How to Handle an Emotionally Unstable Threenager

How To Handle and Emotionally Unstable



You’re fun and spunky little one is turning three, and before your eyes you start to see the future, how your innocent little baby might act as a teenager. This stage is sometimes lovingly referred to as the threenager stage. Being a parent is hard, and the terrible two’s were difficult, but now your little one is more articulate and demanding his or her own autonomy, but they’re only three. What’s a mom to do?

Glad you asked. Some kids go through stages at different rates. The terrible twos can start at 18 months and the threenager attitude can hang on well into the four and five-year-old stages. Behavior outbursts are a part of growing up and maturing into school aged children. Getting a handle on it early is the key to moving into the pre-school and kindergarten age with ease and grace.

1. Their behavior is directly linked to your behavior.

If you are aggressive, your kids will be more aggressive. If you are rude (which I know you’re not) your kids pick up on it and your behavior will directly affect their as they grow. Children are observers and they are more likely to do what they see you do, then do what you tell them to do.

2. Pick your battles, but always win the battles you pick.

Ever heard that statement before? I really started living by this statement when my little two-year-old started acting out and throwing fits. I didn’t know what to do. My boys had never thrown fits. At least not pound your arms on the ground in the middle of the store fits. So I made a commitment to always do what I said and stick to punishments, but I found that every time she did something crazy, I was getting overwhelmed. Then it occurred to me that I was over punishing.

What really helped was to pick my battles. If she wasn’t really getting into too much trouble I would ignore the behavior and she would usually calm down on her own. But if I chose to engage in behavior modification, I had to stick to my guns at all costs. She had to know that my word was law. This really helped me keep my sanity and hers too.

3. Threenagers want boundaries.

It might seem like they’re too young to really understand boundaries, even though they are always pushing at them. But a threenager and a terrible twoer want boundaries to make them feel secure and to know that you care. I baby sat a little boy he was the same age, almost exactly, as my little girl. Anytime he broke the rules he would get the same treatment my daughter would; a trip to the corner or automatic nap time. I really thought he would hate me and hate coming over, but what surprised me was that he always talked to his mom about how much he liked me. He even wanted to sit by me for a church potluck. Interesting, don’t you think?

4. It’s ok to put them in their place.

I wonder if our society so values children’s safety and security, that we forgot that they are children and need to learn to respect adults. Teaching them at a young age how to respect adults will help them out tremendously in the future. If they can learn respect now, in the future they will automatically respect their teachers and bosses and do much better in life than the child or adult that bucks authority and get expelled or fired.

One way to help them respect you is to not let them interrupt your adult conversations. Let them know that what they have to say is important, but it’s rude to interrupt and they can wait. Teaching your child that the world, in fact, does not revolve around them will help them tremendously in the future. A humble person this day in age is a hard thing to find, and when you do they are a treasure.

5. Don’t set yourself up for failure.

There are things you can do to insure your success at handling a threenager, and there are things you can do that will set you up for immediate failure. One thing my husband and I rarely do is eat out. When we do eat out with the kids we make sure that it’s not at noon in the middle of naptime. I always carry around a purse full of distractions, and yes sometimes even bust out the iPhone.

Don’t overdo it with your threenager and expect that they will totally behave perfectly. Sometimes behavior problems are easily solved. Your child might be hungry, thirsty, tired or have to pee. Taking care of those things before you leave the house will pay dividends on your outing.

Remember, they’re little, but they also have the ability to learn good behavior. It’s our job to teach them, they aren’t going to just get it one day on their own. They need and want our guidance and genuine attention to their needs. Once they reach a certain age it is so much harder to instill good behavior into your child. Make a point to start now.


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