As a parent or a caregiver of preschoolers, dealing with outbursts can be a daunting task. It is common for preschoolers to have tantrums, particularly when they don’t get what they want or when they feel overwhelmed, frustrated or tired. These outbursts can be both distressing and disruptive to parents, caregivers, and siblings.
The good news is that there are strategies that parents and caregivers can use to de-escalate a preschooler’s outburst. Here are some tips you can use:
1. Stay Calm
One of the most effective ways to de-escalate an outburst is to stay calm. When a preschooler is upset, it is easy to become emotional and react in a negative way. However, trying to reason or argue with a preschooler during a meltdown is unlikely to help the situation. Instead, take a deep breath, stay calm, and acknowledge your preschooler’s feelings.
Empathizing with a preschooler can be incredibly powerful. Acknowledge their feelings and let them know that you understand how they are feeling. This doesn’t mean that you agree with them, but rather that you are empathizing with their emotions. Say things like “I understand you are upset right now”, “I can see that you are feeling frustrated” or “I know you’re angry.” This will help the preschooler feel heard and validated.
Once you’ve listened and acknowledged their feelings, you can try redirecting them to another activity or something that they might enjoy. You can try offering them a new toy, going outside, or reading a book together. This will help divert their attention from whatever was making them upset.
4. Maintain a Routine
Preschoolers thrive on routine, this can help reduce the likelihood of tantrums. Try to make sure they get enough sleep and healthy meals at regular intervals. You can also have a visual schedule that they can follow throughout the day. This will help them know what is coming next and what to expect, reducing anxiety and outbursts.
5. Use Positive Reinforcement
Positively reinforcing good behavior can be an excellent way to reduce outbursts. Praising a preschooler when they do something helpful or kind, like cleaning up toys or sharing with a friend, can motivate them to do it again in the future. Positive reinforcement can be as simple as giving them a hug or saying “Good job!” It will help boost their self-esteem and reinforce good behavior.
In conclusion, de-escalating outbursts in preschoolers can be a challenging experience, but it isn’t impossible. You can use empathy, redirection, positive reinforcement, and maintaining a routine to help reduce the occurrence of outbursts. Remember, staying calm is key, and model the behavior you would like to see from your preschooler.