From Toddler to Teenager in Less than a Year

Toddler to Teenager I New Orleans Moms BlogMy kid recently went from being a sweet little two year old to being a little jerk on occasion. Something reminiscent of a 13 year old boy from my youth is what I liken it to.

Quite frankly, I am not really sure how to refer to his new and “unimproved” personality traits that come and go like the seasons. One minute I have a child that is sweet, adorable, considerate, and thoughtful, and the next minute he turns into a defiant, smart mouthed little stinker.

When the little guy turned two, I braced myself for the “Terrible Twos.” I kept waiting and waiting for my kid to be not so nice or throw epic tantrums or embarrass me daily. Instead all I got was hugs, kisses and adorable antics like dance parties and and “Guess What, Mama? I LOVE YOU!” daily. While he had an occasional tantrum, they were minor and readily remedied with a quick “That’s not nice!” or “No, we don’t do that!”

I thought, maybe, just maybe, I was winning at this parenting thing.

Here I was thinking, hey, maybe I finally figured out this parenting stuff. Maybe the whole discipline thing is working, and I am effectively raising a great little human destined for great things.

HAHAHAHA! The joke was on me. (I’m not really laughing.)

It really became obvious on the flight we took home from Disney World. Despite my fervent attempts to control him in the seat with an iPad, snacks, a book, coloring sheets, stickers and the like, he flat out REFUSED to wear the seat belt. As we were about to take off, he was THAT kid screaming and crying because I was making him wear a seat belt on an airplane, something EVERYONE has to do. I am so grateful for the good-natured flight attendant who came by and said, “you can put him in your lap” because I have a feeling the flight home would have been a doozie. The crying stopped, but he wanted to cruise the plane and tell everyone about his trip to Disney. Each time I asked him to sit down in his seat, he would reply with “NO!” and “Leave me Alone!” Something that left me aghast.

I felt so defeated even though I had even armed myself with a reward toy that he would get if he behaved. He just didn’t care!Temper Tantrums I New Orleans Moms Blog

(The Buzz Lightyear Parachute Man is still in his package, waiting for a day of extraordinary good behavior. I’m starting to think that Buzz may never leave his package!)

For the whole next week after we returned, his attitude took a turn for the worst. When he would throw a tantrum because I wouldn’t let him eat cookies for dinner (I know, I’m such a mean mom, right?), I would tell him “Go to your room to cool off.” and then he retorted with “No,  Mom, YOU cool off!” I stood there baffled.

When did my toddler turn into a teenager?

It did not stop there. He went into his room, shut the door in my face and told me “I don’t like you, Mommy.” Even worse, he spent a week being sassy at school, and it was when I got a report from his teacher that he was acting this way that I felt like a failure. It hit me like a ton of bricks, and I almost cried because here I was, thinking I had it all figured out and now I felt like I was starting all over again.

After a lengthy phone call with the director of his school and then talking to some other moms with kids the same age, I discovered that maybe, just maybe, my kid is normal. Apparently almost ALL of them act like this, typically around the age of three. Honestly, the term “terrible twos” is a misnomer because it should be the “terrible threes.”

Now, my kid throws a tantrum over the most ridiculous things. He will get mad because he can’t put deodorant on his face or because I will not let him eat dog food. Reports from other moms include kids having fits because the granola bar they are eating has broken, they are told that they need “five more minutes of sleep, mom” and that they better “Suck it up, Buttercup!” Another favorite is “I’m allergic to my breakfast, mom.”

Hearing those things from other moms made me realize I’m not alone. Thank goodness!Raising a Toddler is a Roller Coaster Ride I New Orleans Moms Blog

As I was reflecting on all of this, I was also reminiscing about our recent trip to Disney. To me, parenting a toddler is the same as riding Space Mountain. You are in the dark, you climb up the steep tracks, oh so slowly, as to not disturb anything, and then right when you think you are doing great and are okay, you DROP down into the abyss of fear and exhilaration and you scream a whole lot because you never know what will happen next.

