How to Handle a Tantrum or Meltdown Like a Rockstar

We’ve all been there. Suddenly your child throws themselves to the floor, lets out a blood curdling scream, and starts to yell and cry. Even worse… its happening in the middle isle of Target. What are you to do? How are you supposes to respond? If you are like me, and so many others, you are looking for how to handle a tantrum or meltdown like a rockstar… but you just haven’t found the perfect formula yet.

Simple Tips to Handle tantrums and Meltdowns like a rockstar

First thing you must know… you are not alone! Not at all!

We are in the middle of our three day series on Calming the Chaos with your child who has tantrums and meltdowns. If you are just joining us, or if you missed the first video… go back and watch it! It is super important because it laid the ground-work for identifying the difference between tantrums and meltdowns.

It is my goal from this video series to help you recognize what is going on with your child, dig deeper to get to the underlying problem, fear, or anxiety. it is my goal to provide to you with the tools you need to help you calm the chaos, reconnect with your child, and build a happier home.

As an Educator I have dealt with my fair share of tantrums and meltdowns in the fifteen years that I have worked with parents and children. My own children also have had their own fair share of tantrums and meltdowns including my son who struggles with anxiety and sensory processing disorder.

In the last video, we talked about the difference between a tantrum and a meltdown. Often times they’re seen as two very different things but when we really dig deep we see that they are very similar. In both cases, the child is telling us. “I need your help”

Today, I want to focus on skills that you can develop to handle your child’s tantrum or meltdown like a rock star. I am going to teach you what to do what do say and what to avoid. I want to talk about what to do when you are at home, when you are in public, and even what to do when you are at the in-laws. These are things you can do right now to make a positive change in your life.

We have a ton of ground work to cover, today … so let’s dig in! (If you are tight on time, don’t forget to come back and watch this later, and download the free guide to help you the next time your child has a tantrum or meltdown)

All in all,  I wish I could tell you that there is a perfect formula to stop a meltdown in its tracks or to calming a child during the middle of one… but, there’s not. In fact, it takes time to learn exactly what works best with your child through trial and error. It is my goal to give you strategies you can try today while you learn more about your child and their meltdowns.

Let’s recap.

How Can You Handle a Tantrum Like a Rockstar?

What to Do, What to Say and What to Avoid with Tantrums (notes from the video)

What to Do During a Tantrum

Focus on yourself. As the adult you have to get yourself to a calm place, removing all emotion. If keeping yourself calm is a struggle, I highly recommend my 25 Simple Ways to Remain Calm Yourself

Assess the needs of your child.

  • Is it environmental
  • Is it a want/desire
  • Is it attention seeking
  • Is it a physical need?
  • Is it anxiety driven?
    What is the TRUE need your child has?

Try a diversion. From babies to ten year olds diversion has some pretty great power in parenting. This strategy is great for either the beginning or end of a tantrum as it works great for children able to reason and hear your requests.

Give your child space. A quietness between the two of you, sitting on the other side of the room, or even stepping just one step away can be highly effective.

What to Say During a Tantrum

Be brief and to the point. There are a few things you can say during a tantrum that can be extremely helpful, however, it is important to keep things matter of fact and to the point so your child can hear what you are telling them.

Acknowledge your child. “I see that you are frustrated” “ I notice that you are mad”  “it is okay to be upset”

Be clear and Firm. When trying to work through the tantrum be very clear about your expectations and be very firm. “We do have to leave this place right now, however we can come back later”

What to Avoid During a Tantrum

Remove ALL emotion. Your child is not giving you a hard time, your child is having a hard time.

Avoid blaming the child for their actions.  I  really would encourage you to to try to take blame out of dealing with a situation because it’s not going to help at all. When this is your thought pattern and your child is struggling and you are going to say “quit being a brat”.  which will cause your child to shut down even more. In the end, adding to the problem and making it even more difficult to get to the root cause.

How to Handle Tantrums and Meltdowns

How Can You Handle a Meltdown Like a Rockstar?

What to Do, What to Say and What to Avoid with Meltdowns (notes from the video)

Remember, when your child is melting down they are completely cognitively and  emotionally out of control. They’re processors are at max capacity. the most important part to remember is that in this state, their brain is no longer able to cope with what’s going on around them.

What to Do During a Meltdown

Make sure your child is safe. This might mean you need to remove you and your child from the situation. Find somewhere where your child has space to deal with their emotions.

