13 ways to survive life with a threenager

Posted in Learning and Development.

When my daughter recently turned three, I celebrated by naively announcing how excited I was that the “terrible twos” were finally over. Turns out, the “terrible twos” have nothing on the next stage. Mums and dads with threenagers in the house, you know what I’m talking about.

We recently gave you our tongue-in-cheek guide to surviving the first three months with a newborn. Many of our readers admitted that the newborn stage was a piece of cake compared to the toddler and threenager phases.

Do we have any tips to share for parenting a threenager?

little boy with finger to his lips

Sure we do! They may not help, but they will certainly remind you of the frustrating glory and daily dramas of raising a defiant but deliciously adorable threenager.

Top tips for life with a threenager

1. Start the day by choosing an outfit for your child. Watch your child come out with seven pairs of underwear, two different socks, a dress, tights, a pair of swimmers and a onesie she found in her baby memory keepsakes box… from the top shelf of the wardrobe.


2. Watch several seasons of 24 and take notes. Use these negotiation skills on a regular basis. If negotiation isn’t working, then swap to Mad Men and learn how to spin the situation. If it works in advertising, it may just work with your threenager.

3. Expect at least five outfit changes during the day. Three will most likely be a costume of some sort.


4. Go to the pantry and open as many snacks as you can find. Step on the bickies, crackers and popcorn. Walk away. This saves your threenager from doing it.

5. Bookmark the Bluey website on your phone, iPad, laptop – ALL of the devices – so your kiddo can watch it whenever they you want. Thank us later.

6. When missing an item, check the fridge. More likely than not, this is where your threenager will hide your phone, the remote, the car keys and their dirty underwear.

7. Prepare to be told on several occasions that you need to calm down, that you need a time out and that you have until the count of three to get dressed. In fact, prepare to have anything you have ever said used against you.

young boy with brown wavy hair

8. Train your brain to work in threes and give your child three of everything. Because, she’s three, after all.

9.  Make three sandwiches every day. Cut one in triangles, one in squares and one in little hearts. Ask your child what she prefers. Receive the obvious answer of, “cheese and crackers.”

10.  Agree to sit down and play with the play dough with your child. Expect to get called out for making a pig when you should have made a dog.

11. When planning an outing, leave fifteen extra minutes for your child to choose her shoes, to take her shoes off, to choose new shoes and to then decide she wants to wear boots.

young girl outside with gumboots and a striped dress

12. Allow an extra 15 minutes if you are driving somewhere to prepare for the time it takes your child to attempt to buckle the seat belt herself.

13. Ask your child to choose a bedtime story. For every book that your child dumps off the shelf, silently promise yourself that many glasses of wine once she actually goes to sleep.

Yes, life with a threenager is a challenge to say the least, especially as your little one starts to develop an attitude, a vocabulary and an understanding that they can get their way simply by screaming the house down. But life with a threenager is also such a rewarding and beautiful journey and one that you are certainly not alone on. Just remember, we’re right there with you, hiding in the pantry and answering a zillion questions about life each and every day.


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