How to Deal with Tantrums and Meltdowns

Tallahassee Parents,

First, this article is about your child’s tantrums and meltdowns, not yours. Kids have them and all parents deal with them at some point. What do you do? How is the best way to handle these situations?

First, understand that meltdowns/tantrums are caused by something and it is not always directly related to what is happening at that moment. For example, your child could have had a bad night sleeping and be fine until the afternoon sets in. They get overtired, cranky in the afternoon and won’t even go down for a nap.

Here are some ideas to help you deal with the situation.

  • Remove them from your current surroundings. If your child is having a breakdown in a store because you said “no”, removing them a public surrounding should be your first goal. Most likely you are not going to think clearly or have the same amount of patience if people are walking by staring at the both of you.
  • Understand it is very difficult to reason with anyone who is upset. Whether you are an adult or child, it doesn’t matter. When people are emotional, rational thinking usually goes out the window. Wait to they calm down.
  • Sometimes you have to leave someone alone until they calm down. You will most likely realize it can be very hard to calm down an upset child. If they are really young, it can be even more difficult. There are two things you can try. One, telling them “I want to help, but I cannot help you until you calm down and tell me what is wrong.” The other option, especially if they are much younger; you might have to let them just cry it out for a reasonable amount of time. Holding and cuddling can be an option during this period until they settle down.
  • Try to look deeper into the meaning of why they are upset and give them possible solutions. For example, your child is upset because you would not buy them a toy they wanted in a store. Maybe it was because you know they will play with it for a day and then forget about it. Give them a solution. “If we go home and give away a few of the toys you do not play, we will have room for this new. Until then you have to wait. Would you like me to help you clean out some of your old toys?” This will not only teach them problem solving, but build good habits of not holding onto things forever.
  • Don’t feed the fire! It is easy to reflect a child’s angry behavior when they are mad and disrespectful. Learn to stay calm and do not let them pull you into their emotions. Don’t be afraid to say things like “I know you are upset and I am not going to talk with you while you are upset.” or “Until you talk to me nicely, I will not be able to help you.” Making it a bigger fight will only leave both of you more upset.

Parents, do not forget solving problems during tantrums and breakdowns with your kids is a skill. If at first you do not succeed, try try again! With practice, your skills will improve.

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