7 tips (and one bonus one) to staying calm in a meltdown

After publishing an account of my son's meltdown yesterday, I was asked the question, "How do you stay so calm?"

The answer of course is that I don't always. But when I do, it is because I have done the following things:

1. Realise that a meltdown comes about because the child has more stimulation or stress than they can handle.

2. Refuse to take it personally. Obviously it is not nice to be called a mutt, or whatever the insult of the day is, but I try to remember that my son is still learning to handle his anger and his frustrations and most of the time he is pretty nice to me.

3. Get rid of the categories of "naughty" and "good". These are completely unhelpful when dealing with a meltdown. Much better to see what you are dealing with as an opportunity to teach thinking skills.

4. Remember that nothing can be achieved while there are high levels of cortisol floating around in my child's brain. Changing his behaviour is impossible until he is calm.

5. Take him seriously and run with it. If you do this, often the child can see that his crazy ideas (like blowing up the house) actually aren't going to fly in reality. However, he has been heard, and that is the important thing for him. Shutting down what he says and contradicting him ("you can't blow up the house") is just going to inflame things even more. 

6. Breathe deeply and ask yourself, "what do I need in this situation?" Then find a way of meeting that need so that you are more able to deal with the issue.

7. Plan ahead for the next meltdown and practice scenarios which will help you stay calm. 

Bonus tip: Laugh at the ridiculous things your child says (but probably not out loud... you might make them even more upset.) After all, blowing up the house is a pretty funny, pretty cool idea!