25 Reasons My Threenager is Having a Meltdown

by Meghan

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Every day it seems to take less and less… Big M, my lovely threenager, can dissolve into tears at the drop of a hat.  It’s usually preceded by an audible gasp, followed by “Oh no…”  I don’t have a solution for ending the madness, other than you have to just laugh to keep from melting down yourself!


  1. Her orange tutu is … gasp… missing!  Since she ditched most of her lovies, her tutu is now like an appendage, always on her person so long as we are in the house and awake (my rules!).
  2. Her orange tutu “is stuck” under her dress instead of being on top for all the world to see.
  3. Just as bad, her snowflake crown is missing… or Lil’ M took it!
  4. There is a speck of food on her face or finger, and she can’t reach the napkins.
  5. Some portion of her food has touched another kind of food on her plate… even if they are ultimately going to end up together… like a fry touching the ketchup.
  6. I served her strawberry yogurt.  I told her we were all out of her favorite peach yogurt, I even showed her the container, which she acknowledged would be acceptable, but once it was actually opened and sitting on the table in front of her, she changed her mind… in dramatic fashion!
  7. She has to poop, but refuses to go anywhere but in her bathroom while sitting with the ‘ePad’, so has decided to let out ear-piercing screeches at the top of her lungs as I drive down 95.  Pleasant for everyone!
  8. From across the room, Lil’ M is looking at her toy, and maybe, even considering coming to snatch it.
  9. Lil’ M is touching her chair.  She’s not actually sitting in it, nor does she want to, but she doesn’t want Lil’ M touching it, just the same.
  10. She wants to wear her ballerina pjs.  They are the first ones worn every time laundry is done, but that darn laundry fairy doesn’t do laundry everyday, and they are dirty again.
  11. A “‘momercial” has interrupted her previously scheduled programming, and she wants her show to come back on.
  12. There is no P on her PBJ… however, she immediately opens the sandwich every time and only eats the jelly half.  But don’t let that mistakenly lead you to believe she doesn’t want peanut butter.  She wants it – she just doesn’t want to eat it.
  13. She peed on her tutu.  This meltdown is one of epic proportions – the need to wear it at all times, includes in the bathroom, and sometimes it doesn’t get out of the way in time.  Now we must live without it for hours while it goes through the wash and hangs to dry… just the thought of tutu missing brings on another near meltdown.
  14. She does not want to remove her tutu (see #1).
  15. Her hair is stuck under her carseat strap, instead of flowing freely and luxuriously like in a Pantene commercial.
  16. She wanted her hair “in a braid like Elsa,” but I only put it partially “up like Princess Aurora.”  Putting it in requested braid still ends up in a meltdown because the braid tail is not long enough to drape over her shoulder like Elsa’s… “need longer hair.”
  17. She has to pee… right now… Now that the car is actually in drive and pulling out of the preschool parking lot, and despite the fact that I asked her four times before we walked out of school, and she said no every time.
  18. There are crumbs on her tutu.  Nevermind that I suggested she remove it before sitting down to eat, or that they are easily brushed off.  Now that there are crumbs on it, we are devastated.
  19. She did not get a horse.  We are having animal crackers for snack, and she does not have a horse in her allotment.  Talk about world ending!
  20. Lil’ M has successfully executed a princess-napping… and is now running through the house with the prize held high above her head laughing hysterically.  While Big M dissolves into the floor in a puddle.  Guess who taught her to taunt like that?!?
  21. She has lost her tutu for the day for beating on Lil’ M.  I’ve resorted to this as a last resort, as it seems to be the best natural consequence… of course, it also has the consequence of subjecting the rest of us to sporadic spontaneous meltdowns as she remembers that she can’t have her tutu back until tomorrow.
  22. There is a dribble of water on her shirt, and now she is “all wet.”  After a few sobs, she will calm down – “It’s ok, it can dry!”
  23. “The car is all wet!”… as in, the exterior.  Because it is pouring outside.  Apparently, it deserves an umbrella to stay dry too.
  24. Her sticker is gone.  At dance class, playgroup, doctor’s office, they give kids stickers… they have become the bane of mothers everywhere.  The threenager immediately removes it from their person, drops it somewhere between the moment it is given and the time we get home, inducing an avalanche of tears that the Frozen sticker is now gone, or worse, no longer sticky.
  25. And my favorite this month…A real, live Santa is somewhere in the vicinity… don’t even think about making her go sit on his lap!

