When it comes to dealing with young children, dealing with temper tantrums can be one of the most challenging – yet unavoidable – parts of the package. Just talk to any childcare educator or parent!
At Southern Solutions, we believe it’s important to understand what pushes children to display such challenging behaviours and importantly, teaching our childcare educators how to manage them.
Are you interested in pursuing a rewarding and joyful career in childcare? We invite you to explore our childcare courses here!
What triggers temper tantrums?
Tantrums don’t appear out of thin air.
Young children are still developing their communication skills and might not be able to convey what they are feeling any other way.
So, what do they do? They express themselves the only way they know how. The result?
Tantrums are a perfectly natural behaviour in children. Knowing what causes tantrums is the first step in being able to predict and diffuse tantrums before they escalate or disrupt others.
Oftentimes, tantrums can come from specific needs and frustrations – most of which can be easily dealt with! Let’s explore a few.
Tantrums can be a sign that a child is struggling with emotions they don’t yet know how to handle. Strong emotions such as anger, frustration, anxiety and shame can trigger tantrums.
Adults develop strategies for controlling these emotions: perhaps when you’re feeling upset or angry, you escape by listening to a favourite song, taking a stroll, or simply taking a short break.
Without these types of strategies in place, kids’ emotions run wild, resulting in outbursts.
Sleep is especially important for young children.
Depending on their age, children can require up to 18 hours of sleep a day! We all know how horrible it feels after pulling an all-nighter… is it any surprise that children start huffing and puffing when they’re tired?
Another common trigger for tantrums is hunger. Children are perfectly capable of feeling hangry (a clever portmanteau of “hungry” and “tired”!) as well. Unlike adults however, children can be much more vocal in expressing their displeasure!
Add hunger and tiredness together and you get quite the potent mix of negative emotions.
Understanding the importance of food and rest for children can go a long way towards preventing tantrums from happening. Ensuring kids are well-fed and rested can be very effective in keeping them calm and happy.
It’s important to maintain a healthy pace when caring for young children.
You may have heard that art, play and music are essential for early childhood development. But it’s possible to have too much of a good thing and it can be easy to fall into the trap of filling their days with too much!
Oftentimes, children use tantrums to cope with overstimulation.
Children might feel like things are going too fast or that there’s too much going on. Downtime is essential and it’s easy for children to feel overwhelmed if they feel crowded or don’t have any space or time for themselves.
Ensuring that activities and new experiences are paced appropriately should always be on the agenda.
Managing this, however, can be simple:
- Schedule quieter activities to calm down
- Take your time when transitioning between activities
- Give kids the opportunity to take a break if they feel like it’s too much
How do you handle temper tantrums in child care?
Sometimes outbursts just can’t be prevented. Successfully dealing with temper tantrums once they’ve started can be challenging – but not impossible!
Whatever the root cause, knowing how to deal with temper tantrums in children is an important skill in childhood care and education. What else can you do to keep an outburst from taking control of the class?
Keep calm and keep everyone safe
When a child in your care starts throwing a tantrum, keep a level head. It’s easier said than done – but it is important.
Kids are like sponges – they absorb behaviours and words. Think of every child that proudly tells their parents they heard a new word in the schoolyard. Losing control sets a bad example for the kids in your care.
Avoid escalating a situation – losing your cool makes the situation much harder to resolve and can negatively impact a child’s mental health
Another thing that you should do when dealing with a tantrum in a group child care setting is to ensure the all the children – tantrum-thrower and bystanders – are safe.
Whenever a child throws a tantrum, expect arms and legs to flail. Make sure you keep the child from any sharp or hard objects and surfaces
In group settings, there is significant risk of other kids being caught in the crossfire. It is vital that nearby kids are at a safe distance from the outburst to prevent injury
Give comfort and reassurance
Tantrums can also be frightening for children. And while difficult to deal with, as a childhood educator it’s important to be supportive.
Just talking with a child who’s throwing a tantrum can do wonders. However, when a child throws a fit, you have to make sure you still comfort them and help them deal with their feelings.
And though you might not approve of what they have done, you still have to show that you care for them.
Talk and encourage
During and after the tantrum, it’s important to reach out to the child by talking to them. Talking to a child will help him or her work through his or her feelings.
It’s also important that childcare educators teach children effective ways to deal with their anger and hard situations. Encourage children to ask for help and provide ways for them to cool down or express their feelings instead of throwing a tantrum.
A passion for child care education through it all…
An effective childhood educator is able to predict and diffuse temper tantrums before they become disruptive. Temper tantrums and other challenging behaviours are part and parcel of a child educator’s career – but you don’t have to go in blind!
For those who are dreaming of pursuing a career in childcare education, Southern Solutions is here to prepare you for everything you’ll encounter in your career.
We offer comprehensive Early Childhood Education and Care courses that fuel your passion for guiding and influencing young minds in their most formative (and often tantrum-laden) years.
So if you’re interested in a career in childhood education and want an institute whose passion matches yours, get in touch with one of our career consultants today!