How to help a toddler express their feelings?

Hey mama’s, I need some advice.
I have a 3.5 year old boy and a newborn girl. My 3 year old is a great kid most of the time, but he’s having a hard time expressing his feelings. Anytime he gets upset, he’s screaming, hitting and throwing things. His father and I don’t fight like that at all so this behavior is completely new for me. I need help figuring out appropriate discipline methods and techniques for helping him use his words. We’ve tried time outs, raising our voices and spanking - none of that works and I’m not comfortable spanking him anyway. I know part of the issue is just his age, but I need to get this under control now. He kicked the bassinet his sister was sleeping in yesterday and I’m honestly scared of this escalating. I am guilty of being his friend instead of his parent and it’s time for change.
Any advice is welcome.


Don’t punish him for showing his feelings, if he’s crying or mad tell him it’s ok to cry, hold him when he’s crying and talk about it afterwards.


For poor behavior, hitting and such, we do time out. I put him in his chair give him a little bit to calm down, then we talk about what he did wrong to get him in trouble. It takes a lot of work but we’re starting to see improvement. A lot of it is the new baby is getting a lot of attention that the 3 year old was used to. We tell him it’s okay too feel sad, mad, etc, but he had to use his words and not actions.


You rocked his little world bringing the new baby in. It takes time to adjust. Dedicate some alone time with him. 3 is the toughest time for boys in my opinion. Be consistent time outs and… bribes lol. We have a being nice basket I wrapped up a bunch of small things match box cars bouncy balls etc Focus on the good. Say oh look how quiet you are playing with the baby sleeping. You get a prize. Will you get mom a diaper. Oh thank you when I’m done you need a prize. I beast fed so I if my then 3 yr old was rambunctious I would hide a wrapped present in the room and have him try to fine it. Some time we would do things like it’s under something that starts with the R sound. Things like that. He’s frustrated even loving the baby. It invaded his world and his spot

My son is doing this hes 2.5 and we found that sitting down and talking in ways he would understand. We also started explaining our feelings like, “that hurts my feelings when you throw things.” “It makes me sad when you scream and cry for nothing.” We also apologize to him if we argue or make him sad too, we’ve really started to exaggerate so he understands feelings and we do put him in time out.

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He’s old enough for you to sit down with him and explain to him what he’s doing is wrong. Tell him to use his words when he’s having a problem. Maybe some one on one time with you will do him good

Let him help take care of little sister and tell him he is her protector see if that works it usually does

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The show Daniel tiger teaches a lot of good things including how to express feeling and talk about it also great about potty training and new siblings

When my son was little and would act up I would put him in time out and tell him when he is done crying and feeling better he can come out and talk. Some days he would need 5 minutes to collect himself, other times it would be longer. A couple times he put himself in time out and said he needed a few minutes lol

This was normal for our son. It was a rough phase for a good six months. We had to give him his “feelings words” because he didn’t know how to express it. We found that yelling and spanking made it worse and made him react similarly. We did time out and had a talk right after about his feelings and how he should have handled it. I also made a point to tell him I loved him (he felt the baby got too much “love” and we picked her over him because she needed so much care and time).

He is lashing out for the attention again. Include him in watching and helping with the baby show him he is a big boy and see if this changes

Special needs parent. I had a toddler from age 2 to… um… well, she’s 10 and we still have meltdowns, just not quite as dangerous now.

  1. Avoidance: Look for signs that he is getting agitated and get ahead of the tantrum, then redirect. If you can’t.
  2. Safety: Remove him from endangering himself or others, to a safe space, ie his bed, crib, pack n play, small empty space away from people and stuff he can throw.
  3. Behavior charts, calm down techniques and timeouts.

