Hell hath no fury like a four-year-old whose block tower just fell down. Sure, sometimes you just want to make it stop — but try just making it through instead. Here’s how.

 

Validate their feelings.

Has “Calm down!” ever worked on you? Exactly. Whatever your kid is mad about, it’s a big deal to them, even if it seems trivial to you. If you interrupt an angry outburst with “Whoa, you’re overreacting,” your kid is just going to turn it up because you obviously aren’t getting how upset they are. Instead, try acknowledging their emotions with “Wow, you’re really mad. Tell me what’s going on.” Then show some empathy for their feelings, even if you don’t agree with them. For example, “It sounds like you’re frustrated that your brother is taking a turn with the ball. Wouldn’t it be fun if you could just have it to yourself all day? It’s hard when we can’t get what we want!”

 

Give them a time-in.

Rather than sending your child to their room alone until they calm down — implying that their emotions are too much for you to handle, which can be scary for a kid — say, “Let’s go to your room and you can tell me about it.” (Not at home? If possible, step away for a moment to connect with your kid one on one.) That lets your child know you care and want to help. You won’t always be able to do this — if you’re running late, for example, or grocery shopping with multiple kids — but when you can, it can defuse the situation quickly.

 

Normalize anger.

Let your kid know everyone gets angry sometimes, including other kids — and you. You might say, “I used to get mad when my sister wouldn’t share her toys too,” or “You know, a lot of kids feel frustrated when it’s time to stop screen time.”

 

Set limits around behavior, not emotions.

If your child is getting physically aggressive, get down on their level and firmly but calmly tell them that it’s okay to be mad, but hitting hurts and is never okay. If the aggressive behavior continues, calmly give a consequence. Otherwise, reassure them that you’re going to keep them and everyone else safe, that you’re here for them, and that it’s okay to cry or get their feelings out.

 

Hold firm to your boundary.

When your kid is flipping out, it’s tempting to give in to their demands just to get some peace. What’s one more cookie, or 10 more minutes at the playground, even though you already said no? But that just teaches your kid that if they don’t get what they want the first time, cry, cry again. Help your child come up with other ways to deal with their anger instead. Check out our next post on helping your kid learn to deal with anger for some ideas!

 

Dealing with feelings starts with emotional awareness. Download the Q Wunder app to help your child develop emotional and behavioral skills.

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