I have the answer to get rid of meltdowns. Kidding! I don’t. However, I do have some tips for handling meltdowns that will make your life and your child’s life better during the episodes.
There is something about public meltdowns that arouse feelings by the people all around us. I don’t say what “feeling” because the responses aren’t all the same.
Sometimes there are parents out there that can sympathize. They feel your pain. They know that handling meltdowns are not as easy as everyone would like them to be.
There are times that you even make eye contact with another mom while the meltdown is happening, and you get that little smile from them that says, “Hang in there, fellow mom. You got this.”
Other people will automatically judge your parenting. Some people will look at your child like they are the plague.
Thankfully, what others think doesn’t matter all that much. That is the beauty of your journey as a parent. You have to walk this walk in a manner that fits best for your family.
We are all different.
I remember, as a teenager, I would hang out with an older friend who had the cutest daughter ever. There was just one thing. Her daughter would throw gigantic fits. These weren’t just any fits.
I lived in the Bronx, New York at the time.
(If you are grossed out by germs, please skip about three paragraphs down.)
We, of course, take subway trains everywhere in New York. Guess where her daughter threw the most fits? On the subway station floors, the underground subways.
This is where the homeless sleep and urinate. I have seen construction workers blow out snot from their noses straight on the ground on their way to work. (I warned you, but you didn’t listen.)
So, listen, meltdowns and tantrums are all different. We are entirely different, and this too shall pass.
Who am I to give advice?
Why should you listen to me, right? You surely don’t have to, but what I know is that we need each other. We need to learn each other’s mistakes and glean from one another’s wisdom, and maybe we won’t make so many of our own.
I am a mom of three. Yes, I messed up with my oldest, but I learned. I also am an educator by trade and was an early learning teacher. When the school shut down, they kept three teachers – I was one of them.
I had a class of 25 to 30 of inner-city kids, and other early educators would be sent to my class to observe if they needed to brush up on their skills. I also taught kids at church about Jesus for years on end. Lots of children.
I am not bragging.
I am just saying, I know what has worked with my kids, ALL my kids, including my school and church kids. Many of them had meltdowns, many of them I have helped through those very meltdowns.
These tips for handling meltdowns may help you. It’s not magic, but only advice to gradually get you on top of things.
1. Set expectations.
You have to prepare. I know that moms are super busy. However, for these 18 years, we have to manage expectations. Let’s stop for a moment before we head out of there door and talk to our kids about expectations.
This is something I used to do with my kids. We were on a budget anyway, but I would talk to my kids every time before we would go to a store.
“Mommy will not buy you anything. Do not ask me for a thing.” I bought them something once and a while, but only when I offered it.
Expectations build boundaries.
2. Acknowledge them.
I don’t mean to address the meltdown when it comes. What I mean is, acknowledge their presence while you are out. Talk to them. Have conversations with your kids.
They don’t need to get your attention when they are fulfilled already. Stay off your phone as much as you can and be present.
3. Stay calm.
These aren’t tips to avoid meltdowns or to prevent a meltdown. Since they are tips for handling meltdowns and tantrums, we have to be reactionary. Let our first reaction be to stay calm.
I understand that sometimes we want to throw a tantrum right along with our kids. Lord knows sometimes we want to cry just the same. We want to throw ourselves on the floor, wishing things went our way, just the same.
To be honest, we probably have cried ourselves. We have had to walk away for a moment, or even yelled. If that happens, it’s OK. Just next time, stay calm.
4. Eye contact.
Get at your child’s eye level when you talk to them. It has worked so many times with my kids. I don’t advise you to sit down with them on a subway station floor, but let’s say it’s not a filthy subway station just get down to their level.
There is a calming feeling for them; it seems when you can talk to them calmly at their eye level instead of up from way high above them.
Sometimes, when my son is super angry at his sister or super hyper, I get down to his level, speak softly, and gently touch his face.
Of course, I wasn’t able to touch my students on their face, but I could touch them lightly on their shoulders, speak softly, and redirect them.
5. Be intentional about listening to their emotions.
Listen to your kids. I never listened to my oldest daughter when she was young. She spent years bottling up all her feelings because I never let her have them. Her feelings burst one day as a teen, and I almost lost my daughter.
We are close now that she is an adult, and whenever she needs me to listen, I drop everything to do so.
I make it a point to listen to my two younger kids now. I make time for them individually. I am intentional about letting them have their feelings and help them work through them.
Be intentional about getting kids to open up. If we don’t teach them how to express themselves positively, they will inevitably try different ways to express themselves.
Here are a few freebies for helping kids with their emotions.
Enhancing Your Child’s Writing with Emotions | The Reading Roundup
Tantrums and Meltdowns FREE Printable | Lemon Lime Adventures
Remember the next time you see a mom with a child who is having a meltdown, pray for her. Pray for her child. And if you are a mom with a child who has meltdowns, know we are praying for you.
Jeannette is a wife, mother and homeschooling mom. She has been mightily, saved by grace and is grateful for God’s sovereignty throughout her life’s journey. She has a Bachelor in English Education and her MBA. Jeannette is bi-lingual and currently lives in the Tongan Islands of the South Pacific. She posts daily freebies for homeschoolers!