7 Calming Tips for Tantrums & Meltdowns
There’s possibly nothing worse than an inconsolable little one in the middle of a meltdown. It can be heartbreaking and infuriating at the same time. And if you’re in a public place, it can be downright mortifying at times.
For what it’s worth, momma, EVERY mom has these moments.
Babies and toddlers don’t care if you’re a celebrity or are on the phone or have already had a rough day. So, don’t feel too bad if it happens in public and don't let it make you feel like a bad parent!
When it happens to you, here are my 7 best tips to calm your child:
1. Mom, Stay Calm.
Above all, try your best to keep your cool. If you get flustered (which is bound to happen to us at some point--we’re only human!), it tends to exacerbate the situation and your child’s upset. When your child is in the middle of a tantrum or meltdown, they’re quite literally lost in their big emotions and they need you to help them see their way out of it. They’re looking to you to teach them how to calm themselves. If you need help finding your own calm amidst the chaos, check out this post and this post for some tips.
2. Don’t Scold.
When your toddler or child is in the middle of a tantrum or meltdown, they are not in a mental state to absorb what you’re saying or have a conversation about finding a solution. Try to withhold from scolding, which will only make your child more upset. And don’t try to have a conversation about what went wrong until after your child has calmed down.
3. Find a Change of Scenery.
If at home, move the child to a different room, or take the child outside. If you’re in a public place (every parent’s nightmare, right?), calmly walk your child outside or to a more secluded area where you’re both free to navigate these big emotions together without fear of judgment. Sometimes just changing locations alone is enough to distract the child from what they were so upset about.
4. Try Loving Physical Contact.
Physical Touch is very grounding for anyone, regardless of age. Babies and children especially feel more secure when in physical contact with someone they trust. Holding your baby or child on your lap or hugging your child from behind can help them to feel grounded and safe, without blocking their vision or making them feel dominated.
5. Teach Breathing Techniques.
If you can get your child to slow down and take deep breaths, this is a skill they can use for the rest of their life. You can mimic deep breaths with them--this is especially effective if you’re making eye contact with them or embracing them from behind so that they can feel you breathing slowly too. For older toddlers and children, you can try “blowing out the candle”: Hold your pointer finger up and pretend it is a birthday candle and ask your child to take a big, deep breath and then blow out the imaginary candle. Or you can also try asking your child to hold their hands out in front of them with palms facing up and then, with each inhale, raise their hands upward toward the sky and then flip their palms down and push down toward their lap with each exhale. Sometimes physical movement that synchronizes with the breath can help to both act as something to focus on mentally while also allowing the body to metabolize some of that adrenaline and anger through movement. If your child isn’t old enough to focus on this, you can still demonstrate it to give them something to watch while they breathe, while also beginning to teach them a new skill they can use later.
6. Use Visual Aids.
Mobiles, wind chimes, and glitter jars are all great calming visual aids, and making your own glitter jar with your child can be a fun project that also allows you to have a conversation about calming themselves when they’re already in a calmer state (A quick Pinterest search can steer you toward some great glitter jar recipes). If you don’t have these things handy, you can call attention to sensory things in the area, once you’ve first taken them to a new location. For example: “I hear birds singing! Do you hear that? Look at the clouds moving in the sky! That one looks like a teddy bear! What do you see? Did you notice there are square tiles on the floor? Can you find other squares in this room? I see a square table!” Even if they don’t answer your questions, this can help to bring their awareness back to their physical surroundings, which can be very grounding.
7. Experiment with Essential Oils.
There is a lot of evidence showing how essential oils and aromatherapy can aid in balancing our emotions. Lavender is very calming, while citrus oils can bring about feelings of joy. Experiment a little to see what oils you and your child respond best to. You can find roller bottle recipes online to apply to your child’s wrists. (Just make sure that if you’re going to apply essential oils to your baby or child’s skin that you dilute generously with a “carrier oil” like coconut or olive oil. Do a Google search to find proper dilution ratios.) Homemade misting sprays can be great to inspire them to take deeper breaths too--spritz into the air, onto their clothes, or onto their lovey or favorite stuffed animal, even onto their pillows at bedtime.
BONUS: Get these tips, PLUS my go-to misting spray recipe in this free download!
Which tips are you looking forward to trying? I'd love to hear what works for you! Send me an email or leave a comment below.