Quick tips for handling out-of-control behavior
- Quick tip 1Use a quiet voice.Use a quiet voice.
Turn down the temperature by staying calm and not getting angry yourself. Speak in a steady, almost monotone voice.
- Quick tip 2Redirect the behavior.Redirect the behavior.
Try to address the behavior right away. Tell kids what they’re doing, why they shouldn’t be doing it, and what they should be doing instead. Use as few words as possible. This clear, immediate feedback helps kids get back on track.
- Quick tip 3Don’t rush to punish.Don’t rush to punish.
Giving a punishment on the spot, like losing a privilege, can make things worse. Think about what consequence fits the situation — if any.
- Quick tip 4Take a minute to cool off.Take a minute to cool off.
If you don’t feel calm enough to react without getting angry, take a moment. You can use that as an example of self-control when you talk later about what happened.
It’s not uncommon for young kids to lose control of their behavior. That doesn’t make it any easier to deal with it, though. Frequent outbursts can be overwhelming and upsetting — both for the adults around them and for kids themselves.
Kids develop self-control over time, and some take longer than others. In the meantime, there are ways to teach and encourage self-control.
- Manage your own emotions and behavior when kids act out. Staying calm helps you think about the best way to handle the situation. And it gives kids the chance to collect themselves so you can talk about what happened.
- Help kids learn from your example — both in the moment and over time. Talk about other situations where you’ve been frustrated or angry and what you did to stay calm and solve the problem.
- Find out what’s causing the behavior. Kids act out for all kinds of reasons. Knowing why it’s happening lets you give them the support they need.