How to avoid temper tantrums

They come in all shapes and sizes don’t they? The scary jolts of emotion fireworks that sometimes creep out of little humans as if from no where, and sometimes they happen after a long stressful day.

Although temper tantrums often present negative behaviour, we can’t always just assume that they are typical “naughty behaviour” without being thoughtful and looking into the cause of why child is acting this way.

Sometimes, yes, children test their behaviour limits around different people to understand what is and what isn’t acceptable. However, there is always a reason and it’s important that we look into why a temper tantrum happened in the first place.

Why look into why a temper tantrum happens?

I think it’s honestly the kind thing for us to do as caregivers. It frustrates me sometimes when I see other nannies or parents complaining that their kids blew up over something small that they as grownups don’t consider it to be a big deal.

Always look into what may be going on in the child’s mind. Its so easy to forget this.

Once I was nannying and the kiddo and I were doing some colouring. She wasn’t really doing a lot of colouring, Instead, she was taking the caps of the pens off and then back on again. Over and over again she would very carefully put the caps on and off again. This was a very clever thing for her to do, realising a task that she couldn’t do before and now she can because she is learning to slow down and realise how everything in the world works.

At this point, I was feeling tired and what she was learning completely blew over my head. I took the caps away so that she could start to colour. And of course, she became very upset. Colouring didn’t matter at that point. This was an activity for her to gain some independence and and work on a skill that she was maybe not strong enough to do before and always had to rely on an adults help rather than her independence.

So I make a point now to stop my brain thinking and go into the child’s world. What are they wanting to learn? Is stopping them investigating something really necessary?

I truly believe that the more we can give children all the world has to offer, the more they will love us. No matter how big or small it may be.

Creating a script of behaviour to come

Yes, that does sound like children are little actors in the making, doesn’t it! While I will never shame anyone’s caregiving methods, I do think that we all can never stop learning how to improve!

With that being said, sometimes we create a script of behaviour to come without even realising it!

For example, say a child is crying and seams very frustrated. They start throwing toys across the room as a way of showing their frustration. They don’t have the speech or emotional maturity yet to tell you what cause this upset. So after each throw, you take that toy away to a higher surface. And of course they will find another toy to throw until there are no toys left.

Nothing gets solved here, the child becomes emotionally burnt out and so frustrated that you are unwilling to look into why they are feeling this way in the first place. I’m not saying that we let children throw their toys around the room. But what they need in that moment is your compassion. For you to come down to their level and be there. Be interested in their upset and make it clear we cannot throw toys but that you love the child and you are here. Children need discipline but they also need someone who is willing to understand the cause of why this happened in the first place. An adult towering over them while they sit crying and throwing toys does no good in this situation.

Each situation is different, and we can’t be perfect caregivers, but we can try!

Perhaps a child has recently been pushing its younger sibling. Now of course we don’t want this to happen again. Sometimes when they play together, the caregiver could have the urgency to say “Now please don’t push your sister today”! Without even checking first to see if they were, or were not pushing their sibling. In most cases I can guarantee you that the child is most likely going to push their sister because now it is all they can think about.

You have unknowingly created a script of negative behaviour rather than waiting to see how the sisters are playing with each other and really positively rewarding kind behaviour with praise or a cuddle.

Giving children idea’s of negative behaviour before the have even done anything is a slippery slope and can only lead to trouble.

Start off with a clean slate and always put much more energy into positive behaviour rather than negative.

The build up

The biggest temper tantrums often happen after a series of small negative thing’s which happen during the day. I’m sure this is something we can relate to! Say you are off to work on a really rainy Monday morning. Traffic is bad and you missed your train, damnit the boss is not going to like you being late. You get to work, and it turns into such a busy day with everything going wrong. You make a quick coffee and accidently spill it on your shirt. You end up getting home quite late and accidently burn the dinner. BOOM! I don’t know about you but I would not be in happy spirits.

This can be the same for children and when they seam to suddenly explode after a long day. Say a child is holding a plastic cup that you were about to wash. We take it away and floods of tears emerge. Why is this happening? It’s only a cup…right? It’s our job to look into why the child may be crying when we only took a cup away from them.

We could do the easy thing and think, ah why are they so upset I only took the cup away so I could wash it. Or we could think why this might be so upsetting. Maybe you took a lot of things away from them during the day and all they wanted to do was investigate thing’s which they only ever get to see and never to hold.

The child will have all it’s own familiar toys and games which they will have played with numerous times, however maybe they only ever see you cooking, and never get to help and learn what to do. Maybe they only ever see you fixing things, and never get to learn how to fix broken items. And perhaps they only want experience with everything in which the world has to offer and when we take the cup away from the child, we are stopping what the child wants to connect with.

Not that I am saying never wash the cup. But perhaps let the child hold it for a bit. Or come down to their level and make a mini dishwashing activity with little bowls, sponges and towels. Have them help wash the dishes and help put the items back where it lives. Not only is this great fun for the child, but it is doing exactly what it wants to do. No longer are they only watching their caregivers wash and cook but they have an important role within the household to help keep everything going. This is not only a great way to stop a temper tantrum before it has begun, it is also such a lovely way for the child to learn how everything works in their world which they were born into.

If you don’t like the idea of coming down to your child and bringing everything down. I would suggest using a strong chair which they can stand on, help cook and clean. Of course safety is so important so I would recommend getting something sturdy like this chair, rather than cheaper ones that might not hold their weight.

Montessori adjustable learning tower made in Italy

Made with FSC certified wood!

It can be assembled in 10 minutes and has a handy dandy anti slip protection and made with non-toxic paints!

What is Montessori?

Montessori is probably one of my favourite ways of learning and something which I probably do without even realising it!

Children learn at their own speed and their own pace which I love because many nurseries are very focused on hurrying learning, simply to tick off a box in the nursery workers to do list. It promotes trust in themselves and the child’s world and it is very much based on self directed activity. Montessori encourages children to explore their world to develop to their maximum potential.

Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952) who developed Montessori learning, was an Italian physician and anthropologist who spent her life understanding how children develop socially, intellectually, physically, and spiritually.

As she cared for children, she noticed an incredible positive change in them after inputting her Montessori teaching method and the rest is history! The teaching can be available to children from birth to middle school also.

Well I hope this post was of good use to you! Nanny M is having a day off today so of course I couldn’t wait to write, especially about a topic I know a wee bit about!

Let me know what you think or even if you are up for a wee chat in the comments section!

Until next time, Nanny M x


2 Comments Add yours

  1. This is a fantastic post. Really true about getting down to their level and understanding what is wrong and that perhaps the task you want them to complete isn’t what they want to learn. a very relatable and useful post 🙂


    1. Aww wow! I am so humbled!! Thank you so very much and I am so glad you liked this one/1
      Can’t wait to read more of yours! Happy to guest post someday if that suits?

      Nanny M x


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