our everyday life

How to Calm Down a Wild 3-Year-Old

by Kathryn Hatter, studioD

Young children often have problems with self-control, especially when they become excited. A precocious preschooler with excess energy can be a challenge for any parent. If you need to calm down a wild 3-year-old, it helps to have a variety of different methods at your disposal. Through a process of trial and error, you'll meet your child's spirited personality head-on and encourage calmer and more peaceful behavior.

Set loving limits for your energetic 3-year-old. By this age, many youngsters have a strong desire to please their parents, according to "The Wonderful Three-Year-Old," a publication of the University of Florida. By instituting limits, you allow your child to know your expectations. Because he wants to please you, he will probably try hard most of the time to follow the rules.

Look your child in the eye at her level if you perceive she’s losing control. Tell her that you notice she's getting upset and you understand that she’s feeling excited or angry. Suggest a change of scenery or environment to interrupt whatever is upsetting your 3-year-old.

Provide calming activities to help your child come down from excited behavior. Try a warm bath with quiet bath toys to help a rambunctious child calm down. Get out the modeling clay or finger paints and set your child up at a worktable to give him something quiet to do when he starts to slip out of control.

Sit with your child in a peaceful place and encourage a quiet activity, such as reading or telling stories with her on your lap. See if your loving arms around her and your calm voice in her ear provides the calming focus she needs.

Strive to keep your child's emotional tank filled at all times so he will have more self-control and ability to stay calm. When your child feels loved and connected to you, he will naturally be more secure, better behaved, less wild and less anxious. Give your child positive attention, especially when he's behaving. This will reinforce the behavior you desire and discourage acting out.

Ensure that your child eats a balanced diet and gets adequate sleep. Try not to allow your 3-year-old to become overtired or overextended and hungry. When a preschooler doesn’t feel well physically because of hunger or lack of sleep, she will have more trouble behaving. If you know your child is tired or hungry, don't place her in challenging situations that will set off behavior problems.


  • Assess your child's behavior to ensure it fits normal parameters for preschool behavior. According to the website HealthyChildren.org, it's normal for a child this age to avoid stopping to rest, run into objects or people, ask a lot of questions and even run in circles. Children who are so active that they take dangerous risks when climbing and jumping, and who often suffer injuries due to their behavior, may have health issues that need to be evaluated by a professional.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images