Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Toddler Tactics: How Do You Handle Meltdowns?

Meltdowns is part of parenting a toddler(S). It just gets a bit out of hand when there are two of them. 2 with the same needs. Causes of meltdowns in our household is mainly due to:
  1. Tiredness
  2. Frustration
  3. Seeking Attention
I could still counter the first 2 but when it's due to number 3, it can get a bit tricky, especially when it's both of them seeking my attention at the same time. I'm always so torn between them.

Here's how I handle their meltdowns (not that I'm a pro and I can't always do this but on good day when I can, they sometimes work.)
  • Take a deep breath and get a hold of myself. Their meltdowns is highly contagious.
  • Pretend everything is ok even when I'm fuming mad or when everything is actually NOT OK.
  • Figure out the cause of the meltdown, if I can.
  • Empathize with them even when I totally couldn't relate to the screaming all because their banana broke into 2 and they couldn't accept a new banana.
  • Distract. Reading an interesting book or a book they like sometimes work. If all else fails, ipod touch is god sent. But only when I'm handling one kid because another fight will occur when they start to fight over which application they want to see.
  • Isolate. As the tantrum escalate or before it begin to escalate, I will remove them from the situation and bring them to my room to "calm down". It will usually aggravate the situation, sending them kicking and screaming even louder.
Once they reach their calm down place aka my room, they will usually not calm down. They will go full blast for a few minutes (it depends on the kid, it's usually few mins for Y and can be a long long time for K), then they will tell me what they want. Usually it's to "go out". And I will tell them they can only go out when they are ready, that is, no more crying and screaming. And when they are ready, I want them to say "Mummy, I'm ready to go play." When they could mouth these words, they are usually ready. 

It's not easy to calm them down when they go into their full blast screaming mode. Here are my calming tactics:
  • Have a different view. I let them look out of the window and ask them what they see. They could see cars coming out of the car park from our windows and I always have to pray hard for a taxi as they love Taxis.
  • Blow. My boys still don't understand how to take deep breaths. So, I ask them to blow. Since we need to take a breath to blow isn't it? This is still not working on them yet but I hope they will get it soon.
  • Sing a song. Sing a calming song but usually a silly song works better.
  • Read a book. I will read a book aloud while they cry. Sometimes it agitate them but on days that work, they calm down and move over to see what I'm reading.
When they have been crying for a very very long time, that is, for a few hours (this happens with K) and nothing works, I will turn on my computer to show them photographs or a video and this would at least calm the screaming.

At the end of all these, I'm usually exhausted and drained, physically (from the abusive kicking, they could really do some damage!) and mentally. When I'm out with one and faced with another waiting for his turn, it's time out for ME, (that is when my mum is here and they are not left alone to vent their frustration on each other.) 

How do you handle your toddler's meltdown? I would love to hear and learn more tactics!

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