Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Why My Preschooler is Throwing a Fit

When was the last time your preschooler threw a fit?  Many preschoolers, especially older ones, learn ways to cope with life that do not involve tantrums.  When the tantrums come, though, they can last longer and be more intense than when the children were younger.  Today I'm sharing two important ideas that can help your child deal better with stressors and "melt down" less often.

When was the last time you looked at the world from your child's point of view?  Are there ever days when it might read something like this: "I woke up.  Mom made me use the bathroom.  Dad made me get dressed.  Mom told me what I could eat for breakfast..."  Children, especially preschoolers, will fight for any degree of control they can have!

During the last few months I made a list of events that triggered a fit in one of my preschoolers (2-6 year olds).  On most days, I have 3-5 preschoolers here and I do not usually see fits.  It took me six months to build this list!  But, a few times every week something would happen and someone would start to scream.  As I've kept this list, I've noticed two big trends:

#1:  A tired child is more likely to throw a fit.  I know this seems obvious, but it is so important!  The same child who would normally spend twenty minutes examining magnets can (when he is tired) be infuriated by their constant "sticky" tendencies.

#2:  A child who has spent most of the day feeling empowered is less likely to "melt" when things go wrong.  This may seem counterproductive, but it is a wonderful trick.  Let your child choose what bowl he wants for breakfast, if he wants to start the day inside or outside, what cup he wants when he's thirsty, if he wants a spoon or a fork at lunch, etc.  The more choices your child makes during the day, the easier it is for him to let you make choices when you insist.

There will always be fits, break-downs, and freak-outs, but I hope these two tips will help your days flow a little smoother!

And, since I know you want to see my list...here it is!   Every reason on here is real--somebody "fell apart" when these events happened. The kids were not all boys, but using "he" was less wordy.  The kids were all 2-6 years old.

1-The magnets stuck to each other.
2- The moth moved.
3- He was not allowed to kill the tadpoles.
4- He had to walk away from the tadpoles.
5- His chair was not in the middle.
6- There were only ten grapes in front of him.
7- He was not allowed to push the baby swing.
8- The pillow moved.
9- His fishing pole was smaller than his sister's.
10- The "fishing pole" broke.
11- He's tired.
12- There's poop in his diaper.
13- The swing did not push itself.
14- He had to wear shoes outside.
15- His jacket is zipped.
16- His jacket is unzipped.
17- His jacket is covered in yogurt.
18- There are boogers in his nose.
19- We're not having marshmallows for dinner.
20- His car is missing.
21- His phone disappeared.
22- The ladybug flew away.
23- The tape dispenser required supervision.
24- The vitamin lid is child-proof.
25- We don't live at the park.
26- There is no pepper on his pasta.
27- The pepper is too spicy.
28- It's clean up time.
29- Cleaning up includes his dump truck.
30- His sock is stuck on.
31- He can't play a game on my phone.
32- He'd much rather play with cars than eat lunch.
33- His sister won't let him break her tower.
36- Nobody can figure out what "Boon" means.
37- His friend is coming over this afternoon...and not right now.
38- He has water in his nose.  
39- He is missing a shoe.
40- It is still nap time.
41- There is no sticker on his orange.
42- The batteries died.
43- The vacuum is too loud.
44- He has to wear pants.
45- His sock did not place itself on his foot.
46- Someone opened the door before he did.
47- He has to use the bathroom before we go shopping.
48- The mouse moved the wrong direction.
49- The milk spilled.
50- He was not ready to go home yet.
51- He cannot wear his favorite truck shirt everyday.

Have you seen any of these "triggers" at your house?  What are you favorite ways to help your preschooler avoid a tantrum?

I may share at any of these parties!


Ashley said...

So, so true. I can add "I gave him the balloon he asked for (yes you read that right)" and "I didn't put his coat on in 80 degree weather today!" lol

Janine LaTulippe said...

So funny! Love #44, but glad I've never had to experience it. :) Great post.

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

lol, Ashley! I don't know how many times I've said, "But this is just what you asked for!" So funny!

Maybe it's a boy thing Janine...I don't think my daughter tried to run around without pants on nearly as much as my son has!

Lindsey said...

Hey -- visiting from Dollie's link-up. I'm been having a lot of trouble with my 3 year old crying and throwing fits. Sometimes it's because she is tired, but then I don't know how to solve that. Put her straight to bed? We just moved and now her bed is "all the way" upstairs, so she hates being separated from everyone, even for a short rest time.

Do you run a home day care? If so, so do I, so you know the challenges of dealing with your own while keeping things running for the others!

Lindsey @ GrowingKidsMinistry.com

Lindsey said...

Carla -- I don't think it's a boy thing -- my daughter takes her pants off every chance she can get!!

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

lol, Lindsey, Isn't it funny how obnoxious they find clothes!

I do have a small home daycare, and I totally understand where you're coming from. Sometimes separating them is the only answer. Another solution that has been helpful is to structure time more. My tired children have a harder time with free time, and nobody minds an extra craft or story time or singing session. :) Good luck!!

dianehaller said...

So, so true! Preschool is such a great age! I totally agree about the need for them to be rested! :)

Thanks for linking up at Family Fun Friday at http://happyandblessedhome.com


Angela @ Teaching Mama said...

This is all so true! Kids are bound to throw fits when they are hungry and tired! :) Thanks for linking up at Tender Moments!

Diana - FreeStyleMama said...

Not sure how this happened, but my kids never threw tantrums. Seriously. They don't fight either. That's probably because they are so far apart in age.