Daycare providers must deal with a wide range of behavioral issues as a part of normal toddler and preschooler development. One such behavioral issue is the proverbial toddler temper tantrum.
We interviewed Dr. Joyce Willard Teal, award-winning teacher and author of Are You Raising the Next Generation of Hoodlums? to find out the best tips for handling temper tantrums in family daycares and preschools.
OwnADaycare: When are temper tantrums a cause for concern?
Dr. Joyce Teal: Temper tantrums are a cause for concern when they occur with greater frequency intensity and duration than is typical.
OwnADaycare: When should children outgrow tantrums?
Dr. Joyce Teal: Since there is a normal developmental course for temper tantrums
(a) One and a half through two: children at this age will test limits to see how far they can go before the parent or teacher stops the behavior;
(b) Three year olds: the children become less impulsive and can use language to express needs, but because they have learned by this age that a temper tantrum can get them what they want, they continue the tantrums, though they should become less frequent and less severe.
(c) By the age of four: most children have the necessary motor and physical skills to meet many of their own needs without relying so much on an adult. These children also have better language which allows them to articulate what they are angry or frustrated about. They are also at an age where they begin to understand compromise.
(d) By age five: most children will have outgrown temper tantrums, though kindergarten and school aged children can still have temper tantrums when they are faced with new interpersonal situations and/or demanding academic tasks that frustrate them.
OwnADaycare: Do you have any additional comments?
Dr. Joyce Teal: Prevention strategies for teachers and parents include:
- Add structure by establishing traditions and routines.
- When you are taking the child into a new situation, explain to him or her beforehand what the expectations are.
- Provide pre-academic, social and behavioral challenges that are at the child’s developmental level to prevent the frustration that can trigger a temper tantrum.
- If the child is 12 – 18 months of age, pick him/her up and remove the child from the larger group. Stay with the child and speak soothingly to him/her until the child has calmed down. Do not leave the child alone. If the child is two – 3 years of age, he or she still has fairly rudimentary reasoning skills, consequently your explanations will probably be useless.
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