Behavior charts are like any reward/punishment system. You can get a white board or they sell them on amazon, you can split it however you want. You make a schedule the day before so he knows what to expect and what is expected of him.
Example: Tomorrow we have 1st box = breakfast, 2nd box = play time, then clean up, then dr appointment, lunch, grocery shopping, nap time, play time, clean up, bath, dinner, bed. For each box he gets a star or sticker for good behavior. You can give him an extra treat if he earns enough stars by bedtime or you can give him a small treat with each star earned, depends on his personality and what he responds to. You get a star if you eat your breakfast and put away your dish by yourself like a big boy with no yelling or help. If he is successful, you tell him to pick his star or sticker and put it on breakfast. Then explain, what is expected to earn a star for play time. Then after play time, no star for play time because you were throwing your toys and not playing nice like I told you to, sorry buddy. Now it’s clean up time, and if you clean up and put stuff away where it belongs with no crying you get your star. Ok, no star for clean up because you were screaming and you threw a toy at your sister, you scared mommy very much, and you didn’t put the toys away because mommy had to take you to your room because you weren’t being safe and we ran out of time. Next is the dr, mommy needs to you listen, do what you’re told, and be quiet at the drs. Yay! A star for the dr appointment because you listened, were quiet, and kept your hands to yourself, great job! Etc.
Play up the positive & celebrate each achievement. Use simple words when explaining what you want and what upsets you. Scared, sad, happy, good listening, bad choices, safe or unsafe, etc. Ignore the attention seeking behaviors, unless they are unsafe and require him being removed, and make a big deal out of him making good choices being kind or gentle.
Talk about calm down techniques and use them when you can. When we want to hit or kick, we can punch something soft like our stuffed toy. When we want to scream, we scream in our pillow or we take deep breaths. And count them 1 breath, 2 breaths, 3 breaths. We can squeeze our hands into a fist very tight and let go of our anger when we release the fist.
When he starts a tantrum, remove him to a safe space (bedroom at home, car at store, quite space), you need to use your calm down techniques and when you’re done we can talk. If you need to hold his bedroom door shut while he freaks out, that’s ok. Tell him mommy is out here when you are done. If he’s banging on the door, you can say you’re not done, I will open it when you’re done, use your calm down techniques, but then disengage. Giving attention to that behavior isn’t helpful. When he’s done freaking out open the door, talk about what went wrong and how we can all do better next time and then consider a time out. Use an auditory and visual timer and specific spot or chair. 3 mins for 3 year old. Hugs and kisses after.
Think that’s it. Sorry this is long. Not a pro, just spent a lot of time in this space. Good luck!

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You have to teach him to use his words to express himself.

Acting like he is not there will not work. He needs to go to a specialist it sounds like he has ADHD, Austism or something he is at the age to be tested for that. I know I know some of you are saying she is crazy but that is alright,I have a little grandson that has both of those and he does the same thing. Good luck.

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I would deescalate, not use force. I would try to find different methods or approaches and find ways he can self regulate. Self regulation is a tough skill to learn. Do countdown, redirect the behavior, make note or have a journal of what happesn prior to his escalation. Maybe have like an award system.

Can you make a chart of emoji faces or pictures of situations he can point to to show you how he feels? Look at charts for non-verbal people. Practice words to describe different feelings/situations so he will gradually learn how to explain himself.

Is he getting more or ‘extra’ attention for his outbursts? If the answer is yes, then he is getting negative reinforcement. He’s getting negative attention but it’s still attention which is ultimately what he wants. Ignore as much of it as possible (only engage this behavior if he’s going to hurt himself or someone else. Or if he’s damaging something). If you have to react, a simple timeout (at his age three and a half minutes) absolutely no attention from you for that time. I would also talk calmly with him after the time out. Tell him you do not like the bad behavior but that you love him make sure he knows you don’t think he’s a bad boy but only that he’s made a bad choice.

Try to concentrate on positive reinforcement, go over the top complimenting and praising him for the proper behavior. The more attention he gets for making good choices the more likely he is to continue.

Make sure to set aside time for the new big brother, have special things only the big brother can help with.

An adjustment period is to be expected. Now I have spanked my girls, but only a handful of times. I would reserve that for when his behavior is going to result in injury.

He might be jealous of the baby.