Let them be upset. If everyone is safe, it is OK for them to have feelings. You want to give them the space they need to feel what they are feeling and reconnect after the meltdown.

On the other hand, if your child is not being safe, if you are not safe, or others around your child are not safe…your number one goal becomes making the area they are in safe.

Evacuate the surroundings. It will be easier to get the environment cleared than to get the child to a safe place.

  • Remove the dangerous items
  • Remove objects that could be damaged
  • Remove other children siblings

Do not engage. The minute you engage… the situation will escalate and now no one is safe.

Give your child space. Space is your friend during a meltdown, however it can be extremely tricky to maneuver. If you have a child that runs during a meltdown, space can be a very scary thing. It is important to know ahead of time, where a safe place for your child would be and teach them how to get to that space and use it.

Try a calming diversion. These could be things like a calm down jar, calming music,  essential oils, their favorite book or even their favorite stuffed animal. However, be prepared for a child in the middle of a meltdown to refuse any “item” being offered to them when they are in their heightened state.

Tight squeezes. It’s proven that proprioceptive input through things such as tight squeezes, weighted blankets, and pressure on the joints,  is extremely helpful for regulating the senses and helping calm a meltdown. It is important to only use these methods and strategies when you (the adult) are in a calm place to help your child use them appropriately.

What to Say During a Meltdown

Keep your chatter to a minimum. Instead of talking to them about the problem or responding to the emotion… what you can do is focus them on their body, focus on them  and focus on their breathing. Talk to your child in a very quiet, calm voice.

“I am here when you are ready for me.”
“Take a deep breath.”
“I notice you are very frustrated.”
“I’m here.”
“It’s okay to feel this way.”
“Relax your hands.”
“Relax your feet.”

“You are safe.”

These are just a few of the starter sentences we talk about in the Calm the Chaos courses, but they are highly effective when you are in a crisis situation.

What to Avoid During a Meltdown

Don’t let your own emotions take over. Just like with tantrums it’s really easy to get emotionally charged but especially in a meltdown. It can be very easy to get very emotional yourself and react instead of respond to your child’s needs.

Remove all guilt and all  embarrassment. Know you are being the best parent that you can be. and your doing the best job you can for your child.

Don’t try to reason with your child. Scientists have proven that when a child is having a meltdown their brain is not able to actually hear or respond to the things that you were saying to them.  Their logic is  gone.


Print this Free Tantrums and Meltdowns Printable

This post comes with a free printable guide to help with how to handle a tantrum or meltdown like a rockstar!

I have made a simple printable for you that shares exactly how tantrums (especially those emotionally charged or anxiety driven) and meltdowns can look so similar and at the root, are both signals. Your child is saying… I need you!

This printable simplifies it!

Here is a sneak preview…

Sneak Peek Tantrum and Meltdown Survival Guide

Download Your Free Printable

      1. Download the checklist. You’ll get the printable, plus join my weekly newsletter! Click Here to Download Your Guide
      2. Print. Any paper will do the trick, but card stock would be ideal.
      3. Place it on your refrigerator.

Frequently Asked Questions : 

What if I just threw a tantrum like they are doing. Won’t that stop them from doing it again? 

This might work. However it wont work everytime. And this does not teach your child how to communicate effectively. And this does not help you connect with your child.

Do you handle meltdowns different depending on if they are at home or in public?

If you are in public, you may want to leave to the car, or find a restroom so that you can allow yourself and your child the space to go through the emotions and deal with the situation appropriately.

I want you to remember in that moment you are there for your child you are not there for any of those strangers. It doesn’t matter what others think of you. It just doesn’t matter, most likely you’re never gonna see those people again.

So remain calm and if you have to… tell the bystander what you need from, tell them if you need them to go get something, tell them if you need to find you a quiet space to go, tell them if you need them to stand in front of your, tell them you need their help!

What about if my child refuses my help?

This can be extremely tough. In fact, this is something we have struggled with in our own home many times. The truth is… if your child is not accepting your help or your strategies… they are simply not ready. They are still in crisis mode and are not able to hear you or respond to your help.

The best solution would be to get to the problem ahead of time. Teaching your child strategies to use in the moment will be your best bet, so you can simply remind them of the tools they already have. However, this doesn’t happen over night. It’s something I go over in depth in my calm the chaos courses, these are just a few solutions to help you in the NOW.

