Is your child always angry and you are disturbed by his outbursts? Help him to cope with his temper with these simple strategies.
Most people expect toddlers to have tantrums, not kids in preschool or primary school. You probably assumed he would have grown out of these rages by now, and so you are disappointed, surprised and perhaps even shocked when your child comes home from school in a foul mood and a blazing temper.
He shouts, he hits, he refuses to cooperate, and he creates a dreadful atmosphere at home, all because he had a bad day in school or because he can’t get what he wants the minute he comes home. His fury is terrifying and he can seem very threatening.
You may be surprised to discover that temper problems with this age group are not isolated occurrences – research shows that although the peak age for tantrums is between the ages of one and two years, many preschool-aged children also have tantrums.
Tantrums are equally frequent in boys and girls, and can range from whining to screaming, or even kicking and punching. Aggressive behaviour is common in this age group.
For instance, one study found that at least 48 per cent of four-year-olds hit out at other children in temper or snatched things from them, while 64 per cent thumped their sibling during a tantrum.
Managing your kid’s angry outbursts
The key difference in your approach between managing the tantrums of your child compared to when he was just a toddler is the emphasis on responsibility.
When your child was a toddler, his lack of experience, maturity and understanding meant that you had to impose control on his temper and his behaviour.
If you didn’t stand up to his fury, if you didn’t draw the line in the face of his determination, if you didn’t try to calm him, chances are his tantrums would continue at the same intensity and frequency.
In other words, the responsibility for controlling your toddler’s temper rested more with you than with him.
The position changes when it comes to tantrums from your child as he grows older:
First, he is more socially aware and he fully understands that there are rules, limits and boundaries – he does not need you to explain this to him every time.
Second, his moral development has advanced to the point where he now experiences guilt, embarrassment and even shame when he acts in a way that causes distress for those around him.
Third, he can utilise temper-control strategies that previously were beyond him (for instance, counting to 10 when he feels his temper rising).
In other words, the responsibility for controlling your child’s temper rests more with him than with you.
With your child’s maturity, experience and understanding, here are suggestions on how you can cope with his rages.
1. Prevention is best
Discuss with your child the early warning signs of a tantrum, such as increased irritability, more rapid breathing and what he can do to stop this (for instance, relaxing his muscles, walking to a different room). He should be able to recognise these signals on his own and calm himself before he becomes too upset.
2. Your child needs to know the consequences
Talk to your child about his behaviour’s consequences. Explain to him that his tempers make you unhappy, that his rages scare his sister, and so on. Make a direct link between his rage and the impact it has on other people.
3. Stand firm
True, an older child throwing a tantrum is far more threatening than a toddler with one. He is bigger and stronger than he was when younger. But stand firm anyway. No matter how much he rants and raves, resist any temptation to give in to his demands or irritability.
Learn to control your anger, too
Meanwhile, when you’re angry with your child for misbehaving, you sometimes say things in the heat of the moment that hurt or belittle him.
The next time you want to discipline your kid, take a few moments to reflect on what you want to say, and avoid these harsh remarks, which will only add to his distress.
Watch our video here, and find out why you must not say these five statements.