Threenager: A 3-year-old possessing the attitude and behavior of a teenager. If you’re wondering if your kid is a threenager, here are 10 signs! 


1. They are a master manipulator in disguise!

See this look? This is not your sweet angel anymore. This is a master manipulator! She will charm you with that darling expression and offer kisses. However, be prepared to stand back the second the word, “no” slips from your lips. Hell hath no fury like a 3-year-old that doesn’t get what they want.

Threenager Girl

2. No is their favorite word.

Your precious little one can say this word with the conviction of a teenager.  Then they’ll assume the position; arms crossed, lip pouted, legs stomping, and await the showdown. Mommy vs. The Threenager round 2,133!

Threenager boy

3. A Little Conspirator!

Playdates used to be a time when you could unwind with other parents and the kids would happily play. Now you’re fearful as to what the kids are conspiring to do.  You turn your back for a moment (to refill your wine glass) and black sharpie markers mysteriously appear. A labyrinth of Lego booby-traps laid out before your every step. There are kids on the countertops getting into the cookies, cereal, and pouring themselves a glass of juice. They’ve also pulled out every single toy out of their toy chest, in search of that one tiny Lego figurine they are convinced is in there somewhere. Breathe mama, just breathe.

Three Threenagers

4. Your presence is no longer desired in the bathroom (unless a bottom needs to be wiped).

Potty privacy, that thing you’ve been missing since the moment you became a parent, is now something your child demands. Yet, don’t think for one minute this also means you get to pee without interruption. Nope, you are still a few years out from the return of that little luxury. Now you get to deal with the bathroom looking like it was just teepeed! Then there are the copious amounts of “flushable wipes” being flushed (because using the roto-rooter machine with daddy is fun). Don’t even get me started on how much soap one child can use without actually washing their hands. I guess we can consider ourselves lucky that they don’t stink like teenagers yet.

Threenager on the potty


5. They’re sassy and they know it!

If you’re sassy and you know it, clap your hands…

Below is an actual conversation between a threenager and a mom.

Threenager: I have a boo boo.
Mom: Yes you do. Did you know it’s called a bruise?
Threenager: It’s NOT a bruise, it’s a boo boo.
Mom: Well, it’s a boo boo and a bruise.
Threenager: My name is not Bruce.

Threenagers boy

6. An abundance of attitude.

Then there’s the step beyond sass and that’s straight up ATTITUDE! Oh, my! They can bring it on so hard you’ll be pinching yourself to make sure you’re not actually having an argument with a teenager. Stand strong mama, they will not win!! Or maybe they will. Sometimes we just end up giving in to their demands and then giving in to a glass of wine, or three…

three-year-old kids

7. You’re their baggage handler…and concierge.

You finally transitioned from the diaper bag to your beloved purse…only to find out it’s not your purse after all. It’s this bag that transports your threenager’s favorite knickknacks and snacks. You just get to lug their stuff around in a little more fashionable manner while driving them around town.

kid getting into mom's purse

8. They know how to work the tablet better than you do.

Two words – Screen Time. You know that tablet you bought for yourself; well it’s not yours anymore. Also, I hope it’s insured or at least has an indestructible case. That goes for your iPhone too! If there was ever a photo that showed a glimpse into the future, this would be it. As moms, we don’t know whether we should feel ashamed or grateful that these electronics provide us with a few minutes of peace. And by peace, I mean a rare opportunity to finally go to the bathroom by yourself.

kids on tablet and phone

9. Sleep is for babies!

Nap time…what is this elusive thing you speak of? Peaceful bedtime routine…you’ve got to be kidding me! At 10:00 pm, while all of the other kids in the neighborhood are sound asleep, your threenager likes to yell, “I like farts!” out the window.

kids holding signs

10. Threenagers are pretty amazing!

Sure, they drive us to the brink of insanity but they always pull us back to reality with the quirky things that come out of their mouths. They also still love to snuggle and that’s something no teenager would ever be caught dead doing.

Three Threenagers Running

These 3 threenagers were perfectly captured by the extremely talented Joel Peterson from Joel Peterson Photography.


Do you have a threenager or can relate to this article? Let me know if I’m missing any signs in the comments below.

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