3 year old tantrums

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3 year old tantrums

It was right before dinner. My son was hungry and tired after a lot of play in the park and I was trying to get the food ready as soon as possible.

He was 3 years old at that time and this combination of hunger and tiredness got the best of him.

While I was cooking my son kept pushing all my buttons. He yelled at me to give him some water. He started running in the hallway ignoring all my calm requests to stop. Then he even started to do some dangerous jumps from the couch while making loud, annoying sounds.

I could literally feel how all my patience was running out!

All I wished for was to finally put that food on the table and end this situation. But the food was still in the oven and I felt trapped in this scenario that was consuming all my calm and energy.

When I was almost ready, my son started having a loud tantrum for a reason that he couldn’t even explain to me due to all the screaming and crying.

I stopped everything I was doing and sat next to him, on the floor. He was still loudly crying and honestly, all I could think about was when will this whole chaos end.

Although I tried to be supportive, deep inside me I wasn’t calm and empathetic at all. It just felt like his behavior is just ruining our evening.

While I was sitting there on the floor, I suddenly heard a noise that was even louder than my son’s screams. It was the fire alarm.

My steak burned in the oven while I wasn’t paying attention and it triggered our fire alarm. That intense sound surprised both of us. My son stopped crying and looked at me with a scared look on his face.

I ran back to the kitchen, took the steak out of the oven, and opened the door to the balcony. Soon the fire alarm stopped.

I turned around and saw my son standing in the middle of the living room. His cheeks were wet from all those tears.

He looked so helpless!

I went to him and gave him a big hug. He gripped me tightly with his small hands and sighted.

At that moment I saw the fire sensor above us, on the ceiling. And I realized that all his behavior was an alarm signal, just like the fire alarm.

He couldn’t tell me that he felt overwhelmed and frustrated because he was too young to know how to do that. But his whole behavior was meant to tell me that he needs my support!

He wasn’t doing all those things just to annoy me or to ruin our evening. He was just trying to send me an alarm signal.

His behavior for annoying and hard to deal with, that’s for sure! But a fire alarm can be loud and annoying too but we don’t get mad when we hear it. Instead, we are grateful that it let us know that there is a problem and we do our best to solve it.

In many ways, things are exactly the same when it comes to tantrums. Young kids cannot communicate their feeling like a grown-up would do. Sometimes they cannot control their intense emotions without our help.

So they send us these alarm signals to let us know that something is wrong and they need our support. All we need to do is stop whatever we are doing and help them! This will allow them to regain control of their emotions and will make the “alarm” stop.

As I was hugging my son that evening, there was no more anger inside of me. No more frustration about his behavior. I was there will all my heart, ready to truly listen to him and be the supportive mom he needed.

3 year old tantrumsphoto credit: alenkasm / depositphotos.com

After that long hug, we both recovered our calm and started to enjoy our evening again. That evening we had cereals for dinner. But it was a wonderful dinner because we were happy and connected again. And this mattered more than anything else.

Ever since that day, I started to see my son’s tantrums or negative behaviors in a different way. And this helped me a lot!

Thinking about tantrums as alarm signals instead of disrespectful behavior changes the way we react to them. When we see tantrums as a disrespectful behavior we tend to get very annoyed by them and even get angry at our kids. But when we see tantrums as alarm signals we are a lot more empathetic and understanding about them.

This perspective shift allows us to really be there for our kids when they need us! It allows us to offer them the support and guidance that will help them overcome these difficult moments and learn to better deal with their intense emotions.

So next time when your child has a tantrum, think about a fire alarm. It might help you shift your perspective and help you deal with it in a gentle and empathetic way!

3 quotes that helped me during my child’s tantrums

Besides this perspective shift that really made a difference for me, there are 3 quotes that I always tried to keep in mind when I went through difficult parenting moments.

“When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it’s our job to share our calm not join their chaos.” (L.R. Knost)

“My child is not giving me a hard moment. My child is having a hard moment.” (I found this quote in a Facebook group but I don’t know who the author is)

“The kids who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving ways.” (Russell Barkley)

If you want to find out how to deal with tantrums in a gentle way and why this is so important for kids, I hope that you'll find here some good inspiration. | How to stop tantrums | Toddler tantrums | How to deal with temper tantrums | Gentle parenting | Attachment parentingphoto credit: unguryanu / shutterstock.com

If dealing with tantrums is something that you struggle with, I hope that these quotes will inspire you too! And most of all, I hope that the perspective shift will help you as much as it helped me!

If you need some practical tips for dealing with the tantrums in a calm and positive way, here are the most valuable tips that I’ve discovered as my son was a toddler: What happens when we handle tantrums in a gentle way {+ printable tips}.

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One Comment

  1. This is definitely a better way of looking at tantrums than getting angry. I must admit tantrums were a huge surprise for me when my daughter first started having them,. I really thought they were a myth and that if you educate and love your kid enough they won’t happen. Well, now I know better haha, since we’ve been through many of them. They are getting less and less because my daughter is getting older (she’s 3 now) but I have my other one (10mo old) that will soon be there as well. Hopefully, the experience will help me handle the situation better. Thank you for the tips!