Meltdowns?! What to do when your kid loses it.

Mar 19, 2021

Have you ever become super-frustrated when your kid has lost it – You try to reason with them but they’re so upset they make no sense ?  And then you get all worked up too.

Kids can lose it for all sorts of reasons.
Your toddler can go over the edge because their sibling was playing with his favorite toy.  Your 10-year-old daughter can come downstairs furious with you because she was in the shower and needed a towel and was screaming for you but you didn’t hear her. Whereas your 20-year-old son can have a meltdown because he let a friend drive the family car and his friend got in an accident.


When this happens, our first instinct is to respond logically.
You want to tell your daughter that you just didn’t hear her,  or to tell your son that he shouldn’t let other people drive the car.  You may also want to address inappropriate behavior and consequences. There will be a time for that later, but when your child has gone over the edge they can’t relate to reason. 


Understanding your child’s brain so you can respond to these situations is  one tool I teach in my Conscious Parenting Approach, and it starts with understanding your child’s brain.
Our brains have two hemispheres, the left, and the right.  Our left-brain is logical, literal, linguistic, and linear – It puts things in order.  Whereas our right brain is emotional, nonverbal and really only cares about experiences.


When your child is having an emotional meltdown, they are completely in the emotional, right-side of their brain, and reasoning with them typically doesn’t work.  They have disconnected with the logic that happens in the left side of their brain, so when you try to talk and reason with them it’s almost as if they can’t hear you.  They continue to rant, you continue to try to talk them down, and in many cases, things escalate. That’s because – at that moment your child is not able to think from their logical left-side.  They are firmly and completely wrapped up in those right-sided, non-rational flood of emotions.

The quickest way to get them out of their right-brain and calm them down is to connect with them on that emotional level, right-brain to right-brain.  It can be as simple as telling them that you see that they’re upset or that you understand.

Here’s what that conversation might look like…

I understand that you’re really upset because you were in the shower and kept calling for me to bring you a towel but I didn’t come.  You thought I was ignoring you, right?  I would be upset if I thought I was being ignored too.  Honey, if I had heard you I would definitely bring you a towel.  I wouldn’t ignore you, I just didn’t hear you.


Just because your child was having a right-brain moment does not excuse them for inappropriate behavior, but you will have a much more productive conversation if you engage their left-brain first.  Any family rules that you have established; being respectful to others, not hitting or yelling – should always be followed regardless, but you will likely have a more effective and productive conversation once your child has calmed down.

Again – The key is to get them calm and get them to start talking to you.  Once they are able to start verbalizing why they’re upset, they begin connecting with their left brain. Once your child has engaged their left-brain again, you can have a left-brain to left-brain rational discussion about the situation and discuss misbehavior and consequences.


This strategy is part of my Conscious Parenting Toolbox.
I hope that you found it helpful and easy to implement.  If you need more help or want more information, please reach out to me and line up a call –I’m happy to help!

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