How to handle tantrums and meltdowns like a rockstar

So let’s recap… So far in this series, we have talked about how to tell the difference between a tantrum and a meltdown and how to look for underlying causes of both. Today, we went over how to handle a tantrum or a meltdown like a rockstar and tools and strategies you can start using today. I know it can seem like a lot of information and can be overwhelming.

I don’t want you to worry about that. The truth is… you don’t have to get all of this perfect to bring calm back in your life. In fact, many parents have told me that they pick and choose what is best for them once they have all the tools in front of them.

Now, lets talk about the next video. I am really excited about this one and think it is going to be your favorite video yet. In our final video of this series, I am going to share my blueprint for calming the chaos. If you have a child that has tantrums and meltdowns frequently, you will want what I have to share. It could be life changing for bringing calm back in your home.

I’m really excited about that for now hear from you in the comments below.  tell me about a time your child had a tantrum or meltdown and one question you still have for me. Let me know how how I can help you calm the chaos with your child who is having tantrums and meltdowns.

Did you miss Video One and Free Download?Click here to read The Real Difference Between Tantrum and Meltdowns

What is the Difference between Tantrums and Meltdowns

20 thoughts on “How to Handle a Tantrum or Meltdown Like a Rockstar”

  1. Abby

    I was not able to get the printable. I’m already signed up to get the web based information, but I would love to have a hand-out available for quick reference. Thanks for the great information!

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      Let me see if I can fix that and find the problem.

      1. Kristin

        I’m having the same trouble. I was able to download the printable for the other two days, but this one isn’t coming through for some reason. I love your material!

        1. Lemon Lime Adventures

          Can you email me please so I can get it for you?

  2. I loved this video. Removing the emotion is something I really struggle with. Especially after 5 pm when we are all tired and hangry, I find myself more inclined to snap and respond with emotion. Loved your tips to help prevent the situation from escalating. Looking forward to the next video.

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      Thank you so much! You are so right about removing the emotion! So glad this was helpful.

  3. Valerie

    Hi. Love your blog! Wanted to let you know the link for how to handle meltdowns and tantrums is incorrect. It turns out it’s for the difference between meltdowns and tantrum. I tried several times…….

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      The link for the download? I am so sorry. I will try to fix that. If you email me, I can get you the right one.

  4. Thank you! Though I actually have a huge amount of experience with meltdowns there was a lot of new stuff here.

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      So glad this was helpful!

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  6. Pingback: Everything You Need to Know for Calming Tantrums and Meltdowns - Lemon Lime Adventures

  7. Mandy

    I truly loved watching this as an emotionally charged person I find peace in calming voices as you have…my question is how do I get myself in a state of calm, I’m usually the one who makes outings tense and I need help learning how to be calm and take my time? I react very quickly to the smallest of things and make times that should be fun full of stress….if my 1.5 year old daughter or 10 year old son react to something in a way o disagree with I get upset and it’s hard to come back after feeling angry or upset…..I hope I don’t sound like a bad mom cause i don’t believe I am my children are extremely loved and get away with a lot….I don’t know how to teach. Y daughter as she so young and doesn’t speak much…..she throws herself to the ground hits herself and I just don’t even know why sometimes…..feeling great full I found this site ?

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      So glad that this is helpful for you!

  8. Marybeth

    Hello, just chiming in to say I’m also not able to access this printable. When I click on the download now button it just brings me to the newsletter confirmation page.

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      Did you confirm and then search your email for it? Usually it gets hidden in your inbox. Message me if you can’t find it.

  9. Pingback: The Secrets to Calming Tantrums and Meltdowns - Lemon Lime Adventures

  10. Hi there Dayna

    I just posted something about Toddler Tantrums yesterday, and came across your blog post on pinterest.

    Its REALLY nice and detailed. I can’t agree more to the ‘keeping emotions out’ logic.

    I would appreciate if you can go through my post and give your feedback on it too 🙂 Thanks in Advance


  11. Pingback: 3 Secrets to Remaining Calm While Parenting a Child with Autism - Families Living with Autism

  12. Alexis

    My child often uses his head during tantrums and meltdowns, it’s really scary and upsetting to watch. Sometimes he uses his head to hit someone, sometimes he uses his head to hit something like the wall or table. Sometimes he uses his hands to hit his head. Sometimes he just throws himself on the floor and throws his body around, but he is unaware and not concerned of where he is letting himself fall. Do you have any suggestions on how to handle this? Thank you!

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