ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Dealing with Tantrums 3 year olds

Updated on September 15, 2010

How to deal with tantrums in 3 year olds?

Since my son has turned 3, I have noticed he is more likely to have temper tantrums and over the most bizarre things. For example, the other day he had a tantrum after I bought a pack of four drinks. I gave one to him and had one for myself, only for my son to start getting very upset leading to a tantrum and lying down in the street. I couldn't understand why he was so upset. Eventually I worked out that he had thought he was going to have all four drinks to himself and he didn't like the fact that I'd had one.

I have done a lot of reading of parenting books and developed quite a few strategies for dealing with my 3 year olds temper tantrums which I've tried and tested. I now feel confident that I can deal with any temper tantrum my son throws due to having techniques to use. Also, the amount of tantrums he has is decreasing and they're becoming less intense.

This article may also present some views on temper tantrums that you haven't heard before. Read on for my techniques and strategies for dealing with temper tantrums in 3 year olds.

Understanding temper tantrums

The first step to dealing with tantrums in 3 year olds is to understand them. One of the myths about temper tantrums is that its your childs attempt to manipulate you to get what they want. Another common myth is when your child has a tantrum ignore them, go and do something else while they're screaming and leave them to it. What many parents will notice when they do this is that the temper tantrums do not end or get better until the child has exhausted themselves crying.

When 3 year olds are having a tantrum, they aren't trying to manipulate you. Yes, they are upset because they haven't got what they want or things are not going as they planned. But the tantrum is an expression of their frustration. They are dealing with feelings that are not able to control or cope with. They feel out of control and this is what they are expressing. The worst thing you can do is ignore them at this point. Just imagine, if you were really angry and upset about something and you were crying and expressing these feelings to a friend or partner. How would you feel if they suddenly said, this is not acceptable behaviour, I am going to go into another room until you can calm yourself down and can control yourself.

Tantrums often occur when children are tired or hungry and this is because (like the rest of us) at these times it is harder to control our emotions, behaviour and feelings.

Tantrums - What to do During a Tantrum with a 3 Year Old

As many parents know tantrums normally occur because a child wants something and he/she is not granted his wish. There are things to do and not to do when tantrums arise because of this situation.

Don't Rush To Stop the Tantrum with Compensation

Its important to realise that parents shouldn't just rush to stop the tantrum. It important not to rush to give the child what they want, try to change reality or give some other compenstation. By doing this a 3 year old will learn that tantrums and crying are a valid way to gets things and the tantrums will increase.

Understand, Listen and Acknowledge

Secondly - Its important to let the child know that you understand their frustration/pain at not getting what they want. Listen to and acknowlege their feelings. Repeat to them what you understand and then let them know that you understand their need to cry and will be with them as much as they need.

Don't feel scared of tantrums

Its okay to let tantrums in 3 year olds run their course instead of rushing to stop them. As long as your child is safe let its okay for him/her to express their feelings and let them know that you are there when they need you.

More Tips on How to Deal with Temper Tantrums

Here are some more points on how to deal with temper tantrums?

Attention, Love and Affection

Don't withdraw your love and affection because they need it now more than ever. This doesn't mean that you give them what they want but you stay with them, let them know you are there and help them work through their frustration.

When my son lay on the floor crying in the street the other week, I picked him up when and sat on a nearby bench with him on my lap until he calmed down. I let him cry, its okay for them to cry but he knew I was there.

Ignore Logic

Its no good reasoning with them while they are having a tantrum. They will not see logic. For example, in the scenario above with my son, it would have been no good to explain why he couldn't have four drinks all to himself at that point. All he can see is he wants four drinks and Mommy had one. One technique you can use is to put the drinks away and take away the source of frustration or take the child away from the frustration.

Tantrums are not a good time to teach children lessons. This can wait until they are calm, can properly listen, understand and take on board what you're saying. Its also worth remembering that this point of view about having all the drinks for him is age related. He will learn gradually as he gets older and is taught about the value of sharing.


As your child calms, distraction is a good way to move on from the source of frustration. Show them something exciting to look at. If you're at home, maybe suggest reading a book and spending some time with them for a few minutes.

