How To Handle Child Meltdowns?

It’s four o’clock in the afternoon. I know it because the screams and the cries of children multiply; little slaps here and there, angry moms and dads. These daily noises tell me the school day is over! And, oh happiness, from time to time a child’s burst of laughter or song comes to light up this tense atmosphere!

What can be done to make these moments of reunion, which should be cherished, more comfortable, more pleasant?

Let’s look at this: The kid comes out of school or kindergarten upset and would like ice cream or his favorite toy! Of course, when it comes to the favorite toy, it’s easy to anticipate. Just take it with you and hand it to him. But what if this is something that we cannot give or do now? Are we going to let him get angrier or cry or scream?

Let’s try something!

The child leaves the kindergarten, angry or not, and asks for something, for example, ice cream. Rather than simply denying it, or invoking the lack of time or the inappropriate time to eat ice cream, or just ignore what he just said, let’s give him some attention. It means to look at the child. And when I say look, it means really look at him, without getting upset yourself, or constructing stories explaining his behavior. Just watch it. Why? To better understand him, better understand the situation. And when you understand, tell it to the child.
How?  By telling him: “I understand” or “I heard”. Or something else that sends a message of understanding. And when I say, tell the kid you’ve understood him, that’s really what I mean. So if we haven’t understood it, we look more and better and we listen more and better, and when it is understood, then let the child know that it has been understood.
Once you said it, look at the child to make sure he has received your message of understanding. He will be satisfied to have been listened to and understood.

How to handle problems at home?

Now that he’s satisfied that he’s been heard and understood, you can pass your message on to him, like, for example, there is no ice cream in the neighborhood or something else that is true to you. There too, when you say that, you really say it, without constructing yourself any stories of the style: “he will still get irritated by hearing me” or that “he will not understand anything” or that “in any case, he does not want to understand or listen to me”. No. You just tell him what is true for you at that moment.
As long as you have paid attention to what your child has told you before, that they have found you understood him, they will have more willingness to listen to what you have to say.

If the way I just spoke is new to you and your child, it may take a while to stabilize. But I can only recommend persevering in this direction: really listen to the child, let him know that you understand – and you verify that the child feels really understood – before passing your own message, even if your message is other than what your child hopes for. And if your child sees that you are stable in this way of doing things, he will also start to listen to you more.

Life is full of emotions, it is made of emotions. Children are full of emotions, they are alive, and for them, as for adults, it is not always easy to deal with them. How can we better control the emotions? It takes some knowledge and some application work that can be learned quite quickly. In the meantime, the way given above is a good way to make life more pleasant, for the child and for the parent!

And in order for this way of doing things to work better, out of school or anywhere else, there is one important point to realize first and foremost, before the child even arrives. That point is: be willing to look at him, listen to him, talk to him, be there for him.

How to do to make yourself more available for your kid? Before arriving at school, look and touch the things around you, one thing at a time. For example, the steering wheel of the car, a tree, looking at a walking person, at another car driver. You do that until you feel you are in the present moment, ready to find this loved one and available for him. And one thing even simpler: decide to be there, to look, to listen and to understand and to be understood.

I wish you happy and warm reunions, either after school or at any time of the day.

And, by the way, doing this way works with children and also with adults.


Monique De Clerck