Ask an Expert: 4 Ways to Handle Your Pre-schooler’s Meltdown

Often, tantrums are caused by your child’s overwhelming emotions, and his inability to control them or express them verbally.

Although tantrums and meltdowns might be the stuff of nightmares for every parent, take heart that it is normal for pre-schooler to act up at this age.

The question is, how do we as parents help to curb and control emotional outbursts? Fret not, here are 4 ways to handle your little one’s not-so mini-meltdowns.


1. Take a time-out!

A child uses temper tantrum to get attention and control. During a meltdown, his emotions have taken over. As such, reasoning might not help.

So, what’s there left to do?

Let him vent (in a safe environment, of course) behind closed doors in a “Time-Out” corner! As there is no audience unlike a public setting, this should stop the downward emotional spiral.  The duration of “time-outs” should correspond with their ages for example, 3 mins for a three- year-old.

However, it is not advisable to use this tactic too often as it would defeat the purpose once a child gets used to it.


2. Recognise the reason for his emotions  

First of all, it’s not personal. Your pre-schooler’s aggressive behaviour stems from the difficulty of communicating his or her needs. What’s important is that we acknowledge that we understand their frustrations, and help them rationalise why they are feeling this way.

Use simple language to help him put his feelings into words. This allows him to see that expressing his emotions through words works better than acting out.


3. Create a Diversion 

Preschool children have a short attention span, which makes it easy to distract them. At the start of the tantrum, bring his attention to something else, or move him to a new spot.

For example, if the refusal to buy a toy sets him off, get his help to pick up some dessert for the family. By doing so, your child will give up on the tantrum quicker, plus, it gives him a sense of pride that he has the autonomy to make important choices.


4. Model Calm Behaviour

Children are highly sensitive to their surroundings. As such, lashing out will only result in a shouting match, one where there’s certainly no winner.

Speak calmly to your pre-schooler.  It may be easier said than done, but understand that when your child is swept up in a tantrum, he’s unable to listen to reason. Sit with him calmly as he vents, and hold him close.

More often than not, your hug provides the comfort he needs in order to calm down more quickly.


About the expert:

In her role as Cluster Principal at Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse, Xaviera is involved in branding management, and all operational matters, including service assurance and adherence to licensing regulations for all centres. With a degree in Early Childhood Education (Honours) and a Diploma in Early Childhood Education (Leadership), Xaviera also serves a mentorship role to all principals at Kiddiwinkie.

As an advocate for pre-school education, Xaviera believes that education should always be relevant to a child’s existence; constantly evolving to meet future challenges.