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Three Year Old Tantrums

Updated: May 18, 2020

Three year olds, man. How can they be so sweet and cute one moment and then make you want to pull your hair out the next? My three year old, Jax, is at that point where he badly wants to be in control and anything, no matter how small, can set him off. Lest anyone ever think my children are perfect, I wanted to share about our day yesterday.

We started our morning with a walk to Target. Things actually went pretty well in the store but on the way home, Jax started to melt down. I think he originally got mad because his sister pushed the walk button at the crosswalk. But he then decided that he didn’t want to stay with us and kept trying to walk away from me. So as we were crossing the street and walking down the sidewalk next to the busy road, I was trying to keep my grip on his hand and also juggle my bags and box of Pull-Ups while he was trying his hardest to pull away.

Once we got home, he went straight to time out, which should only last 3 minutes, but inevitably, it always ends up taking about 30 minutes because he starts throwing a major tantrum and won’t stay in his room. I tried my best to stay calm and continued to put him back in his room and re-set his timer. He, however, thought it would be a good idea to keep throwing himself on the ground and intentionally hurting himself. Maybe that was his way of trying to get back at me for putting him in timeout? Great idea, buddy.

After that tantrum finally blew over and timeout ended, I had the nerve to ask him if he wanted ketchup with his lunch. Apparently, it was too difficult for him to give me a one-word answer to this very difficult quandary. He once again found himself in timeout for not listening, and we repeated the whole screaming, running out of his room, being put back in his room escapade. I couldn’t handle the screaming anymore so I closed his door. Although I couldn’t escape the screaming since I had to stand there and hold his door shut so he wouldn’t run out, at least we had a door between us. He then decided that instead of trying to escape his room, he would lock himself in there. Well played, buddy.

The timer went off, and I told him timeout was over and I needed him to unlock the door. He refused. I went to get a small screwdriver to try to unlock the door from the outside, but it wouldn’t work. (My husband later told me that a bobby pin works better so I’ll be prepared next time.) For the time being, I was left trying to convince my irrational 3 year old to unlock his door. He finally gave in when I told him I would have to call the fire department to come break down the door.

If you’re thinking that maybe I should turn his door knob around so that the lock is on the outside, I tried that once when he was going through a coming-out-of-his-room-a-million-times-at-bedtime phase. When I tried to loosen the screw, instead of turning, it disappeared into the door. Not really sure how that happened.

The rest of our day yesterday was filled with lots of grumpy, whiny moments from my transitioning-out-of-naptime-toddler, but the highlight of my day was when my husband and I began to sing the same 90’s boy band lyrics to Jax at the same time – “Every little thing I do never seems enough for you.” Sometimes you just need to laugh and hope tomorrow is a better day.

I have no words of wisdom or self-reflection to share today, but just know that if you're in the thick of parenting - no matter what stage - you are not alone and you're not failing.


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