Home About
Home About Training Connecting Disciplining

3-Year-Old Emotional Outbursts: How Best to Help Your Child and Restore Peace

Recently, my youngest son has been a little extra emotional. I caught myself looking at him the other day, thinking, “what in the world is up with you lately?” Then I remembered…. Oh Ya! He’s 3! Correctly dealing with 3-year-old emotional outbursts can mean all the difference between correcting bad behavior or perpetuating it.

While some children are naturally more laid back, it’s safe to say that tantrums, mood swings and explosive feelings will be an issue with your 3-year-old at some point.

How you handle those 3-year-old emotions will determine how your child handles them herself. The crazy emotions of a 3-year-old are an opportunity for great child training if you play your cards right.

What’s Behind 3-year-old Emotional Outbursts?

Since the day your little one was born, you have cared for her. You’ve fed her, rocked her, bathed her, chased after her, kept her safe, and loved her.

In her developing mind, life has been all about her.

Around the third birthday or shortly thereafter, your child’s cognitive development has become (mostly) fully aware that she is not the center of the universe. She now understands there are other people, all around, just as important as her.

That’s a tough adjustment for a child to make. As she becomes more and more aware of the real world around her, accepting and adapting to those realities can be overwhelming.

Knowing how to deal with those emotions properly is a process. One that you have to guide her through if you expect her to do it well.

Fortunately, this is a child training window-of-opportunity that will largely shape who she is as she heads toward her 4th and 5th birthday! With good parenting, intention, and appropriate training, she can land at 5 years old, with a solid foundation of self-control and good behavior.

little girl having 3 year old emotional outburst while mom comforts her by holding her

How Do I Deal With my 3-year-old’s Emotional Outbursts?

Let’s walk through what the process of dealing with an emotional 3-year-old should look like.

#1. Validate the feelings.

#2. Comfort.

#3. Talk to him about his emotions (but just a little.)

#4. Get to the root of the emotion problem.

#5. Pray over your child.

#6. It’s time to move on.

**This is where you have to be careful not to miss the mark. Most moms are pretty good at #’s 1-3 but then don’t know how to move past the issue.

How Long Will it Take to Get 3-Year-Old Emotional Outbursts Under Control?

If you’ve been approaching every obstacle as a training opportunity, then it’ll likely only take a couple of times before your child gets a good handle on his mood swings. If you’ve been over-talking and under-training during similar situations, it’s going to take longer.

Three-year-olds are a blast! Your little one is full of imagination, humor, and laughs! These traits are part of the budding development that is happening inside your child’s brain. However, with that development comes the not-so-fun stuff, such as 3-year-old emotional outbursts and other toddler trouble, as well.

Validate her feelings, comfort her, talk about it (a little), allow her to fix what she can on her own, pray, and then require her to move on. Lastly, I want to remind you that you are still the Momma.

When everything is said and done, consequences are acceptable and necessary. After you have walked through everything you can do for your child, and everything is said and done, negative consequences are in order if she chooses bad behavior. A good ending dialogue example would be, “you may be sad, but you may not mistreat people.”



Hi there! I'm Mama Duck,

I'm a stay-at-home/work-at-home, homeschooling Mama of 4 beautiful kiddos, wife to my loving husband, Parenting Coach, Speaker, and Writer. I adore the sound of my children's giggles, that first sip of hot coffee, and a snuggly blanket fresh out of the dryer. Here on Faithful Parenting, my heart is to equip mamas with the skills, knowledge, and biblical wisdom to raise fantastic kids and build a tethered family!