If you are a parent who is dealing with 6 year old temper tantrums, I feel your pain. It is extremely difficult when your child’s behavior suddenly changes and you are not sure what the best way is to change negative behaviors into positive behaviors. We often think of tantrums as being an issue in toddlers, “threenagers” if you will. However, older children can all of a sudden start throwing temper tantrums too! If your child has begun having frequent tantrums, we hope these recommendations will help you.
First, it’s important to note that I am not a child psychologist. I am, however, a mom of 3 children who have all had their fair share of tantrums. I am also the mother of sensitive children, whose emotional intelligence amazes and also scares me sometimes. So I come to you, my fellow parents, from a place of experience. As fellow parents, we can share our experiences and provide much advice to those who experience things after we do. So here we go!
But First, Why Do Kids Have Temper Tantrums in the First Place?
Tantrums come from frustration and anger. When a child cannot get their way, or they are frustrated about their current situation, this “bad behavior” is often their reaction. If your child doesn’t have the language skills to express themselves the way they need to, or there are other stressors on their mental health, their negative feelings may turn into outbursts or tantrums.
Other causes of tantrums, especially in children more around 6 years old, are being tired, hungry, feeling ill or being in the middle of a big transition or life change. During these times, the child’s threshold for frustration is likely to be lower, making a tantrum more likely to happen.
How to React to Your Child’s Temper Tantrum
First of all, it’s important to know that temper tantrums are a completely normal part of child development. You and your child are not alone. When they happen in young children, it is often because they lack the verbal skills necessary to communicate what they are thinking and feeling, which as you can imagine, can be very frustrating to them. As children get a little older, there can be many reasons for these tantrums.
The good news is, there are ways to deal with these tantrum behaviors!
Here are some effective ways to deal with and prevent 6 year old temper tantrums:
Eliminate inconsistent discipline.
When children don’t know what to expect, or what is expected of them, it can increase the child’s level of stress. One of the reasons children throw tantrums is because they are confused and stressed out. It is important as an effective parent to be consistent in discipline, set clear expectations that are clearly communicated, and make sure the consequences are understood. But perhaps the most important thing is following through to be sure the consequence is carried out. Quite frankly, sometimes we are lazy as parents and don’t do what we said we were going to do because it would be too hard for us. This can be damaging to our children. Mean what you say, and follow through with it.
One of my favorite rules for myself as a parent, which I learned from my father-in-law, is to be firm, fair, and consistent.
Be Proactive to Have Fewer Tantrums
Little things make a big difference. A little bit of planning can go a long way towards making your day, and your child’s attitude, stay smooth and happy. Daily life can get hectic though, so being strategic is key. Little people, even 6 year olds, have big feelings (even about things we think are little things), so we need to think about this as we plan our daily routine. Pack snacks and some sort of toy or game your child can play when stuck in line in a public place, or on the sidelines of a sibling’s game. If your child throws tantrums while tired, next time plan errands first thing in the morning or right after nap time.
I keep this Kanoodle game in my purse as a boredom buster when we’re out.
Give all the praise for good behavior!
Focusing on just your child’s emotional outbursts is the wrong thing to do. Switch the focus to the positive! When they get positive attention for good behaviours, they will want to do more good behaviours. I mean, let’s face it, even as adults we want to do more of what we are praised for. Not much changes as we get older, folks. If a child is not getting enough attention, whether that be positive or negative, seeking attention in any way they can be one of the causes of temper tantrums. Children who have a difficult time getting their parents attention will act out in any way they can to get it. Don’t force them into bad habits, give them that positive attention! Positive reinforcement is an amazing tool for behavior modification!
Make sure your child is getting plenty of sleep.
When we aren’t getting enough rest, we have a tough time regulating our emotions. Again, this goes for adults as well as children. Parents of children are responsible for making sure their kids are well rested. Think back to a time when you were sleep deprived. Were you all sunshine and rainbows? Or were you an emotional mess, throwing adult tantrums about every little thing? I know from personal experience, every little issue feels like a huge issue when I haven’t had enough sleep. I see that in my elementary school aged children as well. Older kids are not immune to this, just like adults aren’t. 6 year old temper tantrums are a common issue among those children who do not get enough sleep, and for good reason.
Teach coping mechanisms and self control.
It’s never too early to learn how to calm ourselves. In fact, most of us as adults have still not learned techniques to calm ourselves, and it’s a real issue. I mentioned my father-in-law before (he was a really wise man). He taught me, and my kids, to take deep breaths and wiggle your fingers. You pretty much cannot stay tense and escalate strong feelings while you are taking intentional, slow, deep breaths and wiggling your fingers. Start young with your kids, it’s the best time to start teaching them this calming technique that can be a go-to for them for the rest of their life. Any time you see your child struggling with intense feelings, very calmly remind them in a positive way to use those tools you’ve taught them to calm the situation and think clearly.
Feed your child a balanced diet.
Kids get hangry, too. Sometimes a tempter tantrum that seems to be about one thing is really because your child is hungry. They may just need their energy and blood sugar levels normalized by a healthy, balanced diet and to eat at more regular intervals to even things out. Always make sure you have packed water and healthy snacks when going out to help avoid 6 year old temper tantrums!
Home should be a safe place.
Is your home a chaotic environment? If you aren’t getting anywhere with the above tips, it might be a good time to look inward more. Is your home a quiet place of relaxation, peace and calming? If your child doesn’t have a safe haven where they feel comfortable and can let their guard down, it makes sense that they may lash out. If something is causing your home to feel chaotic, unpredictable, unsafe or stressful, spend as much time as you can rectifying that situation ASAP.
What to Do When 6 Year Old Tantrums Become a Safety Issue
If your child’s tantrums start to escalate to the point of becoming a safety issue, pay attention to those bright red flags! It’s a good idea to seek help sooner. At this point, the best strategy is to consult a professional. Violence is not a normal behavior, and not one you want as part of your family life. If you cannot find a way to control behaviors that are negative, or you are having a hard time dealing with your child’s strong emotions, ask yourself the following question: “Would it benefit my child to contact our family physician or family therapist and just see if they have any helpful suggestions?” It doesn’t have to go any farther than that. But it may need to, and that’s okay too! As your child gets older there are so many options available for help with anger management, parent-child interaction therapy, teaching self-regulation skills, and assisting you in teaching your child acceptable ways to vent their frustrations.
I know it is hard work to be a parent, and it’s even extra work when your child is throwing tantrums. I hope you have gained some helpful tips here for dealing with 6 year old temper tantrums! Hang in there, fellow parent! You’ve got this!
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Hi, I’m Jessica! I am wife to Chris, and mom to Kaiper, Alana and Koa. I am a graphic designer, website developer and aspiring author. In this space, I share about everything from parenting, working from home, food we cook, and lots of things for kids! Learn more about me here.