A tantrum is an emotional outburst that occurs when a child is frustrated, angry, stressed, hungry, tired, or lonely. Tantrums are common in early childhood and are a normal part of development. They are a way for children to express their feelings and needs, and to learn how to cope with them. Tantrums can vary in frequency, duration, intensity, and behavior. Some common tantrum behaviors include crying, screaming, kicking, hitting, biting, and throwing things. Tantrums usually peak between 18 months and 5 years old, decreasing as children gain more language and emotional skills. In this article, we will explore How To Deal With Tantrums in 5 Year Old’s and help parents navigate this challenging phase of their child’s development.
When should you worry about your 5-year-old’s tantrums?
While occasional tantrums are normal for 5-year-olds, some signs may indicate a more severe problem. According to Belden, Thomson, and Luby (2009), there are five risky “tantrum styles” that parents should watch out for. These are:
- Violent tantrums: Your child shows consistent aggression towards you or others or destructive behavior towards objects more than half the time during the last 10-20 tantrum episodes.
- Self-injurious behavior: Your child hurts themselves during tantrums, regardless of how often or how long they last. This may include hitting their head, biting their hand, or scratching their skin.
- Frequent tantrums: Your child has tantrums 10-20 times on separate days during 30 days, or on average 5 or more times a day on multiple days.
- Long duration: Your child’s tantrums last more than 25 minutes on average.
- Multiple triggers: Your child’s tantrums are triggered by many different situations or events, not just common ones like hunger, sleep problems, or illness.
These tantrum styles may indicate a higher risk of having a psychiatric disorder such as disruptive disorder or depression. If you notice any of these signs in your child, you should consult your pediatrician or a mental health professional for further evaluation and support.
How to deal with tantrums in 5-year-olds?
The best way to deal with tantrums in 5-year-olds is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Here are some tips to help you do that:
- Establish routines and rules: Children thrive on consistency and predictability. Having regular routines and clear rules can help them feel secure and know what to expect. For example, you can have a bedtime routine that includes brushing your teeth, reading a story, and saying goodnight. You can also have rules about screen time, sharing toys, and cleaning up.
- Offer choices and praise: Children also need autonomy and recognition. Giving them choices and praise can help them feel empowered and valued. For example, you can let them choose what to wear, what to eat, or what activity to do. You can also praise them for their efforts, achievements, and good behavior.
- Communicate and listen: Children need to feel understood and respected. Talking and listening to them can help them express their feelings and needs, and learn how to communicate effectively. For example, you can use simple words to explain why something is not allowed or why they have to wait. You can also acknowledge their emotions and empathize with them.
- Model and teach coping skills: Children learn by observing and imitating others. Showing and teaching them how to cope with frustration, anger, and stress can help them develop emotional regulation skills. For example, you can use deep breathing, counting, or positive self-talk when you feel upset. You can also help them find healthy ways to calm down such as hugging a stuffed animal, listening to music, or drawing.
However, even with these preventive strategies, tantrums may still happen sometimes. When they do, here are some steps you can take to handle them:
- Ensure safety: If necessary, move your child to a safe space where they cannot hurt themselves or others. Hold or hug them if they allow it or ask for it.
- Stay calm: Avoid yelling, arguing,g or threatening your child during a tantrum. This will only escalate the situation and make them more upset. Instead, speak calmly and softly, or remain silent if they are not ready to listen.
- Ignore negative behavior: Do not give in to your child’s demands or reward their tantrum with attention. This will only reinforce their behavior and make it more likely to happen again. Instead, ignore their negative behavior as much as possible until they calm down.
- Offer comfort and support: Once your child has calmed down, offer them comfort and support. Reassure them that you love them and that everything is okay. Help them identify their feelings and needs, and validate them. For example, you can say “I know you were angry because you wanted to play longer” or “I understand you were sad because you missed your friend”.
- Problem-solve together: After your child has calmed down, help them find solutions to the problem that triggered the tantrum. Involve them in the process and encourage them to come up with ideas. For example, you can say “How can we make sure this doesn’t happen again?” or “What can we do differently next time?”.
Tantrums in 5-year-olds are normal but can be challenging for parents. By understanding why they happen and how to prevent and handle them effectively, you can help your child develop emotional regulation skills and reduce the frequency and intensity of tantrums over time.