Help with My Angry 3 Yr Old

Updated on February 25, 2009
H.R. asks from Springfield, OR
19 answers

so i was wondering if there were any other moms out there that have trouble with there kids getting so angry.Example i little while ago i told my daughter that she had to wait to play puzzles till we cleaned up her room,she got so angry that she threw her roller skates at me and a 2 step wooden stool. she will punch, pull up your pant legs and scratch you so hard that she is trying to make you bleed.she screams in great frustration.WE dont give her her way when she throws things at us she looses them. we can not get her to sit in timeout.i have tried everything, we have done counseling that didnt work.she was transfered to a different preschool because of this.she does have a slight speech problem but that is getting better so i know that is where some of the frustration comes if there is anyone out there who has had problems like these please help i need some advice before i explode.I dont know where else to turn to.

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answers from Seattle on


My daughter went throw similar rage types tantrums when she was around 3. She is almost 4 now and it still happens from time to time where she gets angry and throws things but it's much less. She used to bite, scratch, hit, throw things and get totally out of control and it was very hard. I am a believer in Homeopath so that's the route I have taken. I got the book out of the local library and read it. I saw my daughter in several of the example cases.

Here is a book you might want to try reading to see if it's something you might want to consider. If you want to go this route I do know a wonderful homeopath that has helped me with my daughter and remedies so please contact me.

Here's the link to the book that I got from the library.

I think time helps too as my daugther has gotten better but we also did give her some homeopathic remedies. She is such a joy now and her anger and tantrums are much less severe. It was awful at the time so I empathize for you.

The other things - has anything changed in her life - new stress or anything. That also ended up being a contributing factor to my daughter's reactions.

Take care,


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answers from Portland on

Our daughter is very spriried and will also be 4 in March. She went through an anger stage, but we seem to be mostly pass it now. It is so hard on you and your hubby - brings so much stress into the family. We did a few things and that seemed to help. We follow some of the love and logic practices and I read another really helpful book called 'How to talk to your kids so your kids will listen and listen so your kids will talk.' It really helped me take a step back, stop my reaction to her, know that she is her own person and how to communicate better with her.

We stopped time-outs - she would not stay in them anyway and they became a power struggle escalating things quickly. We bought a latch for her bedroom door and put it on the outside, and child proofed everything really well in her room - attaching furniture to the walls. We explained to her that when she threw a fit, she would spend time alone in her room and we would be in the other room, then when she was calm she could join us. When she acted out - we put her in her room and closed/locked the door until she calmed down. The first few times her rage increased, but now its an amazing tool. She wants us to see her anger and us to hurt/be mad like she was. Its no fun to throw a fit alone with no one to share it with and her room is a safe place away from us. It took maybe 4-6 in room timeouts and now we just have to say - do you need to go to your room, calm down and she does.

We set up a reward system for good behavior. We use marbles, she gets to put 1 marble in a jar when I notice her doing something good, the actions that earn a marble change all the time. Example, she picks up her toys when I ask. Come get a marble, make a big deal about it - we count the marbles that she has often. When she gets 10 she gets to pick a toy. 'Oh - you have 8 marbles - 2 more and you get a toy.' I have a toy bag full of $2-$4 toys. Sometimes we take the toys out and look at them, talk about them - so she gets excited to get one. I never take the marbles away for bad behavior, instead I say - 'wow, you could have had a marble if you hung up your coat without a fuss, but now you cant.' Next time - the coat is hung up without a fuss. I give her marbles for not getting angry or frustrated when something is hard too and tell her I am happy that she didnt get angry and she should be proud of herself. It really seems to work for us.
Good luck - hang in there.

