All About Meltdowns…

Most children experience what we often call meltdowns or tantrums. Here are my 6 top tips for how to support them during these times…

But first, remember we can’t reason with a child who is in a meltdown. Reason is a power of the upstairs brain. A child who is in a meltdown is operating from their downstairs brain.

They are in a state of being overwhelmed by their feelings. Whatever the cause, they’re not doing it to annoy us, and they can’t control themselves in that moment. They are in a state of stress and they need our help to regulate and calm down.

Our job is to help them calm down and regulate their emotions. We don’t have to teach them anything in these moments, we just have to love them. When we do that, we are helping them to regulate their emotions now – and in the future. We do this through love, connection, validation and containment of feelings.

In practise, this means these 6 things –

  1. Focus on connection first. Offer a hug, if they will take it. No matter what they’ve done, even if they have done something “wrong”. If they won’t take a hug, focus on connection, love and reassurance.
  2. Validate feelings. The feelings don’t have to be rational or make sense. What matters is that we understand them, acknowledge them, name them and let our children know it’s ok to be feeling this way.
  3. Containment of feelings means showing children through our actions, words and energy that we understand their difficult emotions. and can hold them for them. This means that we don’t panic, get stressed, upset or frustrated by their feelings. Through our calmness and kindness we offer a safe emotional haven for them during times of emotional upset.
  4. When children are behaving at their worst, it usually means they are feeling at their worst too. When we show them love and compassion in these moments we not only help them to calm and regulate, we let them know they are loved unconditionally.
  5. If in doubt, think – what would I want in this moment if I was this distressed? How would I want someone to talk to me, be present with me and take care of me? When we surrender to what a child needs as a human being with valid emotions, we can move forwards in connection and love, and move away from stress and rupture.
  6. If there is something to talk through / teach do it in a blame free way and during a calm moment another day when their brain is relaxed and open to learning.