Every child has tantrums. They are especially prevalent in preschool and the lower primary grades, but these lapses in emotional control also can happen in older students. It’s your job to handle the child having the tantrum, as well as keeping others on task – and keeping everyone safe.
Tactics to Deal with Tantrums
Handling a tantrum is not only about what you do during the episode. Your actions before and after also can make a difference. Follow these steps, from temper presentation through aftermath:
Talk About Emotions
Discuss with your students why people get upset. You might try role playing so children have opportunities to think about how to handle their emotions in a positive way.
Know Your Students
Get to know each child as the unique individual they are. Learn their likes and dislikes, and what makes them feel happy or sad. Knowing what triggers them to become upset is critical to recognizing when a tantrum may be brewing. Try to read their body language and facial expressions as well. Notice which times of the school day are the most difficult for them.
Master the Art of Distraction
If you notice a child on the verge of a tantrum, step in and try to redirect them; for instance, with a book or a toy. This can help them calm down before a tantrum begins. Even something as simple as asking them how they are feeling can diffuse a potentially explosive situation.
Your number one responsibility is the safety of your students – and yourself. As you notice a child beginning to lose control, have others stay clear. If you ever sense an incident escalating beyond your control, get help from another faculty member or an administrator. If possible, encourage other children to work on a quiet activity like reading or drawing.
Losing your own temper or matching a child’s anger is the worst thing you can do during a temper tantrum. Remember, tantrums are normal and this type of behavior is to be expected at times. Realistically, tantrums help kids work through their feelings and release stress and anxiety.
Provide a Calm Place
When children become frustrated or overstimulated, removing them from that environment can give them space to work through their feelings effectively. Having a quiet space gives them a sense of control. Designate a calm area that students can visit if needed.
Talk Through it
Just like adults, children often find it helpful to talk through their problems with a friend who knows how to listen. Get down on their level and let them know that you understand how they are feeling. You can respond if they ask, but don’t try to force a reply. Just be a sounding board – and listen.
About Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services
Pediatric therapy team, Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services, can provide additional insight and resources to enhance your school-based therapy career – or help you take that career to the next level. Read our related posts or contact us today to learn more.