3 Year Old Meltdowns And How To Handle Them

Sharing is caring!

Are you struggling with your 3 year old and their meltdowns? This is very normal child development at this age and I am going to share with you why your 3 year old behavior problems are happening and how you can help your little one during this time.




Everyone talks about the terrible two’s but they never mention the terrible three’s not sure why but I believe it is far worse than those tantrums your child had at two.

3 Year old meltdowns and why they happen

Imagine your child coming home from school or from a sitter and crying about everything. Why is this happening you may ask? 




At the age of 3 your child is becoming more aware of themselves as a person and making their own decisions. They feel emotions over different things that happen throughout the day ( like we do of course) and sometimes it is overwhelming for them.




Let’s look at what a tantrum is versus a meltdown in super simple terms. A tantrum is when your child doesn’t get their way and they freak out about it and throw a fit.

For more on toddler tantrums, you may like this article: How To Deal With Toddler Tantrums



A meltdown is an overload of sensory input, they get overwhelmed and don’t know how to handle feeling this way and you get lots of tears.




For more information on the difference, you can click here and read this helpful article.




Your child is learning how to deal with emotions at this age and what to do with them, this is a critical time in their life where you as a parent need to help them figure out how to handle these emotions in a positive way.




How they learn to handle these feelings will carry into adulthood for them so you need to be prepared for this and know how to handle it correctly.

3 year old meltdowns

How to help your toddler during a meltdown

When your toddler is having an emotional outburst you need to be the one that is calm, quiet and strong.


Your child needs to know you are there for them without frustrating them more. 


Allow your toddler to feel these emotions and express them, don’t yell at them or ask them to explain them to you, this will only make things worse.


As a human being, you are allowed to feel a certain way without explaining it to anyone, this is part of processing these emotions.



Sit with your child and comfort them by using a calm voice and gentle touch. Allow them to see that you aren’t reacting negatively to this behavior and they will calm down and work through it on their own.


One of the biggest mistakes parents make is freaking out about the emotions and yelling at them to stop or ask why are you being like this!


Don’t do these, I myself have made these mistakes and it makes matters worse and causes your child to get more upset and feel like you are controlling the situation instead of helping.


Meltdowns are normal when you feel overwhelmed by your surroundings or things that are happening like starting school, moving or having a new sibling.


They can happen when you are at a store due to the business or at an amusement park or the mall.


If it happens in a public place remove your child from the situation like going to your car to calm down for a minute and allow your child to work through the overwhelm.



Our son gets this way when we have family party’s or events and it is to much for him. He is a very sensitive child when it comes to being overly stimulated and overwhelmed.



I usually take him to a quiet area or bring him outside so that he can calm down and work through his emotions.

Meltdowns for no reason

You may feel like your child is having a meltdown for no reason! There is always a reason behind a meltdown.


Most meltdowns come from feelings of overwhelm or being frightened by a situation. Your child may not know how to communicate how they are feeling so they meltdown.


This can happen if your toddler doesn’t have the language skills to let you know how they feel or they get overly stimulated and can’t deal with all of the emotions coming at them.

The best way to handle a meltdown when it happens

Here are some tips on handling these 3 year old behavior problems and help your child work through emotions.



  • keep a consistent routine.
  • discipline by teaching not punishing.
  • Help your child find words for emotions they are feeling throughout the day.
  • Stay calm and don’t react to a meltdown.
  • Don’t isolate your child, be there with them.




Final thoughts on 3 year old meltdowns

By following the above guidelines you can help your child identify emotions and learn how to handle them.


If you messed up in the past by shaming or isolating them try to do better the next time one happens.


Put yourself in a calm mindset and don’t overreact to the situation, be understanding and help your child through it.


You don’t want to lead your child into an escalated meltdown that could have been avoided if you only stayed quiet. 


I know how bad those feelings are as a parent, failure, and remorse are not fun and we want the best for our kiddos.


Your child needs empathy and validation, they need to know it is okay to feel emotions, you as the parent are there to teach them the right way to deal with these emotions.



You got this momma, this to shall pass!!

Related Toddler Behavior Articles

Sharing is caring!

2 thoughts on “3 Year Old Meltdowns And How To Handle Them”

  1. Hi
    My child is 3 and she is still working hard on her speech. She has been having massive meltdowns including pulling her own hair, lashes out with scratching and kicking. I am trying to be there for her but it is so hard. I don’t know how to get through this phase. I will try your method but any other advise is

    1. Hi Felicia
      I’m sorry you are going through this, it is very frustrating for both of you when you have a child that can’t communicate what they need to. I am going through it as well with my four year old! You may want to talk to your pediatrician if you feel she is not where she needs to be in her speech. I talked to mine and they recommended speech therapy, it is free through the schools and has helped a ton.
      You call the school and talk to them about setting up an appointment for an evaluation and if they feel she qualifies she will be inrolled.
      I hope this helps you, it has helped my son so much

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.