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Every preschooler has temper tantrums, some more often than others. They can be caused by a variety of factors, including stress, anxiety, embarassment, frustration, and anger. First, let's discuss preventing them.
As a parent, you know your child better than anyone else. Which means you know what types of responses and behaviors will set him off. For example, if you're stuck in line at the post office, and it's getting close to lunch time, you can expect your child to start whining or complaining about how hungry he is getting. Planning ahead by bringing a small snack can help delay the onset of a full-blown temper tantrum.
Prevent the next tantrum by not giving in to the first one! Once you give in or change your mind, your child suddenly realizes that no doesn't always mean no. So the next time you say no when he asks for something at the store or a friend's house, you can expect the tears to start rolling.
Give a five minute warning. How do you feel when you're in the middle of surfing the internet or watching a movie and the power goes out? Hey, what happened?! Be considerate of your child and let him know that you will be leaving the park or his friend's house in 5 minutes. That way it's not so unexpected and he has a chance to finish playing or say goodbye.
Sometimes you will not be able to prevent the tantrum and it will often occur at the most inconvenient of places. Here are some tips for dealing with a temper tantrum.
Let your child have the tantrum. This is easiest if you are at home. Move your child to his room or a safe place, shut the door, and let him scream and cry and get it all out. Tantrums are often the result of your child's frustration and the inability to express himself. He will usually feel much better once he has had a chance to vent some of those pent-up feelings. Once the screaming is over, you can usually have a good discussion.
If you are not at home, you may try to lessen the tantrum by talking to your child. Whatever you do, don't give in to your child's demands! That will only make the next tantrum so much worse. If he is crying because he wants a toy at the checkout line in the store, you can tell him that if he obeys or completes a chore at home, then next time you will buy the toy. Usually out of sight, out of mind works best - so get that toy out of sight or try distracting your child before he even sees it. If your approach to reasoning fails, remove your child from the situation and let him cry elsewhere until he calms down.
Always try to keep your cool. Don't let your child's tantrum get the best of you. Understand that this will soon pass, and try to make the best of the situation. Sometimes the best hugs come after temper tantrums!