Tantrums can make you feel crazy!

Effective Ways to Redirect a Child Who Is Misbehaving

by Kelly Sundstrom

When your toddler or preschooler begins to misbehave, it can feel embarrassing and frustrating. Instead of pulling out your hair, or hers, use redirection to shift your child's focus off of the tantrum and onto something else. Because all toddlers and preschoolers occasionally have tantrums and misbehavior, redirecting this behavior can help your child learn how to control herself.

Ask Leading Questions

If your toddler or preschooler starts to misbehave in public, it's sometimes difficult to know what to say in the moment to get your child to straighten up. You can ask your child leading questions to redirect your child away from whatever caused the misbehavior. For example, ask your child about what she has in her hand, ask her about what she did earlier in the day or about what she wants to do later. Once she starts talking about something else, she likely will forget all about her tantrum.

Change Locations

Sometimes your child just needs a breath of fresh air. When she begins to act out in a store or restaurant, take her outside. Walk down the sidewalk a little bit or allow your child to play in the grass. This change in location and shift in temperature helps your toddler or preschooler to decompress and can stop misbehavior quickly. If the tantrum happens at home, open the door and invite your child outside to play in the yard with you.

Start Acting Silly

Laughter can improve anyone's attitude, but it can especially help a moody child feel lighter and happy again. If you see your child start to misbehave or have a tantrum, do what you can to make her laugh. For example, start randomly jumping and dancing around the room in a silly way, or make ridiculous faces like a clown. Young children find humor in the simplest ways, so don't avoid basic comedy such as making flatulent noises. Once laughter takes over, all of the moodiness will disappear.

Get Out an Activity

If your child often enjoys arts and crafts activities, redirect misbehavior by simply getting out a craft for her to do. When she sees you placing craft supplies, such as construction paper, glue sticks and markers on the table, she will automatically come over to make a craft. Instead of pitching a fit, she will make you a beautiful piece of artwork!

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