Meltdowns & Behavior tips to easily prevent them.
Many kids struggle with managing appropriate behaviors. This can cause frequent meltdowns among other things. Just think about how we are as adults in life. We have all made bad choices at some point in time; then we learn from these choices when we have to face the consequences.
We use those past mistakes and learn how to be better as people. We are capable of making better choices instead of repeating mistakes, and so are kids. Children don’t make bad choices just to upset those who are caring for them. They are not bad.
They need guidance to learn how to respond to their environment appropriately. This is when it’s crucial for adults who are responsible for teaching them to know how to handle different situations and foster their growth.
We don’t want to shame or embarrass children for their mistakes, and more importantly, we never want to break their spirit and make them afraid to express themselves. It truly is a huge responsibility, but one that is important and worth doing what it takes to get it right! Below are some tips that will prevent meltdowns by allowing children to slow down, think about the choices they are making, and have the opportunity to change the path they are going down.
help kids make good choices throughout their day and prevent meltdowns.
- Start each day by giving kids something to work for. This can be candy, playtime, screen time, one-on-one attention if possible, anything that the child finds reinforcing. Remember not to take it all away over one bad choice they make. Instead, use it to get them back on track. Remind them about what they are working for to keep them motivated. Allow breaks if you notice frustration. After the short break redirect them back to the task or into a preferred activity.
Keep them engaged
- Are the kids getting a little loud and energetic? They’re bored and need something to keep them busy. Arrange a quick activity for them to do. This can include coloring on printer paper with markers/crayons, playing a board or card game, calling a family member, or my absolute favorite, put on educational or appropriate dance videos from YouTube and let them dance their energy out. Supervision should always be taken seriously when allowing kids to watch internet videos. Check out Kids YouTube for additional safety.
Wording is key
- Instead of telling a child “No” try other ways to say it. Kids hear that word and it causes panic. Try saying “Maybe later” or “Not right now” instead. You could even use whatever they ask you for as a future reinforcer for good behavior.
- If a bad choice is made, give the child a warning and a clear example of how they can make a better choice moving forward. If another bad choice is made, give a consequence for that behavior but make sure everything they have been working for is not taken away. Take small increments instead.
Avoid over demanding during times of frustration.
- Always allow an angry/upset child time to calm down before placing anymore demands. If appropriate, model coping strategies such as taking a long deep breath or counting to 10. Sometimes a little bit of alone time is all that is needed. Once the child is calm redirect him/her back into the initial activity or continue with initial demand with a reminder about what the child is working for. Social stories are great for teaching kids how to cope with their emotions. You can find several of these stories for free by doing an online search for “social stories for kids.”
- Some children will make one bad choice and instead of naturally accepting their mistake they will instead allow their behaviors to continue to spiral and go down hill. This is when it’s important to think of a way you can help them make a choice that will get them back on a positive track. Remind them that it’s not too late to make a better choice and earn something for their effort.
- Giving a child a choice when they are beginning to show signs that they are feeling overwhelmed or upset can quickly help them gain control of their emotions and get back on track. It can be something as simple as asking them to choose a worksheet to begin, or choose a snack, choose to get water or rest their head for a moment (make it fit the environment and mood). Keep the choices to only two at a time unless you know that giving more will not cause frustration. Some children become anxious when given too many choices.
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