Why do some older kids tantrum?
Question: "Why is my four year old still having tantrums? Should I be worried?"
This is a common concern for my clients and I wanted to take a moment and share some important information regarding tantrums that I believe everyone can benefit from reading. 👍
So, let's dive in!
Toddlers vs Four Year Olds (ding ding!)
Toddlers tantrum as part of their development. Tantrums are natural as their brains steer through the murky waters of self regulation and emotional development. While reducing tantrums is possible once we understand them and support our toddlers through challenges, completely getting rid of tantrums is not possible and should never be an adult's aim.
Why? Because avoiding tantrums can stunt your little one's development and ability to regulate. This is natural and we can support them THROUGH it without giving in just to avoid a scene. 😊
Older kids (4+) may still throw a tantrum every now and then and that's okay! Emotional regulation is a tricky thing, even for us adults. Remember when that "jerk" cut you off in traffic and you honked your horn and yelled at him?! Yaaaa....
So, we definitely need to accept that this is going to happen with kiddos and that's okay. Simply validate and be available for when they are ready to talk through it. That is more than enough to help youngsters cope, be open about emotions and, when they are calm, help them find alternatives to tantrums that still get their needs met.
Okay, so what about when my four year old always tantrums??
While this is common, having tantrums (often, maybe even daily) after four years old is something we should chat about. Kiddos experiment with behaviours. This is a natural process that will continue into adulthood. We all experiment with ways to get our needs met. If a child has learned that tantrums are effective (I put on a scene and mama panics and gives in to what I want) they may revisit them often...in IKEA... Ack!
Once this is a learned method of getting their needs met it can be tricky to unlearn. BUT, it is absolutely possible and with gentle techniques you can have them coping in no time.
So, now I want to hear from you!! Do your kiddos ever tantrum? How old are they? Which category do you think they fall under: Toddler development or Four year old learned behaviour??
About the author Stephanie Wicker is a child behaviour expert, parenting educator, counsellor and speaker - who has successfully guided families through early childhood for over 15 years. Through her experience with private consultancy, as a preschool teacher and special needs therapist - she has worked across the many facets of early childhood behaviour.
Stephanie's evidence-based programs are grounded in behaviour science and her passion for Relational Frame Theory (RFT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and developmental psychology all play a big role in her programs.
Stephanie’s experience covers early intensive behaviour intervention programs for children with special needs and for families newly diagnosed. She hosts live training events all over Australia, where she shares her practical solutions and language techniques, along with providing private, in-home therapy sessions for those seeking more personalised support.
Through her company, Simply Kids she provides family resources such as digital books and educational activities, designed to keep behaviour simple.
"By helping parents place emphasis on connection, empowerment and encouragement, I believe that all children have the ability to reach their full potential." - Stephanie Wicker