As I stated in my previous article, Reasons Why Children Throw Temper Tantrums, it is common for a young child to throw a temper tantrum as a means of displaying his or her independence, dissatisfaction, anger or frustration. This is normal and argueably age-appropriate.
HOWEVER, there are things that you can do to try to prevent one from occurring.
1. Give Your Child Words
Toddlers and preschoolers are often experiencing situations, feelings and experiences for which they are unable to vocalize their feelings. When a child is experiencing an emotion, give them words. For example, “I can see that you are frustrated/angry/sad/disappointed” or ask them, “Are you frustrated/angry/sad/disappointed?”
Not only give them examples of words for their feelings, but encourage them to use those words. “i don’t understand you when do that. Use your words.”
A tired and/or hungry child is more apt to display negative behavior. While every child is different it is recommended that a preschooler gets 10-12 ours of sleep per night in addition to a 1-3 hour daytime nap!
3. Prepare Them for New Situations
Discuss in advance what your child can expect during the new situation. Explain what you, your child and any other people will be doing. “Mommy will be with the other mommies and you get to play with your friends.” Give specific instructions as to what will happen when it is time to leave. Go through the process as though it is actually happening…
“Kids, when it is almost time to go mommy will say, ‘We are leaving in 5 minutes.’ Then mommy will come back in a little bit and say, ‘Ok, one minute!’ and that means we need to start cleaning up.”
Then involve them by making sure they understand what you expect. “Do we throw fits when it is time to go?” Have them respond, “No. No fits.”
4. Give Warnings
As I described above…Whenever possible, give warnings. Give a 5 minute warning, which allows them to mentally prepare for leaving. Then give a 1 minute warning as well, which means we need to clean up. This process allows yoru child to be mentally, physically and emotionally prepare for the transition.
6. BE CONSISTENT!
This is the most important way to prevent temper tantrums. Children thrive under structure, discipline, love and encouragement. A tantrum can be a sign that your child needs more structure or is not fully prepared for the situation.