Updated: Feb 28, 2022
When our kids are overly emotional it’s natural to respond with high emotion.
Think about it. The louder they get, the louder we get. The more they move around, the more we move around. When they intensify their behaviors, our body language and voices become bigger. Their meltdowns often trigger our rants. I’ve talked with many parents over the years who say something like, “I’m not perfect… I’ve lost my temper, too.”
Well, of course, you have. It’s natural. Especially when your child is out of control. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The key is to not react. Your emotion adds fuel to the fire of your child’s meltdown. Sounds good, right? But just how can you do this? Well, here are a few simple steps to guide you.
Be the therapist at home. That means focus on their feelings not on their behaviors. If you can see through the tantrum to the anxiety, disappointment, sadness or frustration, then you will be more likely to empathize.
Be the Grown-Up. Adults have logic, wisdom and experience that children don’t. You are on the outside of the issue, not the inside, so you have the ability to access logic. Remind yourself that your role is to help your child learn to manage their emotions and that won’t happen if you become hyper-emotional.
Be the Calm in the Storm. Do what it takes to go the other direction emotionally. Give yourself time-out. Listen to music. Exercise. Fold towels (yes, folding warm towels can be ever so soothing!) Just do whatever you can to create peace within yourself. Not only is this healthy for you, being calm allows logic to overflow.
Problem Solve for the Next Time. Because a child is unable to think logically during a meltdown, it’s usually impossible for them to generate ideas in the moment. That’s because the adrenaline needed to fuel a meltdown immediately cuts off higher-level thinking. But as soon as your child begins to calm down – when the memory of overreaction is fresh – let them know how much you love them and want to help figure out how to prevent out of control behavior in the future. Discuss triggers and come up with strategies to handle them differently.
Being a parent is hard work. But you’ve got this!