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Does Yelling at 3-Year-Olds Impact Their Emotional Development?

By Karen Kleinschmidt ; Updated September 26, 2017
Get down to your child's level and speak in a serious tone to get your child's attention.

Yelling isn't an effective way of dealing with your 3-year-old, and it can be a symptom of something more serious. At its most basic level, if you yell, your child becomes immune to your yelling -- and he begins to tune you out. You want to be heard, not ignored. If this escalates into yelling obscenities or cruelties that break a child's will or that damage his sense of self -- then, that's emotional abuse and it will impact his emotional development. How a parent handles the frustration that comes with parenting is key. If you find yourself in this situation and are unable to stop on your own, seek the help of a professional to assist you through this difficult time.

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Three-year-olds don't sit still for extended periods of time. They need to fidget, fuss and whirl around. They need to move around and to learn how to control their bodies. Yeah, sometimes it's all just too much. Maybe you wish you could wave a magic wand and freeze that energy for a minute, while he gathers his thoughts. Frustration may build as you look at other children -- kids who seem to sit still and behave. Remember, those children are sitting still in this moment -- but that might not have been true a few moments earlier. You have moments where you and your inner guru are at peace with the world. Do your best to focus on your inner guru moments, instead of feeling frustrated with your 3-year-old. Focusing on feeling peaceful inside will help build a positive, happy bond with your child, instead of expecting too much for his age.

Model Behavior

Children this age are still learning to self-regulate and control themselves. Simply put, yelling teaches yelling. It escalates emotions, and the message you are trying to get across is often lost. Remaining calm and in control will help your child learn to do the same. The next time you feel the urge to yell at your child, take a deep breath. Instead of yelling, whisper your message. Kneel down to your child's level and speak in a calm, serious tone to get her attention. Your child is more likely to hear you and remain calm. You will then have a teachable moment to help your child learn the appropriate way to behave.

Relax and Enjoy

Laugh at mistakes and relax. You will find life with your 3-year-old to be calmer and more peaceful. Kids this age make messes, break things and make mistakes. It's all a part of growing up. Put yourself in your child's shoes when you want to yell. See things through his eyes and try to understand why they did what he did. Was he trying to do something by himself? Or, was he upset, hungry or tired? Identifying your child's triggers will help you identify your own triggers, and will help you resist and minimize yelling. After all, what you really want is to enjoy your child.


If you find that you are constantly yelling at your child, there are steps you can take to remedy the situation before it takes its toll on the parent-child bond. Find your triggers. It may be the morning routine and your feeling that you're running late -- or, maybe your child is involved in too many activities and you're stretched too thin. Consider taking a time out for yourself before you lose it. Recognize the signs of frustration in yourself, and step away before anger takes over. If your child isn't being destructive or aggressive, ignore the behavior. Respond positively to the behavior you want to continue. Every parent has been down this road before, so you're not alone.

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About the Author

Karen Kleinschmidt has been writing since 2007. Her short stories and articles have appeared in "Grandma's Choice," "Treasure Box" and "Simple Joy." She has worked with children with ADHD, sensory issues and behavioral problems, as well as adults with chronic mental illness. Kleinschmidt holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Montclair State University.

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