This guest post from author and expert Gary Unruh (and a Dad since 1969, DS’69), centers around working with a 3-year-old, but the tips could apply to kids (and adults!) of all ages. I love Gary’s positive approach – it does seem (from experience) that yelling leads to more yelling, and the more I read about parenting, the experts all recommend a calm approach to restoring calm!

How Do I Handle My Three-Year-Old’s Temper Tantrums?

Your three-year-old may yell, scream and throw things. Very frustrating and very normal. But what’s the healthiest way to handle this problem? First, let’s take a one-minute child development class and then I’ll give you some tips.

Normal development: Holding back destructive anger is a learned skill that develops with age, usually fully developed by age 22. (Don’t worry; it gets a lot better by age 4). Around age two to three, a child who naturally shows her feelings a lot (your child’s personality) will have the most trouble learning how to handle anger; a more reserved child will have an easier time. This is all part of growing up.

Tips: Comforting her is great. Keep this up. Try these ideas for two weeks every time she gets angry and see what happens.

Be comforting and supportive.

Comfort your child with feelings words. Say, “You are really upset. It’s hard to do what Mommy wants you to do.” Putting words to feelings is a part of learning how to handle feelings well.

Change the way you tell her to do things. Instead of “I want you to pick up your toys now,” say, “I’m going to help you pick up your toys, and let’s have some fun doing it.”

Take action when her anger is inappropriate. When she throws things, hold her and use the feelings words I mentioned. When she yells and is mean, talk minimally and act. “Stop showing your upset by yelling.” If she doesn’t stop, don’t talk but act: take her to another room to calm down. In the other room, as you are playing with her, say, “It’s important not to yell or throw things when you’re angry. When you don’t stop, I’ll help you stop.”

There are a lot of important developmental things going on during this preschool time, and anger management is one of them. Try these tips consistently and your child will learn anger management skills.

Author bio: Gary M Unruh, MSW LCSW, has counseled more than 2,500 children and their families for 40 years, and published a book, Unleashing the Power of Parental Love: 4 Steps to Raising Respectful and Self-Confident Kids.