My son is only a couple days into his 3rd year and already I have had a taste of the terrible 3’s.
Three must be the new two.
He is calm and happy one minute and the next he is having a complete breakdown. He has dropped to the floor, begging, whining, pleading, doing whatever it takes to get what he wants. If something doesn’t go his way and I pick him up, he refuses to walk and pulls the “limp body” when you go to pick him up.
Yesterday he had his first temper tantrum.
He whined and screamed so much, after I put him in his room, he actually made himself sick.
When he is going through the temper tantrum, I try to tell him I understand and try to get him to explain what is wrong. Maybe that is too rational for an irrational 3 year old. I am not sure how to handle them, I give him his space if he doesn’t clam down and I try to talk with him about it later.
Do I give him a time out?
My mom claims it is pay back.
I used to throw temper tanrums in the middle of the kitchen floor. I would hold my breath, my parents actually asked the doctor what they could do about it and he told them to ignore me and walk into the other room and sooner or later I would realize I didn’t have an audience and stop throwing the temper tantrums and it worked. George has only had one tantrum so far. But is that they way to handle them? it hasn’t happened in public, but what if it does?
I’d probably break into a deep sweat and walk away claiming, “That’s not my kid” (Not really but, don’t we all wish just for a second we could do that, once and a while).
What triggers these temper tantrums or frustrations?
Anything from not getting what he wants right away, not finding a train or car he his looking for, or wanting to stay somewhere we have to leave. It’s nothing complex. I think he is finding out who he is and still has trouble expressing his frustration or asserting his independence. But that doesn’t make it any easier. I feel myself start to sweat and hang on to the little bit of calmness and self control.
So what do the “experts” recommend we do in this situation?
According to Parent Center, preschoolers usually have tantrums because they are having a “fit in response to frustration”. They also go on to explain, “your preschoolers overwhelming emotions are usually to blame. Fearfulness, rejection by his peers, and sudden interruptions are frequent tantrum triggers for him”.
That would explain why interruptions by his younger sister trigger smaller fits (which at times I can totally understand).
Here are the 5 tips they recommend to handling a tantrum:
Don’t lose your cool. Even though a temper tantrum isn’t a pretty sight, when your child is swept up in a tantrum, he is unable to listen to reason. Getting angry and yelling may actually fuel his temper tantrum. They suggest maybe just sitting with him and being with him until the tantrum subsides. Stomping out of the room, they point out may make your child feel abandoned. If he is not wailing too much, they suggest trying to hug him or hold him, he may find your touch comforting.
Remember that you are the adult. No matter how long the tantrum subsides don’t give into unreasonable demands and negotiations. By giving in, you are teaching your child that throwing a fit is the way to get what he wants and that sets the stage for future behavior problems. If your child’s tantrum escalates to the point where he is hitting people throwing things or kicking and screaming non-stop, pick him up and carry him to a safe place. Let him know why he is there and tell him you will stay with him until he calms down. If you are in a public place, they suggest, you may need to pick him up and leave until your child calms down.
Talk it over afterward. After the tantrum, be prepared to talk with your child and hold him close. Try to let him know that you understand how he is feeling and get him to put his frustrations into words.
Try to ward off tantrum-triggering situations. That may mean planning ahead. If you child gets frustrated when hungry, carry snacks. If your child doesn’t like changes in events, let him know about new activities and explain to him what will be going on. Warning you child gives him a chance to adjust instead of react. My son gets frustrated when we are outside for only a short time and have to come in because of diner or nap time, so I just explain to him, “We are going outside, but it won’t be for long and when I say it’s time to come in, we have to come in but we’ll go back out later.” I find this helps him prepare. They also suggest, most children don’t like being told what to do. Give them choices. Monitor how often you are telling your child no. If you are rattling it off easily, maybe you are putting unwanted stress on the both of you. Ease up and choose your battles.
Watch for signs of overstress. Although temper tantrums are a normal part of preschool behavior watch for possible problems brewing. If your preschooler is having tantrums every day, maybe you want to talk with your pediatrician who can suggest other ways to deal with his issues.
I know I’m not the only one out there experiencing the occasional terrible 3’s.
I’d love to hear about your own experiences.
What has helped you in dealing with your preschoolers tantrums?