kids having online class

The shift to online learning has brought many benefits, but it’s also presented new challenges for parents and educators alike. What’s the most common hurdles? Online tantrums and virtual classroom meltdowns.

Whether it’s a preschooler frustrated with a glitchy screen or a fifth-grader upset about missing peer interaction, these outbursts can disrupt the learning environment and cause stress for everyone involved.

This article equips parents and teachers with tools and strategies to effectively manage online tantrums across different age groups, from preschool to 5th grade. We’ll explore the reasons behind virtual classroom meltdowns, discuss preventative measures, and delve into de-escalation techniques to turn those fiery frowns upside down (or at least mute the microphone!).

Understanding the Roots of Online Tantrums

a mother assisting her kid on an online class

Before diving into solutions, it’s crucial to understand why these virtual outbursts occur. Here are some common triggers for online tantrums in different age groups:

  • Preschool: Young children thrive on routine and familiar faces. The shift to a virtual environment can be overwhelming, leading to frustration with technology, difficulty focusing on the screen, and missing the social interaction of in-person learning.
  • Kindergarten: Kindergarteners are still developing their emotional regulation skills. Technical difficulties, feeling unheard during online discussions, or simply wanting attention can trigger tantrums.
  • Elementary School (Grades 1-5): These children may experience frustration with independent learning tasks, miss the social connection with classmates, or struggle to stay engaged in a virtual setting. Additionally, academic challenges or boredom can lead to disruptive behavior.

Preventing the Meltdown: Proactive Strategies

The best way to manage online tantrums is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Here are some proactive strategies for parents and teachers:

  • Establish a Routine: Create a dedicated learning space with minimal distractions. Set consistent times for online classes and stick to a daily schedule.
  • Tech Check: Ensure a stable internet connection and troubleshoot any potential technical glitches beforehand. Familiarize children with the online platform and tools they’ll be using.
  • Set Expectations: Discuss with children what online learning entails, including classroom rules and expectations for behavior.
  • Open Communication: Encourage open communication and allow children to express their feelings about online learning. Address any anxieties or frustrations they may have.
  • Movement Breaks: Schedule short breaks throughout the class for children to move their bodies and stretch. This is especially important for younger children who may struggle to stay focused for extended periods online.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Acknowledge and reward good behavior during online classes. This reinforces positive engagement in the virtual learning environment.

Calming the Storm: De-escalation Techniques

a mother with her kid on an online class

Despite best efforts, tantrums may still occur. Here’s what parents and teachers can do to de-escalate the situation:


  • Stay Calm: A calm and reassuring voice is essential.
  • Acknowledge Feelings: Validate their emotions by saying things like, “I see you’re feeling frustrated” or “It’s okay to feel upset.”
  • Offer Choices: Provide simple choices to give them a sense of control, like choosing a favorite stuffy to listen to the lesson with.
  • Take a Break: Step away from the screen for a short time to calm down. Offer a calming activity like deep breathing exercises or singing a song.


  • Mute the Microphone: Temporarily mute the child’s microphone to allow them to express their frustration without disrupting the class.
  • Private Chat: Utilize the online platform’s private chat function to have a one-on-one conversation and address the issue discreetly.
  • Offer Simple Strategies: Suggest calming techniques like counting to ten or taking a few deep breaths.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Once they’ve calmed down, acknowledge their effort to regulate their emotions and offer praise.

Elementary School (Grades 1-5):

  • Private Message: Send a private message to the child to check in and offer support.
  • Offer Strategies: Suggest they take a short break to move around or splash some water on their face. Encourage mindfulness exercises like focusing on their breath.
  • Consequence and Follow-through: For repeated disruptions, discuss pre-established consequences, such as a brief time-out from the online class, and follow through calmly.
  • Empathy and Support: After the class, have a private conversation to understand the root cause of the outburst and offer support and guidance.