Avoiding meltdowns with your child

October 22, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Pam McLaughlin, founder of ParentsDigest.com, has some helpful advice from top parenting books on how to avoid meltdowns with your child.

Pam McLoughlin's advice:

1) Beyond Time Out

There must be an action-based consequence for noncooperation from the child, not just louder or nastier words or threats.

Remember, acting out is the primary way for a child to tell you something is wrong.

When you are met with out of control behavior, it is time to move closer to your child, rather than walk away from him. Hold them, soothe them, and provide the emotional regulation they can't find on their own.

2) No More Meltdowns

Offers a four-step plan for preventing meltdowns and other out-of-control behavior:

  • Parents must accept and appreciate children
  • Learn to de-escalate a meltdown by providing a distraction
  • Learn why meltdowns occur
  • Create contingency plans and teach kids alike to prevent troubling behavior

Calm or distract the child until the emotional crisis passes

Understand what causes the meltdown

Figure out what triggers the outburst - determine what the child is trying to accomplish.

Create a meltdown prevention plan.

Teach coping skills.

Try rewards.

Don't ask a child to do something challenging if they are tired, hungry or sick.

In helping your children, try to appreciate who they are, rather than what you wish they would be.

3) The Kazdin Method For Parenting The Defiant Child

Follow That Urge - Heed the natural urge to hug your kid, and heed it often it's one of the best things you can do as a parent.

Think Positive - It's much easier to build up behavior that you want by positively rewarding it than it is to wipe out a behavior you don't want via punishment or other negative means.

4) Parenting With Love & Logic

6 Steps To Use During A Meltdown

1) Sing out "Uh-oh, looks like you need a little bedroom time."

2) "Enjoy your time here. We'll see you when you are nice again."

3) Offer choices if you like. "Would you like your bedroom door open or closed?"

4) The child remains in the room until calm. Do not talk to the child while they are in the room.

5) Once the child calms down, they stay in their room quietly for 4-5 minutes. Set a timer.

6) When timer goes off, the child may return to the family.

Sends a strong message that bad behavior will not be tolerated.

Make sure you always neutralize an argument.

Sometimes it might be best to delay the consequence. If a tantrum happens out in public, for instance, you might want to think about how to deal with it when you're in a better place.

5) How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

Listen to the child with full attention.

Acknowledge their feelings with words.

Give their feelings a name.

Punishment only helps the child to develop a greater power of resistance and defiance.

Punishment often has the effect of teaching the child to behave in exactly the opposite way we want them to behave.

Model the behavior you'd like to see.

6) Positive Discipline For Preschoolers

Discipline with young children involves deciding what you will do and then kindly and firmly following through, rather than expecting your child to "behave."

Try to see things through the child's eyes.

Say what you mean and follow through.

Focus on actions rather than words.

About Pam McLaughlin
Ever since Pam was little, she loved to read. At night, she couldn't wait to get to sleep so she could hide under the covers with a flashlight and read the next chapter in the latest Nancy Drew mystery. At a very young age, reading became one of her greatest passions.

It's no surprise that as an adult with three kids under the age of three, Pam eagerly sought out parenting advice from all the books that were piling up on her nightstand. But, like most parents, she simply didn't have the time or energy to read them. Life was busy enough and time was precious.

As years went by, she found herself with a bit more time on her hands. With the kids in school, her entrepreneurial spirit took hold. "Why not summarize books for parents to help lighten their load and give them the information they so desperately crave?" With that idea in her head, she decided to start ParentsDigest.com.

As an avid reader herself, Pam brought in other book lovers and parenting experts to help her write the summaries of leading parenting books. No stranger to children with disabilities, Pam also made it one of her missions to summarize books to help parents struggling with raising kids facing hardships. That's why she has decided to summarize books with topics ranging from autism and ADD to best selling books on anything from sleep habits to temper tantrums.

Pam's kindred spirit has led her on the path to develop something that combines her two greatest passions - reading and children. Now, she truly feels she has found an endeavor that she firmly believes in and hopes will help other parents. She knows the trials and tribulations of parenting and knows how hard it can be. It's her goal to make it just a little bit easier.


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