I had previously heard of the term ‘Threenager’ (a three year old who acts out as a teenager) but assumed that it was simply an extension of the toddler stage and wouldn’t upheave my life any more than his previous ‘toddlerdom‘ behaviour already had done. Last week I was proven wrong… Very wrong!
After witnessing a brand new attitude, repeatedly being told that certain things were (now put on your best teenager voice) “Borrr-ring”, answering back coz he thinks he is always right and his demands escalating to a new level I was left feeling pretty deflated. I wondered what on earth had happened to my once cute little boy and why was I facing what felt like a thirteen-year-old, ten years too early?!
Oh, and the sleep issue just got a whole lot worse! If you follow my facebook page you will know that lack of sleep is the bane of my life. He has never slept well, even as a baby he preferred to be rocked and held than laid down in his own bed. Things did pick up for a short time but then we were presented with the 5am wake up calls. Last year the waking in the night returned with a vengeance and it is still hit and miss a year on. This boy really can just keep going! Even tips from the health visitors couldn’t remedy this sleep thief and so I have learnt to come to terms with the fact that I will get a full night again one day but right now he just seems to need me – never Daddy is it! Having said that, I have never, ever seen him as he was at bedtime last week. Screaming, crying, going red and making himself cough until he couldn’t breathe, all completely out of character. Myself and hubby just looked at one another in despair when at 10pm he still wasn’t asleep!
I then became that panicky Mum who didn’t want to send her child to pre-school tired, who worried that he may tell someone how Mummy was losing the plot last night because he wouldn’t stay in his bed or get a phone call to come and get him because he couldn’t last the day. All over reactions because let’s face it kids just keep going and going and Jake could probably survive an entire week without sleep if he had it his own way!
I sat down on Friday, thinking about how the week had gone and instead of worrying I put myself into his little shoes to try and work out what was going on all of a sudden. I mean, we all joke that they turn three and this stage suddenly appears but there is usually an underlying reason for these phases.
So, let’s rewind.
We made the decision to start Jake in pre-school for one morning a week last September so that when he came to receiving his free hours he would be used to attending and know the staff. Our routine up until then had varied. We had attended baby classes when he was small but as he got older he became less interested in groups and preferred to be outside more. By the time he turned two the only set places we visited on set days were swimming and drop-in gymnastics. We had a somewhat relaxed attitude to our week and have always enjoyed playing each day by ear. There is plenty of time in life for routine.
Fast-forward to January this year and as parents of a now three-year-old we suddenly say:
‘Hey bud, so now you are going to pre-school for 12 hours a week meaning time away from Mummy, making new friends, learning loads of new skills, stories, activities and having to listen carefully in the day to other people. PLUS now you are old enough to join gymnastics properly so on a Tuesday we are going to go together but you need to follow instructions here too and follow a routine. On top of this, we will still need to see friends, go shopping, run errands and visit family too. So life is pretty much gonna change overnight. OK?’
The poor little mite has been so over-stimulated the last couple of weeks, of course, he’s not gonna want to sleep. His brain is in overdrive and needs a way of switching off, which he can’t do himself. He is constantly singing all the new songs he is learning, he keeps saying words he has been taught and talks of his new friends. He also brings snippets from past memories out and asks about his Auntie, who he is used to seeing more regularly and the little girl who she used to nanny for who is now at school full-time. How can his tiny brain comprehend all these changes at once? And as for his behaviour… well I reckon I would have an attitude if I was suddenly learning more, was thrown into a completely new routine and becoming more exhausted. It just becomes a vicious circle.
I wonder if we are just doing far too much with our children these days and giving them too much information at once?
So, for now, I am going to have to deal with this Threenager the best way I can but at the same time, I need to bear in mind how he may be feeling. Of course, the attitude will need to be reigned in and I will continue to correct him that Mummy is always right and no one else but I am pretty sure this is all just preparing me for the real teenage years!
Have you experienced this stage yet? I would love to hear your take on it all.