Preschooler Tantrums

Source: One Tough Job

As your child ages into a preschooler, the frequency of tantrums should decrease but they may still happen occasionally. Just like toddler tantrums are more likely to happen when your preschooler is tired, hungry, overwhelmed, or frustrated. Power struggles over what your preschooler wants to do versus what he can do can also trigger tantrums. Tantrums may also occur when your child feels overlooked or needs attention.

Temper tantrums are still a normal part of your young child’s behavior and can be just as intense as when they were younger. Your preschooler still relies on your love and guidance to help him through these occasional bumps. However, unlike toddlers, sometimes preschoolers are able to talk about the cause of the tantrum afterward. This can help parents learn to anticipate triggers and work with their preschooler to manage emotions before the situation dissolves into a tantrum.

Here are a few strategies you can use to help your preschooler:

Praise good behavior as a preventative tactic. Get into the practice of praising good behaviors every day. Use specific praise that reiterates the good thing your child did and what it meant: “Thank you for sitting quietly and reading while I dressed your sister. It made us all happy and helped me get things done.”

Minimize power struggle by presenting choices. Instead of always telling your child not to do something, give your child choices such as, "do you want to put your socks on first or your shirt?" Make sure to only offer choices that you find acceptable.

Keep calm during tantrums. Children are great at pushing our buttons. Try not to become upset at what your child says or does to you during a tantrum.

If your child kicks, hits, or bites during the tantrum remove them to a safe place. Time-outs are appropriate when your child is not able to manage his physical behavior during a tantrum.

If possible, give your child space to cool off. Use phrases like “When you stop crying we will talk about this and see what we can do” or “I’ll sit with you until you are ready to talk.” Sometimes ignoring the behavior is exactly what your child needs to calm down

Encourage your child to talk about what caused the tantrum. Once your child has calmed down, acknowledge his frustration and ask him to tell you why he is so upset. Problem solve with your child on ways he can deal with his feelings in the future.

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