1. Parenting
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

8 Ways to Prevent Temper Tantrums

Got a Bored Preschooler? Stop the Drama and Tears Before They Start


Wouldn’t it be great if you were a mind-reader, able to predict your preschooler’s every thought word and action before it occurred? Not only would you be the most intuitive person on the planet, but you’d be able to prevent one of the least-loved aspects of parenting a preschooler: the temper tantrum. The key to preventing a temper tantrum is in the advance planning. Mind-reading isn’t necessary, but a thorough working knowledge of your child is. Choose a solution based on what you have on hand and the situation. What works at home might not be appropriate for the doctor's office and vice versa. Good luck!

1. Play Mind Games

Mother and father with toddler daughter, smiling
Christoffer Askman/Cultura/Getty Images
Many temper tantrums start because your preschooler is bored. A child's least-favorite activity? Waiting quietly. So whether you are waiting for the doctor, on line at the post office or to have the car serviced, it's a good idea to have some fun games in mind that you can play together. "I Spy" is a classic that never gets old, or try "Find It First" -- look around the room and see who can find a designated item (like a clock or a blue chair) first. Guessing games are always fun and provide endless opportunities. Have your child close her eyes and take something out of your diaper bag or purse. See if she can guess what it is.

2. Super Snacks to the Rescue

Tantrums often occur because your child is hungry, or they are bored so they think they are hungry. Keep a small selection of healthy, non-perishable snacks in the car -- think popcorn, pretzels (for these two, make sure your child is old enough so they won't choke), all-natural fruit snacks and granola bars. Dry cereal in a bag is usually a hit, as are sugar-free lollipops if you want to give a special treat. Juice boxes generally last a long time, so you can keep a supply of those handy, or try to remember to grab some out of your refrigerator before you head out the door.

3. Share Tall Tales

No books handy? Use your imagination, or even better, have your child use hers. Tell a favorite story from your own childhood or work together to summarize a favorite book you read together often. Make up stories. Is there an interesting painting hanging in the waiting room? What is it about? Take turns adding to the tale for a creative twist. If you happen to have crayons and paper on hand (or even a pen or a pencil) draw pictures to match your words.

4. Always Bring a Bag of Tricks

You wouldn't leave your house without your car keys, so why not make crayons, books and other small items on-the-go essentials? Without them, you chance your little one having a breakdown. With them, your child is an angel. The goodies don't have to be anything fancy. Best bets include a small package of crayons and coloring book, board books, die-cast cars and the toys given out with children's meals at most fast-food restaurants. Have a few selections and consider switching them after every few outings to eliminate boredom. Other no-fail choices: a mirror, a tape measure, stickers and a small flashlight. It's amazing how endlessly entertaining common household items can be. Use your imagination!

5. Ask Questions

Use this opportunity to learn about your child and let him learn about you. They can be simple for younger preschoolers -- "What do you want for your birthday?" to more complex for older kids -- "What would happen if toys were real?" Chances are they'll lead to an interesting, meaningful conversation. Make sure you answer the questions too!

6. Make Waiting = Learning

Still have that paper and pen? It's amazing how much good use you can put them to. Even a 3-year-old will enjoy practicing writing his name, letters and numbers. Write al the names you know -- Grandma, Grandpa, your child's friends, siblings, etc. Show your child what his name looks like in script or big block letters. Let him color them in. If that gets tedious, move to numbers. With older preschoolers, practice writing simple three-letter words. See if they can guess what certain words where you are waiting start with -- light, floor, rug.

7. Become Soothsayers

Who will be called next? What's the receptionist's name? There are all sorts of questions just begging to be answered while you sit and wait. Will there be a phone message waiting for you at home? What color car will be parked next to you when you get to the parking lot? Put your preschooler's natural inclination to ask questions to good use.

8. Trick Temper Tantrums Away

Take four items out of the diaper bag or your purse. Have your child study them. Have her close her eyes or turn her head. Take one away. See if she can guess which one is missing. Ask your child if he can guess when a minute has passed. 30 seconds? See how close they come -- and learn how time is a very difficult concept for a child to comprehend! Take a small item like a coin or button and hide it in your hand. Can your child guess where it is? Can you guess when your child hides it? Ask your child to close her eyes. Can she remember what color shirt you are wearing? Can you remember what color socks she has on?
Related Video
Deal With Temper Tantrums
  1. About.com
  2. Parenting
  3. Preschoolers
  4. Behavior & Discipline
  5. Temper Tantrums
  6. Preventing Temper Tantrums - How to Stop Temper Tantrums Before They Start

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.