How We Deal With Toddler Tantrums at School

Child throwing teddy bear
You’ve probably heard of the “Terrible Twos.” It’s those wonderful years between 18 months and 4 years old when your beautiful baby can become a screaming banshee in less than three seconds flat. Temper tantrums are difficult for both the child and for you. At Meadow Montessori School, we use positive discipline. Read on to see how our methods at school can help you at home.

Positive Discipline & Behavior Management

Children in our Montessori classrooms have freedom within limits. That’s an important concept to behavior management. Each child has unlimited freedom to do right. We work closely with the children in our classrooms and teach them to use self-discipline to control their emotions.

Self-discipline, according to Psychology Today, is the ability to manage ourselves to reach our goals. An example of this can be seen in the Stanford University Marshmallow Test. Researchers placed a marshmallow in front of a child. They told them that they could have a second marshmallow if they waited 15 minutes without eating the one in front of them. Some children were patient enough for the double payout — and had begun learning the rewards of self-discipline.

While the marshmallow test posits future success for these little marshmallow lovers, that fact has been disputed. What the test does show is that toddlers can control their behaviors.

Patience, Attention, & Understanding

The staff of Meadow Montessori School is dedicated to positive guidance techniques. As a result, we have fewer issues with tantrums and planned, effective measures to offer consistent interventions.

We know that patience, thoughtful attention, cooperation, and an understanding of our students are the foundation of teaching self-discipline.

No Time Outs

Time out is not used under any circumstances. A child may be redirected to find something else to do or may be asked to sit away from the group due to a specific behavior. This is not a time out, but rather a time to reflect on the problematic behavior with the option to return to the group when they choose, as long as the behavior has changed.

Avoid Power Struggles

Discipline is not punishment. We use positive responses to address difficult behaviors. Some of our responses are:

  • Active listening to the child as they express their feelings
  • Offer the child problem-solving advice
  • Redirection
  • Ask the child to fix any damage to the environment (e.g., pick up thrown or dumped toys)
  • Use logical consequences (e.g., child colors on table = child must help clean the table)

We also do not reward good behavior with stickers, candy, or toys. Students learn self-discipline and appropriate behavior, and rewards are not needed.

We also do not use behavior charts. We feel that they undermine children’s abilities, are demeaning, and can destroy self-esteem.

Rewards and punishments are rarely successful in changing behavior. Use positive discipline principles, and your child will learn to regulate their behaviors.

As always, if you have any questions, please contact us!