A Guide to Parenting a Three Year Old – Part 2

Parenting a three year old can be difficult at times.  Here is Part 2 of our thoughts on how keep tantrums under control.

Parenting a three year old part 2

You can find Part 1 of A Guide to Parenting a Three Year Old here.

Giggle and have fun with your child

Often, when everyone is tired or busy or both, stress levels are running high and everyone is shouting.  Try take a step back from this.  Is the thing you are stressed about actually that serious?  Is it worth being so upset?  How is this affecting your child?  Is your child getting more irate to match your mood?  I’ve found the very best thing to do is to try to have a laugh about something in this situation.  Even if it is forced to start with.  You will soon find that the mood of your whole house is different.

Talk openly with your child

Recently, my daughter kept having tantrums during the bedtime story.  Here is what happened:

After we’d had a giggle about this, we talked.  The reason for her being upset was that her brother had not explained to her fully why he had taken the book from her.  She had been sitting nicely, listening and looking at the pictures.  She did not understand why her job of holding the book had been taken from her.  S did not explain, in a way that she understood, the reason he had taken the book away.  So she had a little tantrum.  If I had left her to it, this would have been a full blown scream down the house half hour.  Just that little giggle to lighten the moment and to make her realise it wasn’t all that serious, helped massively.  Discussing all of this with her and her brother afterwards helped as well.  We gently and calmly discussed what had happened as well as why it was valid that each child in turn was upset.  We also discussed how she could have reacted instead.  We talked about using her words, not noises to let her brother know what she needed.  The situation calmed down.  We spent the next fifteen minutes re-playing the video and giggling at it.

Validate their concerns

Apart from the odd occasion when a seemingly irrational tantrum occurs, there is often a reason for the tantrum.  Try to think of things from the child’s point of view.  Maybe they have found something unfair, maybe they really wanted that sweet and the dog stole it from them, maybe they need your attention when you are very busy but you are too busy to stop and explain why you can’t give them that attention or maybe they didn’t understand something. There can be all sorts of reasons so I try to talk to my child to validate her concerns.  I tell her that I understand why she is upset (only if I understand) and how she can help to sort out the problem in her own way/a way that I suggest.  I believe, old or young, that people need to feel listened to and their concerns heard.

Let them have time to calm down

Do not expect a child to calm down immediately after having a tantrum.  Young children get themselves very wound up and it is almost impossible just to return to normal immediately.  Give them time to calm down.  They might have finished their tantrum ages ago but because they can’t calm themselves down, you may think that it is still happening.

Accept that tantrums are examples of your child becoming more independent

Tantrums and saying, “No!” are all normal and necessary for growing up.  Your child is asserting their independence and learning how to speak up for themselves.  As with everything, you first need to practice these skills in a safe place, where you can make mistakes and be guided as to how to approach this.  At home with people who love you, you can do this.  Imagine if we didn’t go through this phase as children, we would just agree with everybody and not exert our will on anything.  I would think this would be quite an unhappy life.

These are the things I keep in mind when my child is having a meltdown.  She still does have tantrums at times but as she is getting older, these are happening less and less.  Remember that this phase doesn’t last for too long, in the grand scheme of things.  I hope that these tips have been useful.  How do you help your child (and your sanity) when your child is having a tantrum?


6 thoughts on “A Guide to Parenting a Three Year Old – Part 2

  1. We do struggle sometimes as not every child will want to talk to us and
    explain what is happening and why.
    Some of our kids simply don’t know why they get melt downs, they don’t really
    understand what is happening and why and they always think it is their fault.
    We try to talk and reason but it isn’t always easy… sometimes you just have
    to let them have a tantrum and calm down when they are ready.

    1. That is a good point. Not all three year olds are at the point where they are ready to talk about or understand their tantrums. Sometimes there is no reason for a tantrum at all and like you say, letting them get it out of their system is the best way forward sometimes.

  2. This is a great post, one which I will be coming back to when Boo gets little older – we get the odd tantrum but I think they will get more frequent sadly! I totally agree with what you say about there usually been a reason – it must be so frustrating to have so much happen TO them just as they are trying to figure out doing things themselves.

I'd love to hear what you think about this. Thank you!