Moving On

Just as quickly as a tantrum starts your child will suddenly stop and move on as if nothing as happens and completely forget about what they got upset about.

No More Meltdowns: Positive Strategies for Managing and Preventing Out-Of-Control Behavior
No More Meltdowns: Positive Strategies for Managing and Preventing Out-Of-Control Behavior

This is the perfect book to get if you're dealing with lots of tempter tantrums. It gives various strategies for dealing with tantrums includingan easy-to-follow, 4-step model that will improve your everyday relationships with the children in your life: 1) Managing your own emotions by adjusting your expectations, 2) Learning strategies to calm a meltdown in the moment, 3) Understanding why a meltdown occurs, and 4) Creating plans to prevent future meltdowns.


Underlying Cause of Tantrums

The underlying cause of tantrums is often not what it appears. For example, my 3 year old had a tantrum once because I said he could have some chocolate. However he wanted to buy big bag of chocolates which I didn't want him to have as there would be too many to have at once. Instead I suggested three smaller bags, so he could eat one now and save the rest for later.

My son was upset but the underlying reason was not so much about the bag of chocolate but more because he lacked control and autonomy in the situation. He had lost control to choose exactly what he wanted and felt frustrated and angry about this, which ultimately led to a tantrum.

Issues such as this can be discussed with your child after the tantrum has finished. Then your logic can be explained and a suggestion can be made as to what may happen next time. A decision can be decided together.

More Top Tips for Dealing With Tantrums

There are actually lots of different ways and techniques for dealing with tantrums. Each parent, child and situation is different and requires different actions each time. Here are some more top tips:

Keep Calm

Kids learn so much more through example than by what you say to them. So if you shout at them a lot, then its more likely their reaction will be shouting. The only person's reactions you can control when your 3 year old is having a tantrum are your own. If you keep calm, your child is more likely to feed of this energy. If you loose control, you are no longer in charge of the situation or your reactions and you will have a harder time dealing effectively with the situation.

Tantrums in public places

Tantrums in public places can be embarrassing. The best thing to do is move your child away from the situation to a private place where your actions aren't affected by other people looking at you to see what you do. If you can't do this, you have to block out other people. They can cope with a screaming child for a few minutes. Sit with your child and comfort them.  

Making things fun.

One technique that really works to prevent tantrums is making things they don't want to do into a game or fun. So for example if my son is getting upset because he doesn't want a bath. I'll say, what toys would you like to bring in the bath with you and let him choose a suitable toy that he can play with in the water. Or, I'll say I'll race you to the bathroom and see who gets there first. (Races are good for all kinds of things). Songs, games and any kind of fun is good for warding of tantrums at an early stage.

Education about Tantrums and Parenting

 Like everybody else, I find parenting hard at times. Its helped me to read parenting books and get different opinions, techniques and strategies to use when parenting my son. I strongly believe in educating yourself to be a better parent by reading, questionning and trying what's out there. Also I follow my own instinct. If something doesn't feel right to me, I don't do it

Parenting books are a good tool. Read what has worked for others and see if it works for you. Different parents have different strengths and techniques. No parenting book has all the answers and there may be a lot you disagree with in them. However they give you new ideas and a different outlook.

Smart Love
Smart Love

This book has great influenced the way I parent my son. I bought it when he was still a baby as I wanted an alternative to discipline techniques than the traditional techniques such as time outs and it certainly delivered. It talks about loving regulation rather than permissive parenting or authoratative parenting. I don't agree with everything in this book and it may not be for everyone but its given me a whole new perspective on discipling a child.


Comments on Tantrums 3 Year Olds

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Sturgeonl profile image


      6 years ago

      Your personal insight and examples offer a great deal of useful information for parents. Voted up and useful!

    • AustralianNappies profile image


      7 years ago from Australia

      Great tips, my daughter is not yet one, but I think reading this will come in handy for the future! Thanks!

    • billyaustindillon profile image


      8 years ago

      Great tips - I remember those days - I found the best was not to give in but show understanding and love - what you can't let a 3 year old run you and Is ee that so often.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)