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What to Do When Children Have OUTBURSTS!

Updated on June 22, 2012

Let’s face it, children have a spectrum of emotions that parents must deal with. Frustration, excitement, and even angry outbursts are just a few of the expressive feelings children will display. During the early years it is important for parents to have strategies that help them respond to these situations in effective ways. Without insight in what to do parents can often find themselves falling back, onto responses that reflect the way they were raised. In some circumstances this can be very good but we all know that our parents weren’t perfect; nor are the parents of today. Knowing what to do, particularly when children experience outbursts, empowers parents to deal with children’s emotions more effectively.

Stay in Control!

First and foremost it is important for parents to remain in control of their own emotions. For instance, it is helpful to use slow deep breathing to remain calm. Research suggests that keeping composure is important, in order to be supportive and positive with children when they have emotional outbursts. It may be necessary to think of the situation in a different light and it is always important to practice the virtue of patience. Children are more likely to have temper tantrums if parents react too strongly to poor behavior, or give in to easily to their demands.

Responding calmly is the first priority when dealing with children’s outburst. You might need to wait a little while for a child to calm down that has slid into a full blown tantrum. Things need to cool down before the children will be able to reason. Do not reinforce the outburst by giving into demands that are trying to be avoided. Remain supportive and remove the child from the situation if possible. Once children are calm the situation can be used to help children deal with their anger and frustration. It is also helpful to pay attention and learn what triggers the tantrums. This will help parents act before children's emotions get out of control. When things do get out of hand, a time-out takes children out of the situation so they can calm down. It is important for children to understand why the time-out is being used. Be clear to define the reason for it and the behavior that was unacceptable. When the time out is over ensure children understand how they can behave in a positive way.


Label Emotions for Children

The child has calmed down. So what do you do now? To help children deal with their emotions it is important to label the emotion for them. For example, instead of saying 'Don’t cry' or 'That’s not important,' the parent could say “I understand you are very frustrated because...”.Help them to understand their feelings and help them to cope with their anger or frustration. If a child is crying because a classmate has taken a toy, a good response might be, ‘I know you’re sad. You really wanted to play with that toy'. In order to help children learn positive ways of coping they need to know the emotions they are feeling and behavior that is acceptable.

Support Problem-Solving

Once children understand the feelings they are experiencing it is important to provide a problem-solving strategy. In the case of the child crying because of a toy, they can be given examples of how to solve the situation. Children can be shown how to take turns.They may also be guided to a new toy, 'Why don't we find another toy that is even better!' Kids also need help handling the positive emotions such as happiness and excitement. In these instances, it is necessary to show children productive ways to express their enthusiasm, 'We can’t throw blocks in the air to show we’re excited, but we can clap or cheer instead.' These “everyday moments” are golden opportunities for children to learn how to manage their emotions. We need to use these sometimes stressful situations as opportunities for teaching children valuable social skills. It also helps parents keep a focus on sanity!

Support Positive Social Skills

Research shows that teaching children to regulate their emotions is not only important for the development of positive social skills, it also sets them up for long-term success as they move into higher grades. When children are building a block tower and managing their frustration, those skills will help them later. To teach children important social skills it is necessary to help them to identify the feelings they encounter in everyday situations. Then they can be shown effective strategies that will yield them positive results. The time taken to teach children in everyday situations is going to have a positive impact on their behavior. It is also going to assist them with managing their emotions. The development in these social skills provides children with opportunities for greater success in school and in life.


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    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Being able to identify the emotion is very important and helping them deal with that emotion too, I agree! Blessings :)

    • Sturgeonl profile image

      Sturgeonl 5 years ago

      Thanks teaches12345! I value your comments!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Great methods for handling those traumatic outbursts in children. Your suggestions will help parents to guide kids to make good choices for a lifetime.