Are 7-year-old temper tantrums normal or are they something that you should worry about? Can children be taught to express their emotions in more socially appropriate ways even at age seven? Where do you start if you’re struggling with your child?
Understanding 7-year-old temper tantrums
Experts say that temper tantrums decrease in frequency and intensity as your child grows older.
They say that tantrums in kids after age six are fewer and far between, and even when they occur, they are brief and less intense because children’s emotion regulation skills are more developed, and they are able to put their emotions into words or express them in a more appropriate manner.
But that’s not true for all kids. Temper tantrums in older kids are quite common, and many reasons may help explain this behavior.
Here are a few common reasons that explain why 7-year-olds have tantrums.
What causes temper tantrums in 7-year-olds?
Normal development – tantrums are always a child’s way of communicating something: frustration, overwhelm, revolt, assertiveness, and so on. Some kids may lash out when they are angry or when they experience emotions that they have a hard time processing.
Poor emotion regulation skills – Kids are not born knowing how to deal with difficult emotions. This skill is developed progressively, and some kids find it harder than others to deal with emotion-provoking situations.
This is hardly surprising when we know that even adults struggle with difficult emotions or “throw adult tantrums” when they are faced with difficult situations.
Stress – The 7-year-old period can be a stressful period because it is often one that is marked by transitions.
More is required from your child, and they are also more conscious of social interactions and sometimes rejection, and new emotions such as jealousy are more pronounced at around this time. Stress might therefore be a reason behind your child’s behavior.
Personality – Some kids are naturally more easily affected by emotions than others. This means that experiences of changes in their environment can lead to tantrum behavior for the simple reason that it is harder for them to process difficult emotions.
This free download provides information about the 16 different personality types and gives you tips on how to parent according to your child’s temperament.
While temper tantrums are often a source of stress for many parents, there are many simple strategies that can help reduce the frequency and intensity of children’s tantrums and, more importantly, teach them to deal with emotion-provoking situations by themselves.
Here are six things that you can start doing today to respond to your child’s tantrums.
How to respond to 7-year-old temper tantrums
1) Improve your child’s emotion regulation skills
Temper tantrums, at any age, are a sign that your child is yet to learn to manage emotions in a socially appropriate way.
They are a sign that they are experiencing both familiar and unfamiliar emotions, but they are unaware of how to deal with those emotions.
The first step in developing your child’s emotion regulation skills is to help them identify different emotions. There are great anger books for kids designed to teach them about anger, but simply talking about the emotions in your environment every day is a great place to start.
Talking about your own emotions also helps your child understand different types of emotions and teaches them that emotions are normal.
2) Identifying the triggers behind their behavior will put you on the path to success
What are the reasons behind temper tantrums? What drives your child’s behavior?
It is easy to identify the reasons behind your child’s behavior when those reasons are obvious – being asked to stop playing a videogame, or do a household chore, or perhaps not getting what they want.
It is much harder to identify those triggers when they are less obvious – frustration because of not being as good at reading as the other kids in the class, jealousy, or perhaps feelings of low self-esteem.
Observing your child’s behavior, helping them put their feelings into words, and encouraging them to keep a diary in which they can associate different experiences with different feelings can make it easier to identify the triggers behind temper tantrums.
Identifying triggers can also help you become more aware of an approaching tantrum and deal with it as soon as you see the early signs. Remember that it is always easier to deal with the signs of a potential tantrum than a full-blown screaming fit.
3) Help your child identify their own coping mechanisms
Helping your child to familiarize themselves with different emotions and to identify their triggers are simply the first steps in the emotion regulation process.
The key objective of this process is to help them to identify strategies that they can use to cope with difficult emotions.
But all strategies are not created equal. This means that strategies that work for one kid might be a total failure with another.
Identifying the right coping mechanisms for your child will therefore require some trial and error before they can determine what works best for them. The good news is that there are hundreds of coping mechanisms that can help them better address their strong emotions.
The Emotions Kit is an age-appropriate resource that will help your child to better understand different emotions, identify their triggers, and understand how emotions feel in the body. It also proposes a range of coping mechanisms that they can choose from to deal with emotion-provoking situations in a more socially appropriate manner.
4) Use positive reinforcement
Positive reinforcement remains poorly understood, but it is one of the most positive and effectivestrategies to eliminate inappropriate behavior.
All the available studies on positive reinforcement have found that the behavior that you pay attention to gets repeated.
This strategy revolves around identifying the behavior to eliminate, the behavior with which to replace it, choosing your child’s behavior calendar and behavior incentives wisely, watching out for the most common pitfalls, and adopting a strategy that increases your chances of success.
The Positive Behavior Kit has all the resources that you need to use this strategy in a way that actually works. It uses specially designed and colorful Robo-bucks and Robo-cards to successfully reduce your child’s problem behavior.
5) Help your child differentiate between emotions and inappropriate behavior
It is important for your child to understand that while all emotions are valid, inappropriate behavior is not. They need to understand that everyone experiences emotions and that it is normal to feel frustrated, or anxious, or even jealous, but that everyone is responsible for how they react to their emotions.
Setting clear limits and behavior guidelines is therefore important, but it is not enough. Your child also needs to know what a “socially appropriate reaction” means.
The Positive Behavior Kit and The Emotions Kit will both provide you with the resources you need to identify and implement a positive and effective strategy to help your 7-year-oldd deal with their temper tantrums.
6) Reduce your child’s level of stress
Reducing your child’s level of stress may help decrease temper tantrums. Introducing them to activities such as meditation and mindfulness is an easy way to help them deal with difficult emotions.
Spending time together everyday is a simple strategy that can help your family bond and also increase your child’s sense of wellbeing. Spending even 10 minutes a day together can completely change their behavior.
Temper tantrums in 7-year-olds: when do they become a problem?
Occasional temper tantrums are common even among 7-year-old’s and are rarely the sign of a serious problem.
However, several experts suggest that when your child’s temper tantrums are too frequent and too intense, they may indicate an underlying issue. Here is a free download with the signs to look out for.
It is always a good idea to seek professional help if you are worried about your child’s tantrums.
Final thoughts on temper tantrums in 7-year-olds
Dealing with 7-year-old temper tantrums can feel frustrating, especially because it is an age at which children are thought to have learned to better express their emotions and to speak rather than act out.
While this is true, 7-year-olds are also undergoing many developmental changes, and tantrums are one of the ways in which they express their frustration or even their quest for autonomy.
Never forget that your child’s tantrums are never a sign of your parenting skills, but always keep in mind that your child learns about dealing with difficult emotions by watching how you react to difficult emotions yourself.
Try to respond to your child calmly, and do not hesitate to walk away for a few minutes if you think that you are going to respond in a way that you will regret.
The good news is that most children eventually manage to deal with their emotions more appropriately, but the bad news is that the development of new emotional skills takes time.