Navigating Children’s Emotional Meltdowns

If there's one thing I've learned about toddlers, it's that they have some pretty big feelings, and sometimes they struggle to convey those feelings well. Sometimes, they know what they're trying to say, but are unsure about how to express what they feel, or they may not understand what they're feeling, and that can be scary for a child. This can create a challenge for parents as they seek to help their kids learn how to use words to express their emotions.

An important thing that parents can do is to help their children learn to interpret and understand their emotions. Below are some strategies that can help you to connect with your child and help them connect to their emotions.

  • Emotions are often felt physiologically. Call attention to a fast-paced heart rate, clenched fists, or a scowl on our child's face. Talk through what your child is feeling, asking questions and bringing awareness to these body experiences.
  • Help your child to describe what they are feeling. As we have these conversations about feelings, children are learning to be aware of what they feel and they are also learning the words that explain those emotions.
  • As we help children to understand what they are feeling, it's also important to remind them that their feelings are important, and that they are not something to be afraid of. Look for ways to validate your child's feelings without condoning negative behaviors.
  • Suggest actions or behaviors that a child can do to seek comfort or help when they are feeling a difficult emotion.
  • When your child behaves in a way that is not appropriate for the time or place, it is important to lovingly let them know that they need to find a better way to let you know what they are feeling.
  • Try to avoid punishing your child when they are in the middle of an emotional meltdown. Make it clear that their emotions are not the reason that you are upset with them, but rather that the way they are expressing what they feel is not appropriate.
  • After your child has calmed down, take time to talk about what happened. Help them to correct any damages or problems that may have occurred during the meltdown. This could be through apologizing to someone who was hurt, or cleaning up a mess that was made.

When kids feel safe sharing their feelings, and recognize that their feelings are not bad, they are more able to respond to them in appropriate ways. It becomes an easier thing for children to respond to, and reduces the chances of tantrums and communication breakdowns. By working through our child's emotional experience together, we can give them the words to express their feelings, and they will be able to use them in future emotional situations as they learn to process and regulate their emotions.

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Monday, 16 May 2022

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