Dealing with Tantrums in Your Three-Year-Old

dealing-with-tantrums-at-age-3

It used to be called ‘The Terrible Twos’.  I think that is just a catch phrase.  Many parents know those tantrums do not stop at two, they may not even start til three!  I apologize if I am dropping a bomb on your wonderfully behaved two year old.  Here are some tips for dealing with tantrums at age 3.

Tips for dealing with tantrums at age 3

Time-out: I don’t mean you have to sit your child in a corner and have him face the wall.  Time outs can exist anywhere (that’s what I told my daughter, and still do “They have time out here”).  When she was about three years old, and needed a time out, I had her sit on the bottom stair.  She was still in view of everyone so she didn’t get scared.  I had her sit there for a few minutes and then I went to her and got down to her level and talked to her about her behavior.

Ignore: This can be a tough one to do sometimes as your blood may boil.  If your toddler is throwing a fit, sometimes giving her attention just makes it worse.  Ignore the behavior and keep doing what you are doing.  If that doesn’t work, you can resort to time out.

Distraction: Kids get so focused on something, they often forget what they were upset about to begin with, just that they are upset and they are staying that way.  Bring their attention to something different.  Not every tantrum has to be addressed, just give her something else to focus on.  This works great with siblings when one is upset because of something the other has.  I still ask for my daughters help with things when she is getting upset with her sister.  Gives her something else to do and she feels she is doing something good for me.

Do Not Give In: This just warrants more and bigger tantrums!  It can be the easy way out for you, especially when you are in a crowded grocery store and you feel all eyes on your and your child.  Giving a child what he wants when he is upset is just spoiling.  As parents, our job is to teach our children, and what you are teaching your child is that when he doesn’t get his way all he has to do is get really upset and then he will.  This will not work when he gets to school.

Ultimatum: Sounds like a weird way for dealing with tantrums at age 3, but they want things too.  If you had planned to do something fun whether it be a walk or the park, remind him.  Tell him that if can’t behave, he won’t be able to go.  I still do this with my daughter.  She loves make-up so we go to the dollar stores but if she doesn’t behave for the rest of our errands, I remind her that I can take that make-up to the store.


Sometimes you think you will never make it through.  You might question whether you are a good parent (‘Why does it seem only my child acts like this?’)  Only the good parents question if they are doing it right.  Rest assured you are doing just fine, and it’s a phase children go through.  Even the most well behaved children have melt downs.



 Do you have any experiences with dealing with tantrums at age 3?  Maybe you have older children and have some tricks up your sleeve.  Share them below!

19 thoughts on “Dealing with Tantrums in Your Three-Year-Old”

  1. Oh the memories! Thankfully, they do grow out of it, until the teen years kick in with its special brand of challenges. Ha! 😉

  2. I love the picture as it’s very true with a child drinking juice to have a meltdown in the sense-sugar is the kicker. So I’ve read in the past.
    I have twins approaching 2…I don’t even want to think of the Terrible three’s, lol! Wish me luck!

  3. I’ve found that meltdowns happen alot more when kids are tired or hungry too. When ours were little we always made sure to keep our errands to the morning (non-nap time) and to bring lots and lots of snacks with us. We headed off more than a few tantrums that way 😉

  4. People talk about the terrible twos all the time but honestly to doesn’t hold a candle to three. Three was a horror show.

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