Mommy Life

How to Deal with Toddler Meltdowns

Olivia has her fair share of meltdowns — some lasts for a minute, while a few lasts for more than 10 minutes. It could be as simple as being forbidden to watch her favorite video while eating or it could be as unreasonable as — nothing.

Last Saturday, she had another one of those episodes. The primary reason for her meltdown was because she did not want to eat her lunch yet. She was crying hysterically and throwing her favorite toy. We tried to cajole her, but she just kept on crying.

Good thing her Yaya was very patient and kept on reasoning with her. I also tried to keep my patience in check, trying my best not to start a shouting match and scaring tactics with her.

After her crying phase, she gradually mellowed and started eating.

A Challenge to Parents

Toddler meltdowns can be very challenging to parents. It is a stage in one’s parenting life when we have to fill our patience jar up to its overflowing point. It’s a phase in your life when you have to recite your numerals from 1 to 10 (or up to 100 if necessary).

Most people associate this age as the “terrible two” phase. Our little one who used to be so contented during her tummy time is already saying “ayaw” (“no”) most of the time. She knows how to cry when being scolded. Sometimes, she would go to a little corner or sprawl on the floor to mope or cry. Other times, she’d bury her face in her arms and refused to be consoled.

Thankfully, her tantrums usually takes place at home. We haven’t yet encountered an outburst when we are in public.

Understanding Toddler Meltdowns

I have read from an online article that meltdowns is as natural as a child learning how to walk. It is a normal part of their emotional development. Since they have a very limited verbal skills, they get easily frustrated when they are unable to get their point across. They vent out because they feel overwhelmed, bored, tired, frustrated or maybe just hungry.

Likewise, meltdowns happen because we fail to respond to the child’s need for attention.

Dealing with Tantrums

Parents deal with their children differently during tantrum attacks. Below are some of what I have read and based from other parents’ experiences:

Let Her Cry It All Out

It’s true that it’s hard to reason with a person who is angry; it’s also the same when it comes to a child. Since they are very, very emotional, they tend to shut out when we talk to them. Therefore, it will be more reasonable to let them cry their eyes out. Don’t try to escalate it further by demanding them to be quiet or telling them that you’re also getting angry.

Once they are calm, that would be the good time to talk things out with her.

Make Her Listen to You After The Storm

One of the reasons why argument between parent and child starts is disobedience. Olivia usually refuses to obey when I tell her to pick up her toy that she had thrown on the floor. When I repeat it again to her, it would equate to one of her tantrum spells. When she knows I’m getting angry, she would reconfirm her disobedience.

I would ignore her and let her cry (as long as she is not inflicting harm to herself or others). By the time she is already calm or back to her playful self, I would try again to instruct her to pick up her toy. Usually, she will follow thereafter. Then, I would offer good words to what she had done.

Show Empathy and Support

Olive’s yaya is actually good at doing this. Olive will cry when being scolded by my mother if she had done something wrong. Yaya will give Olive a hug and talk soothingly to her or divert her attention to somewhere else.

Afterwards, she will tell Olive what she had done was wrong, or encourage her to say sorry to the person she had wronged at.

If the reason of her outburst is frustration over a lost object or difficulty in returning a book, I would offer her my help.

Prevent Tantrums Before It Could Start

This can be applicable when going out. Plan ahead and anticipate. Always bring a snack or drink and offer to our kids even if they are not yet that hungry. Make sure they had a good night’s sleep before the trip. Or let them have a nap during the trip or stop by a bench in a mall to let them snooze for a bit.

In our case, when we are in a mall, I will ask her if she would like to nurse before proceeding with our window shopping. That way, she would be able to take a power nap and recharge herself again.

Keep Your Own Emotions in Check

It could sometimes be difficult not to shed a tear yourself when you cannot tame a child’s outburst. You feel like screaming with frustration and wanting to hit on something to release the anger.

Try to keep your cool and stay calm during a meltdown. Give yourself (and your toddler) some space to calm down. Be extra patient and understanding with the situation.

Toddlers tend to easily forget that they were having a hissy fit a while ago. So, it would be nice to hug it out and laugh it off later on.

Something to Remember

I would like to echo what I have read from Baby and Breakfast Instagram post last week:

“When your child is having a meltdown, remember, it’s their crisis, not yours. Breathe deeply. Calm yourself. Then use a quiet voice and gentle hands to guide your little one through their crisis. That is living what you want them to learn.”

I am a wife to Francis and a mother to Olivia. I am an avid reader, but a frustrated writer. Maybe considered a millennial, but very much of a "manang".

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