If you’ve ever experienced toddler meltdowns over food, clothes, toys, or anything else,
You are NOT alone!
But most of the time these behavioral issues are quite normal.
This is because as children, our brains are still developing and growing.
As we grow inside our mother’s belly, the very first thing to develop is our brainstem and neural tube.
The brainstem grows upward and forms our brain, while our neural tube grows downward and outward to form our spinal cord and nerves.
Think of the brain as 3 different layers.
- The foundation is the brainstem. This controls and coordinates every function of our body that we don’t have to think about, including you stress response and immune function.
- The top layer is out prefrontal cortex. This is where logic, reasoning, and rationality comes from. This is what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.
The second layer is where your toddler LIVES.
This part of the brain is all about emotions.
When a toddler is being unreasonable, it's because they ARE unreasonable.
They haven’t fully developed beyond their emotional centers of the brain and are therefore not able to act or think rationally.
there are 3 things we need to do when our child is having a meltdown:
- Stay calm, remain patient, and don’t take it personally. This can be very difficult to do. As a father of two toddler boys, very close in age, I understand this all too well. But it is something I work on just as much as anyone. But the last thing we need is two people losing their cool.
- Acknowledge what they are upset/frustrated/angry about. Sometimes the simple act of letting them know that you know why they are so upset can calm the situation down immediately.
- Let them work through it. Don’t try to distract them with treats or screen time. Take them away from what’s “causing” the issue, and let them DEVELOP. Because that is what’s happening when they are having this outburst. Sometimes they want you to hold them or just sit with them, but don’t necessarily try to “fix it”.
If done consistently over time, you should see your child be able to handle similar situations much better, and thus have a lot less meltdowns.
If you feel like you’ve been diligent with how you handle your child and they are still experiencing these issues, then their nervous system is likely “STUCK”, holding them back from developing through their emotional centers to their higher level of brain function.
If so, feel free to reach out and I can help in any way possible.
Oh and I also did a Facebook Live about this as wel