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answers from Seattle on

I promise, H.- you are NOT the first Mom to deal with this--- not even in your neighborhood. There is a super service that most people don't know about--- there is a free public school program for her that would help you SOOO much--. It's special ed' preschool- and she'd be in a class with children who had a bit of speech problem-or some behavioural issues- a whole mix of things- and she'd fit in perfectly and she'd be in a class of 8---10 children with 2 full time adults ( one teacher and one assistant) plus there would be speech therapists and physical therapists that come in to work with children. It's a fantastic program -. Call your neighborhood elementary school and ask how to have her tested for preschool- . ( Think of her experience going in to kindergarden if she does NOT get this help for the next year or so--- she needs the help NOW so she can enjoy kindergarden--)

Many Blessings,
( retired special ed' preschool teacher)

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answers from Bellingham on

My oldest child has anger issues starting in infancy. When he was a toddler he would have violent outbursts such as you have described. I found sitting on the floor and wrapping him in a bear hug until he was able to be safe to be the best strategy. I would cross his arms in front of him and wrap my arms around his arms and then wrap my legs around his legs and sit quietly until he calmed down. This hold prevented him from being able to kick, hit, bite, or scratch me until he could regain control of himself.

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answers from Seattle on

I agree with the other post about speech therapy. Even though she is so young, she is old enough to understand that she can't communicate as effectively as others in her life. This has to be frustrating for her.

Also, she does sound particularly violent from your description of her temper (just the fact that she would *deliberately* try to draw blood is scary). I think you need to take her (and your entire family) back to counseling! You need to learn more about why she acts out AND what you and your partner can do POSITIVELY and CALMLY in those situations. Make an appointment to your pediatrician for advice on which kind of counselor to see. The counselor (find someone who specializes in pediatric psychology/psychiatry) may refer you to a neurologist... it seems cumbersome and time consuming, but if it can help your family be happy and prevent your daughter from being labeled in school, unhappy, misunderstood, depressed, etc.--then it is more than worth it.

Blessings to you and your daughter. I hope you can figure out a plan that works for you.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I can relate - my daughter is 4 and can get very angry as well. It is a very difficult situation for certain. We have found a few books to be really helpful. First Parenting with Love and Logic has helped us learn to respond to her outbursts better although I still have times where I get angry myself like yesterday when she threw something at me. Second Raising Your Spirited Child has helped me to understand her way of operating in the world and to respond from a more positive place. This may or may not fit for your child but thought I would mention it. And then Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child is a great basis for parenting in general in our opinion. The last thing that has helped me is making sure that I reach out for support like you are doing. I have a few moms that I can call and talk to sometimes during the outburst. That helps me keep calm when I feel like I am going to explode. If you want to email me feel free - [email protected] Care!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

You don't say what her language problems are, but not having the 'words' to express her feelings, her actions are her only voice. I strongly suggest that you get her to speech/language therapy. Kids Speak in Seattle (formerly known as Scottish Rite Center for Childhood Language Disorders) can help. They don't charge for their services, they are angels on earth, because what they do is priceless. They are speech therapists, they'll help her with sign language if that's what's needed, they'll help with some behavioral issues by giving her her voice. In the meantime, she has to know what she's doing is wrong. Why would you stand still long enough for her to pull up your pant leg and scratch? Remove yourself from danger for starters, don't provide her the opportunity to be destructive. She's wanting attention and is having trouble getting you or others to understand what it is she's trying to say or do. I know it sounds barbaric, but she needs a good pop on her bottom when she starts throwing things to inflict pain. But the better response is to grab her up and hold her tight, hug her and ask what's wrong. No, she doesn't like having to do chores, but life is hard, even at 3. Take everything away now. Clean her room of her toys, her skates, etc. And she earns them back. You need to make time to sit and read with/to her. Work on language issues by giving her words, techniques to emulate to express herself. Having had a child who couldn't express himself until he was 3 yrs old, I can tell you how hard it was for him to be trapped in his mind, not being able to tell people how he felt, what he needed, couldn't tell me where he was because he had no words, it was so frustrating and scary for him and for us. You need to persist with the therapy for all of you, as this won't go away. Therapy only works when you work at it. This is true for her behavior, your behavior, her speech issues... anything. You're working at changing your lives, and it takes persevernce and time, at least 6 months for starters. The speech/communication therapy will take longer... it could be a life long process depending on the issues or it could be 2 yrs. What does your pediatrician say? I wish you all well.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

