From Tantrums in Toddlers we learnt that toddlers throw tantrums because their communication skills are still in the process of being developed. They therefore have a hard time dealing with feelings of frustration due to the fact that they cannot effectively communicate with you and you with them. This week we’ll be tackling the issue of tantrums in children of school going age. The reasons for their meltdowns have more to do with a lack of autonomy on their lives where they want to be free to choose their own fate but mom and dad have rules and regulations that restrict their freedom. Here are some tips as to how to deal with these meltdowns before they drive you up the wall or worse, into a psyche ward!
Try To prevent the tantrum
You’ve all heard the saying, “Prevention is better than cure.” Well that’s also true for tantrums. The key to preventing a tantrum is to identify what triggers it and when you see signs of that trigger, intervene before it erupts. If your child gets overly upset when play time is over, you can give them a soft warning so that they wind down and prepare themselves for what must happen next be it dinner or sleep time. A simple, “in about 5 minutes I’m going to need you to pack away your toys and come to the table for dinner,” can go a long way. As opposed to abruptly ending play time while their deep in the forest looking for hidden treasure.
A storm to get your attention
Children of school going age have amassed a bit of crafty-ness over their few years on earth and if they feel like they are being ignored then they might throw a tantrum to grab your attention. This might be after a request has been denied for example you’re on an important call and your child needs your help to complete their puzzle. Instead of a no while you shoo them away you could try asking the person on the other end to hold then with your full attention, explain why you cannot assist your child right away but can be with them in a certain amount of time. Suggest that they do some coloring instead while they wait for you and they are less likely to feel the need to lose it because they feel ignored.
Earlier, I mentioned that children get frustrated because they want to control their own lives for example they want to sleep, eat, play when they feel like it and for however long they want to but unfortunately, there are these things called rules. Once you set the rules for example bedtime set at 8pm, do not bend the rules because your child has thrown a tantrum and wants to stay up till late. Giving in to their behavior only teaches them that the rules can be manipulated. This is a good age to start teaching that breaking the rules has negative consequences and give them the power to decide whether they want to follow the rules or to test the waters and face the outcome. You can withdraw certain privileges like cartoon time and use other methods of discipline that work for you. Sometimes they will push but be firm and consistent. Instilling discipline should reduce the occurrence of tantrums in your home.
Avoid Frustrating Situations
Children of school going age are not immune to frustrating situations. Although they have somewhat learnt how to deal with overwhelming emotions, they do sometimes fail to cope and therefore explode into a tantrum. They may be learning how to ride a bicycle, tie their shoes or solve a puzzle and may be experiencing difficulties completing the task. Offer your help and be patient. Celebrate each stage done well and reassure them when they are not quite getting it right. Another way to avoid frustrating situations like problems with puzzle solving is to buy age appropriate toys and games for them. Do not get them trying to do long division before they can even count. I recommend Viga Educational Toys. They have a wide range of educational toys and games for each stage of your child’s development. Something out of their mental capacity range will frustrate them and you will have a tantrum on your hands.
Please do share your experiences with tantrums in children of school going age and how you dealt with them in the comments below. To those currently in the midst of the storm, I sincerely hope that you find this useful.
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