The importance of validating feelings of a threenager is paramount. First, let me explain what is a Threenager.
A Threenager is a three year old toddler who acts like they’re actually a 13-year-old teenager.
They went from the sweet one year old to the terrible twos to their threenager year. Imagine a hormonal teenager with confused emotions. They go from being sweet one moment to angry the next…like a Sour Patch Kid.
Independence seems to be the main factor of the never ending tantrums and mixed emotions in both Threenagers and teenagers. They want to do things themselves, but sometimes they can’t resulting in an act of frustration. For example, they may want to put on their shoes, but they struggle. The more they struggle, the more likely they will act out their frustration in a form of a tantrum or meltdown.
The importance of validating feelings of a Threenager is key. You make your Threenager feel heard and understood. It’s important to remember that although they are acting with such great attitude, their tiny minds are only that of a three year old child who does not know how to properly express their feelings. However, do NOT minimize those feelings. To them, their feelings are grand.
A Threenager will more likely calm down once their emotions are validated. This really goes for everyone. Once validated, they will feel soothed and begin to calm down. This is when you can offer to help with the task or even redirect to another activity. The goal here is to teach your child how to cope with their feelings. Feelings are real. They come and go. Don’t let their frustrations prevent your child from trying the same task at a different time. We learn in The Beauty of Discomfort that challenges are also good for children to build skills. If they want to try to put on their shoes again at another time, let them. Let them learn even if the learning process comes with some discomfort. Teaching them how to manage their feelings will help them not only in the moment, but as they grow up.
Some coping skills to teach your child:
- Take a deep breath
- “Blow the candles,” which means to pretend your fingers are candles and blow them out one by one. This allows their mind to gain some clarity.
- Have a calm down corner or area in your home
- Scream into a pillow or stuffed animal
- Use a stress ball or toy
Find out more about what it’s like to have a Threenager at home at Sit. Stay. Mom.