okay so I have a two year old who at 18 months was doing similar things only her primary way to inflict pain was biting. But she would get completely out of control. The fact that she has a slight speech issue too tells me that you should probably try to get her evaluated. Because your daughter is three she does not qualify for the birth to three program which is a state program and the evals are free but there are other probrams such as encompass etc that you can go to. My daughter was actually diagnosed as having a sensory disorder and she is immature in emotional situations for her age but she is also very smart in others way ahead of her age in verbal communications and in gross and fine motor so some of it is frustration. The big thing is probably the lack of being able to communicate her thoughts and emotions. I would call birth to three and get a recommendation on where you could take her now that she is three and past hte age of services there and they will most likley refer you to encompass or something like that. We live in the issaquah area and so we go to kindering on the eastside in eastgate. For my daughter, the sensory issues played into it because she was not getting enough stimulation in her deep muscles and consequently did not feel quite right - this ambiguous feeling caused her to feel unsettled and unsafe - so she would lash out at others - she also really liked to try to move things way to heavy for her and she plays really hard so this all made sense to me - she also has other sensory issues like not liking her hands to be too dirty and certain textures bug her but also some things that you think she would not like she does - anyway, the answer would be an evaluation. Encompass works out of north bend I think maybe a bellevue location too, but there are other places. Call Kindering and tell them what's going on and get a referral - here is their contact - and don't let the special needs thing scare you there are all kinds of things that are considered special needs and none of them are damaging - the big thing is getting anger and frustration feelings under control before school.

Kindering Center
16120 NE Eighth Street
Bellevue, Washington 98008
Phone ###-###-####

feel free to email me too [email protected]

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answers from Corvallis on

You may want to check out "Raising a Self-Disciplined Child" by Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein and "The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Frustrated Children" by Ross Greene.

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answers from Portland on

I was a very angry child growing up. I would explode over everything. I love my mom, but she never took the time to deal with it - it sounds like you are so that is awesome!! I beg you to continue the counseling. It may not have overnight effects but it may teach her life skills for coping with anger issues. I turned my anger on myself for fear of hurting anyone else - I would hit myself until I had enormous bruises or hit my head till the anger would clear. I would spend hours fighting myself and crying because I hated who I was. My mom said I kicked in a sliding glass door when I was three.

A couple of things to try: number one is switch counselors. Find someone anger and child geared. They have different training and focus on those problem areas.

Find help for the speech issues. A speech pathologist can help her find her voice! Make an appt. with her peditrician (a behavorial appt.) and they can refer you out to where you need to go. Many programs are free and will work anywhere from a daily to weekly basis. She may have a learning delay which can be helped and you will have a totally different child come home to you from these sessions.

Focus on her diet. Many people are trying gluten free diets and dye free diets with amazing results. Our son is autistic and we've started down many of these paths and have a much calmer and better behaved child.

Massage (touch) therapy. Also called qigong massage. It focuses on calming the nerves and creating a peaceful environment. I got a book when I was a teenager and performed some of the techniques on myself to help with my self-esteem (you might even like it! They have one to help clear cellulite and I swear it works!). We are training to do it on our little one. It's just a 15 min/day thing to do. You can talk to your peditrician again for a referral or call local therapy centers to find out if there's any training sessions near you.

A quiet area to calm down in. When she starts blowing up remove her from the situation and put her somewhere safe. I hurt myself a lot as a child. Get calming music (celtic was my fave as a teenager, but anything instrumental and calm will work). It will help her refocus her attention and simmer down.

