How To Survive Your Child’s Meltdown
By: Suzie Dalien, M.Ed.
For starters, if you are dealing with your child’s meltdown and other negative behaviors, take a deep breath. They can be EXHAUSTING.
A simple statement that was eye-opening for me was the following, “He’s not giving you a hard time; he is having a hard time.”
Cue earth-shattering music and a big AH-HA moment.
This isn’t about me (or you). Now repeat this 1,000 times!
Here are some simple things that are in your realm of control when a child or student is having a “hard time.”
How To Survive Your Child’s Meltdown
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#1 Stay Calm
I can imagine that some people are already rolling their eyes but hear me out. If you remain calm, cool, and collected, then the child isn’t getting the reaction they (might) desire.
How during a meltdown?
- Don’t raise your voice.
- Don’t engage verbally.
What do I mean by this?
You can and should verbally state the expectation for your child beyond that you don’t need to say anything else in these escalated moments.
Here’s a quick story to help paint this picture. I have a student who sat at his desk to work. When he got his work, he threw it on the ground and began yelling.
The only verbal interaction he has with me now is: “Pick up your work and sit in your chair.”
Once he complies with those directions, we can expand the expectations. Also, always be sure to praise and reinforce when they meet with the expectations.
Body language matters
Just like you are keeping your voice level calm, your body language needs to remain calm. Try to keep your body neutral.
While I’m not engaging verbally, I will gesture or point at what is needed to be done. In the example above, I would point to the work on the ground.
Tag Out When You Need to
The last part about “staying calm” is probably the most essential …Tag out.
At times you will reach a point when you can no longer stay calm. This happens, we are human.
This is when you will need someone else to step in and fill your role. When the tag out happens, the expectations remain the same.
#2 Follow Through
Follow-through is such a vital component. It is necessary for all adults who work with the child. Following through after your child’s meltdown ultimately helps the child recognize boundaries and consequences.
It is also a good reminder not to say things in the escalated moment that you aren’t prepared to make sure happens after the escalation period has stopped.
#3 Find Motivational Factors to Prevent Your Child’s Meltdown
This point will need to be your first step. Preventing the behavior before it happens is always the best.
Find what your child is motivated by and work from there. It could be as simple as your child wants to draw you a picture. Awesome!
Before they get that moment to draw, they need to complete a task. Perhaps it is…
- An age appropriate chore
- Reading time
Whatever it is after they complete that, they get to have the drawing time.
Another more big-ticket item would be to buy a video game. For more significant ticket items like this, it would be beneficial to have a sticker chart or something similar to show progress towards the big-ticket item.
Additional Meltdown & Behavior Resources
Remember, you are doing your best, and that is always the most necessary component. Here are a few other resources we have to help you with negative behavior and meltdowns.
- Handle Behavior Issues At Home And School Like A Pro
- Behavior Strategies To Live By
- Behavior Management At Home
- 5 Quick Tips To Help Manage ADHD Behaviors
Do you have a child that needs more one on one assistance?
We offer one-on-one special education tutoring that can be done from anywhere the student is! Why? Because our special education experts conduct their sessions online!
Get started with a free consultation today!
Do you have tried and true behavior tips to offer our community? Drop them in a comment below.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 9th, 2020 at and is filed under Behaviors, Special Education Tips and tagged as Parenting, Special Education Behaviors. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.