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The choleric child




During play time you notice a child taking a toy away from another child. You intervene and as soon as you do, the child throws a tantrum, he/she throws himself to the ground, cries hysterically and his face gets red with rage. During this choleric moment, toys are being thrown in the air. It is impossible for you to reason with the child and the situation is becoming dangerous for him. These gestures could harm him and compromise his well being and that of others in the play group. What do you do?


I am sure you have seen or lived through a situation like this one before. Anger is an acceptable sentiment that must be expressed, but everything depends on the way it is expressed. We must teach the child acceptable behaviours by provide him with the required tools. In this article, I will provide you with activities and supplies you can make to help you and the child live through these difficult moments.

Suggested activities and supplies:


These activities are targeted for choleric children but most of them can be applied to your complete daycare group.


Certain children intermingle their feelings and have a difficult time identifying how they really feel. Once they learn how to target and express their emotions some of these tantrums can be avoided.


  • Use drawings representing different facial expressions (Open PDF file - Emotions - MoodMan) , laminate them as cards. During your circle time, each child takes a card and explains the expression they have chosen. These cards can also be pinned up on the wall to allow the children to see them all day long. By doing so, when a difficult situation occurs, the children will be more inclined to recognize and talk about their emotions and how they feel. Several different games are possible with these cards such as a mime game just let your imagination flow.

  • You will find numerous children stories that talk about emotions. An example would be: The Way I Feel by Janan Cain. You can even invent a story from real life situations you have gone through. Use puppets as the narrators, this will help capture the child's interest.

  • Our next suggestion, recognizing an anger fit. Cut up several small square pieces of paper. You or the child, depending on their age, must draw sad or angry faces on them. The next time the child gets upset or feels a tantrum coming on, he takes one of the drawings and rumples it up and throws in a designed container.

  • Give the child attention when his behavior is acceptable. Each day, plan some time alone with the child. In following the same idea, I have established a "Celebrity Friend" time at my centre. Each day I plan some time alone with one child to do an activity. The activity corresponds to the child's interest and any observations I will have made during the week. I will put the child's name and the activity to be done on the star poster I made up for the activity. Throughout the week I try to make each child a star.

  • If possible, it's a great idea to setup an area in your centre for the children to let off some steam. This area allows them to move around and evacuate some of their frustrations. This area should be a bit isolated from the rest of the daycare to not disturb the rest of the group. To make the area effective add nap mattresses, cushions or feathers and tissue paper to be thrown up in the air, even a small punching bag would be great

  • As a game, show the children body gestures to express anger, for example placing your hands on your hips and frowning.... Ask the children for suggestions; with their vivid imagination I'm certain they will come up with several examples.

  • Establish a secret code with the child in question. Find a gesture you will do, to indicate to the child, he is beginning to go overboard or that he should remove himself from the group for a breather. As an inverse function, the child may use this gesture/secret code to ask the educator for help with a current situation. Only the educator and the child know the secret code. This secret code could help prevent embarrassing moments for the child in front of his friends.

  • With the help of the child, create a small space in your centre just for him. This space is for him to use to cool down when he feels the need. You may use a small rug, a bunch of cushions or simply mark off an area using colored tape. When a fit is about to start, guide the child to this area, this will ensure his well being and that of others in the group.

I hope these little tricks will help you in dealing with these situations; they might also inspire you in finding new ones.



Sonia Leclerc

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