independence and become more willful.

Your tot can show a lot of attitude, with hands on hips and getting in ‘huff’ when she doesn’t get her way – hence the name ‘threenager’ (the behaviour is not unlike what you’d expect from your average teenager).

What can I do to tame a threenager?

The best thing you can do when you have a raging threenager on your hands is stay calm. This is a lot easier than it sounds, as often they really know how to push your buttons. But kids often mirror the behaviour of their parents, so by staying calm, you’re teaching her how to keep control of her feelings even when there are problems.

Pick your battles with your tot

A three-year-old is often desperate to assert their independence and this is when parent and toddler often bump heads, resulting in a tantrum. A good way to get past this is to let your child have some independence now and again. Even if she’s doing something you don’t particularly like, ask yourself if it really matters, if it doesn’t then let it slide. Dressing seems to be a big issue with three-year-olds, they often have very set ideas about what they want to wear which can differ to their parents, but this is a good way to let you child have her way. While she’ll need to wear a hat while she’s out in the sun, it may not matter if her skirt perfectly matches her top.

Be realistic about your threenager

Your toddler may seem mature and grown up but she’s still young. Make sure you’re realistic about what you expect from her and her behaviour. She will get tired and cranky, so ensure you have adequate downtime during the day even if she’s not napping anymore. A tired and hungry child is more likely to behave in horrible way or throw a full blown tantrum, so keep this in mind.

Keep your sense of humour

Your toddler’s behaviour may make you feel like pulling your hair out a lot of the time – but the best way to get through this threenager phase is to keep your sense of humour. Remember to see the funny side of things, no matter how awful the situation may feel or how badly your toddler behaves. It won’t last forever.



This article was written by Corinne Draper for Kidspot. Sources include: and Women’s and Children’s Health Network.

One Comment

  1. Alezandra 04/01/2019 at 8:15 pm

    This article is just too timely for me. I do have a threenager that is making me turn into a mom-nagger…which I don’t like. I need to learn these tips especially the calming part. It’s always the first step – to keep calm.

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