Struggling with outbursts from your kids? Here are 10 tips to help prevent tantrums.
Having small children means encountering BIG emotions. Little children feel deeply and have no filter or ability for self-control. This combination be extremely challenging for you, as a parent!
There’s nothing harder than having to deal with one of your small children having an angry outburst. It can be stressful and drain your energy.
While there are a lot of things you can do during a tantrum to help your child through it, there are also several things you can do to help prevent temper tantrums before they start.
10 tips to prevent tantrums
1. Fill their love cup (one-on-one time)
Spend quality time daily with each of your kids to foster a strong connection. Make this a priority. I know this can be really hard, but it is so important.
Put your phone away, get down on your child’s level and be with her for at least 10 minutes. Let her choose the activity. I’ve noticed that my 4-year-old will sometimes copy her 2-year-old sister and act like a “baby” in order to get my attention.
If I help the younger one get dressed, then my older daughter will suddenly need help getting dressed (when she usually revels in picking out her own outfits and doing everything by herself). This is a small signal to me that she needs extra love and special attention.
Related: Fun, cheap ideas for one-on-one time with your kids
2. Empathize and Connect
Empathize and connect with your child throughout the day. When we have difficult emotions, it helps to have someone empathize with us. This is especially true for our kids.
As adults, we can look at the situation and feel irritated that our kids are upset over something so “minor” but remember that has happened to us too. When your child feels understood by you and connected through your empathy, this can help diffuse her emotions and calm her.
3. Accept them
Everyone wants to feel validated. If your child feels accepted during her difficult moments (“ugly” emotions and all), then she will feel safe and secure and be able to manage better.
4. Laugh and be silly with them.
Laughter relieves stress and releases pent-up energy and emotions. This is also a good way for you to connect with your child.
On days when I feel frazzled, overwhelmed, and busy, if I take a minute to pause and watch my girls laughing together or being goofy it relieves my stress and when I join in with them, we connect and they sparkle.
5. Stick with routines
Having (loose) routines each day can help your child feel safe and secure.
My 4-year-old daughter loves to know our schedule and knows that on Sundays we go to church, Thursdays we have swimming lessons, etc. She has a calendar and loves to mark off the day. Our routines are comforting to her.
6. Prepare them ahead of time
No one likes to be forced to abruptly shift from one activity to another without notice or preparation.
Even if you have daily routines, it helps to let your child know what you’ll be doing next. Make sure to give notice ahead of time before you have to transition to something else and make transitions fun!
Related: Help your small child with transitions.
7. Offer choices
Imagine being small and powerless and having everything dictated to and demanded from you every day!
Giving small children simple choices (between 2 things) can help them feel a sense of control over their lives (and thus prevent outbursts).
Let your child choose which snack to have or which pair of socks to wear or what book to read first. Which brings me to my next point…
8. Avoid unnecessary power struggles
Several times I have caught myself in the middle of arguing about something with one of my daughters when I realize that I am making a big deal out of nothing.
Some times I feel like I have to prove a point, but ultimately it’s a silly one, so, I back off. And apologize if necessary.
You don’t have to be right all the time. You can let your toddler be right. Let it go. Let it go. (We watch a lot of Frozen around here…)
9. Offer a safe space
Your child should feel safe being himself around you, especially during difficult times.
The catch to this is when your child feels safe then he will be more comfortable letting off “ugly” emotions and this can be difficult. But this is a step toward helping him grow in emotional intelligence and maturity, which is one of the key factors in predicting future adult success.
Related: Teaching emotional intelligence to children
10. Is your child hungry or tired?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been frustrated with my toddler (or preschooler) only to realize that she is simply over-tired (or hungry).
Most little children don’t have the ability to say, Mom, I’m feeling really tired and that’s why I’m grumpy. They need our help to remember to eat and rest when necessary. A lot of “tantrums” can be avoided by making sure your child is not hungry or tired.
As a parent, you can prevent many temper tantrums before they start. Remember your child is a small human with big emotions and simple needs. Help him feel loved, stay connected, and meet his needs and this will help. Make sure that you also have time to yourself so that you can manage your own stress and be better prepared to help your child with his own difficulties. I’d love to hear your tips!