Top 10 Tips for remaining calm during a meltdown
1) Breathe. This is such a simple piece of advice but crucial if we are to handle a tough situation effectively. Concentrating on our breath not only relaxes us but also keeps us in the present.
2) Remove dangerous objects e.g. knives and heavy objects, wherever possible.
3) Encourage other children and animals to take themselves to a safe space when a meltdown occurs. It is often a good idea to have a pre-arranged safe space for siblings to retreat to during challenging episodes. We can cope with our raging child more effectively if we do not have the immediate safety of others to worry about.
4) Stay in the moment. Deal with what is in front of you not what you imagine could happen next. Our brain automatically becomes extra vigilant when faced with a threat. We are programmed to ruminate on the awful things that could happen rather than what is happening. It is easy to allow our minds to focus on previous meltdowns where things have got out of control. It takes practise, but try to avoid this.
5) Notice when ruminating thoughts enter your mind and slowly breathe them away.
6) Remind your child that he or she is safe and that you are here for them.
7) Think of someone you admire for their calm but strong disposition and imagine that you are that person. Put on an invisible cape and put yourself in a calm person’s shoes!
8) Disguise the fear. Staying composed in the face of a child having a meltdown can be frightening, but try not to show this. Even if you are totally faking it, stand up straight, breath slowly and show your child that you can contain their meltdown.
9) If you feel unable to cope, and it is safe to do so, remove yourself from the situation for a couple of minutes to regain your composure.
10) Remember that your child’s meltdown is not personal. Your child is expressing his or her anxieties in the place that he or she feels safest.
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Kate Rushbrooke is an experienced counsellor offering support and guidance to parents whose children display very challenging behaviour often related to development delays.
“As a mother with first-hand experience of raising a child who faces a daily battle with anxiety, I have total empathy for how exhausting and disheartening life as a parent can be in our attempts to alleviate our children’s fears and help them to navigate their environment.”