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What can I do to better control my 3-year old's temper?

I have a 3-year old daughter that has severe temper tantrums and I don't know how to control them. She is teaching my 9-month old bad habits. I'm getting frustrated with it. How can I control them?

Submitted by dewittshawna

First of all, it is very common for children your daughter's age to throw temper tantrums.  They are still learning how to regulate their feelings and self-soothe (especially when they don't get what they want!).  The best way to address these behaviors is to have a structured system for rewards and consequences that you use predictably and consistently on a daily basis.  Although there are a number of great books on the subject, the one that I recommend most is 1,2,3 Magic, by Thomas Phelan.  It presents a straightforward and effective system for both disciplining and rewarding your child, and at 3-years-old, she's at a great age to start. 

The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.

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Kpeden - I am curious to see the studies that you are citing, as I have not personally read a single one that is consistent with your perspective. In fact, every reputable study I have seen shows that the single most effective way to encourage the repetition of constructive and positive behaviors is through praise and rewards. In order to stop unwanted behaviors, consequences are certainly necessary as well, but the same method cannot typically be used to effectively achieve both goals.
Submitted by jdpalitz
The problem with reward systems is studies have proven they do not work. Punishment works. Consequences work. The problem with rewards is that once you start this merry-go-round, the child will come to expect to be rewarded for everything you ask them to do only they will want you to up the ante. Not a good value to teach a child. The next time your child has a temper tantrum tell them they will need to go into the half bath or other small room away from others until they gain control of themselves. With time, they will realize that their tantrum only results in isolation not rewards and they will stop.
Submitted by kpeden