Deciphering the “Threenager”

There are times, few and far between of course, when my lovely, adorable children pull out some pretty crappy attitude in their never-ending battle for control in this house. Many have dubbed this glorious age “the threenager” which I believe I’ve mentioned before. How very true that term is. So, in my quest to get my children to the age of four, I’ve made up a key describing some of their more annoying actions, what they mean, and how you should react to them. (I’ve also added how I actually react to them, but don’t do that.)

A move not mentioned below. The side-eye.

The Arm Cross:

When Used: When you’ve asked them to do something they’re not keen on doing.

What It Means: No. Also, I hate you, pretty much, and your request to pick up the cereal is completely unreasonable.

What I Do: Tell them not to give me attitude and stand over them until they pick up the damn cereal.

What you Should Do: You should probably ask them why they think your request is so out of line to start a dialogue and force them to think about their actions. But, yeah, that takes a lot of effort.

The Breath:

When Used: When you’ve asked them to do something they’re not keen on doing. It’s like the arm cross, level two. It’s usually meant to imply incredible tiredness and boredom as well.

What It Means: I’m going to do this for you now, as s l o w l y as I possibly can.

What I Do: Tell them they can go to bed if they’re really all that tired, then try valiantly to ignore their s l o w movements and not get upset with them as they drag about.

What you Should Do: Show them efficient ways to do what they are doing, proving that the task really only takes seconds of their day.

The Tantrum:

When Used: Any time. You’ll never know when this crap is coming. Most often when a sibling has done something perceived as unfair, or when a sibling gets something perceived as somehow different or better.

What It Means: I’m tired and/or hungry, on top of not liking to have to share my whole life.

What I Do: Time outs. I also repeat over and over again that they are different girls. Sometimes I prove to them that whatever the objects are in question, they are exactly the same.

What you Should Do: Tell them to use words, use whatever your methods are to calm them, get them to talk it out like real people instead of screaming like babies.

“I Don’t Love You Anymore”:

When Used: When you insist on making them do something they don’t want to do, and you will not be swayed by their other arguments.

What It Means: I’m serious now.

What I Do: Laugh. No, just kidding. On the inside, I laugh. I usually just ignore statements like this.

What you Should Do: I suppose you should indicate to them how much words can hurt and advise them against hyperbole. But I can’t bring myself to do this, usually.

“You Don’t Love Me Anymore”:

When Used: When I don’t love you doesn’t work. It’s meant to convince you to do their bidding by adding guilt into the mix.

What It Means: I’m feeling upset because we’re not understanding each other.

What I Do: I tell them that I always love them. Sometimes I tell them to stop being silly.

What you Should Do: You should tell them that you always love them. Without the silly part.

“I’ll Think About It”:

When Used: When they’re going to give in, but they want to make it on their terms.

What It Means: Okay, FINE. But it was my idea.

What I Do: Say okay.

What you Should Do: Say okay, and probably thank you.

The Eye Roll:

When Used: When they want to go to their room for a long time. No, just kidding. When they’re feeling especially feisty and powerful.

What It Means: Screw you.

What I Do: Put them in their room.

What you Should Do: I have no idea. They’re only three and the eye roll really gets me. I can only imagine when they’re thirteen. I suppose tell them it’s not nice to do that? I doubt they care though, if a disagreement gets to eye roll stage.

“Go Away / Don’t Talk to Me”:
 
When Used: When they’re overloaded with emotion and can no longer handle the situation.

What It Means: I need a few minutes so I don’t tantrum. OR I hate what you’ve just said, and I will not listen to that tripe any longer without exploding.

What I Do: Give them alone time. Then ask them again when they’re calm.

What you Should Do: Redirect the phrasing, probably. I try to get them to say “I need alone time.” But in the heat of the moment, I usually don’t bother with this.

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About parentwin

Parent of twins, blogger, writer and journalist. I write things. Sometimes people even read them.
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