How to Help a Child During a Meltdown

How to Help a Child During a MeltdownHow to Help a Child During a Meltdown

Have you ever experienced a child when they start to spiral out of control? Maybe it is out of frustration, lack of self-regulation, increased anger or they are experiencing overload but regardless of the reason it can be difficult to calm that child down. Perhaps you try the art of distraction or you demand them to stop but instead their behaviors may escalate further. When a child is in a complete “meltdown” an adult can act as a teacher to help them to self-regulate and practice controlling their emotions.

First, one of the easiest ways to stop a meltdown is to prevent it in the first place. Children thrive on routine and predictable expectations. Read more about ways to reduce stress in the classroom here.

When a child is in a calm state, help to problem solve what activities help the child to self-calm.  Download 5 free printables to help children calm down here.  Some suggested activities are yoga, deep breathing, calm down cards, etc.  Discuss and review with children different emotions.  Use visual supports to help the child determine what may work in the classroom for calming strategies.

Try filling out the Calm-O-Meter to get a basic idea of what activities may help the child to calm down.  Page one of the FREE download includes 6 self-calming ideas with picture symbols.  On page two, children and/or adults can write down their own ideas and reflect on what techniques are successful.
How to Help a Child During a Meltdown
When a child is already in a meltdown, children can call on the information they learned previously to learn how to self-calm with various techniques.  Hang up the calming inventory Calm-O-Meter form to help a child remember what has been effective in the past to help with self-regulation and calming down.
Once the child has achieved a calm state, here are some steps you can take to help the child grow and learn from the situation.
  1. Acknowledge that there was a problem. In a calm voice, say the problem to the child.
  2. Start a conversation to problem solve the situation. Begin your phrase with “Let’s”.  For example – “Let’s think of what we can do next” or “Let’s talk about what might help”. Don’t provide the solution yourself. Stick to problem-solving the situation together. Discuss solutions and alternative solutions. Talk about how the child is interpreting the situation making sure he/she can see the bigger picture or understand a different perspective.
  3. Discuss what self-calming techniques the child utilized.
  4. Reinforce with the child how the technique was successful.

What is your most successful tip to help a child calm down?  Send us an email to let us know!

Reference:  Self-Regulation/ Self Control Tips and Strategies.  Retrieved from the web on 4/12/18 at

Use visual imagery to self-calm with this digital collection of Calm Down Cards.

How to Help a Child During a Meltdown

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