Thoughtful Parenting: Framing meltdowns
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
Contrary to what it often feels like, children are not trying to be manipulative; they are not intentionally acting out. They are trying to communicate something. Our job, as the adult, is to remain calm and to be present for them and their emotions. After they’ve calmed down, we can begin to unearth what they need. Sometimes, that need is very basic, but during the meltdown, our job is to be present.
The goal during a meltdown is to respond, rather than react. Responsiveness comes from being present and in your body. The following are five ways to do that:
- Put your agenda on hold for a minute and put your hand on your diaphragm and breathe. Make your exhale longer than your inhale.
- Focus on your feet. Notice the pressure of each toe, bring awareness to the balls of your feet, your arch, top of the foot and heel. Shift your weight and sway, move your body, so that you feel weighted in your feet.
- Consciously take note of your thoughts and feelings. Example: “I’m noticing that I’m holding my breath.” “I’m noticing that I’m thinking everyone thinks I’m a bad parent.” “I’m noticing that I’m clenching my jaw.”
- Repeat a mantra. A mantra is a short saying that supports you to be present and embodied. Example: “I am” on the inhale, “here” on the exhale.
- Walk away and come back. If you are feeling so overwhelmed that you are not able to be present or in your body or you might say or do something you’d regret, turn around and take a few steps back. If it’s safe, walk to another room and take a few deeps breaths. When you feel you can be present and responsive, come back. It’s OK to model this form of self-care and self-regulation for children.
Want more support or encouragement? Hannah Gooding, local mother, educator and parent coach, has partnered with Parent Connection Summit to offer free, monthly parent support groups. These sessions will offer a space for parents to connect and get support. The first session will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jann 14, at 942 Oak St. in the reception area of the Two Pine Building. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP or to learn more.
Elisha Colson is the Routt County Youth Services Coalition president.
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