4 Expert Secrets To Avoiding Meltdowns
By: Teresa Stone, M.A.Ed.
As parents, we have all been there!
We don’t talk much about it to our peers and friends, but it can literally be the most crippling, stress-filled part of our entire day, week or year…
Watching your child get frustrated to the point of a “meltdown!”
The stress this causes to all members of the family is indescribable…
The pain often felt by the child, is heartbreaking…
Can a meltdown be avoided?
In many cases, yes…
4 Expert Secrets To Avoiding Meltdowns…
Let’s get right into four different ways I’ve used to help parents avoid meltdowns…
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Keep in mind, not all will work for your child… but with enough consistency, you WILL see progress!
1. Give Choices
This is the first tip because, in my opinion, it is the most important.
Children, like adults, want choices in what they do. This helps them feel in control of situations.
When my daughter was four years old, she hated wearing shoes…
Unfortunately, wearing shoes is a necessity when going to most public places. She would scream, cry, and ultimately have a meltdown when I forced her to put shoes on.
I knew this was going to be a battle every day, so I tried to plan ahead. I allowed her to pick out her shoes from the store when we were going shopping.
Then, I would always give her the ability to choose which shoes she wanted to wear for the day. I would even give her the choice of putting her shoes on before or after breakfast. This strategy seemed to work for her.
She felt in control of the situation…
2. Pick Your Battles
Let’s go back to the story of my daughter and her distaste of shoes.
My strategy of giving her choice in her footwear often led to her wearing bright red rain boots everywhere for about three months!
Did I make her go change? (Even when she had on her frilly Sunday dress?)
No. I learned to live with her choice because:
- She was finally wearing shoes.
- In the end, it doesn’t really matter what kind of shoes she wears if she is happy with her choice.
Thankfully, she eventually grew out of this stage when she ultimately grew tired of wearing the same thing every day.
I had to let her learn that for herself. I, on the other hand, also had to learn a lesson of when to push an issue and when to back off.
This is a very tricky thing, but so important. I may not always agree with my daughter’s choices, but if it isn’t a safety issue (no one is getting hurt physically or emotionally), and it ultimately isn’t going to impact our lives, then it really isn’t a big deal anyway.
3. Teach Calming Techniques
This tip is so important. Children need a “toolkit” of calming strategies that they’ve practiced and can pull out and use when feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
There are so many calming strategies, but here are a few:
- Take Calming Breaths
- Count To 10
- Listen To Music
- Take A Walk
- Recognize And Talk About Emotions
- Take A Break In A Quiet Space
- Use A Comforting Item Such As A Stressball Or Stuffed Animal
You really just need to find what works best for your child.
For example, my daughter has always had a favorite blanket that comforts her in stressful situations. She is now twelve years old and still pulls out that blanket when she needs to…
That is ok!
That is her coping mechanism when dealing with situations that overwhelm her.
4. Anticipate Meltdowns
Even with the best planning, meltdowns will eventually happen.
Hopefully, they will happen less often when you are prepared, though. The important thing is to look for triggers/warning signs and de-escalate the situation early.
This is key…
You know your child best! Look for those signs that they need a break, and do your best to give it to them.
I know in some situations, meltdowns can’t be avoided, but some pre-planning can help…
When my daughter was four, we traveled out of state on an airplane for the first time. This was the time she was most prone to meltdowns.
I did my best to plan ahead–
- I packed her blanket
- She had her red boots
- I packed her favorite snacks and toys
- We practiced taking big calming breaths
These things helped but did not avoid her meltdowns every time…
The great thing, though was that, by looking for signs, I was able to intervene early to calm her down.
Watch your child closely and figure out what the signs are. When you know the signs, you can turn the situation around quickly.
These are just a few tips. I know you all have some fantastic ideas also.
What tips do you have to help avoid meltdowns? Please share below so we can all learn!
This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019 at and is filed under Special Education Tips and tagged as Special Education Behaviors, Teresa Stone M.A.Ed. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.