Is your three-year-old morphing into someone almost unrecognisable? Has the sweetness been replaced with sass? The affection with attitude? You may have a threenager on your hands. Can’t be sure? Look out for these tell-tale traits that suggest the transformation has begun.*

1. Exploring new relationships

You are no longer the centre of her universe. She has found a kindred spirit with the same propensity for mischief as her own. This ‘best friend’ features in all conversations across all topics. The threenager covets every toy and item of clothing her best friend possesses. It’s a volatile relationship but her devotion to this carbon copy of herself knows no bounds.


2. The confidence to try new things

She has developed a make-up obsession. You’ll find her rummaging through your toiletries with the ruthless determination of a white-walker. Lip-gloss and blusher will go missing. She will comment on your appearance. ‘I think you need lipstick, mom.’ She will then offer you the stubby end of your new Mac, which is smeared in equal measure on the bottom half of hers and Singing Elsa’s faces.


3. New-found fashion sense

She now self-styles and woe betide the mother not on top of the laundry. She will choose garish colours and put skirts over ill-fitting jeans. She will change her ensemble on average three times per day. Despite having more shoes than the rest of the family members put together, she’ll refuse to wear all but one pair. And there’s not a thing you can do about it.


She judges your wardrobe choices, offering suggestions for improvement. She questions the size of your tummy and draws unfortunate comparisons between you and Mr Tumble.


5. Adjusting to new demands

Emotions are heightened and when the threenager hasn’t had sufficient sleep, the consequences can be catastrophic. She is liable to down tools and wail, often sitting or lying on the ground, regardless of the location. Efforts to cajole her into moving will be met with contempt and further screeching at unprecedented decibel levels.


6. Resilience

She no longer responds to discipline, gentle or otherwise. Water off a duck’s back.


7. Expanding modes of expression

Doors will slam. A lot. She will shout. She will stomp. She will mope. She lives in a world riddled with injustice and she is the principal victim. Nothing is fair.


8. Single-mindedness

Repeatedly asking her to stop doing something will make her do it even more, and with a look of disdain that says ‘make me’. She will stop when she is ready. Everything is on the threenager’s terms, including bedtime and meal choices. She will threaten hunger strike. She isn’t bluffing.


9. Enhanced non-verbal communication

She has already mastered the derisive eye-roll and she’s not afraid to use it to show you just how much of an annoyance you are. It’s customary for a threenager to reserve the behaviour detailed in numbers 7, 8 and 9 for when you are in the company of your in-laws, your boss or your friend who has perfect children.


10. Preparing for the future

She is the process of perfecting a lingering glare that will carry her through adolescence. She will nail it before the year is out and it will genuinely scare you.



  • Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Characters, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons or actual events is purely coincidental.
  • I have no explanation for the gender bias in this post, other than the fact that I’ve chosen to forget this stage of the buck’s development.
  • Suffice it to say that we love all three-year-olds, especially our own. This is just one the many rites of passage we have to grin and bear. And sure aren’t they lovely underneath it all really?

Gif images:  Feature image: © Creatista | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

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  1. Rebecca Conneely Reply

    You have described my 3yr 3mth old daughter to a tee, hilarious and terrifying in equal measure ????????????

    • Sinéad Reply

      Can you remember how long it lasts for, Rebecca? ???? Can’t be easy for them either, I suppose! Poor mites!

  2. Hehehe shinners! This all sounds VERY familiar!!! It’s the eye shadow on the lips that I can’t handle!!! Keep’emcomin!! Am loving the feeling that I’m not alone!!

    • Sinéad Reply

      Eyeshadow on lips! Aw man! ???? You’d be a while with a water wipe getting rid of that! Thanks Brona. xx

  3. So funny- the gifs are killing me!

    I hate hate HATE the f-u threes. I have seen two girls through them and have twin two year olds approaching.

    Pray for me.


    • Sinéad Reply

      Yikes! Four times? Hail Marys in progresss, Kristin! ????

  4. Hahaha! Absolutely brilliant! I completely giggled my way through your post. We are just starting to come out of the threenager stage. You have pretty much described it to a T. Number 6 is a corker… am I bovvered. Thanks so much for sharing with the #DreamTeam xx

    • Sinéad Reply

      No signs of the symptoms abating here, Annette! See you next time!

    • Sinéad Reply

      Thanks Lisa! 🙂 By all accounts the lads present their own set of ‘challenges’! Good luck! ????

  5. I read this a few days ago and enjoyed it and I have read it a second time and giggled equally. My son will be two in a couple of months. I have a year to prepare! Thank you for the forewarning. #Chucklemums xx

  6. You appear to have written a post dedicated to my three year old, who basically does all of the above. She can cut me down in an instant – the other day I was getting dressed and she looked me up and down and said “just checking, you don’t have a baby in your tummy do you?” Effing wench. Thanks for linking to #chucklemums!

  7. Oh, the best friend – YES! And the lingering glance. My 3yr 3 month old daughter, NG, is going through all these things, without exception. It usually makes me laugh … except when I have had a particularly rough day, when I sort of want to cry… #chucklemums

    • Sinéad Reply

      And crying is ok too! Lol 😉 I think if we can laugh at it and remember that it’s just a passing phase, we can survive! It will pass, won’t it?

  8. God what is it with the honesty? When do they learn DISCRETION? “Mummy, why is your tummy so fat?” “Mummy, why don’t you have a willy? Is it just much smaller than mine?” IN PUBLIC. Gah. #chucklemums

  9. I think mine is already there. She’s almost three but she’s basically a big ball of sass. I look forward to the days that the toddler tantrums subside but I am not prepared for this! #chucklemums

    • Sinéad Reply

      It must be nature’s way of preparing us for ten years down the line!

  10. Oh god, I was just hoping to survive the ‘terrible twos’ and now this! I’m going to need more wine (and possibly gin)

    • Sinéad Reply

      If it’s any consolation, four is much easier. Most of the time. And yes, there’s always wine. And gin. 😉

  11. I remember it well ….I now have a 8 year old who this she’s 16 ???????????????????????? #attitude

  12. Hahaha this is brilliant! My daughter is 3 on Monday so it’s just beginning. She dressed herself today in a colourful t shirt, flowery skirt, stripy socks and odd shoes! Lol!

  13. Pingback: Toddlers To Threenagers -The Warning Signs

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