A long-time parenting dilemma – how to help my TOT feel calm in the face of a meltdown.
We ALL agonise over this right?! Some of us daily (when you’ve got children aged between 2-5),
and some of us more than others (when your child has that particular temperament making
him/her more susceptible).
Yesterday was a particularly awful day for Meltdowns, by 8.30 am I felt like I’d put in a whole
day’s work – we’ve all had those days eh?!
A ‘last resort’ quick google search because I had exhausted every single strategy known to
parentkind, and I was secretly hoping someone, somewhere had come up with a foolproof plan
within the last 24 hours for getting a pre-schooler to cooperatively sit in a car seat.
(You know, you are simply getting to the end of your own tether; your TOT is screaming as
though someone is running at him with an axe; and your intelligent self knows that if your more
reptilian brain kicks in; Which, by the way, will happen in about 5 minutes because all you’ve
heard since 5am is incessant screaming about one thing or another, you’re running on ½ a cup
of tepid coffee, its 8.45 and you should have left for day care & work 20 minutes ago!)
Fast forward to pick up – the saga from this morning – in slow and painful replay. We eventually
make it home and go about the rest of our evening in the usual manner.
Later that night, I decided to spend a little more time pondering over the day’s meltdowns. My
struggle, in this particular instance, was, how best to deal with the meltdown in that moment
because as a Mother all you want is to be able to fix it. Sometimes though, you can’t. You
simply have to let go. Something which doesn’t come easy to this Mamma Bear.
Here’s what I came away with after some hard-core thinking time:
- It IS hard to listen to BUT in that moment of highly intense emotions trying to work
things out will not help. Let them get it out of their system; after all it is simply an
expression of feelings.
- Don’t try to fix, stop, or change the behaviour in that moment. Let it be. Of course, as
your TOT gets older and is able to understand, you can find a calmer moment, when
everyone is feeling good, to talk things out.
- An expression of feelings at preschool age (and even a little bit beyond) is going to look
like a meltdown at least some of the time. Your TOT simply does not have the words to
express his feelings in a calm and articulate manner. Heck, there are days where grown-
ups can’t do this! So, bear with.
- Go with a minimal intervention approach. When your TOT is calm, and happy, discuss
how when we have intense emotions which lead to us not feeling good it is OK to express those feelings; however, it is not ok to hurt yourself, others or things; and only
intervene if one of these ‘rules’ is being broken.
- Think, Dreikers or Nelsen – “children do better when they feel better” (Dr. Jane Nelsen’s
Next Month I’ll be posting some useful tips and strategies for helping children calm down. So be
sure to check back in.