Defiant 3 Year Old: 9 Tips To Deal With Them

No matter what parenting style you choose, there will be times when your child tests your limits. This is especially true for 3 year olds, who are just starting to become more independent and assertive. Don’t worry if you’re having problems with a defiant 3 year old, you aren’t the only one! We’ll share some techniques for dealing with disobedience in toddlers in this blog post.

Defiant 3 Year Old

Why Is My Child Being So Defiant?

Your kid will get a stronger and more secure sense of self as he or she grows older. They’re less reliant on you now than they were before, and they may even be developing an attitude of disobedience. It’s how a toddler or young child shows him or herself.

Around 18 months, toddlers figure out that they are separate individuals from everyone else and have their thoughts and feelings. They want to be in control and independent, which can lead to defiance. Even older toddlers are motivated by needs, wants, and urges – not necessarily reason as adults may believe. A child’s defiance might be annoying, but it’s perfectly natural and should be handled as calmly as possible.

What Is Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)?

Remember that some defiant behavior is acceptable, but in some cases, it might be an indication of a more serious problem. The oppositional defiant disorder is a type of mental illness that causes your defiant child to have frequent, furious outbursts or aggressive behavior that makes it impossible for them to live a normal life. Approximately 16% of school-age kids are affected by ODD.

Signs of ODD may include:

  • Temper tantrums regularly.
  • Rules are frequently questioned by children as a result of their curiosity.
  • Attempts to annoy or irritate individuals deliberately.
  • Blaming others for their misconduct.
  • Frequently angry and vexed.
  • When angry, defiant kids may engage in mean conversations.
  • People irritate him or her frequently.

At What Age Can We Expect To See This Behavior In Kids?

Oppositional defiant disorder is sometimes diagnosed in children as young as 4 years old. It is defined as a pattern of hostile behavior that occurs regularly. Children under 5 with ODD have an established pattern of disobedience.

ODD affects children aged three to five years old. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be used to help your kid learn how to control their thoughts, feelings, and actions. Parent management training (PMT) can also be used to teach you and your partner how to handle your child’s behavior.

Tips For Dealing With Defiant 3 Year Old

Don’t Be Impatient With Your Youngster’s Defiance

The goal is to demonstrate that you’re on their side rather than part of the problem. So remain calm- anger or physical punishment would not aid your youngster in cooperating. Be gracious yet resolute about requiring your kid to come in when it’s time.

Set Strict Limitations

Make sure your youngster understands what you’re setting for him. Children require the development of boundaries in the same way that adults do. Set firm limits and make sure your kid understands what they are. Be clear and realistic, as well as thorough in defining each restriction.

Positive Reinforcement

Instead of concentrating on your youngster only when they’re having a difficult time, try to notice them behaving appropriately as well. Keep your praise precise and detailed, rather than focusing on the product itself. This will boost their self-esteem.

It’s important to note that disciplining your 3-year-old does not mean dominating them. It means teaching children how to regulate themselves. Don’t consider discipline as a punishment; instead, think of it as a teachable moment to instruct your youngster about good and bad behavior – a life skill that will help them navigate society later on.

Time Outs

Don’t think of a time out as a punishment; instead, consider it an opportunity to assist your youngster in calming down and taking a rest from the conduct that’s generating the disobedience. Timeouts aren’t static, and you don’t need to use a clock; instead, concentrate on relaxing and teaching your toddler self-regulation skills. To do so effectively, you must also be attuned, calm, and empathetic.

Empower Your 3 Year Old

Providing options for your young child to make their own decisions allows them to practice their newly acquired liberty in a safe setting. This is the best way to deal with power struggles. As they get older, they’ll face more complex decisions; you can assist them by providing alternatives as soon as possible.

Don’t Be Too Rigid Always

There’s no reason that a trendy pre-schooler should not wear a green checked sweatshirt with orange polka dot shorts, for example. It’s not essential to have the same food at both breakfast and lunch, especially if they want waffles for dinner and peanut butter for supper. It’s fine to turn a blind eye to parental control and allow your kid to enjoy their independence.


Avoid triggers for your child’s impatient attitude. If you find yourself in an uncomfortable circumstance, utilize pleasant diversions with your defiant 3 year old. This will prevent them from acting out.

Spend Some Time To Teach Them Good Habits

Spend some time teaching new activities and performing them together until they grasp the concept. Sometimes what appears to be disobedience is nothing more than a lack of follow-through on an obligation that is too difficult, or something that must be broken down into smaller, more achievable pieces.

 Constructive Play Time

Toddlers start to learn the distinction between their things and other people’s, particularly around the age of three. Toddlers have a challenge sharing even when they have a younger brother or baby sister, which can be an excellent learning opportunity.

You should constantly remind your toddler that although the toy is his, it’s also vital to share toys. Set strict timeframes to help the playtime go more smoothly. This is great advice to enhance social skills and foster a more peaceful environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Is it normal for a 3 year old to be extremely defiant?

Ans: Toddler defiance reaches its peak at the age of three, and most youngsters’ defiance levels decline as they get older — which is a normal stage in their development. Defiance in some children rises with age.

Q2: Can you tell if a 3-year-old has ADHD?

Ans: This is especially true when it’s discovered in youngsters under the age of five. Fidgety and squirmy behavior are examples of hyperactivity indications that might lead you to believe your child has ADHD. being unable to sit still for quiet activities like eating and listening to books read to them because of an inability to focus.

Q3: What are the typical behavioral issues in 3 year olds?

Ans: During this year, your youngster will undoubtedly grasp the significance of their physical self, cognitive self, and emotional self. Your kid understands the distinction between feeling happy, sad, afraid, or angry. Your youngster also demonstrates a phobia of mythical things; he or she is concerned about how others behave, and he or she displays a love for known individuals.

Q4: How to deal with a defiant 4 year old?

Ans: If your child is engaging in unacceptable behavior, such as biting or hitting, you should remove them from the situation immediately. Try to avoid reacting in a way that will escalate the situation, such as yelling. Instead, calmly explain why the behavior is not acceptable and provide an alternative activity.

Q5: Does being defiant impact 3 year old brain development?

Ans:  The brain is responsible for executive functioning skills, such as planning and impulse control. It is not fully developed during this child’s age. Therefore, it is possible that defiance in early childhood could impact brain development.


A defiant 3 year old is not an anomaly. It’s a phase that many toddlers go through as they’re learning to express themselves and testing their limits. During this time, it’s important to be patient, consistent, and firm with your discipline. Try to avoid triggers that may cause your sweet child to act out, and provide constructive playtime so they can learn new skills. Make sure you also take care of yourself during this challenging time. Defiant toddlers can be exhausting, but remember that this phase won’t last forever.

My name is Mark Joseph, and I’m on a mission to help new parents navigate the world of parenting. With over 5 years of experience as a parenting coach, I’m here to provide you with insight into all aspects of pregnancy, childbirth, and raising your newborn baby. Instagram Linkedln Facebook

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