Courtesy Cat Bowen

Here Are 7 Myths About Threenagers That Are Both Exaggerated &... Not

When I had my son, life was pretty easy once he got past the infant stage. My daughter, on the other hand? Not so much. She was a total threenager. Not sure what that means? Believe me, I was surprised myself. So here are 7 myths about threenagers that might help clear things up.

There are a ton of popular myths about threenagers that seem to abound these days, and they're not always accurate. Often, they are overly exaggerated, or sometimes, just the opposite. Threenagers are, essentially, 3-year-olds who act like teenagers. Think of them as teenagers: the pocket edition. They can be moody, defiant, demanding, and even a little bit mouthy. My threenager was all of these things and more, and while it was a challenge, it was also hilarious. They're just so little to be so darned obstinate.

Take it from someone who has had children on both ends of the spectrum; just as all teenagers are unique, so are threenagers. Personally, I think it's all just karmic retribution for my own behavior as a child, but my husband doesn't think that tracks, as according to him, he was an angel. His mother assured me, however, that it is in fact, karmic retribution in the form of our precious spawn.


That They Grow Out Of It

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Most threenagers become 4 year olds who refuse to eat anything but buttered toast for a week, who turn into 5 year olds who need three backpacks for kindergarten... and so on. All my mom friends say the same. If you have a threenager, you likely have yourself a spirited sort.


That They Understand What They're Doing

When your threenager is acting defiant and really trying your patience, it can be tempting to think they're acting this way on purpose, but that's not the case. Alicia F. Lieberman, Professor, Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco's Weill Institute for Neurosciences wrote in her book, The Emotional Life of A Toddler, that "... toddlers’ defiance and resistance to parental demands often reflect an age-appropriate wish to control events rather than problems in development or in the parent-child relationship."


That It Won't Apply To All Things

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It might not be all the time, it might not be consistent, but at some point, there will be a huge blowout over every and any aspect of their lives. What you make for dinner, the shoes you picked out, the underwear they're wearing, the smell of the popcorn at the movies, everything. (These are all real examples from my life.)


That All Kids Go Through It

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Nope. While every kid will probably have their "threenager" moments, not every child will develop into a fully-formed threenager. Neither my son nor my niece went through this lovely phase, but don't worry, at ages 11 and 15, they're making up for it. (My niece doesn't even want me to come cheer for her as a cheerleader. Can you believe that? I was going to make tee shirts.)


That They Are Always Irritating

Far from it. While their attitudes can grate, and sometimes, it gets to a point where if you hear the word "why" one more time you may die, much of what they do is pure entertainment if you have even a little patience. The hard part is not laughing until they're out of the room. Seriously, my daughter once stomped her foot and huffed so hard over not getting to wear her brother's shoes to school that she huffed out her pigtails. It was pure physical comedy.


That They Know When To Be Quiet

You might think that some level of social decorum would kick in. You would be wrong. When my daughter was three, we were at my best friend's house (my best friend who happens to have a prosthetic leg) when she went up to him and said "I bet when you kick the stupid goal post by accident it never hurts like when I do it." He then proceeded to pull of his leg and throw it across the pitch, saying, "You're right. That didn't hurt a bit." He did this because he is the best and funniest human on the planet. (I had a chat with her after that.)


That They Can't Sit Still

This one really depends on the threenager, but I've yet to meet one without at least one obsession that will let them sit for hours. For my daughter, it was full-on Olivia style nighttime reading. She could get a drill sergeant to read her "just one more."