How to Handle Temper Tantrums in Early Childhood Care

  • January 30, 2018

Early childhood professionals can witness emotional outbursts and tantrums from their children that range in severity from small tantrums to drastic meltdowns. Some toddlers throw tantrums by shutting down, while others may throw chairs and school supplies. Some may kick, scream and become aggressive, while others may withdraw and hide in the back of the room or playground.

Toddlers are still at the age where they have difficulty using words to describe their feelings or issues. Tantrums tend to happen most when the child is hungry, tired or even over stimulated or excited.

Here are some quick tips to help you handle these tantrums:

Keep Calm

Children learn from example and tend to mirror our own actions, not words. The most helpful tool during these breakdowns is to keep yourself calm. Take a deep breath and encourage the child to breathe deeply with you.

Count to Five and Pause

Before you act or try to resolve the child’s issue, pause everything you are doing, count to five, then reflect on how to move forward most efficiently.

Quiet Time

Over stimulation could be the reason behind a child’s tantrum or adding to it. Sometimes the easiest way to calm a child down is to remove them from the class and give them some alone time in a quiet space to calm down.

Practice Compassion

Learning and growing is an exhausting situation for young children. Tantrums can arise from fear within the child stemming from new environments or uncertainty. Show the child compassion about what they may be experiencing from their point of view and remember to reassure the child in what they are attempting to learn or do.

Hold the Child

During a tantrum, a child may be kicking and throwing their arms around. This can cause harm to the child and anyone else around the child. Hugging the child or simply sitting next to them until they are ready to be calm may help prevent this and also lower their anger level.

Teach the Lesson

While some tantrums may be completely random and without reason, some tantrums can stem from arguments with other children, toys being shared, or other situations where a lesson can be learned. Let the child know what they can take away from the situation after they have calmed down from their outburst.

Not every child learns the same or develops the same. Some children have higher thresholds for new situations and environments while others may act out at times. Following these simple tips will help you navigate the majority of the outbursts and tantrums you will experience in your classroom and playground settings.

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