It was pretty clear from the time my granddaughter awoke that something was bothering her. The inevitability of what was coming was almost unbearable. It was a slow burn that was heading for a total meltdown!
I think all children have these (and some adults, too!). They are those times when they get up on the “wrong side of the bed.” They can’t tell you exactly what is wrong or what is bothering them, they just know that something isn’t right. They don’t know how to deal with this emotion they are feeling and so comes—the Meltdown!
After the initial argument about what she was going to wear—which ended up being a mismatched skort (skirt and shorts together) and dress over that—she was mad at me because I didn’t give her long enough after my spouse went to work. I asked her what she meant.
It turns out, she thinks I should wait at least 1/2 an hour to an hour before I head to work after my spouse leaves. I have no idea why. I don’t know if she knows why, either!
After that it was one little thing after another which culminated in the total meltdown when she “accidentally” threw away her unopened package of fruit snacks.
She cried. She screamed. She whined. Short of actually “blowing a gasket” this kid was in full meltdown mode. I finally got it out of her that the fruit snack wasn’t open, so I got it out of the garbage can—which had a fresh bag in it or I never would have put my hand in it—and got out the package. Sure enough, it was unopened.
I washed it off. Then she cried because it would be wet. I dried it. Then it was too flat. I tried to move the fruit snacks around so they weren’t flat.
That’s when she decided she didn’t want that one at all.
So we went to the box and as she was picking out a new bag, she popped it open. She didn’t want that one, either—it was too flat.
In exasperation, I took the now opened bag and threw it back into the box and told her to pick one or she would get none.
She picked one that was so flat it looked like someone had taken an iron to it! I just shook my head, gave her a hug and told her she was driving me crazy!
With tears still wet on her cheeks, she giggled at me. I guess the meltdown was over.
Dealing with the Meltdown
It isn’t always easy to deal with the meltdown. If you are a parent or grandparent you WILL experience the Meltdown so be prepared.
I have personally found some ways to deal with the Meltdown that work better than others. Most of them have to do with letting her know that I love her no matter what.
Here are some ways I have found that end the Meltdown fairly effectively:
- Ignoring it. This one works on occasion. With ignoring the Meltdown, I would caution you to make sure you keep the child in sight to make sure they don’t hurt themselves. This one only works well if you have a lot of patience (or are deaf). I find that the more I ignore her, the louder and louder she gets!
- Listening to the child. This one works on occasion, as well. Sometimes, when they are throwing their tantrums it is hard to understand what they are saying, if they are using words at all!
- Just letting the tantrum “run its course.” Another course of action that works on occasion. It is akin to ignoring it, but with the caveat that you actually walk out of the room.
- Giving them a hug. This one usually works the best. Maybe it was just that she needed a hug or some attention. Whatever it was that she needed, a hug can often fix the problem.
Tying it all Together
We will all have to deal with the temper tantrum or Meltdown probably several times throughout our child/grandchild’s life. It is how we deal with it that makes the difference in how our child either grows or regresses from the experience.
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About the author
Karin Nauber, “G.G.” is a professional journalist who has worked in the newspaper business for the past 27 years. She is also a grandmother who, along with her spouse, is raising one of their granddaughters. G.G. has five grandchildren with whom she enjoys spending as much time as possible. She began this website with the hope of helping other grandparents who may be struggling with their role as parent/grandparents. If you would like to contact her, please do so at: firstname.lastname@example.org.