4-year-olds are infamous for their tantrums! At the supermarket, at school, in the middle of a playdate or in a restaurant – there’s no guarantee where or when they’ll start. 

Preschooler tantrums can be quite a handful, especially because they are loud, unexpected and explosive. They can also be embarrassing for the parents, because most 4-year-olds exhibit their tantrums in extremely public places. Sometimes, it becomes quite impossible for the parents to stay calm and reasonable, especially when your toddler losses it in public – wailing, screaming, hitting and kicking, running around, lying on the floor or worse. 

Losing it yourself, however, is the worst reaction you can have when your child is in the middle of a full-fledged tantrum. You might simply wish to vanish into thin air, but what’s more important is that you know how to handle the situation without becoming agitated yourself. 

Here are a few ways for you to keep your cool and deactivate the situation when your 4-year-old is throwing a tantrum. 

  • Stay Calm. Honestly, the worst thing that you can do when your child is throwing a tantrum is to get agitated yourself. It is, in fact, crucial that you remain as calm as possible. If it is not possible for you to stay tranquil on the inside, you must at least pretend to be calm on the outside. 

If your 4-year-old gets the inkling that they have managed to agitate you, calming them down would suddenly become ten times harder. If possible, ignore them, even when they are making a scene in public. Most of the time, kids stop making a scene when they know no one is paying attention to them. If you can stay calm and not pay them attention, your toddler will hopefully stop their tantrum. 

  • Find The Trigger. 9 out of 10 times, there is a reason behind why your toddler is agitated, annoyed, angry and as a reason, throwing a tantrum. With children, the reason is usually a very simple one: either they are hungry, sleepy, tired, worried, upset or bored. Addressing the triggers can, therefore, help them feel better and stop a tantrum in the middle. 

Most of the time, offering their favorite snack helps; if not, offer them something else they love – half an hour of screen time, a walk, a preferred toy. If they decline everything, simply give them a hug or hold them as they might be feeling a little lonely.  

  • Wait Out. Stay close to your child, keep an eye on them, but wait patiently. Sometimes, children simply need to let out some pent-up energy and a tantrum is one of the ways to do so. If you are home and your child isn’t hurting anyone else, just wait the storm out naturally. 
  • Redirect their Energy. As I mentioned before, tantrums are often pent-up energy that toddlers need to let out. Since they don’t know exactly what to do with all the energy they have, it can be helpful if you give them some options. Jumping on a small trampoline helps, or simply run around with their pets outside; they can have a jumping contest, play with skipping ropes or hula-hoops, or even dance around to loud music. If you are outside with them and feel like a tantrum coming, give them small errands to run, such as, running around the grocery isle to fetch you their favorite brand of cereal. 
  • Don’t Be Too Hard or Too Rigid with Them. Some parents automatically tense up when their child throws a tantrum, especially in a public place. While toddlers are stubborn, parents too become firm and unyielding. They start to order their kids to “stop that nonsense” or “behave properly” which of course, never works. Telling a 4-year-old to behave or to teach them discipline when they are having a tantrum is simply going to make them wail even harder. 
  • Don’t Be Too Flexible Harder. Being too flexible with them is another mistake you can make as the parent. In some cases, many parents prefer to deal with the situation by agreeing to whatever the child is demanding at the moment. This is completely wrong as a toddler wouldn’t really know what to do with such independence. 

Parents should preferably not be too lenient nor too strict with a 4-year-old having a tantrum. The ideal solution would be to assume a position somewhere in between, answering all their questions with a quiet dignity that can be mustered with a lot of practice and patience. 

  • Accept their Occurrence. Tantrums are quite normal for children aged 3 to 6, and maybe even after that.  Even the most disciplined and the most reasonable children in the world will throw at least a few tantrums in their lives. Therefore, it is only natural that parents accept tantrums as a natural part of growing up. They cannot be controlled or stopped, but accepting tantrums can help parents get through them. 
  • Don’t Blame Them. Your children aren’t throwing a tantrum on purpose or because they are punishing you, or because you aren’t a good parent. Just like we adults get stressed or angry, or even have a nervous breakdown sometimes, 4-year-olds have their tantrum. The best thing that you can do is not to blame them or blame ourselves for what is very natural. 
  • Be Consistent. Don’t change your mind just to get out of the situation or just to stop them. If they are throwing a tantrum because they want something your good judgement is denying them, stick to it no matter how bad the tantrum gets. Children should understand that “No!” means no, and vice versa. If you start to give in to their whims every time they start to misbehave, they’ll use their tantrums as a weapon against you repeatedly. 
  • Ignore Others. If this is happening in a public place and you are getting looks from others, ignore them. Every other parent is aware of tantrums and they are NOT judging you for them. You might feel like a failure as a parent when your toddler starts wailing and screaming in the middle of the restaurant, but this is something that happens in every homes. 

Tantrums are normal – that’s what you have to remember. They are bound to occur while your child is growing up, and they are a regular part of children’s development. Tantrums are mot something you can cure or stop, but something to handle – which will become easier with time, and if you know what to do.