Melt-downs

July 14, 2010, 0 Comments

Yesterday, I brought my boys toIKEA. At a little play area inside the cafe, a familiar sentence caught my attention. I turned around to see a little girl who said, “I don’t want other people!” I had to smile and look towards the little girl’s mother. I wanted to get this in to confirm my suspicion. “Is she three?”

My 3-yr old has fully entered the big ego-centric phase. A good thing to know he is capable of doing more but cognitively still
immature.

The scenario is such that he would suddenly developed a liking for a certain style of pants and would awake in the morning, dutifully and dilligently change out of his PJs into his “car-pants”. It came to a stage where he would want nothing and accept nothing unless he has his “car-pants”. If he did not get his “car-pants” he would cry and cry and go into various stages melt-downs. It wears us out constantly trying all ways and means to get him to ‘obey’. It was a behaviour that was rather new to us as he is a rather obedient boy and has rather good self-control.

It occurred to me how helpless he felt when he told me one day, “Mummy if I wear another pants, I will be very sad.” I saw that although he wanted to obey/comply, he found it difficult to do because it was beyond his understanding why his likes and interest are blocked. I prayed with all my heart.

He also developed a likings for wheels! he would look at different vehicles and tells me he prefers a certain type of taxi because it has the wheels he likes. It comes to a point he would cry in frustration when we take a taxi which does not have the wheels he likes.

In a bus, he would proclaim loudly that he does not want other people on the bus. A scene I found too familier with three-year olds.

‘car-pants’:
We decided that we would enlist the help of ‘natural consequence’ as his teacher.
- As much as possible, whenever the pants are dry and clean, he gets to wear it. Its a developmental phase that spells childishness and because it was beyond his understanding why his interest was blocked, he will not be punished in the same way as outright defiance.
- The ‘natural consequence’ not being able to wear the pants meant he WILL cry and he MAY get into a meltdown. We will hold and we will comfort him.
- There is no need for lecture, preaching whatever. With as much love, patience, kindness, and empathy, we will hold him calming and quietly. We will not go into a coddle hug mood, nor will we be high-handed with this.
- I will lay out a few clean pants and he would have to decide to choose one of the pants to wear.
- At the right time, we will talk about this and pray for God to help him understand and give him joy. And it need not be on the spot.

It is important that we don’t miss this teachable moment to direct his heart towards where God wants him eventually.

wheels:
Forewarn that we are not able to choose the taxi that comes our way, so we have to take whatever taxi that comes.
- I always say “Thank God we got a taxi” and then hop right in with him. (Today he learnt to say just that!)
- When he cries, we will hold and comfort
- Divert attention to something on the road, or a favourite snack or toy we brought in our bag.
- At the right time, we will learn about thanking God even for the things we don’t like. Pray with our child.

bus-rides
Forewarn that we have to share the bus with other people because we care.
- When the bus becomes crowded, and he cries and proclaim that he does not want other people, ,we will hold and comfort. if needed, speak quietly that God is happy when we share the bus with others.
- Divert attention to something on the road, favourite snack or toy we brought along in our bag.
- Enjoy the bus-rides in other ways
- At the right time, we will learn about sharing. Pray with child.

As much as possible, be there when our child have the melt-downs. It is ever so important to see it from his view and not become frustrated or in attempt to save-face in public lash out on the child. The ego-centric phase will last for about a year. Continue to seize teachable moments, persevere and pray pray pray.

After which, we should be able to see the fruit of our labour. So mommies of three-year olds, hang in there!

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