Dealing with Strong Emotions


Young children lead challenging lives. They have to learn everything. They learn how to crawl, how to walk, eat with utensils, drink from a cup, talk, ride a bike, open a door, use scissors, and be nice to others, just to name a few. They are constantly learning and it can get frustrating at times! It can be frustrating for a child to walk through a store full of cookies, candy, pop, gum and toys and all they hear is no, no, no! When they reach a level of frustration that they can no longer handle, they may have a ‘tantrum’.

Remember that when your child is having a full blown tantrum, they are already beyond reason. You won’t be able to argue them out of a tantrum and yelling at them will only escalate things. A child’s sense of security depends on knowing that when they lose control, you won’t. Try and soothe your child by rocking, humming, singing, stroking or holding them. When their tantrum is over, calmly continue whatever was happening, not letting the tantrum affect things.

The most important tool that a parent has for dealing with tantrums is to try and avoid them. Here are a few tips to help:

  • Offer choices, whenever possible
  • Avoid placing the child in situations that are going to be difficult for them. For example, waiting at a doctor’s office with nothing to do. Come prepared with snacks, toys and books available for long waits that you can’t avoid.
  • If you need to take them shopping, make sure that there is something in it for them (ex. time to play in the ball room at the mall).
  • Give warnings. “We need to go in 10 minutes.”
  • Explain your warnings. “because we need to pick up Sandy from school.”
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff

Remember that anger is a normal part of life. Everyone feels angry from time to time.

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