How to Deal with Toddler Meltdowns




By Serena Norr


Meltdowns scare me. Seeing my sweet child transform into an emotional range of emotions is terrifying and I often find it very difficult to not give in to whatever she is wailing about. So where is the balance? Do you give in to stop the crying or try to deal with it and figure out why it is happening? Because my daughter’s ever-changing moods effects everyone in our house, I am now trying to learn how to deal with her meltdowns in order to help her understand and overcome her emotions. Here are some tips I have learned:

Create structure.
Oftentimes my daughter “loses it” when there is a change in her routine. Her day of school, occasional playdates and home occasionally gets distributed if myself or my husband has to work late. One of her strongest fits happens when I don’t get home in time for bedtime. This leads her to stay up and wait for me or finally fall asleep from screaming. To combat this, I am trying to be home for bedtime and keep the structure that she needs. When these situations do happen I try to prepare her for them way ahead of time and also tell her that I will see her right in the morning.

Stay cool and calm.
During a fit, there is nothing more I want than for them to be over. I want my child to feel better and for the whining/crying/screaming child to go away. Of course, there is a cycle of emotions that she goes through before any of this can happen. I try to have my daughter talk to me about her frustrations and feelings with “Why” questions so she can explain to me what is going on. I try to ask her to explain why she is upset so we can “talk it out.”

Walk away.
If I can’t get my daughter to talk and I find myself frustrated, I sometimes leave the room for a few seconds. This helps me to collect my thoughts and think of what I should to do next.

Review the day.
As I mentioned, structure is key in our house and to keep everything flowing I talk with my daughter about what is going to happen on that given day. If a babysitter is going to pick her up I want her to know and why. Conversely, I also talk to her about what will happen after dinner (bath, book, brushing teeth and then bed), so that she understands what is going to happen next, which I believe helps her ‘work out’ in her mind the rest of the day so there is no negotiation for anything else.

Stand firm.
This is something I have to work on, but I admire my husband for being able to stick to what he does and not give. If we say ‘No TV’ or treats, etc., he doesn’t give in despite how much she is crying for either or both!

Love.
As corny as it sounds, sometimes all our kids need is love. I notice that when my daughter is in one of her fits she is able to get out of it with a hug or a kiss. Whether it’s tiredness or frustration, she is able to emerge from the meltdown and finally talk to me about why she was so upset.

As a long and slippery slope, toddlers and big kids have a huge range of emotions as they try to understand and process their world. As parents we also have to do our best to understand what they are going through and help them understand their emotions.

What do you do to calm your child during a meltdown?


About the Author:
A Brooklyn-based writer and mom of two, Serena Norr created her original blog Seriously Soupy as a way to learn more about soups and to experiment with new ingredients. She also writes about healthy living, parenting and lifestyle topics on her blog Mama Goes Natural.