When you get off, your back hurts like hell.

Are you living with a toddler who has turned into a “threenager?” Do you have any funny (or not funny) stories to share?



  1. I know exactly what you are dealing with! I call me almost 3 year old my “threenager”. I thought I had this sweet, easy going, textbook angel baby and I don’t know when it happened but she turned into a sassy, defiant, independent, she demon. The best example if this was near Christmas time when I brought her back this little Mickey Mouse snow globe from my shopping excursion. She carried it around admiring it and shaking up the snow all morning. Then it happened. I told her no, she could not play with my phone (because she kept trying to emergency dial) and put it up on the back of the couch where we were sitting. This was my mistake. She took her snow globe and threw it as hard as she could at my glass top coffee table and it exploded into a million tiny shards of glass. This was when I knew the days of my sweet little text book angel baby were gone forever.

    • yep. we had an incident with the slapping of a bowl of hot grits last week. I have to take a breath and remind myself, “I’m not alone!!!” We’re in this together!

  2. A friend told me a long time ago that whoever coined the phrase, “terrible two’s,” must have died before their kid three…and it’s SO TRUE! Great article! 🙂

  3. Great article and it was great talking with you yesterday! Mine had a meltdown when I told her we had to hold hands in the parking lot. Little ms independent. Love the comparison to space mountain!

  4. Although my 3.5 YO daughter is extremely polite and practices her manners, she somehow thinks that she doesn’t have to listen when she is being disciplined. Yep. When she refused to sit for reading time at school she was put in time out. She declined to listen to the teacher and was sent to the directors office. She walked out of the room telling her that she “didn’t have time for this”. Really? She did not pick that up from us. However, we follow through with discipline. I don’t think her teachers do. She already learned her teacher’s weaknesses. Frankly I think that many teachers have a hard time being a bad guy so they don’t upset parents.

    • I hope that isn’t the case and things improve for you! It is maddening though, when they don’t respond to discipline. Trust me, I know!!!

      Hang in there, we’re in this together!

  5. Omg! 3 sucks! I’ve heard it’s the worst age so that gives me some comfort. This will be the longest.year.ever. There should he support groups for moms of 3 year olds.

  6. This is just what I needed RIGHT now. My perfect sleeper yells nightly that she’s not tired and is now staying up passed my bed time! her favorite phase is ‘don’t worry about me’ and she tells me that as i brush her hair, apply sunscreen or try to help her with her shoes. She can go from sweet to brat in about 10 seconds flat and I find myself praying for patience literally every 5 minutes.

  7. Amen! And Jane isn’t even three yet. I really feel like she possesses all of the angst of an early 90s teenager that led to the birth of the grunge movement. How can life be so hard when its filled with playtime, gummi snacks, and napping. Imagine for one second if someone told you, “Andie you must go take a two hour nap.” Wouldn’t that be the best…

    But, as I have started to document Jane’s tantrums and their cause, I find that the trend is hearing the word no. And the thing is, as much as the whining, thrashing, crying fits drive me to drink, the only thing worse is the thought of a spoiled teenager who lacks resiliency and expects the world to go her way at ALL times.

    So for now, I take comfort in knowing that we all seem to be in this together. Just when I start googling behavior therapists, I see someone post something their kid did that sounded just like Jane, and I think, maybe the tantrum she just had because I cannot “make her taller” is normal.

    You’re an amazing mom. And Andrew is an amazing little boy.

    May all of our kids antics mean that they will grow into strong, independent, and resilient adolescents.

    • YES YES YES!!! I will deal with the tantrums now if it will ensure that Andrew will not turn into a spoiled teenager who expects the world to cater to his every need. Thanks for that reminder!!!

      and yes, we are in this together.

      and THANK YOU for the encouragement. I need all the encouragement I can get on this wild ride!!! and you, too are an AMAZING mom Jen and Jane is not only a beautiful little girl, but an amazing, observant, intelligent little darling!!!


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