The Mindful Life™ Blog

The biggest meltdown mistake parents make

Whether you have younger children who meltdown by throwing tantrums or older children who meltdown by rolling their eyes and retreating to their room, you are probably making a common mistake.

Maybe you give your child a time out. Maybe you even get your child to take a few deep breaths and then offer your advice. Many parents miss a critical opportunity to help their kids learn from an experience because they get busy trying to fix the problem too soon.

Before you jump into solution mode, take a moment to validate your child’s emotions, even if you don’t agree with them.

Your toddler is on the floor, kicking and screaming. Even before you attempt to calm her down, tell him, “This feels really frustrating to you,” or, “I see that you’re angry right now.” With a younger child, this small step may feel futile, but young children often don’t know how to identify their emotions, so a simple statement like this will help them understand and become more mindful of their own experiences.

For older kids, validation will help them become more receptive to whatever solution you recommend. When you validate your teen’s emotions first, she will feel understood. When your daughter refuses to go to school because because her friend, who you aren’t fond of, told her she’s a loser, your advice to ignore her friend’s comments will make your daughter feel as though her feelings are not okay. Not only is she grappling with her friend’s rejection, but now you are also rejecting her experience.

If, instead, you begin the conversation with, “That must have felt terrible when she told you that. You thought she was a good friend, and then she said something like that to you? That sucks.”

Your daughter will be much more likely to listen to your advice after she feels that you understand her.  

This simple step can make all the difference as you navigate the difficult emotions your child is sure to encounter.

Subscribe to instantly download my "Meltdown Cheat Sheet" where I walk you through the steps that will help you keep your cool—and help your child feel understood—during these difficult times.
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Warmly,
Kristen Race
and the Mindful Life team

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