Why does your little one have Meltdowns?
As parents or caregivers, we have all experienced those moments when our little one throws a fit, is crying, screaming, and seemingly unable to calm down.
These are called "meltdowns," and they can be incredibly challenging to deal with. While they can be frustrating and stressful for both you and your child, it is important to remember that meltdowns are a natural part of child development, and they can be managed in a healthy way.
In this article, we will explore the reasons behind why little ones have meltdowns, and how a Montessori approach can help in managing and preventing them.
What is a meltdown?
Before we delve into the reasons behind meltdowns, let us define what a meltdown is. A meltdown is an intense emotional reaction that is usually triggered by frustration, overwhelm, or a sense of powerlessness.
During a meltdown, a child may cry, scream, hit, or kick, and they may seem unable to calm down.
It is important to note that a meltdown is different from a tantrum. While a tantrum is often a deliberate attempt by a child to get what they want, a meltdown is an emotional response that a child is finding hard to control.
Children have meltdowns because they are overwhelmed by their emotions and do not yet have the skills to manage them.
Why do little ones have meltdowns?
Now that we have a clear definition of what a meltdown is, let us explore the reasons behind why little ones have meltdowns.
There are several factors that can trigger a meltdown, including:
Lack of control: Children have a natural desire for independence and control. When they feel that they are not in control of a situation, it can be overwhelming and frustrating for them, leading to a meltdown.
Overstimulation: Young children are still learning how to process and regulate their emotions. When they are exposed to too many stimuli, such as loud noises, bright lights, or crowded spaces, it can be overwhelming for them, leading to a meltdown.
Fatigue: When children are tired or hungry, it can be challenging for them to regulate their emotions. They may become irritable and more prone to meltdowns.
Big emotions: Children experience a wide range of emotions, and they do not yet have the skills to manage them effectively.
When they are feeling sad, angry, or frustrated, it can be challenging for them to express their feelings in a healthy way, leading to a meltdown.
Developmental stage: Different developmental stages and growth spurts bring different challenges for children.
For example, when toddlers are learning to communicate, they may become frustrated when they cannot express themselves, leading to a meltdown.
How can a Montessori approach help?
Providing a prepared environment: The Montessori approach emphasizes the importance of providing a prepared environment that is tailored to the needs and abilities of the child.
By creating an environment that is predictable, organized, and appropriate for their developmental stage, children are less likely to become overwhelmed and experience a meltdown.
For example, if a child is sensitive to loud noises, a prepared environment would be designed to minimize noise levels. Similarly, if a child is in a sensitive period for movement, toys and avenues need to be provided to encourage movement and exploration.
Allowing for independence: The Montessori approach emphasizes the importance of allowing children to develop independence and self-esteem.
By giving children choices and allowing them to make decisions for themselves, they feel a sense of control and are less likely to become overwhelmed and experience a meltdown.
For example, allowing a child to choose their own clothes and dress themselves in the morning can help prevent a meltdown over what to wear.
Practicing empathy and active listening: When a child is amid a meltdown, it can be easy to become frustrated and impatient.
However, practicing empathy and active listening can help to de-escalate the situation. Acknowledge the child’s feelings, validate their emotions, and provide support as they work through their frustration.
For example, telling a child, they can’t play and must pick up their toys could result in an outburst but asking them whether they want to start by tidying up the blocks or the cars lets them feel like they’re taking charge of the situation and aren’t just being told what to do.
Allowing movement and sensory exploration: The young children have a natural need for movement and sensory exploration. A Montessori approach can incorporate opportunities for movement and sensory play throughout the day.
For example, providing a sensory bin filled with materials such as sand, water, or beans can help a child release pent-up energy and reduce stress.
Providing Practical Activities: Keeping your child busy helps them to be engrossed in something. But this means more than just giving them a few toys to play with: there’s a difference between keeping busy and doing busy work.
Children immersed in practical tasks end up feeling relaxed, fulfilled, and happy when they complete them. When they feel that way, the likelihood of a tantrum is small.
For example, letting them measure ingredients and stir when you’re cooking, pouring in detergent or folding their clothes when dealing with laundry, and giving them a mop when it’s time to sweep will keep them busy and happy.
In Conclusion, Meltdowns are a normal part of a young child's development, as they learn to regulate their emotions and navigate the world around them.
Providing a calm, prepared environment that fosters independence, self-regulation, and emotional intelligence, can help prevent meltdowns and support the healthy development of young children.