Attitude with a capitol 3 – signs and symptoms of the dreaded threenager

So today was the day…………… The day I wrecked my child’s life.


As a parent I was duly warned and reminded that at the age of 2 I may face a period of time where defiance is on the menu, where pushing boundaries is a routine activity and where supermarket fits are a staple. As a mother I waited for this period with gritted teeth, my little angel was so polite, so well-mannered and everyone commented on her sweet little temperament that it seemed impossible that this could ever happen to me. When the day of her third birthday arrived I let out a sigh of relief and patted myself on the back as I had made it out unscathed. My little girl was still as angelic as the day she was born whilst all of the other children around me had turned into relatives of the Exorcist.


Nine months into her third year and I have gloated and accepted praise about how good my little girl was, but that was all about to change. 5 weeks ago, my child woke up with a glint in her eye that had not been present before from this point the challenging behavior started off manifesting itself in small ways, so much so it has crept upon me slowly and now has ploughed through my life like a wrecking ball destroying my patience, nerves and tonsils (too much screaming). My home is now resident to a threenager, a phase of a childs life which I feel that no parent is warned about!


I fear that this phase may become a pandemic and therefore am here to offer you information about the signs and symptoms of this dreaded phase and a shoulder to cry on if you should also face this trauma.


The first recognizable symptom that I was losing my sweet girl was that she was suffering from broken function to listen to any kind of instruction. This preliminary stage manifests itself in plain old ignoring you, only listening when it suits, talking over the top of you as if you were not talking in the first place or butting in when having another conversation and losing all understanding of the rule of waiting your turn. If you have started to experience this, then I am sorry for what you have to come.


The next stage is serial stubbornness, this stage requires amazing bargaining (and often bribery). The stubbornness with me occurs at two particular times of the day but may present in other ways with your children. The first time of the day for me is morning, I am already having to get up 30 minutes earlier than needed to literally drag the quilt of my daughter to get her butt out of bed to nursery school (something I considered I would do when she reached 14). I am met by a barrage of leave me alones, it’s still night time and why do I have to go to schools which require me to explain everyday how much fun she will have, bribe her with Coco Pops instead of Shredded Wheat and to coerce the quilt off her body. The next time of the day I experience this is at bed, a threenager thinks it is acceptable to go to bed in a princess dress, with a tiara on and doesn’t see the value in brushing their teeth meaning mommy and daddy have another little battle on their hands. At this stage although the stubbornness is really testing you do have the one upmanship of being more skilled at negotiating and somehow manage to get them into bed with princess PJ’s on after the promise of 2 books for bed instead of 1 and another dress up session tomorrow.


The third stage – The evolutionary stage, is where a threenager becomes most dangerous. They have not only pushed you to the brink over a period of days and weeks, but they have also observed your coping strategies and negotiating skills and adapted them to meet their ends. This unfortunately is where you become dumfounded and generally loose. The first sign is normally at dinner where you tell your child they need to eat 5 more spoons, they then reply no just one, you say no that’s not enough, and they say ok I will eat three then. To alleviate this as soon as this situation arises please take control from here and do not negotiate as this is a hostage situation. Unfortunately, like me once you have negotiated and accepted their offer you have shown them how effective this skill can be and it just gets worse from there.


The fourth stage of this phase is avid consumerism. If the words “I want” fall from your child’s mouth after every advert they see on Nick Jr. In every shop you ever go into and after every advert of Disney Land then I offer you my hanky as so far my friends your journey has been hard. This stage is normally met with the hope that as parents we may be able to negotiate that they can have these things if said child ‘behaves for santa’. The bliss however of our child’s sitting up straight, looking at us angelic and nodding in agreement fades nano seconds after when they forget the previous advert and the next toy they have taken a fancy to appears on the screen. In the more progressive stages of this phase you may also notice crayon rings around pictures in the Argos catalogue.


The final stage is devastating; the first adult expression they use may be greeted with humor or seen as cute such as Elsie’s ‘for goodness sake’ after I asked her to clean her toys up on her bedroom floor. However this quickly changes into more dark expressions involving venom with intent to wound. Today I experienced this stage, I simply placed spaghetti Bolognese in front of my daughter (a dish she has loved many times). She refused to eat it, telling me she wanted me to make her more food as she didn’t want that and doesn’t like it. Feeling strong enough to challenge her today I put my foot down stating that she would eat the dinner I had made of could go to bed without any. Elsie recognized this as a challenge to her so took her expressive language as a threenager to the next level. Her reply to my demands was as follows……………………………… You’ve wrecked my life!




And there we have it a full blown transformation into a threenager! The pain seared through my heart as questions such as where did she get that from, and accusations such as ‘I blame the school’ filled my head. Today I have realized that gone are the moments of cuddles and kisses without her telling me to get off or wiping my kiss from her cheek, I now feel the pain so many explained before me but just in a different stage and in my opinion the terrible two’s sound much less terrible compared to what I am experiencing.


For any of you experiencing this, I offer my severe condolences, you have lost your beautiful innocent child with a less than 5% chance of ever seeing them return. I have been told that the threenager does lapse and go into recession sometimes where you may have periods of quiet happiness however for this condition there is no known cure.


In regards to treating the condition, I have heard that there is an old hoe remedy however its effectiveness is still being tested, at this point I am willing to try anything and therefore have just been on the internet to find out more information and to start the treatment regime. This treatment is known as a star chart, I will carry out the treatment with my ‘little princess’ and let you all know the results very soon.


There are many sites online offering free printable reward charts; some can be found at the following website


Good luck everyone, if you hear of any other treatments please let us all know!


To read Katie’s previous blogs click here!

2 Responses to Attitude with a capitol 3 – signs and symptoms of the dreaded threenager

  1. Shelley Grantham says:

    Hi Katie,
    A lovely read. You brought back so many memories for me when Scott was little. I have to say It doesn’t get any better, but being the mother you manage to see through the vile times. Good luck with your little angel. Give her a munch from me, xx

  2. Margaret warman says:

    Katie you are a genius,my sympathy is with you, I didn’t recognise our little angel as this mini devil,you will conquer the situation no doubt and love her all the more.
    Give a big grandma hug to Elsie and yourself . Xxxxxx

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