Want some tips for diffusing those threenager woes?  Check out 9 Ways to Ease Daily Transitions (even tutu removal!) and 15 Ways to Remove the Grump from Your Day. What are your favorite threenager moments?  Share them with us on Instagram @PGPBMeghan #threenager!

“I don’t want Elfie to watch me!” #elfontheshelf #threenager #christmas #tutuobsessed #pgpb #playgroundparkbench

A photo posted by PlaygroundParkbench (@pgpbmeghan) on

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Lucinda January 16, 2015 - 2:23 pm

My threenager has had tantrums over
-not being able to press ‘Play’ on a movie she and her older sister were watching
-being told it’s time to change her nappy
-not being allowed to eat ALL the cookies
-thinking she’d be left in the car (as if, lol!)
-not getting to watch me wrap her birthday presents, which led to …
-not being allowed to open her presents before her birthday, which led to…
-not being told what her presents are before her birthday
-her sister looking at a MLP video on my phone over her shoulder
-not being allowed to have a large robotic type toy to sleep with
-for being looked at (by anyone)
-not wanting toast, after asking for it for half asking hour
-the dog looked at her
-the dog almost scratched her (when the dog is outside/in another room)
-not getting to eat ALL the chocolate
-being asked to eat more of her dinner
-not wanting to watch the TV show/movie she asked to watch repeatedly
I could go on, but I’ll leave it there 🙂

erin l. January 16, 2015 - 3:28 am

Funny stuff! Kids are strange people. I had intended to reply differently, but after reading the rest of the comments, I feel like sharing the advice–for parenting or teaching– that my very wise father gave me years ago. He told me,”Children SHOULD be indulged”. This is how they learn to give. You must take their disasters seriously in order that they learn empathy. Also–and I think this is true in almost any relationship(but especially with children) save your nos for when they are needed. Say yes each and every time that you can and they will be happier people who recognize that no means no.

ale January 15, 2015 - 3:07 pm

Las 2 etapas, 2 y 3 años y la adolescencia, corresponden a un darse cuenta del “yo” . Recién se sienten seres individuales, con capacidad de elección, entonces quieren decidir, por lo que estar en desacuerdo es la forma de ser diferente al otro.
La gran estrategia es darles opción de elegir;
A nuestra hija de tres:
No la invitamos a comer, ella dice yo quiero comer… si quiere comer otra cosa, es después de tener energía con los alimentos de su cena.
Asi el punto es negociar. Dar opciones (que chaqueta te quieres poner, puedes salir pero después de peinarte…)
Pasciencia, tranquilidad, entre muucho llanto, esperar a que lloren, preguntarle si necesita ayuda, o cuando me necesites estoy aquí. ….
ser muuuy pacientes es difícil cansador…. pero pasa. la idea es que si, se afirmen a si mismos se quieran y respeten PERO con límites ya que están los demás alrededor suyo y también tienen los mismos derechos que él.

Mama Sophie January 14, 2015 - 8:25 am

And just because you have a boy, don’t think you are ‘drama-free’! They can be more work than girls (see http://www.scarymommy.com). ‘Nuff said!

Meghan January 14, 2015 - 8:42 am

We love ScaryMommy! Thanks for sharing.

Brooke January 14, 2015 - 1:23 am

This is crazy to me. I have 2 kids, they have not acted like this. Its beyond me why it can be so extreme. I only have independent spats where they want to do it themselves and show you how clever they are.
Crazy crazy. It amazes me that there are parents that tolerate this behaviour and let it carry through. Just going to have more demanding children growing up used to being able to act this way. Little brats by the sound of it.

Nicole January 14, 2015 - 12:04 am

My son who is now 4 is likely a worse monster at 4 than he was as a threenager. It’s a real thing, and I’m very sorry you’re stuck in the midst of it. He would run screaming down the hallway, stop at the bedroom door to make sure you were watching him, stomp his foot, slam the door shut, then scream again. I’m pretty sure it’s worse than an actual teenager.

bree north January 13, 2015 - 6:48 pm

This is my daughter exactly! EXACTLY! Oh I am so relieved that I’m not the only one that has a daughter like this. Thank you for making me laugh at their insanities.

