4 Effective Tips to Keep Parents Cool When Kids Meltdowns
If you have kids than chances are they have had a meltdown, or a dozen…more? At home it might be easier to handle than in a store, restaurant or a friend’s house, but learning how to deescalate them will help in all situations. If you have a 2-year-old having a meltdown it is big difference than a 10-year-old. But you can still choose how to handle the situation so that you keep your cool. For my family the two’s (terrible twos) started about 18 months and were bad until the kids were able to communicate better with words. They’d often be frustrated and not have the verbal capacity to explain it. As they were older they didn’t always realize what they are going through was something we might have experienced at their age as well. Regardless of age, some kids have more meltdowns than others and it is important to learn how to defuse it before it gets worse or they explode.
The Source: Learn what set your child off. It could be disappointment, fear, failure to achieve something. Discuss with your child the anticipated outcome. It could be that your child is overstressed, overstimulated or hours past bedtime and needs sleep (don’t forget we get cranky too when we are tired). It could be you have expectations too high for them and they are afraid to let you down.
At a certain age kids also want to do things for themselves. This might mean it takes 10 times longer or they don’t really know how. It is a start of independence. But if they are trying and can’t, they might be upset. They aren’t mad at their shoe but that it isn’t going on, or things aren’t working as planned.
Don’t React: If you have a child that is kicking, screaming, flailing or even throwing things your first reaction might be to scream (louder) at them, spank them, and throw them in a corner for time out. It MIGHT defuse things (or might not) but it doesn’t solve them. Stay calm and don’t react… yes, it is easier said than done. Try to talk quietly. They might even quiet down, trying to hear you whisper.
When kids lose their temper with other kids, especially their sibblings, it is hard to not take sides and blame one for the other being upset. Unless you were there to see the whole thing, make sure you don’t assume. It could be that the behavior was provided (even if the reaction wasn’t acceptable behavior).
Give Love: Offer hugs, when they are a little calmer, tell them you love them, let them know you don’t like the behavior but your love is unconditional. They might be in trouble, grounded, lose privileges or need to sit down and discuss a situation with you. But you still love them.
The Big Picture: Know this will pass and you need to figure out how to control their outbursts AND how you react or handle them so that long-term you and your child both know how to react better next time there is an upsetting situation. This does not mean giving in. It means understanding and offering a loving connection.
For more parenting tips check out: 8 Reasons Why Your Child Argues With You (And How to Respond).