10 tactics for negotiating with a threenager

Three year olds. The kind, caring, sweet natured, manipulative, stroppy, uncooperative, helpful, enthusiastic, cheerful little whirlwinds that live among us.

Communicating with them can be a battle of wills. Maintaining a pleasant atmosphere at home without giving in to their every demand can be near to impossible.

So, I’m here to help. It is widely accepted that there are four stages to negotiation. So here are 10 tactics for negotiating with a threenager based on those four steps.


1. Go into battle fully equipped 

The threenager is rapidly becoming a television addict. Their favourite programs must be available on request at all times. Install NOW TV as the ultimate bargaining tool. Their favourite series and films will always be on.

2. Plan a treat

Days out or holidays work best.  The threenager must always have something to look forward to.

Exchange information 

3. Reveal your cards to the threenager

Inform them that tantrums, biting siblings, throwing dinner and beating up their dad will all result in removal of their favourite television programs.

4. Use your trump card

Tell the threenager that the amazing holiday or day out that you had planned is currently in jeopardy. Make it very clear that if they don’t remove the pillow from their dad’s face, the holiday is off.

N.B. this is dependant on how you feel about their dad. You may wish to replace ‘don’t remove the pillow’ with ‘do remove the pillow’ in certain circumstances.


5.  Give and take

The threenager will come up with a reason why they can’t possibly do as you say. When they threaten to tell YOUR mum that you’re not complying, you know you are in trouble. Buy their silence with endless NOW TV.

6. Become allies

When your beloved child threatens to tell daddy that you ate an EIGHTH donut (whilst on a diet) you realise that you are in fact in this together. Reinstate the holiday immediately.

7. Beg

In certain situations, you will need to resort to good old-fashioned begging. Examples often involve locks. The threenager can lock themselves into any cupboard, car or bathroom with relative ease. Resort to begging them to come out. You may need to cry.

Closing and commitment

8. See it through

Don’t make empty threats. You will need to withdraw access to NOW TV at least once to make yourself sound convincing.

9. Put the argument behind you

Make sure the threenager knows that all is forgiven when the argument is over. Fail to do so and next time, there will no keeping them quiet about the doughnuts.

10. Pick your battles

Soon, the threenager will be four. They will be in school, they will become independent and their threenage years will be behind them. And you will miss your kind, caring, sweet natured, manipulative, stroppy, uncooperative, helpful, enthusiastic, cheerful little whirlwind.

You will look back and realise that none of it mattered. Make memories, not battles.

10 tactics for negotiating with a threenager: A humorous look at the negotiation skills required to maintain harmony in a household with young children.

Please note, I am a blogger ambassador for NOW TVAll views, opinions, threenagers, indecision on the matter of husband smothering and an affinity for doughnuts are my own. 

8 thoughts on “10 tactics for negotiating with a threenager

  1. Shoebox of M

    The baragining tool of the promise of endless choice and endless on demand TV is double edged at best! Threenagers are also masters of changing their mind seconds after they have selected something to watch and then demanding in the most cryptic terms something else entirely. At one point the meltdowns got so severe that the TV was ‘broken’. For 3 weeks.

    1. monsteridNatalie Ray Post author

      Oh dear! Luckily mine don’t watch too much TV so when they do get to watch some it’s a real luxury having the choice of what they want to watch and they tend to watch the entirety of their choice of program.x

  2. Natalie Streets

    Bing Bunny is how we get silence 😉 haha. A few days ago when Oliver was ill we literally pressed ‘play all’ on our box so he had 10 Bings on in a row. Terrible parenting. But needs must. lol

    He demanded a holiday recently. He’s a bit gutted that he can’t have one because we are getting married, and doesn’t understand why we can’t just sod off and get married tomorrow. Or why we have to look at so many places for so long and still not be married yet. haha. Kids!!
    Natalie Streets recently posted…#CBM16 Blog Meet – How it wentMy Profile

  3. marianne hopwood

    He he, we recently got a similar thing but it now means incessant begging for Octonauts and Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures at all times of the day and the loss of power of ‘if you don’t get dressed/eat your breakfast/clean your teeth quickly then you will miss Octonauts’ – they’re just like ‘it’s Ok Mummy, you can get it for us on the Roku later’. Enjoying the HD documentaries though – our old digital recorder is set to low quality so we can stuff more on it, so I haven’t seen a crisp colourful show in years
    marianne hopwood recently posted…Saving seedsMy Profile


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