As a parent there are many things that will try your patience during the early years of your child’s life but there is nothing tougher to handle than temper tantrums in 3 year olds. There are times when you will be in a public place and your 3 year old decides to have an absolute fit in the middle of a large crowd and you will wonder what you did to deserve this. But there are many ways to handle tantrums and I’m here to tell you all is not lost. Here are some things you can do as a parent to handle temper tantrums in your 3 year old (or any age for that matter) that will not only help you deal with the issues but also help your child grow out of this very tough stage in their lives.
Some things you can do:
1. Remain Calm – First and foremost, the most important thing you can do for your child and your own sanity is to remain calm, cool and collected. Not only will you be better prepared to deal with the situation but you will also show your child that you are in control of the situation, not him.
2. Talk about the problem with your child – Sometimes the best way to diffuse a tantrum is to discuss the issue with your child calmly and show them that you know why they’re so upset. Believe it or not, if your child refuses to discuss things calmly (which they may do because they’re only 3 years old) then IGNORE THE TANTRUM! Tell your child that you will only address his or her issues when they speak to you in a normal tone and calm voice.
3. Acknowledge their feelings and empathize with them – Let your 3 year old know that you understand and actually give them some examples. Sometimes calming them down and telling them about a time your had a similar issue (whether you make it up on the fly or not) will stop your child in his or her tracks and make them think about how Mommy or Daddy handled it. It doesn’t work all the time, but it is one of the few things that consistently works with temper tantrums over time. Not only will it diffuse the situation but it will teach your child how to act and how to handle similar situations as they grow up.
4. Try distracting your child or changing the subject – When your child is out of control, sometimes it’s best to distract them even for a little bit to calm them down and get them away from whatever is causing the frustration. There are many things that will draw their attention away so try giving them a different toy, doing a different activity or even grab their favorite book and ask them if they would like to read a story. Anything that distracts them and changes the subject quickly is worth a try.
5. Time outs do work! – Find a specific area in your home for time outs and use it. Parents worldwide have been using the ‘time out’ method and there’s a reason for it…..IT WORKS! In our family we used a small child’s chair placed in the corner of a room away from all distractions like televisions and toys. When it came to time outs, they would sit in their chair until they stopped crying and were able to talk about the issues. Sometimes it would take 10-minutes and other times it would be a little longer. As a parent, you make the judgement call on how much time you need to diffuse the situation. If it gets to be too long, try another method as time outs are not always the final answer.
6. Remove the child – When your experiencing a temper tantrum in your 3 year old you have to remember that your job at that point is to stop the tantrum in the best way possible. Sometimes that includes removing your child from the ‘scene of the crime’ so to speak. It doesn’t matter whether you are at home or in the middle of the local shopping mall, remove the child from the area and let them know it’s not OK to throw a tantrum. If that means you physically pick up your 3 year old and bring them to another area, then so be it. Changing the surroundings can refocus your child and help you at the same time to gain an understanding of why your child is upset.
7. Just let them go! – Just as much as removing a child from a situation can work, just letting them freak out for a period of time can also do the job as well. Sometimes it’s best just to let your 3 year old have the tantrum if the situation is appropriate. Think of it this way. If you have a pot of boiling water, sometimes it’s best to take the lid off and release some steam rather than keeping the lid on knowing it will eventually boil over. The problem with some parents is that they don’t like to let their children have tantrums in public places and honestly I can understand that. But just remember, your job is to be a parent and not worry about what other people are thinking. If your child responds better to just letting out some steam, then go for it by dealing with it right then and there and don’t worry about being judged by other people. You know best.
8. Be consistent in your actions – Being consistent in how your handle your child’s actions will show your child that you are the boss and not them. Never ever give in to an unruly 3 year old who is throwing a tantrum or the next thing you know your child will be ruling your home. Don’t waiver from how your handle a tantrum and soon you will see positive changes in your child’s behavior.
There is no silver bullet for every situation but trying any or all of these suggestions over time will help any parent handle temper tantrums in 3 year olds. Just remember that as children grow and begin to experience different feelings and emotions, they will learn how to deal with them and that may include a few break downs along the way. Just know that it’s totally OK and 100% normal and how you as a parent deal with it will help them over the long term. Good luck to you.