Meghan January 13, 2015 - 7:58 pm

I wonder what would happen if we put all these little tutu-wearing, drama-wielding threenagers in a room together? 🙂 The best part of motherhood is knowing that you are never alone, will never be the first to encounter something, or the last!

Lisa January 13, 2015 - 5:34 pm

the allergy commenter may be onto something. We realized our daughter, now 6, is sensitive to red dye. She’s big enough now to use her words and began to say that her body wouldn’t do what she wanted it to and was extremely hyper and melting down. Food sensitivities can explain a lot these days and are worth a try. Maybe start a food journal and you might start to see a trend. Food for thought (pun intended)

Meghan January 13, 2015 - 7:56 pm

It’s definitely on my list of questions to ask the pediatrician for sure… we don’t eat a lot of processed food, but she does eat a lot of carbs. She doesn’t care for meat, and basically lives on milk, fruit and carbs.

Rita January 13, 2015 - 11:05 am

Mine might have food issues too but holy cats! Almost died reading these! She’s refusing to use the potty so 7 and 17 are off the table but everything else was hysterical!

Meghan January 13, 2015 - 12:06 pm

You just have to laugh, right? For your own sanity! The latest – when she sees a loose hair in the bath tub, she says Rapunzel is losing her hair, that’s why it is brown and starts to cry.

Renee Fischer January 7, 2015 - 10:51 pm

Sheesh, sounds like my 12-yo stepson…

Meghan January 8, 2015 - 6:56 am

Oh no… I was hoping this was just a phase!

jay January 4, 2015 - 5:14 pm

Or your “threenager” has food intolerances/allergies and unmanageable emotional outbursts are a symptom… Fedup.com.au

Meghan January 5, 2015 - 1:10 pm

I wanted to do some reading up on this before responding to your comment. You may not be off-base – it’s definitely something I need to look into more, and discuss with her pediatrician. She’s always had skin irritations as well, which to date, he’s chalked up to ‘sensitive skin.’ Thank you for the insight.

Anne C January 3, 2015 - 7:56 pm

My kids are no different. How did I manage? Gave an explanation, fixed it if possible then let them have their tantrums in private, which miraculously ceased without an audience.

Meghan January 3, 2015 - 9:01 pm

Yes, removal of the audience is key… coming soon – How to Cool a Meltdown 🙂

Karen Johnson January 2, 2015 - 9:38 pm

I have a male version of an almost teenager. He is told that he cannot have any more cookies. He lays down on the floor on his tummy and head in his arms, he states, “No. More. Cookies. So Sad!!!!” If you giggle during these devastating moments, you may very well be told, “Not FUNNY!”

Karen Johnson January 2, 2015 - 9:42 pm

Auto correct does not know three-nager

Meghan January 3, 2015 - 7:49 pm

We should promote the word so much that it becomes Webster’s word of the year and gets added to the dictionary!

Roxy January 2, 2015 - 6:48 pm

I would love to see her in this pretty orange tutu.

Meghan January 3, 2015 - 7:48 pm

Sadly, it has reached near disintegration stage at this point… fortunately, both Grandmas bought her a few substitutes for Christmas! There are a few photos on our IG account though @PGPBMeghan

Shalisa January 2, 2015 - 1:44 pm

My youngest son carried a plastic sword around with him ALL the time when he was 3. It is even in our family pictures that year (and the giant canvas hanging on my living room wall) because he would only cooperate if he was holding it! I tell people all the time that 3s are much worse than the terrible 2s!

Meghan January 2, 2015 - 1:53 pm

Everyone told me that too… it’s funny how you don’t believe it until you are in the throes of it yourself! Or you pray it has to get better while you are living through the 2’s. And my little brother was like that with his guitar, well into his teenage years. It’s in our family photos too. And my niece, who was our flower girl 6 years ago, is holding a red-headed Polly Pocket in all our wedding photos. I think it makes for fun memories!

Shalisa January 2, 2015 - 2:02 pm

It is definitely a conversation piece! And I have to laugh looking back at it!

