Your face flushes red. You nervously glance at the onlookers, thoroughly embarrassed about the scene your child is making. Refusing to listen to anything you say, your child is screaming, stomping, threatening, and thrashing about – completely out of control!
Sounds like something you’ve experienced?
Don’t feel guilty if you have a hard time loving your child when they’re at their worst. Most parents find tantrums impossible to tolerate – especially in public.
Of course, getting mad, frustrated, or yelling at your child in the middle of that meltdown would be like throwing oil on a fire. Yet, giving in will only teach your child that they can manipulate you to get what they want.
So what can you do? Is there anything that can truly help?
Staying Calm And Learn How To Handle Your Child’s Meltdowns
How you respond to a meltdown or tantrum greatly affects the likelihood of it happening again. You must respond with calm thoughts and actions to successfully handle your child’s behavior in the present and minimize its continuation in the future.
Responding with Thoughts – State of Mind
Stay calm – It’s the most pivotal and first step you must take! Losing your temper will not help anything. You have to muster the courage to let your child’s feelings run their course without trying to argue, criticize, or even talk your child out of them. An exasperated or frustrated tone of voice can easily exacerbate the situation. Stay quiet and think carefully about what emotions you want to transmit. To the extent possible, ignore the outburst and allow it to abate.
Be understanding and compassionate – Tantrums can be generated by a lot of different things: anger, fear, frustration, or a sensory overload. Some situations are just too difficult for a child to handle and overwhelm their emotions. Your child isn’t a miniature adult. They don’t have the experience to deal with their emotions in a more grown-up way. It may seem that your child is unduly upset, but they’re doing the best they can. Remembering why meltdowns occur, though, will help you stay calm.
Hold your ground – Don’t give in to your child’s demands. Calmly show them – without the need of punishing – that you mean what you say. Being calm, clear, and direct about what you expect of them will help you to communicate more effectively during a meltdown.
Responding with Actions – Intervention
Remove your child from the situation – Intervene, especially if the outburst occurs in public. Don’t be afraid of what others think and give in to your child just because they’re making a spectacle. Calmly pick up your child and carry them – screaming, kicking, and crying – away from the situation. Take them out of the view of others to a place with less sensory stimuli.
Validate your child’s feelings – Empathize with your child. Calmly listen and repeat what they’re telling you. Speak slowly and quietly. Make statements like “I know you feel…” to confirm you understand their feelings. Acknowledging your child’s feelings and their point of view doesn’t have to mean you agree with them. But in this way, you provide a safe channel for your child’s emotions.
Stay close to your child – Words may not be enough to make your child feel secure. They need you to be by their side. If possible, hold your child in your arms and calmly wait for the storm to pass. Afterward, move on without any resentment – no anger, guilt, or sadness.
The Importance of Patience
Don’t expect your child’s meltdowns to disappear overnight. Be patient, especially if you gave them reasons to believe that their behavior will make you give in. If you consistently respond to each tantrum with calm thinking and actions, your child’s behavior will change – in time.