Written & Reviewed by
Gaston Molina
Published on
September 15, 2023


The age of 5 is a significant milestone in a child’s development. While it brings exciting new accomplishments, it can also usher in a phase of increased emotional intensity and occasional tantrums. Understanding the causes behind 5-year-old tantrums and employing effective strategies can greatly assist parents in managing this normal yet challenging behavior.

The Developmental Stage of a 5-Year-Old

At 5 years old, children are undergoing a crucial phase of cognitive, emotional, and social development. They are expanding their understanding of the world and their place in it. This newfound knowledge and desire for independence can sometimes collide with their ability to manage their emotions, leading to tantrums.

Reasons behind 5-Year-Old Tantrums

  1. Emotional Expression: At this age, children are better able to identify and label their emotions. However, they may still struggle to express them appropriately, leading to frustration and tantrums.
  2. Desire for Autonomy: 5-year-olds are eager to assert their independence and make decisions for themselves. When faced with limitations or disagreements, they may react strongly.
  3. Transitioning to School: Starting formal education can be a significant transition for a 5-year-old. The pressures of school life and new social dynamics can sometimes trigger emotional outbursts.
  4. Sensitivity to Frustration: As their skills and abilities grow, so do their expectations. When they encounter challenges or setbacks, they may become easily frustrated.
  5. Fatigue and Overstimulation: A tired or overstimulated child is more prone to tantrums. The demands of a busy schedule can sometimes push a 5-year-old beyond their emotional limits.

Strategies for Managing 5-Year-Old Tantrums

  1. Remain Calm: It’s crucial for parents to maintain composure during a tantrum. Your calm demeanour can serve as a stabilizing force for your child.
  2. Validate Feelings: Let your child know their feelings are acknowledged and understood. You can say, “I see that you’re feeling upset right now.”
  3. Encourage Communication: Help your child find words to express their feelings. Encourage them to talk about what’s bothering them.
  4. Offer Choices: Provide controlled choices to give your child a sense of agency. For example, “Would you like to do your homework before or after dinner?”
  5. Predictable Routines: Establishing consistent routines can offer a sense of security and reduce the likelihood of tantrums.
  6. Provide Transition Warnings: Give your child a heads-up before transitioning to a new activity. This can help them mentally prepare for the change.
  7. Limit Overstimulation: Be mindful of your child’s schedule and ensure they have downtime to rest and recharge.
  8. Set Clear Expectations: Clearly communicate rules and boundaries. Consistency is vital in preventing tantrums.
  9. Positive Reinforcement: Praise and reward positive behaviour to reinforce healthy ways of expressing themselves.
  10. Create a Safe Space: Designate an area where your child can go to calm down when they feel overwhelmed.


Tantrums in 5-year-olds are a natural part of their development, but they can be challenging for parents to handle. By recognizing the underlying causes and implementing effective strategies, parents can help their children navigate this phase with greater ease. Patience, empathy, and consistent communication play pivotal roles in guiding your child toward healthy emotional expression. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey, and seeking advice and support from trusted sources can be invaluable in helping your child grow through this stage.

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