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Three-year-old throws temper tantrums

Question:

Our 3-year-old daughter throws items when we try to take them away from her.  She then gets very angry. Is this normal, and how do we stop it?

Answer:

The behavior you describe is indeed very normal, but that does not mean that it should not be corrected. You need to implement a two-prong plan. First, you need to issue a consequence for the inappropriate behavior. Then you need to teach a more appropriate behavior to replace the negative one. Take into consideration her age and developmental level when issuing consequences and substituting behaviors.  

An interaction with a 3-year-old might sound like this:

“You just threw your toy. We don’t throw toys.” (You are naming the negative behavior so she knows what she has done is wrong.)

“No more toy,” or “Your toy is in time-out.” (This is the consequence for her inappropriate behavior. It is simple enough for her to understand.)

“We put toys away nicely.” (While saying this, show her what this desired behavior looks like by putting the toy away nicely.)

After the toy has been in time-out for a few minutes, have her accompany you to retrieve it from time-out. Then ask her to put the toy away nicely like you have just shown her. You will keep her attention if this interaction takes only a few minutes. Though brief and simple, you will most likely have to repeat this several times before she understands or complies. This, too, is normal. Be consistent with her. It will pay off.

If something is happening prior to the toy being removed, address that issue separately. If she is not following instructions and is losing the privilege of playing with the toy, then you will need to teach her how to follow instructions using the simple steps listed above.

 

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