Above all else try to remain calm. This is sooooo hard and it won't go away overnight. I didn't feel a break in my anger until late in my teens and still wrestle from time to time. I have awesome coping techniques and know how to calm myself down now. You will have to help teach her. She is a passionate individual - try to stay away from calling her an angry individual (she'll get that stuck in her head and it will take over - trust me on this one). You are really off to a great start even though I know it probably doesn't feel like it. When you need a breather TAKE ONE. It is so important that you get through this too. Best of luck and *hugs*. You can do it!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

You could try baby sign language to help with her speech frustration. Sometimes just giving them a way that they can communicate will help a lot. Also instead of time outs try time ins. Have her sit with you and snuggle and talk to you. Often they just need comfort and will calm down momentarily. You might also check out this book : UNCONDITIONAL PARENTING
Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason
By: Alfie Kohn

Good luck



answers from Portland on

I am not sure how to really say this to not get you thinking wrong to my advice, but you should have her checked out by a neorolurgist (sorry for the spelling) I had a friend find out she went through this and nothing was done till she grew older and had herself checked out later in life only to find she had a small nerve area turn into a tumor over the next twenty five years meds have helped plus she had surgry done, my sister inlaw was to late she was always calm till you talked too much where she could not understand anymore she would get very angry and throw things no matter what it was, it caused her to have a bad seizure often, hope this may help some,



answers from Portland on


I don't know if I will be any help but I will try. I had a very bad temper when I was young (about her age was when I learned to control it for the first time)
My advice is really from my mother since she helped me. Apparently my dad had a temper and although he did not through things or become abusive (ever) he did yell and then pretend everything was all right. My mom said what helped me was to ask him to learn to control his temper around us kids, this showed us that you can be mad but control our feelings. My mom said this worked well for me. With my own children, when I see that they are beginning to get frustrated or angry I make sure to address their emotions saying things like "I know your angry and that is okay, I get angry sometimes when..... Please help pick up the toys now" or sometimes when I think my daughter is exeptionally angry I will give her the choice to have some time alone in her room before helping me pick up.
I hope this helps I know your frustration.
Best wishes



answers from Seattle on

I not sure what to tell you about the anger issues, but you should get her into speech therapy if you haven't already. You can go through the school system and get it for free or do private therapy if your insurance covers it. Call you pediatrician and have her evaluated and then pursue the therapy. It will at least give her some confidence and help her communicate better verbally. Maybe that is the first step to calming her down. Good luck!



answers from Seattle on

First of all, know that what you are doing, not giving her her way is the right thing, and that as soon as her speech problem improves, so will her temper.

If you live in Washington State, you can take her to your local elementary and get free help with her speech problem. That will help.

In the mean time, when she gets mad, instead of distancing yourself from her, try holding her with her arms down, until she calms down. Do this calmly and tell her you love her, but she may not throw things. When she calms down, tell her, she will be let go. Do this as calmly and as firmly as you can. This is really hard to do. If you don't think you can do it, don't try.

Another thing you might try is to remove her to another room when she throws a fit. Tell her she can come back when she is calm and can talk to you. This is easier for you but harder for her to manage.

As to counseling, did you go to childrens' counselor? Try one if you didn't. They can do wonders.

Good luck.



answers from Yakima on

H. This is the hard part I know been there my oldest son was this way and yes I though I was going to go out of my mind,after changing school ext it was bad.
Then I meet a social worker & she was awsom she hooked me up with a doctor that specialized in child behavior the testing was not so bad I found after afew month of apointments with this doctor & the extent testing my son had ADHD & ADD he he was also very hyper & this did not help but with the help of this doctor & support of the social worker we got through this my son is now 34 years old & thanks me dayly for what I did for him even tho he hated me at the time. this started when he was in head start it lasted up to about the 5th grade I know that sounds like a long time but its not once you get that special help from the right people you will see I thank God every day that they were there for me & my son.good luck & God Bless.
Mother of 4 GrandMother of 9 & my love & patients are still tested today as this is hereditary in my family.



