Video: Understanding Tantrums In Spirited Children

This is a small clip from my larger presentation to the ECDC community about spirited children. The clip answers some common questions about preschool tantrums in reaction to daily structure and how ECDC supports the spirited child. Contrary to many parents’ fears, tantrums rarely indicate something wrong with cognitive functioning, brain development, or emotional trauma. The social context and supporting social growth are central to the ECDC approach.

As a long-time partner in community engagement, Family Psychology of South Bend provides staff training or parent seminars each month during the school year.



And I do wanna just explain a a little bit more that, there can be many reasons for multiple emotional outbursts.

And, you know, some of them can be related to serious, mental health issues.

Most of them are not. But, yes, we do screen children for ADHD and autism spectrum disorders and, anxiety and those things chronic sleep problems or or any kind of sleep apnea, those things can definitely contribute to a tendency, to have more emotional outbursts or to have trouble calming, after having an emotional outburst. So in the preschool range, we expect, the two to three year olds to be able to come within, sometimes, a long tantrum in the two or three year old range will be twenty to thirty minutes. And that’s within the range of normal. By the time they’re three to four years old, we expect them to come within ten to twenty minutes.

And by the time they’re at the end of preschool, we expect them to come within ten minutes, sometimes fifteen minutes. So I hope that gives you a little bit of a guideline.

And if you’re starting to worry that that there’s more of that, more than that going on, you can talk to the ECDC teachers because they know how to connect you with screening devices that could look at if there’s more going on, with social emotional skill delays, or you can talk to your pediatrician as well. They have very simple screening, forms that they can use, to do an observation and to send you home with forms so that you do some observations.

But very often, what’s going on is more of what you all have kinda described.

That there’s a crisis of identity or discouragements in their identity, and if you think about it, many of your children are in transition because they’ve they’ve come from your small family unit, and we’ve plopped them into preschool classrooms with twenty some children.

It’s and it’s very hard to know who I am all of a sudden when I’m I’m changing these environments, and they do, as spirited children, especially, have a creative force within themselves that wants a voice and they want to have some power and control.

And now they’re in this classroom where we have a picture schedule up in the wall that says, this is what we do. Every day at the same time every day, and there’s, like, no flexibility.

And that’s hard to adjust to. Eventually, it actually be can become soothing to them to know that this is what we do every day, and we do it in the same way every day. But they have to find their individual connection within that schedule. And so that’s why, I love that we were talking about the beginning of the day. Because with spirit to children, we, as teachers, we will meet and we will say, okay. How do we get their best start for the day?

And, we will think about what what tabletop materials are highlighted so that we engage some of the most spirited children in the classroom.

And, if they are into the magnetiles, we have a table magnatiles. They’re ready to go. We invite that child in there, and very often that child can be a leader in magnetile building.

And so we use that as a way to engage them in the flow of the day.