The Bigger the Meltdown, the Bigger the Opportunity


“Where sin abounds, Grace abounds more”

When a child really “loses it” – the freakin’ out, screaming and kicking kind of lose it – parents have a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate either grace or “ungrace.” Having done the “ungrace” response many times, I know that the impulse is to meet a child’s tantrum with a little tantrum of my own. But I’ve learned over time that meeting a child’s tantrum with my own demands never really helps me accomplish my goals of connecting with my child’s heart. We also learn from others, and here’s a great story from one of our coaching clients about taking advantage of a great opportunity for “abounding grace.”

I Have Changed!

A recent email seemed worth sharing (with permission) as this week’s tip. Consider what you might learn from this inspiring excerpt:

Since our coaching session, things have been going really well with Justin!!! What an absolute joy he has been!  I could write several pages about all of the great things that have taken place with him, with me, with his dad, and in our home. But I want to focus on what I think is the most important thing that has happened:

I have changed!

Tantrums From Tots To Teens

Pouting teen

Teen Tantrums

Teen Tantrums are not all that different than two-year-old tantrums. So read the tip below and apply those principles.

But there are some distinctions, too.

Because teen tantrums are usually verbal, the teens frequently say things that “hook” our emotions. These things can feel quite hurtful. When parents respond out of that hurt – with tears or even anger, this rewards the teen. It gives him or her a sense of power over the parent.

So figure out how you can stay calm. Try not to engage in the “tantrum” until you can be fairly relaxed. This will help you stay reasonable and rational, which is your best shot at helping your teen learn to stay calm too.

Two-Year-Old Tantrums

“What should we do when our two-year-old frequently tantrums at the store?”

  • Some experts say you should ignore the tantrumming child.
  • One says you should step over “the little sucker” and keep walking to teach her that you’re in charge.
  • Others say tantrumming children already feel insecure and should be comforted but not get her way.
  • Most say – stay calm and rational.

Here’s our answer: “We don’t know.”

Then we ask a couple of questions: “What are you hoping she’ll learn?” and “What have you learned so far about helping her learn it?”

Once you answer these questions we can work together to think about and try different strategies for teaching the lessons you want your child to learn.

Some parents end up deciding to ignore the child and walk away. Some decide to offer comfort. Others scold their child, or just pick her up and put her in the cart.

There is no one “right” answer to this. But there are a couple of good questions that can help parents think and decide well for themselves.