answers from Anchorage on

Oh poor you! My oldest went through this and we tried everything from timeout to smacking her. None of them worked. Finally one day I had had enough! She bit her grandfather so hard it bruised his skin. In front of everyone I set her in her playpen and began to yell at her..really actually yell at her. (Of course everyone said I WAS THE MEAN ONE). I told her "YOU DON'T BITE!" "It's MEAN and NAUGHTY and GROSS!" "YOU ARE BEING MEAN!". I yelled..felt good too. She cried but not til after I was done yelling at her. Her grandparents accused me of being horrible but I told them I was sick of them letting her walk all over them, and I suggest you do the same. Its time to stop letting her get away with it. Refuse to remain in the same room with her when she is being mean..refuse to help her no matter the problem (unless its life threatening). Tell her you will be where she can find you when she is ready to appologise and be nice. But do not put up with it. WALK AWAY..or do what I worked for mine..she quit biting that day and didn't do it again. Some say its wrong to scare your kids. I am of the mind its wrong to not make your kids think you can control the situation if they decide to be monsterous. When she throws something at you simply leave her room and close the door..taking whatever she threw with you. Don't let her come out. If that doesn't work..another trick that worked later was a policemen friend came by and lectured her sternly on how its actually illegal to bite people and that she "COULD" really get arrested for it. :) (Yes its scare tactics but they do work and you won't make them afraid of anything but what you are trying to get her to stop. ...



answers from Portland on

HI I have a couple suggestions.
1. Have her checked out for Autism Spectrum Disorder. Some kids with ASD have an extreme behavior problem, with the problem of communication and having a strict routine.
2. Most kids her age is just winding down from the terrible 2's and horrible 3's. I learned the hard way with one of my boys that behaved in this way.
What you need to do now is start giving her choices by, telling her that we can play with the puzzle after we clean your room...when her behavior starts, walk to her bedroom door and tell her that when she decides to change her behavior and helps me clean her room, we will play.
This also helps with any part of the house. You will have to pick her up and take her to her room and tell her when she changes that behavior this is what will happen.
My son just turned 5 and he now places himself in his room when he has his fits (they are not as bad now)
This gives the child some control over the situation and boundaries that you have set.
If you would like some more info pleases feel free to reply.



answers from Portland on

I am wondering if there are other things happening in her life right now. I know my daughter goes through really rough spells with wild tantrums similar to what you have outlined. These generally occur right after she has spent the night with her dad. She is overtired and also bothered by things she has witnessed at his house with his anger. Could you think of things that your daughter might be experiencing?

Also, because my daughter has major separation anxiety, timeouts never work and they freak her out more. I have found that it sometimes requires extra patience, but I will stay with my daughter when she is having these big tantrums. I tell her it is okay to be mad or angry. I often will hold her tightly and let her do what she needs to do. I tell her it is okay to be mad, but that she cannot hurt me or others. I tell her she can hit pillows (or other appropriate venting strategies), but that she isn't allowed to hurt anyone including herself. I tell her over and over that I love her and I remind her that I love her even when she is mad. Sometimes I have to tell her these things after the tantrum or in quiet snuggly moments so that she knows.
I know it is hard on you, too. There are times when I have had to do timeouts just for myself.
Your daughter's frustration may also be stemming from her speech problems. At this age, children act out because of their frustrations (don't we all?) and your daughter's may be compounded by the inability to use her words or find her appropriate words. My good thoughts are with you both during this difficult time. I know that, when my daughter is able to express herself and when she feels heard, things get better. I cannot help my daughter with her father directly, but I can help her at home. It is so hard as a mother not to be able to advocate better for my daughter, but we all learn to make the best lemonade we can from the lemons we get.

I hope things get better for you and your daughter soon. If not, there are some good counselors out there who are great with children. I know of a few good ones and I could send them to you if you let me know.

Take care and good luck!

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