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The articles below are written by Joni Levine for child care newsletters. Feel free to use them however you see fit. Joni can also write newsletters and articles on requested topics. If your program has a specific need, contact us for more information.

Taming Temper Tantrums

"She was completely out of control."

"His shrieking was giving me a pounding headache."

The statements above are just a few ways to describe temper tantrums, a concern for many care givers of young children. Many care givers and parents report temper tantrums as a behavior that they have difficulty coping with in a patient and positive way. Although associated with toddlers, temper tantrums are a frequent occurrence in young children, only beginning to diminish around ages five or six. And although it is a common behavior, many care givers lack strategies for preventing and taming temper tantrums.

As with talking gestures and crying, temper tantrums are a mode of communication for the young child. Their lack of language skills mad lead to a more direct way of expression; such as throwing puzzle pieces across the room. It then becomes the care giver's task to decipher the message and address the issue. What follows is a list of possible causes of tamper tantrums and the messages they convey.

Even young toddlers and infants are prone to experience intense frustration. The child who is struggling to obtain a toy that is our of reach only needs to fail a few times before feelings of anger and frustration become overwhelming. The care giver who recognizes that providing for success in young children's activities and environment, by supplying age appropriate toys and materials, can prevent much frustration and is well on the way to taming temper tantrums.

Caregivers will often see what can be referred to as mid-afternoon slump. During the late afternoon, young children can become over tired; resulting in crankiness, irritability and a decrease in their skills to handle strong emotions and conflict. Of course, it is wise to note, children can also become over tired from a lack of balance in the daily schedule, or a schedule that does not consider the needs of the child. Also children may react in a similar manner when they are over stimulated. Field trips and holidays, when the excitement level is high, there is a change in routine, and many things are vying for a child's attention are particular problems. Adhering to the routine, preparing young children in advance, keeping thinks simple, providing a balance between active and inactive activities, and ensuring a time for rest; these are just some ways a care giver can prevent child from becoming over tired and over stimulated.

Independence and autonomy have long been recognized as crucial issues for young children. They can now see how their actions impact and influence events and people around them. Such is the need for independence and control, that a child who is denied may be compelled to assert their independence in dramatic or inappropriate ways. Many of us have witnessed a young children losing control because they don't want help.Toddlers have even been know to reject snack or trips to the zoo, just to assert the power to say no! It is helpful to avoid conflict by providing opportunities for a child to feel independent. Care givers need to allow children to make some choices, encourage independent action, and allow them to try new skills.

Temper tantrums have been associated with the child who is acting our to get attention. This seems to occur in the older child who has learned from past experiences that temper tantrums can achieve the desired result. Most likely, the older child who has a temper tantrum for attention has not been encouraged to seek attention in more appropriate ways. A care giver must be sensitive to their response to this behavior, and consider, are they actually reinforcing an unwanted behavior. Remember, for some children, negative attention is better than no attention at all. Temper tantrums for attention can often be avoided by the care giver's effort to give attention to a child's positive behavior.

Appropriate caregiver interaction and response is the key to coping with temper tantrums once they occur. Frequently, a child who is in the throes of a temper tantrum is feeling out of control, both emotionally and physically. This can be frightening and overwhelming to the child, only intensifying the episode. Caregivers often add fuel to the fire by telling, or reacting in a manner that may mirror the child's actions. It is beneficial to remain calm and speak slowly and softly. Acknowledge the child's feelings and reassure them you are there to help them regain control. A care give may say something like, "I can see you are very angry right now. I wonder if it is because you want to go outside? I can't help you when you're screaming and kicking. Let's sit down and get calm, then maybe you can tell me with words what is wrong."

Why We Play

As an ongoing effort to be sensitive to the needs, concerns, and expectations of parents, I would like to provide you with in-depth information regarding curriculum and programming at ____ Preschool.

Many of you see a preschool program that is vastly different then the one you may have attended as a child. Many of you see a preschool where it seems all we do all day is play. Read on, and discover there is a lot more to a day at preschool then meets the eye!

In fact, _____'s curriculum is carefully developed from the latest research and policy in education; from the top educators, researchers and administrators nationwide. Our program follows many of the same curriculum standards and guidelines advocated by leading child care organizations and educational programs.

What follows is a discussion of current theory and research and than a brief (certainly not complete) outline of daily preschool activities and how they meet academic objectives.

Unlike older children, preschool age children are unable to learn through abstract or passive methods. Young children learn best by direct hands-on experience. The need to actively explore and manipulate materials and toys; discovering answers, properties, relationships, skills and concepts for themselves. Classroom experience needs to be concretely relevant to a child's personal knowledge and maturation level. Often this is referred to as age appropriate or developmentally appropriate curriculum, an approach that meets educational goals based on research on how young children learn best. Some researchers and policy makers tell us, " Play is the work of childhood". It is a child's very personal way of interacting with their world and learning to master the possibilities in it. The ______curriculum is much more than meets the eye; it's the very serious endeavor of starting a life-long path of learning, and having a little fun along the way!

  It looks like play but it meets an academic goal:

  • Block building - Mathematical goals (spatial concepts, problem solving, balance and weights, cooperation)
  • Stringing beads - Mathematical goals (correspondence counting, patterns, sequencing); Literacy goals (visual motor coordination, left to right concepts)
  • Finger plays and rhymes - Literacy goals (auditory discrimination, phonetic skills, auditory memory, concept comprehension, visual motor coordination, vocabulary development)
  • Concentration game - Literacy goals (visual discrimination, symbolic decoding, visual memory, concept development; Mathematical goals (matching and classification)
  • Drawing and painting - Literacy goals (symbolic representation, visual memory, visual motor coordination, creative expression)

I hope these materials have enable you to understand the amount of care and consideration that goes into to planning a quality and worthwhile preschool experience for your child.

Understanding Biting in Child Care

You have just picked up your toddler from child care and you notice a purple bruise on her hand. You then discover a note in your daughter's backpack. The note is from your child's provider informing you that one of your daughter's classmates bit her! One of the most troublesome behaviors, from a parent’s perspective, is biting. This is true whether your child is the aggressor or the victim. However, biting is a very common behavior from the time children start teething, through their toddler years.

Young children are easily overwhelmed with feelings of anger or frustration. Biting is a powerful way to release strong feelings. Young children are impulsive. The often do not stop to evaluate the consequences of their actions. When they are upset, they lash out. Young children have limited verbal skills. When they can not use words to express themselves, the often resort to physical aggression. Infants may be teething. When their gums are inflamed, they may find that biting relieves some discomfort.

Child care professionals recognize that biting is a normal behavior, therefore they are not overly punitive to the biter. They may separate the bite or from the other child. Some providers will ask the biter to participate in caring for the victim by bringing ice, or offering a hug. Caregivers often try to prevent children from biting. They provide many materials and activities for children to release pent-up emotions and frustration. Caregivers help young children to learn to verbally express themselves. They may tell the biter, "I see you are feeling very angry with Marcus, but I will not allow you to bite him. Let's use our words and tell Marcus that you are mad!" When children are teething, the provider may have a cool teether or rubber ring available. They may tell the child, "Biting hurts people. If you need to bite, use your teething ring."

Caregivers will usually have a policy informing the parents of both children about biting incident. Many programs have a policy that they will not disclose the name of the other child involved.