Another frequent question, which I thought would help many parents of young children. What to do when my child is having a meltdown/tantrum? And how do I cool them down?
Here’s what I do, and although they really look very simple, these techniques have really worked for me with almost every child I’ve ever worked with or dealt with starting with my daughter and until my step children. These techniques are to be used when a child is actually having a meltdown/tantrum;
1. Empathize (non verbally); yes this is my first secret, I try opening my heart and trying to really see things from a child’s perspective. If he is crying because someone took a toy from him, I would tell myself how would I feel if someone took something I thought of as precious from me? – This could all be within you and without doing anything with the child yet
2. Physical Proximity; I then get closer to the child, either kneel down to their level, sit on the floor, or next to them whatever it is I get closer – if I find them open to it, I would put my hand around them or on their shoulder gently. I also sometimes would have my hand go in circular motion around their back, or their shoulder or arms; I found by experience that this usually cools them off in a matter of minutes
3. Empathize (verbally); if I found the child now open, I would let them know that I see them, hear them and guess some feelings and needs (see the practical guide 1 & 2 in my blog to learn more about this); “Honey, I see you are really upset, It must be very scary when laud voices just pop out of no where, are you scared? Do you want to come closer? or do you want to be hugged?” – This is important because it sends the child the message that they are loved, important, they matter and are safe.
4. Sit there silently; this might sound a bit weird, but sometimes a child is too off balance they are unable to connect with you or are just not ready yet to cool down – it’s the same thing with adults, sometimes you want to cry and no matter who says what you just want to let it all out. If so, just sit silently by your child; this works for almost every child, even teenagers and tweens. I’ve sat next to my stepson as he went through his meltdown, doing absolutely nothing but holding the tissue box. I said nothing, I did nothing. And he cooled down and was then ready to respond and be with me in that gentle place of empathy and strategy making (figuring out solutions)
These simple steps have done wonders for me in my life; I would love to hear from you what worked for you? Please add what worked for you in the comment section. If you like the article, please share it and like it. Thanks!
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Marwa Advocates for freedom, peace, and building compassionate homes.