How to Curb a Three-Year-Old's Temper Tantrum

Written by kimberly turtenwald
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How to Curb a Three-Year-Old's Temper Tantrum
Temper tantrums are a normal part of child development. (Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Because a 3-year-old child does not have extensive verbal skills, frustration and anger generally exhibit themselves in temper tantrums instead. According to the University of South Carolina, most toddlers outgrow these tantrums by the age of 4. However, in the mean time, you can learn to curb these tantrums and help your child learn to express himself in a more acceptable manner. All you need is a little patience and consistency.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Remain calm when your 3-year-old begins his tantrum. Some parents yell back or lash out in frustration at what appears to be a misbehavior. However, this often makes the tantrum worse. Staying calm also helps you to think through the situation. Acting before you think can result in a poor decision that does not improve the situation.

  2. 2

    Ignore your 3-year-old if you are comfortable doing so and he is not a danger to himself or others. Some tantrums are a cry for attention. Ignoring him shows him that a tantrum does not earn him your attention.

  3. 3

    Distract your child with something he enjoys to take his mind off the cause of the tantrum. Toddlers are often easily distracted. Handing him a favourite toy, a snack or a drink can help him forget why he is upset.

  4. 4

    Take your child away from the cause of the tantrum. A change of scenery can also help your toddler forget the cause of his tantrum and help him recover.

  5. 5

    Restrain your child physically if he has trouble calming down. A 3-year-old child often feels out of control during a temper tantrum. Holding him gently but firmly gives him a sense of security and lets him know you are there for him.

  6. 6

    Talk about what happened once your toddler has calmed down. While he may not be able to express himself well, he will likely understand what you tell him. Let him know that you understand how he was feeling and explain to him how he should handle the situation. He may not get it right away, but over time, he will learn to deal with his frustrations in a healthier manner.

  7. 7

    Use positive reinforcement when your child behaves properly in a situation that would normally result in a temper tantrum. Let him know he has done a good job and you are proud of him.

Tips and warnings

  • Give your child choices to help avoid temper tantrums, such as letting him pick which shirt he wears or what toy he brings along in the car.
  • Pay attention to the common triggers that often result in tantrums. Avoid these triggers whenever possible.
  • Establish a routine with your child. Young children thrive on routines and are less likely to have tantrums when you follow a routine.

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