9 answers

Anger in a 3 Year Old


My son is 3 1/2 and he has the worst mood swings. One minute he can be as happy as can be and then in a split second as mean and angry as well. I have found his tantrums come when he doesnt get his way and we are working on him not always getting his way. He is my only child so this will take time I assume. But what i cant understand is these moods swings and then the other part is that if he cant get something to go his way he gets really mad and growls or screams out his frustration at whatever may be causing the problem. Is this something I need to get in touch with his peditrician about or his this normal 3 year old behavior?

What can I do next?

More Answers

Hi Mom,
Here is my suggestion. Why don't you take a nice warm bubble bath and relax, while listening some nice relaxing music. Since he is after all only 3 perhaps he can even jump in the bubbles with you and enjoy some relaxation too.
Turn off the TV That sure doesn't help with all the violence on television these days it's no wonder he little guy is angry. How dose your husband talk to you? Could he be copying his daddy??
Or here's the biggie. Cut out all dairy, milks cheese, icecream butter etc etc. Use soy products only, corn wheat, are two of the big ones that kids will react to.
Home rememedies usually work well, but just incase do not hesitate to take him to see a good Dr.
Take it easy mom and do take care of yourself. Life is a precious comodity. Don't let it be more confusing that it has to be.

Hi, M. - My daughter is three and acts the same way. She throws fits when she doesn't get her way and flails on the floor. Whatever. I walk away and ignore her. She has been doing this since she was 2. Now it takes her less than a minute to calm down. If anything, I am consistent. She understands now that if I say, I mean it. I follow through on what I say. Kids at that age just act their frutration out because they do not have the coping skills to deal with the emotions. The screaming and the growling are normal also. I would have him rather do that than bite or kick. I tell my kids that it's okay to feel angry, frustrated, etc., but it's not okay to take it out on somebody or something else.

I also have a 3 1/2 year old and he does the same thing. He throws tantrums like you wouldn't believe. I call it the horrible threes as opposed to the terrible twos. Hope this helps. He will grow out of it. My daughter at that age did the same exact thing. She did become a different person when she turned 4. Good luck.

a lot of three-year-olds have tantrums because they can't identify how they feel. they may know how they're feeling, but they don't KNOW how they're feeling. if a person can't identify what they feel, how are they to handle it effectively? the next time it happens, i suggest you get down on his eye level and ask him how he feels. say, "are you (fill in emotion here)?". i also like the idea about the store and his room and have practiced both (they do work!). i've found that a tantrum is not a tantrum if no one (by no one, i mean you) is watching.

Hi M., We have a 3 1/2 year old son,he'll be 4 in Nov. He acts the same way, throws some unbelievable tantrums. It's real fun when he does it in public(like the store). We just try not to give in, we're learning as we go. He's our only child and will be. When we're at home and he starts a tantrum,we tell him to go to his room and throw it there. We tell him when he's done and ready to be calm, he can come back out. We just tell him no tantrums are allowed in the livingroom and we don't want to hear it, he'll usually go on his own to the room. Sometimes, it's funny, we'll ask him if he's done throwing his fit, and he'll say NO,so there he stays.Anyway, hopes this helps & if not, know you're not alone.Without the blowups,our son is so darn loveable & cute. Good luck. JUST BREATH when it's happening...lol.

Hey M.,

There is a connection between food additives and artificial food colorings and mood/personality disorders. What type of diet does your son have? Does he eat fresh foods prepared by you, or does he eat boxed and canned foods a lot? The processed foods that most of America eats are causing more health problems each and every day. (including ADHD and other behavioral problems) Eat fresh!!


NEVER let his angry outbursts get him what he wants. Good things only come from good behaviour. An angry outburst should give him 5 minutes alone in his room to calm down. At his age he can ask for what he wants and if it's appropriate or convenient for you then he should have it. If he does not learn now that tantrums rate him nothing good they will continue and just get worse. We saw this happen with my granddaughter who is now 17. She was their first and they both adored her. By the time she was 12 no one wanted to be around when she did not get it "her way". Since they had not wanted our advice in the earlier years I referred her to Dr Rosemond's web site and books. They did follow his advice and things are much better. All things other than a roof over the head, adequate clothing and food to eat have to be earned by good appropriate behaviour. Good luck. V.

I am a mother of four kids and I have been through the same thing (to different degrees) with each of my older three (my youngest isn't 2 for another month). First it is very normal for them to do it. Some of it is frustration and some of it is that they have become more aware of control and try to exert it in every way possible The thing that has consistently worked for me is something that someone else suggested. The minute he starts his tantrum you tell him that you love him and want to help him but he has to tell you what the problem is. Chances are it's something you aren't going to give him (mine would get so mad when I'd tell them no). Then you tell him no again and that if he doesn't calm down then he needs to go to his room until he's calm. Then when he doesn't you take him by the hand and walk him to his room and close the door behind you. When he's done welcome him back and move on with your day. The store is more tricky. There are two ways to handle it and it's personal preference. 1) You can say if you don't calm down we will leave right now (this works more if they enjoy going to the store). If he doesn't you walk your cart to the nearest employee and tell them that you have to leave. Then do it. (it is a real hassle but it did wonders with my oldest one). 2) Put him in the front of the cart (if he isn't already). Make sure he's buckled in and continue your trip completely ignoring the behavior. It is embarrassing but they learn from that one really quickly because they are old enough to see people staring at them. That usually only happens once or twice and they stop.
I can take all of my kids to the store (or anywhere else) alone (my hubby is deployed) and the only one I have to worry about is the almost 2 year old. You've survived the terrible twos and you will survive the trying threes lol :)

I hate to be so negative, but my daughter is 14 and still moody. She has a beautiful heart, but there are times when she can be hard to live with. She acted the same way when she was little and I wonder what could have made her act this way? I mean, she did have to deal with her father and I divorcing when she was three and we moved around alot b/c he was in the military. She would fall out on the floor in a store and scream. She would not sit in time out. So I am not sure if all of the personal issues contributed to her behavior or if that is just truly her personality. I asked myself a million questions. Did something happen to her in the hospital? I know I watched what I ate when I was pregnant and very attentive to that.

My son, the exact opposite. (They have different fathers) He is very sensitive and well behaved and calm. Listens and does what I tell him to do. Used to sit in time out when he got in a little trouble. Now he likes to karate and watch all the tough guy stuff like Power Rangers, Turtles, all the beat up cartoons, but he wouldn't hurt a fly. I ate what I wanted when I was pregnant with him.

So I honestly don't have any advice, only to let you know that you are not alone and it will get better. Your child may outgrow this or have continuing moods as he gets older, but as they get older, they learn how to deal with their anger better.

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