A little girl sits on the grass crying loudly. Tantrums are a part of your child's development and must be managed properly in order to build proper coping skills and self-regulation. before starting school.

Managing Tantrums with Your 5-Year-Old: Building Coping Skills and Self-Regulation for School Success

As your child approaches the age of five and gears up to start school, it's essential to equip them with the necessary skills to regulate their emotions effectively. Tantrums can be challenging for both children and parents, but by fostering coping skills and self-regulation, you can help your child thrive in school and beyond. In this blog post, we'll explore strategies to prevent tantrums by setting boundaries early on, techniques to manage tantrums once they've started, and the importance of discussing them with your child afterward.

Preventing Tantrums: Setting Boundaries 

One of the key factors in managing tantrums is prevention, and this begins with setting clear boundaries early on. Establishing consistent rules and expectations helps your child understand what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Make sure these boundaries are communicated effectively and reinforced consistently. By doing so, your child will develop a sense of security and predictability, reducing the likelihood of tantrums.

Additionally, consider offering choices to empower your child while still maintaining limits. For example, instead of asking, "What do you want for breakfast?" offer two nutritious options like cereal or toast. This way, your child feels a sense of control without being overwhelmed by endless choices.

Promoting Coping Skills and Self-Regulation

Teaching your child coping skills and self-regulation techniques is crucial for emotional development and success in school. Encourage your child to identify and express their feelings by using words. Provide them with a rich emotional vocabulary to help them articulate their emotions better.

Help your child explore healthy ways to manage their emotions (there are some helpful tips and strategies for mindfulness here). This could include deep breathing exercises, counting to ten, or taking a break in a calm and quiet space. By practicing these techniques regularly, your child will develop the ability to regulate their emotions and handle challenging situations more effectively.

Furthermore, foster empathy in your child by encouraging them to understand and consider other people's feelings. This will not only strengthen their social skills but also promote emotional intelligence, enabling them to navigate conflicts and frustrations more smoothly.

Managing Tantrums: Strategies for the Moment

Despite our best efforts, tantrums may still occur. When faced with a tantrum, it's crucial to remain calm and patient. Your child looks to you for guidance and emotional stability. Validate their feelings by acknowledging their emotions while setting firm boundaries. Use simple and clear language to communicate expectations and consequences.

Distracting your child with a preferred activity or redirecting their attention can also be helpful during a tantrum. Offering a comforting object or engaging them in an enjoyable task can help shift their focus away from the trigger and towards a more positive experience.

Post-Tantrum Discussions: Learning and Growing

After a tantrum has subsided, it's essential to have a calm and constructive conversation with your child. Discuss what happened, focusing on the behavior rather than criticizing the child. Help them understand the consequences of their actions and guide them in finding alternative, more appropriate ways to express their emotions.

Encourage problem-solving and brainstorming with your child on how they can handle similar situations differently in the future. This process reinforces their self-regulation skills, builds resilience, and empowers them to make better choices.


Managing tantrums with a 5-year-old requires a multifaceted approach that focuses on prevention, coping skills, and self-regulation. By setting clear boundaries, teaching emotional intelligence, and handling tantrums with patience and understanding, you can equip your child with the tools they need to thrive in school and navigate. If you're looking to learn more about what social emotional skills your child should have before they start school, take a look at our article "7 Social Emotional Skills Your Child Should Have Before They Start Kindergarten".

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