3 Year Old Tantrums
Surviving 3 Year Old Tantrums
There is something worse than 2 year old temper tantrums, and that's 3 year old tantrums, for no other reason than the 3 year old has a bit more experience at throwing one. We tend to forget sometimes that a temper tantrum can be hard on a child, although most everyone will acknowledge one can be very hard on a parent as well.
Fortunately, most of us live our children far too much to try to strangle them, though the thought may come to mind in the midst of one of those industrial-strength, personal-record-setting 3 year old tantrums. As parents, we either have a tendency to go on a guilt trip, trying to figure out where we whet wrong in bringing up the little screaming monster, or begin to worry of there has been a bad seed planted somewhere, and our little one is going to grow up to be a menace to society.
While it's important to mention the fact that good parenting is all-important, it's also worthwhile noting that 3 year old tantrums are in most respects as natural as eating and sleeping. While not all 3 year old children experience temper tantrums, most of them do, and most of them have more than you can count on your fingers. In other words, tantrums can be considered a fact of nature, although there are a few young ones (probably abnormal) who don't have them.
The mistake we often make with respect of children throwing a tantrum is the same mistake we sometimes make with our pets. We think they are more knowledgeable and grownup than is actually the case. We humanize our pets, but a dog is still a dog and a cat is still (and always will be) a cat. We look at our 3 year old child as a little adult, and little adults shouldn't throw temper tantrums.
Tantrums Based On Frustration - The problem the three year old has is one of wanting something, either a material thing, or simply to be comforted, and not knowing how to ask for it. Little ones throw tantrums when they are tired, hungry, or just uncomfortable. They can't always explain their situation, and certainly can't always verbalize what needs to be done to make things right, so they get frustrated and throw a tantrum. When a 3 year old sees a toy, or most anything else, in a store that he or she wants, "No" isn't always an acceptable answer, yet the young one can't yet understand the reason why the toy can't belong to him or her. "Too expensive" has no meaning, nor does, "You already have another one like it". The result? A tantrum.
It takes time to break a child of throwing temper tantrums, though most of them do it themselves by the age of 4 or shortly thereafter. It helps a great deal when they learn that throwing a temper tantrum is not accepted behavior, and not the way they will get what they want. In the middle of a tantrum a child really can't be talked to. They are literally out of control and can't hear or understand what is being said. The tantrum has to be allowed to run its course.
It goes without saying that things work out for the best if the parent is able to keep calm. Some parents do an admirable job of keeping calm, while some do not. Few fortunately go as far as attempted strangling, though some parents will take actions practically guaranteeing their children will grow up having even greater emotional difficulties.
If you are a parent, and your 3 year old is doing his or her thing, keep your cool, and above all, don't reward the child's behavior. It's natural and not “bad”, but nevertheless inappropriate.