MELTDOWNS!: Don’t fix them or stop them!
I can’t even begin to tell you how many approaches
to temper tantrums I’ve tried in the last 25 years.
Some of them are down right embarrassing, so I’m hoping
to help you avoid some of the many mistakes I’ve made.
Here are my latest thoughts.
GET OUT OF THE WAY!
If you try to control or stop the tantrum, your clever child might stop for the moment, and then either resume shortly thereafter or store up how they feel about you. This usually looks like anger, frustration or disbelief at how incredibly foolish it is of you to do what you are doing. Yes, in some ways they ARE far more wise than we are. Worse yet, as a result of a couple of these experiences, your child will use these opportunities to show you just how much THEY are in charge. Such as cornering you to see if you are going to make good with your threats at the worst possible moments, like at a play date when your darling child (no, they never do this at home) has just yanked Little Johnny’s favorite truck out of his hand and now both of them are screaming OR at a restaurant with fellow patrons giving you “the look”. The pressure is on and it’s difficult not to revert to the old tried and true “I’ll make you stop” repertoire by offering any number of bribes, distractions, apologies, shushes, justifications and hopefully DEPARTURES!
Yes Folks, the best way to deal with a melt down in public
is to, as graciously as possible, take your leave. Go outside,
or to a private place, take a moment and allow your child
to fully process their feelings by having a good cry, or biting
a wash cloth, or scribbling, etc. Then see if reparations
can be made to reenter the scene. Either way, go home and
do something to help both of you calm down and feel better.
SO WHAT TO DO???
Thankfully, it’s easier than you think. As a group of toddlers told me, “LEAVE US ALONE!! WE’LL COME TO YOU WHEN WE ARE READY!”
OK, OK!!! I get it! I hope you do too.
Make sure they are safe. Decide if you are going to stay
close or leave. Tell them what you’re going to do and
where they can find you when they are ready AT A NEUTRAL TIME.