The idea of big emotions is synonymous with kids. Little things are big things to them. And everything has the potential to create big emotions for our children.
One of the most challenging aspects of effective parenting is helping our children get through a meltdown (as well as helping ourselves get through it, too). Sometimes our kids will listen to us while they are going through the meltdown, and sometimes they won’t (but they might be more willing to listen to us after the meltdown is over). Some things I keep in mind that I try to say out loud to my child (at some point—whether during the meltdown or after it or both) have to do with what to do with the emotions we feel.
Here are some of the scripts I use that accompany meltdown mode. How many I use and how often I say them depend on how long the meltdown goes on and the intensity of the meltdown. Sometimes when children are in meltdown mode, they might be willing to answer questions—if I find that that’s the case in the moment, then I include questions to help keep the positive engagement level up.
- It’s okay to be angry. But it’s not okay to hit or throw things when we are angry. (Would you like me to hold on to that for you until you feel calm? If the child is thinking about throwing something, for example.)
- When we are angry, it helps to use our words to talk about how we feel. (Would you like to talk about what happened?)
- It’s important to calm down first. And then we can solve our problem. (Do you feel calm now? Or would you like more time to feel calm?)
- Let’s get out of the red zone. When you’re in the blue zone we can talk about this. (Red is out of control, orange is really mad, yellow is a little mad, blue is cooling off, green is calm.) (What color do you feel right now? How can we get our color to change? What’s something that makes you happy? What are you looking forward to doing later? What’s your favorite place to be? Do you feel your color changing? What is it now?)
- Let the anger leave your body. Feel it move through your feet and through the ground. Let go of the angries. (What kind of animal would know what the angries feels like? Can you stand like a rhinoceros?)
- We can come up with a solution when we feel calm. (Are you ready to come up with a solution?)
- If you feel angry, then take a moment to feel it. And then throw it away so we can figure out what needs to happen next. (Do we carry around trash? No, silly! We only carry it long enough to put it in the garbage can!)
What sorts of scripts help you and your child when going through a meltdown?