3-Year-Old Tantrums Getting Worse! Signs, Causes & How To Reduce Tantrums.

Does your toddler throw stuff around when angry or feeling frustrated? Has rolling on the floor or crying whenever you say no to them become a routine for your toddler? Raising a toddler is a very tricky part for most parents. When they start throwing around tantrums every day, it becomes all the more difficult to handle them.

Tantrums are typical toddler behavior. It’s your toddler’s way to express their anger or frustration as they aren’t fully capable of communicating their feelings to you yet. The Yale Medicine Child Study Center states that children younger than age 4 may have, on average, up to 9 tantrums every week. Most children will outgrow their tantrums by the time they enter kindergarten.

As a toddler, your child has less control over the things they can control and, at the same time, doesn’t know how to communicate their feelings well enough. Not being able to vent their anger and frustration leads to them acting out in various ways. Keep reading if you want to learn how to handle your toddler better and reduce the frequency of their tantrums!

What are tantrums in toddler

A toddler girl is crying and screaming on her bed. She's having a temper tantrum.

It is quite common for toddlers from age 1-4 to develop tantrums, but it is more like a development trait. Your child’s vocabulary is not developed that well at this age, nor do they know how to express or communicate every emotion. So, every time they are feeling frustrated or angry about something, they might lash out through the means of tantrums.

Tantrums can be physical, verbal, or both. Tantrums are a way of your child acting out, being disruptive, and displaying unpleasant behaviours. Usually, the situation to which they react in such a dramatic way is very mild, but since they cannot communicate, they throw what we call a tantrum.

Such as you saying no to them when they ask for chocolate, to which they might lay down on the floor and start crying out loud, irrespective of their surroundings.

Signs of tantrums in toddler

Behaviours associated with throwing tantrums in a toddler include:

  • Crying
  • Shouting
  • Kicking
  • Biting
  • Pulling or shoving
  • Throwing things
  • Hitting
  • Holding breath

These are some of the common things your toddler will do while throwing a tantrum. Although, these may last from 5-10 minutes for a toddler who just started throwing tantrums. But if you haven’t taught them how to express their feelings and let them do whatever they want, it might worsen the situation.

Causes of toddler tantrums

A young toddler boy is being mischievous and is throwing a tantrum by playing in a water puddle.

As your toddler’s emotional skills are just starting to develop and they are yet to start communicating their feelings appropriately, throwing tantrums is their way of displaying their emotions to you. Your child might not be able to use big words yet to make you understand how they are feeling and what made them feel that way.

With growing independence, your child starts to test their ability to show their emotions just as they please.

Know that this is your child’s way to let you know how they feel. Some of which are:

  • Feeling hungry or tired
  • Change in routine
  • Feeling angry or frustrated
  • Denied of something they want
  • Interaction with a child of their age
  • Doing an activity that is hard to understand
  • Change in environment
  • Parenting approach

How to manage toddler tantrums

A mom is sitting on the bed trying to manage her toddler son's tantrums, with no success.

While your precious child is growing up, the stage of being a toddler is very challenging for every parent out there. Be it your second child or first, it never becomes easier to handle a child at this stage.

As your child gains more control over their body and learns to be independent in handling things, expressing their emotions remains a challenging part for them at this stage. Be it crying out loud or throwing things; this is how they start expressing their feelings.

What is essential during this stage and this phase of your toddler is taking care of them so that they don’t end up hurting themselves or those around them while throwing a tantrum. There are several tips and methods you can use day to day to teach them how to express themselves better.

When you see your child acting up, it is better to take them to a quiet place where you can implement any of the following tips you feel will help them calm down:

Distraction

When you see your child throwing a tantrum, try distracting them by involving them with other things. You can point out some exciting things to look at, give them toys, play a little game with them, or give them a book. Try to notice the kind of distraction that works for your child and try to implement it just at the beginning of their tantrum.

Calming down

Another trick you can use is to move them to a quiet place and hold them close to you in a hug and try to pacify them with a soothing voice. Talking to your child also works wonders. Try explaining to them how their behaviour might not be correct. It’s best to get down to their height and have eye contact while talking to them.

Right and wrong

This might work for toddlers aged 3 or 4, when they understand more and speak more clearly. Sometimes all you need is someone to teach you right from wrong and explain the reason behind it. Instead of not giving them an explanation and expecting them to get quiet by themselves is not a healthy option.

Talk to them

Talking to your toddler is not always the best option, but listening to them might help you both. Try to understand how they feel, why they feel, and what caused that feeling in the first place. Listening to them will improve their communication, and you giving their feelings validation will cause them to act out lesser with time.

Ignore the tantrum

In some situations, when you are having a hard day yourself too and are not ready to deal with your toddler’s tantrums, the best thing to do is let their tantrum run its course. Suppose you are driving or in a public space, park your car for a while, take them to a quiet place and let them vent out their feelings for a while. This might be the best thing you can do at this point.

How to reduce tantrum in toddler

A mom is soothing her upset toddler by listening and talking to him. Her toddler son was throwing a tantrum.
  • If your child expresses how they feel to you, you might want to praise them in a specific manner every time they do so. Praising them is a positive reinforcement trick you might want to use often. When you praise them for their better behavior, they will want to choose to voice their emotions rather than act out.
  • A part of throwing tantrums is to gain attention from their parents. As long as you acknowledge their feelings and talk to them, they will stop using tantrums as a way to gain attention from you.
  • Children don’t understand complex emotions such as frustration, jealousy, disappointment. It’s essential to make them understand by pointing out how they feel and why they feel it and how it’s okay to feel so, as long as they express it healthily.
  • Setting a good example is vital in front of your child. Maintaining an emotionally healthy relationship with your partner is what they will learn and adapt from too.

If you experience your toddler going through frequent bursts of tantrums and you haven’t been successful in handling them even after using all the tricks you could, then visiting your pediatrician to seek help is the right way to go. In extreme cases, your doctor may refer you to a child development specialist or mental health professional.

To summarize

You are bound to experience your toddler go through the phase of throwing tantrums. Acting out is also a part of their developmental growth, and from age 1-4, they act out in all kinds of manner, be it kicking, shouting, or throwing things. But as other phases, this shall too pass as your toddler grows and learn how to express their feelings healthily to you.

Throwing tantrums is a way to gain attention, an expression of feelings, or needing validation. To handle your child just as they begin to throw tantrums is crucial for better emotional growth. There are several ways you can make them understand and calm them down during a tantrum. To reduce the frequency of such tantrums, I have mentioned some helpful tips you can follow daily.

In the end, scolding or shouting at your child will not only create a distance between your child and you but also reduce their emotional growth as a person. It’s crucial to learn how to handle your child at this stage and stay calm during this phase of their toddlerhood.

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