7 Practical Tips to Control Temper Tantrums in Pre-schoolers

Temper tantrums are an inevitable part of every parent’s life. How do parents deal with the temper tantrums of their little ones? These seven tips might make life a little easier for parents.

By Ashwin Dewan  • 7 min read

7 Practical Tips to Control Temper Tantrums in Pre-schoolers

Parents are often familiar with certain temper tantrum scenarios like those that occur while buying groceries at the supermarket, when the preschooler decides to flop on the aisle after being denied his favourite chocolate.

In an article published in a popular parenting site, noted American clinical psychologist, Ray Levy said, "Meltdowns are terrible, nasty things, but they're a fact of childhood". Every single tantrum, Levy adds, results from one simple thing: not getting what they want.

Note: Temper tantrums are common in children, especially between the ages 1 and 4. Sometimes, older children throw tantrums as well.

Preschoolers throw temper tantrums for many reasons:

  • Their way of asserting independence
  • Due to feeling of lack of control
  • When they have either too few or too many limits
  • Due to their own frustration at their inability to express their feelings or wants
  • Other factors such as hunger, fatigue, overstimulation and boredom

One moment, your preschooler is happy and content; the other, he is throwing a fit of rage. Temper tantrums are a fact of life. However, these seven tips might allow you to control the temper tantrums of your little ones.

Allow them access to forbidden things: Preschoolers are curious and fascinated by grown-up things such as wallets, cell phones and such. If they are denied the opportunity to play with these things, they might get angry.

Solution: Let them play with these things, under supervision, in places where these items are unlikely to get lost.

Stand your ground: Keep calm and do not give in to your child's demands easily. Repeating the same words might bore your child and send the message that you mean business.

Solution: Keep your voice even and your face serious.

Take a toy or food stuff along when shopping for groceries: Grocery shopping can be a pain when accompanied by a moody preschooler. A toy or food will not only keep your child occupied but will also allow you to shop peacefully.

Solution: Allow your little one to bring along his favourite toy. 

Give your pre-schooler some control: Giving control to preschoolers provides them with a feeling of authority so they are less likely to throw tantrums. Simple things such as letting him choose which book to bring along makes him less angry.

Solution: The next time you go for a ride, let your little one bring along what she wants, on the condition that one item can be brought along.

Use distraction as a shield: It is a given that preschoolers are extremely easy to distract. When you think your little one is about to throw a tantrum, act fast – open a story book or offer to take her for a walk with the added reward of a treat, and she will forget why she was angry.

Solution: Humour can be an effective way to distract a young child. Tell a funny joke, make weird faces or even start a pillow fight.

Find out the reason behind their tantrums: Preschoolers throw tantrums but not without reason. Usually, children below the age of two years have limited vocabulary and cannot express their needs clearly. When you fail to understand what your child is trying to say, he might throw tantrums.

Solution: Try teaching your little one how to use sign language for a few key words – such as food, milk, toilet, feelings of tiredness, and so on.

Hug your preschooler: This may do the trick during a tantrum. If your child is upset, he won’t be able to see or hear you. But, a big, firm hug might help settle a raging child.

Solution: Hugs make children feel secure and let them know that parents care about them even if they don’t agree with the temper tantrum.

Temper tantrums in preschoolers are inevitable. They can be extremely frustrating but rather than looking at them as disasters, parents can consider tantrums as challenges that can be overcome.

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