How to Deal With a Preschooler With Frequent Emotional Outbursts


Just because your child is a preschooler now doesn’t mean she’s too old to have an emotional outburst. Whether she’s angry that you won’t let her have a second cookie or upset because you are leaving her with the sitter while you enjoy some time alone with your spouse, her outbursts can leave you feeling drained. If you understand that you should not take her breakdowns personally, it might make it easier for you to deal with them.

  • Find the cause of your preschooler’s outburst. When a child is throwing a temper tantrum, there is usually a reason behind it. However, she is not able to communicate the emotion behind the outburst in a more appropriate manner. Common reasons for emotional outbursts at this age include fatigue, hunger, pain or simple boredom. For example, if she hasn’t eaten in four or five hours, you can probably offer her a snack or meal to calm her down.

  • Keep your cool no matter how tempting it is to lose it, advises Kids Health. No matter how irritating your preschooler’s outburst or how angry it is making you, don’t react to her with anger or lose your patience as it usually only encourages this kind of behavior from her in the future. For example, when you remain calm and patient, it shows her that being frustrated is okay but that she can be frustrated without throwing a tantrum.

  • Explain to your child that you understand her feelings and you sometimes feel the same way. Tell her, however, throwing a fit is not an option. According to Disney Family, when you validate the way your child is feeling, it is more likely to make her calm down and obey your wishes. For example, if she’s upset that it’s time to go home from the park, tell her you understand she wants to stay and swing but it’s time to go home for dinner. She probably won’t want to go, but feeling that you understand her may help her calm down.

  • Let her know that continuing this behavior will result in a consequence and then provide her with an example of said consequence, advises Kids Health. For example, tell her that if her emotional outburst does not stop, she will not get to go to her friend's pizza party or come back to the park the next day when you bring her sister. The thought of missing out on something fun or being disciplined is often enough to help preschoolers change their behavior.


  • Photo Credit George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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