How to Handle Meltdowns

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Meltdowns are a normal part of childhood development. So don't worry if your child is having those. But how you cope with them will help set the groundwork for how your child deals with his or her emotions.

Prevention is key. So well-rested child who is well fed, is hydrated, and does exercise is less likely to have meltdowns, because they're just physically feeling better.

The other important tactic is to manage expectations. So when you go to the store to get a toy for another child's birthday party, speak to your child. Tell him what to expect, that he's not going to get the toy today.

When you go into the store, make sure that if he starts acting out, you have the same response that you do every time you go into the store. He will not get the toy, and you tell him that over and over again. And again, when you leave the store, congratulate him on his efforts.

So consistency is really important with how you behave towards the child when he acts out. It's important to manage expectations before the incident and also reward them afterwards. Good job. I see that you understood that it's not your turn to get a toy today.

Now, remember, despite all of your efforts, tantrums are going to happen. And when they happen, here's some tips on how to deal with them. For a toddler to about four years of age, there's a few things that you can do.

First of all, if they're having a meltdown, you could try to ignore it. Let them have their meltdown. And then, once it's over, put them in a safe place. And once it's over, you can actually get to their eye level and talk to them about it.

You can also try distraction techniques when you think it's about to happen. So maybe divert their interest from that toy on the shelf to something else that they might be interested in.

And lastly, remember to be consistent and set expectations in this age group. So always handle it the same way, so that the child really knows what to expect and what's expected of him.

For a child who's age five to 10, manage expectations. So talk to them frequently about what kind of behavior you expect. If they launch into a tantrum, which can happen even in that age group, ignore them and don't really engage them during the tantrum. You can say to them, I'm waiting for you to talk appropriately before I actually answer your question.

So that's a technique that you can use to help them calm down. When they're finished with the tantrum, talk about what happened. Help them with their coping skills. And be consistent and frequent that with that message about it is their choice whether they should be angry or upset or not. And discuss ways to help them next time that they feel the urge to be angry or upset.

So teach your child to take three or four deep breaths when they're feeling anxious or upset or they feel like they are going to get into a meltdown. Other ways include counting to 10 slowly. And you can even do this yourself.

If a child is feeling anxious or upset, imagery's a great idea. So have them think about something nice, like the beach or a day at the park or maybe their favorite toy.

Meditation is a proven method to help both you and your children. So try and teach them a little bit about that.

These are all great ways to decrease anxiety and help your child cope with negative emotions. And acknowledge that everyone has negative emotions. These are just good ways to deal with them.

And remember, all of this applies to teens as well. If you've handled well during the younger ages, they will be well equipped to handle their emotions as teens. It's like building a house. You set a strong foundation and then you build on it. So you've got to get that foundation and make sure you do it at younger ages to help them when they're older.