3 Year Old Anger Problem

Updated on December 19, 2007
D.T. asks from Wesley Chapel, FL
10 answers

Hi all. I am lost. My almost 3 year old is all of a sudden so angry all the time. He yells, hits, cries and cannot focus on anything? We have a 5 month old also,so we thought that was it, that it bothered him a little, but he loves her? We always take time when we get home after dinner to spend with him, but then he throws a fit when we get up. He used to be so good and happy and he just doesn't seem happy anymore and it really bothers me. He is such a spaz, which I thought was just his age, and maybe it is. Any advise would be greatly appreciated. I cried myself to sleep last night I am so worried abouthim. Thank you in advance.

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answers from Orlando on

i'm having a similair problem with my 3 year old. He likes to ball up his fists and stomp away a lot. I try my best to ignore the behavior but it gets hard because I don't want him to be angry. He went from wonderful and nice, to having anger issues overnight.

I'm stumped too. :(


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answers from Tampa on

I agree with most of what was said already. However, I just want to add that (from what I've seen) boys tend to naturally be more aggressive than girls do. I have a boy - and that's about the age he started to 'act out'.

Now, although it's unfashionable to say so, I believe in spanking. NOT beating, but spanking. So, the situation was solved very easily for me. When he acted up, he got a couple smacks on his butt, and it stopped the behavior like a magic charm. When they're OLDER and able to reason, time-outs are the way to go.

There's an excellent book called "The New Dare to Discipline" by Dobson, who owns Focus on the Family. It's a MUST-READ for young parents, IMHO.

Best of luck, hon!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Melbourne on

Hi D.! I have almost 3 year old twins, and my boy tends to have anger management problems too. I have shed lots of tears over this, part because he can be hard to deal with and part because I'm so scared he is going to grow up with everyone thinking of him as the 'bad twin'. He just doesn't seem to be able to deal well with things, his temper gets the best of him (kicking, hitting, throwing stuff...). However, other times he is THE SWEETEST kid you've ever seem. He's very extreme in all his emotions. I just read an article in this month's Parenting magazine that has some tips I'm going to try. I'd be happy to fax it to you, if you're like me, you're willing to try anything. Good luck, and let me know if you want the article!



answers from Pensacola on

My son was like that too. He'll turn four in a couple weeks and is just now getting out of that stage. His "terrible two's" were nothing compared to his "thunderous three's"!!! It's just another stage they go through trying to figure out what is acceptable and what isn't. Handle him the same way you would a two year old. Be consistently consistent!!
Best of luck, Jen



answers from Tallahassee on

I went through the same issues when my daughter turned 3. Terrible twos were nothing compared to what I went through with her when she was 3. She would hit me, throw things, etc...and I was afraid that one of the times she was going to hurt herself. I would go in my room, lock the door, and cry thinking that it was something I did. I was out of options and the last thing that I did was seek a professional's help and she gave me different outlets to try on her. The best outlet that worked with her was for her to hit a pillow when she got mad. I also sat down with my daughter on numerous occassions when she wasn't angry and explained to her how she was effecting everyone else in the family. I also gave her advance warning when it was time to go or stop playing. I would count down the minutes and for whatever reason that seemed to work. Finally she seemed to just grow out of it after 6 months but it was horrible going through it. Just hang in there. It will be something he'll outgrow.



answers from Pensacola on

It really hurts when they're spazzing out and you can't do anything that seems to work. You know it's because they can't fully communicate what it is they're feeling. But that doesn't make it any easier in the moment. This is mostly because of his age and how some children his age deal with emotions. The older he gets, the more comfortable he will get with his words and expressing himself and this will ease up. I wish I could offer you a tried and true advice on what WILL work, but they're all so different. And be watchful because once your daughter becomes more interested in playing with toys and moving around, some children will become more jealous and then the "mine" war starts. When one problem stops, another begins. And that is what growing up is all about. Moving from one stage to another. God willing, they will all grow up eventually. Hang in there and do the best you can.



answers from Orlando on

I thought of lots of things while reading your post...
Just because he loves his sister and (thank goodness) isn't taking his frustartions out on her doesn't mean it's easy for him to share the attention she gets. Plus, she used to just lay there and now maybe she is starting to roll over and makes more fun sounds and do things that is getting lots of smiles and attention from you and dad. He may also be over the novelty of having her around-- not that he wants her gone, but he's all done with sharig the attention...


Sounds to me like he may be a) having trouble communicating his feelings {normal for his age} and b) having trouble with transition {also super normal}

For the communication thing, go to the library and ask the children's section librarian to help you pick a bunch of books on feelings for kids. Read these types of stories often with him. You can use them as reference and eventually he may be able to use them, too, and his vocabulary of feelings words will grow. Right now, he is using anger for every emotion. "Remember how FRUSTRATED that duck was when he had to wait to play with his mommy?"... "Are you feeling DISAPPOINTED like that boy in the story with the dog?" I know he's young, but it's important to let him know it's OK to be mad, frustrated, disappointed, scared, jealous, etc... and be sure to show him acceptable ways to show it. It's not OK to hit, throw things, or scream. It is OK to hug a pillow or stuffed animal, take deep breaths, squeeze a ball, etc... I worked at a school with "tough" kids who had serious reasons to walk around angry all the time (abused, neglected, ect) and each room in the school had a SAFE PLACE with things like stuffed animals to hug, small stress balls to squeeze, pillows to lay on to have some down time to chill... You may want to consider making a safe area in your living room. When he starts to freak out, take him to the area and stay with him and show him ways to calm down. Make sure he understands it's not Time Out and he is not in trouble. Eventually, you will be shocked to find him going to the safe place on his own when he feels angry. (He's young, so it may take time... but if you use it wisely he'll understand eventually what it's for and it should help)

As for the issues with transition... you said after spending one-on-one time with him he freaks out when the time is over. My son had issues with transitions, too. So I always tried to remember to qualify time with actions-- like since "five more minutes" means absolutely nothing concrete to most kids, I would say, "Put 5 more Legos on the tower and then we'll clean up", or "Pick 3 books for us to read and as soon as I've read them all I have to start making dinner so I'll put a movie on for you" (and then just before reading the 3rd book I'd be sure he remembered and understood that was the last book and our time together was about to end).



answers from Gainesville on

Hi D.,
I feel your pain. :-)
My son is almost 3 (will be in March) and he just started exhibiting the same behavior as well. He's an only child. I'm thinking it might be daycare or something.
My son used to be such a sweetheart, now he acts like a lil bastard! Maybe it is a phase, and he simply testing his boundaries possibly?
My son out of nowhere starts throwing hardcore tantrums and and hits and spits...all these things he's never done before. I just wanna slap some sense into him sometimes!
Just be patient hon.



answers from Tampa on

I definately feel empathy for you. I have a son that's only 6 months , but my nephew is about the same age as your son and he's just like that. I think it's just the age their at ( the terrible 2's ). I'm sure he'll grow out of it. good luck.




answers from Tampa on

My lil boy was going though the same thing and we cut out a lot of his sugar ( not just cookies... juice, yogarts, things like that... you would not believe how much sugar is in the everyday things we let the kids eat... ) When I did that he turned back into my lil wonderful boy again.

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