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Terrible twos? Nope, I’ve got a threenager!

threenager and toddler tantrums

I need a moan because, oh my god, has Amy been hard work over the last couple of days. If someone said the terrible twos are bad, why has no one warned me about the tantrums of my threenager?

I’m not joking. Amy, just turned three, has the attitude of a teen that is at the height of puberty’s hormonal climax. She stomps her feet, she cries and screams with only one thing on her mind: getting her own way. I’ve always known that she’s a strong-willed or some might say stubborn child, but recently she is really testing me. Everything that I ask her to do results in a meltdown and it’s just incredibly hard work to stay calm and collected.

my adorable threenager

Today, we had a 45 minute battle over her farm puzzle. I asked her to quickly pop the pieces back in the box before dinner and usually, it’s no problem at all. She just does as she’s told and tidies up her toys before getting out a new toy or going for dinner/a bath or whatever we have to do. This afternoon, Amy completely lost it with me. She screamed and kicked toys, she told me to go away, yet climbed on me and it seemed like it was all getting too much for her. I stood my ground, because I found it important that she learns that there are rules that we have to follow to make sure we can then spend quality time together and after 45 minutes, she finally gave in, tidied up her toys and apologised giving me a kiss and telling me that “Amy loves mummy”.

threenager with tantrums

Two days ago however, I had a massive wobble that really upset me. I was bringing Amy to bed and didn’t expect anything unusual to happen. I read her Stick Man book to her, let her “read” it to me from back to front as she always does and gave her a good night kiss before turning to the side for quiet time. I always stay with her until she falls asleep, some might say that’s wrong, but I don’t mind as I really enjoy this time of day and Amy tends to get upset, if I don’t. Two night though, quiet time was the last thing on Amy’s mind. She started mooing and playing with her cuddly cow and despite me telling her that it was bedtime, she went on and on and on. After 15 minutes, I got so annoyed (I know) that I said, if the cow says “moo” one more time, it flies out of the window. I don’t even know why I said it, maybe because it was the first thing that I looked at, but Amy started mooing again and I grabbed the cow. I grabbed the cow and threw it out of the window and the moment I did it, I knew it was wrong and an absolutely horrible thing to do. It scared me and it shocked me and I don’t want to react in such an uncontrolled way ever again – because it’s not the mum I want to be.

How do you deal with tantrums and how do you keep your calm when your kids really push your buttons? I’d be grateful for any ideas and advice.

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Freelance writer and translator that blogs about her adventure as a first time mummy and has a passion for pretty stationery, magazines and interior design.

17 Comments

  1. Syd is nearly three and SOOO frustrating at times, I have no advice, but you are not alone- and I have also had my own ‘cow’ moments of utterly bringing myself down to his level- not our finest moments, but we all do it sometimes! We are having some success with star charts this week… hardly a radical suggestion that though!
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    • I’ve never worked with charts with her, but it might be worth a try. She’s obsessed with stickers x

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  2. you have to walk away lovely….you are human and sometimes it all gets too much walk away got somewhere quiet breathe have a rink of water then make a plan. You need to stay in control when being challenged so much and sometimes you need a refresh. This is totally normal part of her development. Hard as hell for you but do take breaks and do stay in charge and do accept when it gets to much its best to leave for a moment.

    I promise you this phase will pass…even more quicky if you stay resolute calm and controlled.
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    • Thanks, Becky! Getting a drink and some fresh air might be an idea.

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  3. I am loving all the facial expressions! To be honest I wish I could offer advice – my mini me is 5 going on 15 and the conversations and some arguments we have are amazing – but I would not change her for the world as she is so determined and strong willed… absolutely no idea where she gets it from! ;)

    All I can say is speak calmly (easier said than done) and count to 10!xx
    Sim @ Sims Life recently posted…Three Quarters Of Brits Are Gardeners!!My Profile

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    • Hehe, I know. She’s quite the character and if I didn’t get them everytime I ask her for something completely reasonable, I’d find them funny too ;)

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  4. At that age. i dont reason. “I said stop” and then walk away. Stop is a good word as it heard. “Please tidy up” / “please do this” etc is not always heard. But I think if you use the word “stop” it gets heard.

    And walk away. “Mummy is not listening to this. I am going to the kitchen until you stop”.

    it takes a while but it will pass. Amy is just growing up and finding the boundaries. And proving that she is a confident little girl!
    Mummy Barrow recently posted…PerceptionsMy Profile

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    • I think you might be right. Sometimes too much talking and discussing can distract from the fact that I expect her to follow a rule.

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  5. Oh Carolin I completely feel your pain and went through EXACTLY this with Will at this age. I too lost it one lunchtime and threw his, much-loved, dummy in the bin in front of him. Then beat myself up for ages about it. But. you know what, although I knew I should have stayed calmer I didn’t get to back out of the bin and he surprised me in that he seemed to accept that I had done what I had threatened to do if his behaviour continued. It is so hard at that age and they seem to know exactly what buttons to press, but it does pass, I promise x
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    • Yep, I didn’t cave in either. Her cow led where it had landed until the next morning. I’m too stubborn…

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  6. The threenage years are definitely the hardest, asserting their independence and all that… I do love her little grumpy expressions,soo cute! And I promise you, you might feel bad about it now, but one day you will laugh about the flying cow!! :D
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  7. I’m sorry you’re struggling :( I get so frustrated sometimes with my toddler (and slightly older one)when just the simplest things become such a battle. At least you carried out your threat, sometimes that is the shock that they need. When my daughter won’t go to sleep my husband threatens to take her teddies away, and because he did it once she knows that he means it. In terms of keeping calm I try to walk away. I also don’t think it hurts for them to see that you are upset with their behaviour. Good luck, and I hope that things improve soon xx
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  8. I have done the same thing before with Nathan and felt so awful afterwards – do not worry. It is all part of being a parent. I went on to use the method of removing a toy and putting it in a box out of the way if there were tantrums, when good behavior was rewarded the toy came back out the box. It worked, but other methods work too, stickers, chocolate buttons. You will get there and you will laugh about it too, in time! Big hugs xx
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  9. There ARE no answers! They’re all such different little creatures! One of mine used to need 5 minute warnings of changing anything. “In 5 minutes we’re going to tidy up…” and it really worked. But just stay calm. And we all do things we regret on our parenting journey so don’t feel bad about “Moo-Gate”! xx

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  10. I couldn’t imagine Amy as being anything but angelic.I haven’t read any of the other replies because I didn’t want to be influenced by my answer. Honestly – I’d pick my battles. Personally I know you want to teach her rules but I do not think I’d have coped with 45 minutes to put the puzzle away. I would have offered to help her – not do it myself but help. I feel that’s also teaching her that people can help and be kind. She is still really young (imo) and if it’s making you feel stressed I’d ask myself is it worth it. Good luck with it all.
    Pinkoddy recently posted…I am Good EnoughMy Profile

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  11. Ooh, I am here with you. I send Laurence texts during the day sometimes to just let off steam because it can be so frustrating when you want them to do something and they just won’t. I’m finding three very, very tricky too. I’m realising too that it’s very important that I get enough sleep, eat well, and get some time to myself in the evenings, and that we get a break from each other during the day. Amy looks so beautiful in these pics, by the way.
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  12. As you know Sophie is also just a little bit strong willed (stubborn) and we are having similar issues! Michael came home the other night and had heard the term ‘threenager’ for the first time and thought it definitely fitting for her right now. Like you, I just try and stand my ground and let her know that her tantrums aren’t going to get her anywhere, but my god its hard work!
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