A Day with My Granddaughter—The Meltdown

meltdownIt 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.

water faucetI 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.

boy and grandpa walkingI 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.

Thank you for visiting my site. I would love to hear you thoughts on this post. Please leave questions or comments below and I will get back to you very soon!

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G.G. and JazAbout 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: gg@grandparentssecondstory.com.



  1. Thank you for this article. I have a 4 year old and the tantrums are pretty bad sometimes. This was useful, thanks!

    • Lance,
      I sure hope that you are able to use some of the tips. We find that the hug works the best. It’s not about a “reward” for their bad behavior, but the fact that the hug seems to calm them down.
      Best wishes,
      Karin 🙂

  2. Thanks for this amazing tip on how to deal with a toddlers meltdown. Sometimes these little ones will get into meltdown mode and make you run insane trying to figure out what the matter is. I will try the hug next time, I hope it works.

    • Mitala,
      It isn’t always easy, but the hug does seem to work the best. I hope it works for you!
      Best wishes,
      Karin 🙂

  3. Hi Karin,

    Love the post about the meltdown haha. I don’t have kids yet, so i don’t have to deal with those meltdowns yet. But my mom used to tell me story’s about me and my sisters, when we were acting up haha. Her technique as you say was just to ignore it and after we were done she would ask if we were oke and then hug us haha.

    Wish u all the best!

    • Thanks for your comments. We like to ask our granddaughter if she is done yet! The hug seems to work the best. It calms her down.
      Best wishes,
      Karin 🙂

  4. I absolutely appreciate your posts. I am in my mid forties and just now my youngest is starting kindergarten tomorrow. If she hasn’t had her nap you will now it a couple hours before bedtime. She can have a meltdown over anything. It breaks my heart to see the number of grandparents that are having to raise their grandchildren these days. But I know its a joy for you. Grandparents like yourself and your spouse are Awesome people. You put the the Grand in Grandparents.

    • Donald,

      Thank you so much for your kind comment! Grandparents raising grandchildren is becoming more and more frequent. Not all grandparents are happy to do it, but we are!

      Best wishes,
      Karin 🙂

  5. You are so right about how you deal with meltdown making a difference in the child. We have two nephews. While we are not raising them we are a very close family and help out a lot. I have noticed that with the older boy if he has a meltdown people usually give him a hug and if that doesn’t fix it, we move to ignore.
    However I have noticed lately that the younger boy refuses to let his tantrums be ignored. He will climb right in your lap to scream and thrash around. He has seen us ignore his brother and wants nothing to do with it.
    The older has pretty well stopped having them as he wasn’t getting the attention he craved out of it. We are trying to implement a system where they get attention when they are behaving, and a hug and ignored if not. Not sure if this will work. Thank you for the tips. Maybe we can try moving to another room with the younger boy.

    • Maryann,

      Kids can all be so different, can’t they? What works for one, might not for another. In fact, probably won’t! Best wishes as you help with your nephews! They say it takes a village, right!?

      Best wishes,
      Karin 🙂

  6. What a cute post about a not so cute situation all of us with kids/grandkids will face at some point. For some reason most of my son’s worst meltdowns took place at the grocery store. Your solutions are great…thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you, Kyle Ann! Last night my granddaughter had a melt-down at the store when I told her she could only have one toy. She eventually stopped, but ugh, embarrassing!

      Best wishes,
      Karin 🙂

  7. I like all of your suggestions for a melt down. It seems that yes, sometimes one will work, and then another time it takes a different approach. Anyone can have a melt down, and my teenager tends to get kind of moody and have his own “melt downs.” I have learned with him, that the best approach is to just give him his space and let him cool off, and decide that he was being just a little, well grumpy to put it lightly. This works for me every time. To try and engage, discuss, argue, or even give sympathy seems to not help….LOL

    • Teenagers are a whole different breed, aren’t they! Glad you like the suggestions!

      Best wishes,
      Karin 🙂

  8. Great tips.. I have three young kids and there is always a tantrum going on. i struggle with consistency. I flip/flop with my approach and I think it makes it worse!

    • Carolyn,
      It can be hard to stick with one approach when each child can be so different. Routines can help especially if you can tailor them to meet each child’s needs. Tantrums can take a lot out of us adults!

      Best wishes,
      Karin 🙂

  9. Hi Karin,
    Thanks for sharing, It will be a while before I have any grandkids, but when I do I will sure take some of your advice!

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