Kalaya Beck January 2, 2015 - 11:08 am

My three year old was so obsessed with a mustache that we couldn’t leave the house without having it properly drawn on his upper lip . needless to say that I have to carry a black eye liner pencil wherever we go. He is now 26 and I have a good laugh whenever I remind him of it. ☺

Meghan January 2, 2015 - 11:14 am

Love it! That’s better than the tutu for sure!

christi January 2, 2015 - 9:15 am

Its funny, my kids are three and then four years apart; I was and sometimes still am ready to rip my hair out. My 7 year old still goes into bouts of crying over the weirdest stuff. Then I think about parents like, my step sister, she has three kids and they are only like 18 months apart. I could not even begin to fathom three kids all going through this at the same time. She has the patients of a saint. The scary part, wait till she’s a tween and a teen. My daughter just entered tween status and she is living up to it. My oldest is a teen and he just started getting bad this year; only when you ask him to do anything. 🙂

Kristian January 2, 2015 - 8:28 am

OMG….I’m laughing so hard right now because I have seen some varience of almost ALL of these situations with me 2.5 year old this week alone!!! Never thought I’d be raising such a sweet little diva- its no wonder her little bro is so passive! 😉

Meghan January 2, 2015 - 8:33 am

Lol… when I was writing this, I had a handful in my head and I wrote them in a draft post. It only took me about 2 more days to generate the rest of the list of 25! And since I published it, I probably could add 25 more. It’s so hard not to laugh at some of them because they are so absurd!

Tory Moore January 2, 2015 - 8:22 am

When my son was 3, now 32, he decided to wear only purple socks. We had 2 pair so once they were worn he had to wait for laundry day. After my mom witnessed a purple sock meltdown, she bought him 5 more pairs. By the way, she never would have done this for me when i was 3. Mom was so clever! A pair for every day! Until 3 days into the next week he decides no more purple socks, only red socks!

Meghan January 2, 2015 - 8:31 am

Grandmas! Our grandmas have also recommended back-up blankies and back-up Tigeys (Big M’s lovie of choice from 2-3). We did have back-up Wubbanubs, and thanks to Santa, we do now have more tutus. I hesitate to back them up until it becomes a staying obsession!

Kaitlyn January 1, 2015 - 11:52 pm

It’s like we live the same life!

Meghan January 2, 2015 - 8:23 am

The best coping mechanism for the challenges of motherhood is knowing you are not alone!!! I’ve been reading all the comments on this post here and on Facebook to prove to hubby that Big M’s drama is (sadly) TOTALLY normal.

Sarah January 1, 2015 - 6:28 pm

“Threenager” – hadn’t heard that before. It’s perfect! Three has been ROUGH with my youngest, too.

Meghan January 1, 2015 - 7:06 pm

I can’t claim to have come up with the term myself, but it is certainly fitting! I’m just hoping I’m getting a double dose with my oldest and the youngest will skip it… she’s giving me gray hair with her fearless antics at 17 months!

Alycia January 1, 2015 - 6:09 pm

The theme of my life right now and reason for my new found interest in wine.

Meghan January 1, 2015 - 6:25 pm

Cheers! We’ll drink to that 🙂

Tawnya December 31, 2014 - 7:51 pm

Oh man, my 9 month old son is already sorta kinda melting down when he doesn’t get his way.. Not looking forward to when he is 2-3. Sigh and he has red hair to boot, so this should be fun! These made me laugh though.

Meghan January 1, 2015 - 9:18 am

When Big M was 12-18 months old, she used to walk up and bang her head on the wall… I was totally freaked out, but the pediatrician said it was normal, and the less reaction I had, the quicker it would pass. At 17 months, Lil’ M stomps her feet at me whenever we tell her NO! You have to laugh – best survival method for motherhood!

Stephanie January 2, 2015 - 1:06 am

Omg! My son did that all the time! Luckily he doesn’t do it as much.

Meghan January 2, 2015 - 8:25 am

Yeah, fortunately, she stopped as she got closer to 2… but when you start googling these things, you get completely freaked out. Love our pediatrician – he’s got a super dry sense of humor and is a straight shooter, and he gave me great advice. As soon as I stopped swooping in to stop her in dramatic fashion, it stopped pretty quickly.

CMRawlinson December 10, 2014 - 5:46 pm

Very entertaining! The makings of a hardback perhaps?

Meghan December 11, 2014 - 7:11 am

Sadly, there probably could be a whole book! At the very least, a second post!


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