Has A Toddler Meltdown Gotten The Better Of You?
Have you ever been drawn into an unwinding situation with your toddler or preschool age kid that drives you to take regretful action? Before we go a sentence further I need to explicitly state that spanking and hitting is never a possibility for our home. The ashamed parenting actions I am inquiring about are centered strictly around poor choices with words, tone, and manner in response to unruly behavior from your little one. Perhaps you ended up yelling with a ferocity that ended up shaking your own foundation as much as your kid’s. Maybe you hastily grabbed your kid’s favorite toy to punitively stash it away in an attempt to wildly reclaim the authority in your household. Whatever the action was, the meltdown or defiance you faced ended up driving your own emotions downwards to a depth you have seldom felt before. Once there, the energy you emitted and resulting actions you took only served to further devolve the situation. If you are a parent you most likely have been embroiled in a handful of these scenarios. The next time you are sensing that emotional pull towards your own uncontrolled fit, try to gain awareness and just sit. Literally, sit down on the floor wherever you physically are and just try to get calm and quiet.
When All Else Fails Take To The Floor
Sitting yourself down on the floor in the midst of some stubborn defiance or in the face of a code red meltdown can change the entire dynamic of the situation. You should sense an immediate drop of internal pressure along with lowering of your body to the floor. It is like a valve got turned and the steam fired off safely in some other direction. There is something about the physical act of sitting yourself down on the floor that extracts you from the increasingly charged energy filling in the room. That is energy that can so easily sweep you away. Instead, make a conscious decision and take a proactive step to neutralize it.
Your kids should receive and interpret your new physical alignment as a sign of respect. I think it is hard for us as adults to recall just how imposing it is to have even the smallest of stature parent bearing down on you, especially when emotions run high. Toddlers get dictated to constantly when their brains are wired to seek and explore to try and grasp control of life in this big confounding world. Our ability to parent should never be to the detriment of our kids feeling respected and having control in their lives. We as the adults clearly set the boundaries and enforce healthy discipline, but need to establish a balanced environment that fosters mutual respect. When a situation is clearly spiraling out of control, take a seat and get quiet. Empower your kid to make the next move.
Your child can have a variety of reactions to the curious and impromptu move of sitting down on the floor. My son’s reactions to me taking a seat in the midst of his resistance have been incredibly helpful with the exception of one time. The very first time he was just puzzled and his intrigue alone seemed to take him out of his frazzled state. The next few times he interpreted my sitting as a gesture of peace and became open to talking and taking direction. One time, as mentioned, it admittedly backfired on me. It actually served to put my face perfectly in line for a stiff wack from my toddler son’s hand. That specific moment, clearly off the rails, called for me to just get up and create some space. No type of engaging was beneficial at that point. That one singular instance did not deter me from sitting again, though.
Thankfully I stuck with the practice and the very next time resulted in an incredibly sweet moment. My son was clearly exhausted and was flipping out in a meltdown for the ages. He was sobbing with bright red cheeks and gasping for breaths in between his harrowed screams of bloody murder. At the height of his fit I just sat right down on the floor a few feet away from him. He immediately took off towards me. With the last situation in mind, that resulted in a slap to my face, I reflexively braced for his onslaught. Instead, he just melted into my lap and arms. He dropped like a sack of potatoes and we just sat there quietly and snuggled tightly. It was a truly precious moment and my conscious decision to take a proactive action allowed it to unfold.
Even In Chaos We Have Choices
No matter how your kid reacts to you becoming seated, getting yourself calmed and centered will allow you to handle anything with poise, even a bop to the face. Everything in life boils down to the choices we make. Even in the midst of what seems like an unmanageable fit of bedlam erupting from your little one, you still possess the ability to choose. It is so easy to get caught off guard by a spontaneous burst of mania from your kid, but there is still a glimmer of choice for you within that moment. It requires an awareness in that split second, but you can find the opportunity for choice from within. Proactively seek a calming alternate course instead of reactively giving in to the madness. I directly credit my recent bout of therapy for identifying that there are choices in these seemingly unwound situations. I directly credit my meditation practice for creating my awareness within these moments of struggle. It is this awareness that ultimately allows for a proactive choice to arise.
Therapy Is A Powerful Process For Parents
My recent stint in therapy was my third time through the process. I went back mainly for the sake of trying to be a better father in addition to my continual hope of being the best husband I can be. In leading up to my return to therapy I had experienced some dealings with my toddler son that got me stirred to a place of unrecognizable anger and frustration. The breaking point for me was yelling at my son in a manner that went far beyond being urgent and firm. It seemed to scare my son and served no beneficial purpose to either of us. It saddened me that I could get to such a place where I felt emotions literally bubbling throughout my veins. While I had been keeping up with my meditation practice around this time, it was obvious I needed another layer of help for managing my emotions as a young father. It is never easy to arrive at the conclusion that you need to see a therapist, but I am so thankful I made the phone call and put in the time again. It was an incredibly positive experience and helped shape a more rewarding experience for me as being a father.
Grasp For Awareness And Take To The Floor
Toddlers and preschool age kids are fiery balls of emotions that do not act in accordance with logic. Their explosive fits and dug in acts of defiance can trigger a broad range of emotions in us as parents. There is typically no effective line of reasoning or beneficial shouting that will diffuse our kids when in the throes of their disobedience. These instances with our kids can often touch raw nerves still exposed from our own childhoods. Engaging our kids with our emotions unchecked can pull us away from being present in the moment. Without presence, we become reactive and unconsciously feed into the unraveling atmosphere which serves to only further worsen the situation. You do have a choice, though, no matter how out of reach the situation may seem. Grasp mightily for a moment of awareness and chose to be proactive. Take a seat on the floor and let the pressure drop right along with you. If the move only serves to alleviate your own spiraling emotions than taking that seat paid immediate dividends for you. You may be surprised though if your kid responds in kind, having sensed your calming presence. You just may end up with your own sweet sack of potatoes melting into your lap too.
How do you face defiance and meltdowns in your home? What tactics and tools help manage your emotions as a parent? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.