It may start with tears from not getting what they want. Seconds later there's fist pumping, sobbing and throwing their bodies on the ground. You've got a full-fledged tantrum on your hands, and you may feel like you're ready to have a meltdown, too.
For preschoolers, tantrums are an age-appropriate response to an emotional situation. Kids that are 3 or 4 years old are learning autonomy and independence. When their needs aren't met as they see fit, it's easy to get overwhelmed. Little ones are still learning to manage complex emotions, both positive and negative, which is why kids often have tantrums when they feel overwhelmed.
Some parents are surprised when tantrums rear their ugly head. It can be on otherwise fun days, such as a holiday or family vacation. When put in a new environment with high levels of stimulation, little minds have a lot to process. One wrong move can change your joyful child into a screaming madman.
School picture day is another example. Kids normally love the fun process of getting their photos taken. But when someone new comes and sets up the portrait space, the environment is different. The excitement of waiting in line can turn into anxiety. The bright lights suddenly may seem a little scary.
Preschool teachers are pros at handling tantrums and talking to kids about how to best handle emotions. Lifetouch Preschool Portraits photographers are also specially trained in working with small kids, and are always patient and positive no matter what.
What can you do when a tantrum occurs? Try these five tried-and-true methods for surviving a tantrum and ending them as quickly as possible in a positive manner.
When emotion takes over and a tantrum occurs, it can be best to walk away from your child and let them have a moment. At a tantrum's peak, there is no reasoning with a child, and in fact, it can make the tantrum last longer. When they start to relax a bit, you can try to intervene again.
If you can catch a meltdown before it's a full tantrum, divert your child's attention with something interesting. You're taking a kid on the edge and pulling them away to safety by showing him that toy in your purse, asking him to look at the cool picture across the room or inviting him to get a snack.
Give them a hug
Some kids respond positively when given a hug during a tantrum. When emotion takes over, they may appreciate the security of knowing someone is there. A firm hug can help calm them down while making them feel like they're not alone.
Give them space
Everyone has bad days, but adults often forget that kids can have them, too. If your child has a tantrum, give them some space to work through the problem independently. As long as they aren't breaking something or hurting someone, it can be an OK way to get anger out so you can then talk productively.
Talk it out
Try talking calmly to get to the bottom of the problem. Help them articulate the emotions they're feeling since they may not know the words for why they are upset. Your child may even bring you to the problem and show you the issue, if it's hard to talk about. Use this communication as a learning moment for both of you.
Kids are still trying to understand their emotions, which is often why they have tantrums. Follow these methods to move past these tantrums and get a smile back on their face.