If Your Child Has A Meltdown, Don’t Do This

Let’s face it, at some point, your child will have a meltdown.

As good a mother as you are, children are still children, and especially at a young age, they aren’t able to self-regulate as quickly as an adult.

But how you deal with your child’s meltdown is everything, and it’s important to set the stage right while they are still young to avoid creating a stressful situation for both you and your child.

The first thing to remember is, you are dealing with a child.

While this doesn’t give them a free pass to run wild, it is important to remember they don’t yet think and reason like an adult.

Parents reported:

“Early childhood resource group ZERO TO THREE recently conducted a national Parent Survey, Tuning In, and found most parents overestimate young kids’ ability for self-control, something they call the “expectation gap.”

Matthew Melmed, executive director of ZERO TO THREE, elaborates on the implications of the survey’s findings, saying, “Having realistic expectations for a child’s ability is critical for supporting healthy development and minimizing stress for both parents and that child.” He added in the press release, “For example, if a parent thinks a child is capable of greater self-control than he actually is, it can lead to frustration for the parent and possibly more punitive – rather than supportive – responses.”

However, while it’s important to have patience as your child develops their self-control, this doesn’t mean you let your child run the show.

It’s critical to teach children at a young age they can’t always get what they want. Remember, you are the parent, and they are the child.

If a child learns to throw a tantrum knowing you’ll bend and give in to their demands (again), it’s not beneficial to either you or them.

The trick is to remember your child has not yet developed full reasoning behind their actions – oftentimes they want what they want, and they may not understand why they can’t have it.

Any sense of delay of instant gratification may set them off.

But there are things you can do.

If they are requesting a certain food or a specific activity, use first/then statements such as “First, eat your dinner, then, you can have a cookie.”

This approach is better than simply saying “no” or “later” when it comes to something your child can, in fact, have, but not at that moment.

If your child begins to trust you, and understand you’ll follow through, they will be more compliant.

You can also model appropriate behavior by teaching your child to share with others, and by avoiding emotional outbursts yourself if they are acting out.

Children can sense if a parent is upset, angry, or frustrated.

If you begin screaming at them or show visible signs of distress, it may make a bad situation worse.

Take a deep breath, remember you are the parent, and firmly set a boundary if need be without letting your emotions take over.

And remember to manage expectations.

The survey revealed while most parents think their child has developed impulse control before the age of 3, that’s actually not true.

ZeroTo Three reported:

“About half of parents believe that children are capable of self-control and other developmental milestones much earlier than they actually are.

43% of parents think children can share and take turns with other children before age 2, and 71% believe children have this ability before age 3. In fact, this skill develops between 3 to 4 years.

36% of parents surveyed said that children under age 2 have enough impulse control to resist the desire to do something forbidden, and 56% said this happens before age 3. In fact, most children are not able to master this until between 3.5 to 4 years of age.

47% of parents want to learn more about how and when children develop self-control. 42% want to know more about what skills to expect at different ages.”

You can learn how to avoid making a meltdown worse by remembering your child hasn’t fully developed the skills to completely self-regulate.

However, remember you are still in charge! Children respect parents who set firm boundaries in love, and if you continue to work through the meltdowns together, you will develop a strong and emotionally healthy child.

How do you deal with your child when they have a meltdown?

Have you found any tips that help de-escalate a meltdown, without giving in to your child’s tantrum?

Tell us your tips and suggestions in the comments section below.

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