My 5yo is in her room right now, screaming, crying and stomping, because we let the dog out, whom she was previously keeping captive. She's shouting "He was my company!" (she's in there to tidy her room). I usually ignore the tantrums, and insist she remain in her room until she's calmed down and can speak to us nicely, but I wonder - is this the best way to handle it?

asked 09 Jan '10, 15:35

YMCbuzz's gravatar image

accept rate: 12%

+1 Nice question, we handle tantrums in the way mkcoehoorn suggests mostly. If tantrums are rare I think waiting for them to calm down makes sense. If they start to occur frequently then I think I would consider approaching the tantrums in a different way. Speaking with her school teachers about her behavior at school would also help I think.

(09 Jan '10, 18:31) Emi

The nice thing about 5 year olds is that you know that they understand you, and are reasonably capable of expressing themselves without resorting to tantrums.

Our frequently used phrases at this stage are:

  • Change your voice, I can't understand you when you're screaming/crying/whining/etc. (Don't let them be dramatic - if they can't express themselves, tell them to come back when they can talk normally)
  • Please be patient and wait until I'm done. (Don't split your attention, finish what you're doing, then be there for them completely)
  • It sounds like you're really really tired. Maybe you should go to bed. (implied threat of bedtime if they don't settle down)
  • I'm sorry this is making you so sad. (Don't give in to the demand, but acknowledge that you understand the problem and their feelings about it.)
  • You are really sad every time we leave grandma's house. I don't like to see you so sad. Maybe we shouldn't go to grandma's house if it always makes you this sad. ( This leads into a conversation - they like to go to Grandma's, and stay there, but don't like to leave - but you can't go to grandma's without having to leave at some point, etc, etc, etc. Larger lesson is that how you act now will affect the choices you can make in the future)

It really depends on the child and the situation. We teach our children that tantrums are not acceptable, and so in general the instant they throw the tantrum we make it clear that they are not only losing privileges now, but limiting their choices in the near (and possibly long) term. It's part of a larger "actions have consequences" theme.

However, we have one child who may be having a greater degree of difficulty with social situations than our other children, and he does not respond to the above concepts as easily as the others, so we find we are giving him more latitude, and exploring his own feelings and difficulties on a case by case basis.

I can't give you specific advice for your child, but for our children a mixture of ignoring it, forcing them to throw the tantrum in private, or addressing the issue immediately is better than a one response fits all. At minimum we try to make sure that we understand what the issue is, and that the child knows that we understand the situation so they don't feel abandoned, but we make it abundantly clear that we can't help them until they express themselves in an acceptable manner. Sometimes the tantrum isn't a tantrum, but a very bad situation that they still, even at this age, have a hard time expressing, so making sure we understand what's going on has saved us, and our children, some unnecessary heartache.


answered 09 Jan '10, 19:23

Adam%20Davis's gravatar image

Adam Davis
accept rate: 31%

I would suggest reading this question as it addresses the same issue.


answered 09 Jan '10, 16:41

mkcoehoorn's gravatar image

accept rate: 8%

+1 again for your previous answer which to me makes total sense for toddlers through to youngsters.

(09 Jan '10, 18:22) Emi
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Asked: 09 Jan '10, 15:35

Seen: 2,780 times

Last updated: 09 Jan '10, 19:23