2 min video
8 min read

My child has meltdowns 

- Help your child to feel calm

Things you can try

  1. Show your child you understand what they’re feeling

    Meltdowns happen when things are just too much for your child. They are a good/noisy way to tell you that they are too upset to manage alone.

    Show them that you understand. You can try using facial expressions and gestures as well as words.

    My daughter used to have meltdowns when I picked her up from After School Club. I used to get so upset that she didn’t seem happy to see me! Then I realised that it’s only once she’s with me that she feels safe enough to release all the emotions from her day. Now I just hold her and tell her I understand how much she misses me during the day. She hardly ever has meltdowns after school anymore.

  2. Let your child know that they are safe

    Staying close to your child while they are experiencing a meltdown lets them know they are safe. 

    • Take them somewhere quiet if possible. If they allow you to, try holding them or rocking them. Allow them to cry.
    • If they are lashing out, stay close and reassure them. Try saying, “I am right here”, “You are safe” and, “This will pass”.
    • Acknowledge they’re upset, “You wish you could play with your cousins all day” or “You wish we could stay at the park longer”.
    • Your child may try to hit you and damage things around them. Remove anything that can cause injury to them. You could say, “I know you are upset but I love you and won’t allow you to hurt yourself”.
  3. Be patient

    It can feel really horrible in the moment, but your feelings will pass - along with the meltdown. Here are some ways to stay calm and think mid-meltdown:

    • Get yourself steady before you try to help your child.
    • Pause and take some deep breaths.
    • Think about any triggers that might have caused the meltdown. Can you remove or reduce them?

  4. Help your child to understand what has happened

     Make sure both you and your child are calm. Then you can try to help them understand what has happened.  Here’s are some things to try:

    • Go down to your child’s level and engage in eye contact. If your child struggles with eye contact, sit alongside them 
    • Describe what happened: “You were having a great time with your friend and then I said it was time to tidy up the toys and say goodbye. You got really angry and started throwing toys.” 
    • Show some empathy: “I know it’s hard to stop playing and say goodbye to friends after a playdate. Maybe you felt angry with me when I said it was tidy up time?” 
    • Try some emotional coaching: “Toys are not for throwing. Next time, can find a way to you tell me with words that you are angry?”
    • Start to repair things: “I think we are both feeling a bit tired. How about we snuggle up and watch a film/read a book/have a drink and a biscuit?”

  5. Your child is unique and we hope there are some takeaways here that work for you. If you’re looking for help parenting children with additional needs, you can get specific advice from specialist organisations. Check out our list of support that we can recommend.

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