What’s going on? My daughter is in the 8th grade, about to start high school, but still has meltdowns! Help!
You’ve gone through the toddler and elementary school meltdowns and thought you’d catch a break. However, your child’s social and academic stress may be increasing. Emotional and reactive responses to what seem to be everyday occurrences might escalate. What happens -- and how can you help?
Many parents describe kids prone to reactive meltdowns as “sensitive,” “bright,” “creative,” “empathetic,” and “compassionate.” At times, the same kid is just overwhelmed with stress.
When your child reacts with a meltdown, your body is flooded with the stress hormone Cortisol. Both you and your child now feel out of control. So, what can you do? It helps to be aware of your own responses and feelings, like putting on the oxygen mask before you can help anyone else.
Identify your own response during your child's meltdown. Where is the tension in the body? Does the jaw clench? Do you feel a knot in your stomach?
Acknowledge that your focus should not be on "fixing the problem." That can wait till after your child has calmed down and you can find solutions together to the event that triggered the meltdown.
Mirror what you think your child is feeling. Label the emotion. "I can see that you are having a tough time and feel overwhelmed right now."
Reflect what your child is saying. "I understand that you left your book in your locker and can't complete your homework. I know that you feel frustrated now."
After your child calms down, talk. When your child has calmed down, ask about the problem and what he or she needs from you. Model or guide your child to figure out a solution.
As you become more confident in your new way of responding, you will have a tremendous impact on your child’s ability to self-soothe. You are modeling calm responses and helping your child communicate his or her emotions in the moment. In the process, you are helping your child become more resilient.