Common Triggers for Temper Tantrums

Three Common Triggers for Temper Tantrums in Toddler and Preschoolers

1. Transitioning from one activity (or location) to the next

Adaptation and change is a lot easier and natural for adults than it is for children. Toddler and preschool aged children are still learning to regulate their emotions and learn social skills.

An easy solution for this is to use a timer. We recommend using a sand timer since young children have a hard time conceptualizing time (and do not always know numbers yet). Set a 5-minute timer before you need your child to move onto something else (going to dinner, taking a bath, etc.). You can also get larger sand timers to time screen time and other things that should be limited. This is a small and easy change but it allows the child to prepare for change and gradually accept it, rather than stopping something abruptly.

This is a set of sand timers we recommend this set of sand timers. Click here. They come in various colors and different amount of times for various uses in your home or on the go. 

2. Lack of communication skills

Often time’s toddler and preschool aged children do not have the vocabulary or skills to communicate what they need or want. This frustration in children can lead to: tantrums, hitting others or throwing things, screaming, crying, and other frustrating behaviors. Learning how to talk to your child in a developmentally appropriate manner is essential for your child’s social emotional level. For example, you should not talk to a three-year-old about their emotions in the same manner as you would to a 12-year-old. You need to present it in a way that they will enjoy and understand. Learning through play is the best way for toddlers and preschoolers to learn.

tantrums, hitting others or throwing things, screaming, crying, and other frustrating behaviors. Learning how to talk to your child in a developmentally appropriate manner is essential for your child’s social emotional development. For example, you should not talk to a three-year-old about their emotions in the same manner as you would to a 12-year-old. You need to present it in a way that they will enjoy and understand. Learning through play is the best way for toddlers and preschoolers to learn.

The first step to helping your child communicate their strong emotions is to talk about emotions. Validating how there are feeling and normalizing them will help your child have a better understanding of why they are feeling these strong emotions. Here are some ways to do so:

You can do this by showing them pictures of sad faces and talking about things that typically make them sad. Then, give them ideas for what to do when they are feeling sad: grabbing their comfort blanket or toy, snuggling with mom and dad, finding another choice and many other options. Have poster with different pictures of people making facial expressions and pick the one that most resembles what your child is feeling (do this when they are happy or excited as well). Describe the emotion and talk about times that you felt that way too as a kid. Enter your email here to get our free printable poster with facial expressions and emotions. It also comes with a handout of phrases and questions to say for each emotion your child is feeling to get them to talk more about it in a constructive way.

3. Over Stimulation Within Your Home Environment

As a parent, it can be hard to determine how much engagement and interaction your child needs. If there is a lot going on in your home at once, this can lead your child to feel overwhelmed or over stimulated. Try creating a calm environment that allows your child to explore and learn, without too many distractions or stimulants. Common triggers for over-stimulation that leads to tantrums:

  • Loud music
  • A lot of people coming in and out of the home
  • Yelling or talking loudly for a long period of time.
  • Clutter
  • Bright lights/ florescent lights.

Have a clean and calm home can help lead to desired behaviors for all ages of children. These are small changes that can have a big impact if you are CONSISTENT with implementing them in your home.

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