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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

"Just Breathe," In The Midst of A Toddler Meltdown?

 
In a recent post, ‘Tantrums: A Normal Part of Development,’ the causes and triggers for a toddler emotional outburst were covered. This current post discusses the health risks associated with how you react to your child’s meltdowns. It will also provide help in the form of stress reduction techniques.

Anyone who has witnessed a toddler tantrum may think, how am I supposed to “just breathe,” as my child is screaming at the top of his/her lungs while attempting to bite, scratch or hit at anything or anyone in their path? Emotions are contagious, so while your child is distressed, so are you. Even if you are aware that emotional outbursts in kids are a normal part of child development, tantrums can still be stressful for a parent or caregiver. Our body’s natural response to loud noises, in this case a screeching child, is to release cortisol, a stress hormone into our system. This hormone is present when a person goes into fight or flight mode and high levels of cortisol can eventually lead to the deterioration of healthy cell tissue making you more prone to disease. Although it is unlikely that the amount of times your child screams can significantly affect healthy cell tissue, learning how to reduce your stress level while your child is in the middle of a meltdown can be extremely beneficial for your overall well-being.

Take A Natural Deep Breath In and Out
The longer your out breath is, the more relaxed you will become. Exhaling is a natural way for the body to relax. Take a moment to try it now; on your next three breaths, count to six (or higher) on each out breath.

Empathize
Once you are more relaxed, take a moment to think of what might be going on internally with your child. For example: can you imagine how hard it could be to not be able to articulate your thoughts or not knowing that the reason you are not feeling well is because you need sleep?

After The Dust Settles Offer Physical Contact
Physical contact, such as a hug or pat on the shoulder, allows children and adults to feel cared for, so as you go in for that hug to support your child, you reap the benefits it provides as well.

Knowing what triggers our children’s reactions, along with learning healthy ways to deal with them, can truly help bring both you and your little one closer together.

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