Family Playing Together

Surviving Toddler Meltdowns At Family Gatherings

As a parent, you may have experienced the joy and excitement of bringing your toddler to a family gathering, only to find them becoming overwhelmed and distressed. This can be frustrating and stressful for both you and your child. With Memorial Day and its family barbecues to kick off summer right around the corner, here are ways to help your toddler manage their emotions and enjoy family gatherings without feeling overwhelmed.

Before we dive into potential solutions, it's important to understand why your toddler may feel overwhelmed at family gatherings. 

For starters, family gatherings often involve a lot of people, noise, and commotion. This can be overwhelming for anyone, especially toddlers who are still developing their social and emotional skills.

Additionally, toddlers may be overstimulated by the number of new faces, sights, and sounds they encounter at family gatherings. They may also feel anxious or insecure in unfamiliar surroundings or situations.

As a parent, it's essential to recognize the source of your toddler's overwhelm so that you can find ways to alleviate their distress and avoid a toddler meltdown.

Tips to Avoid

 Toddler Meltdowns

Prepare Your Toddler Ahead of Time

One of the best ways to help your toddler feel more comfortable at family gatherings is to prepare them ahead of time. This can be as simple as talking to them about the event and what to expect. You can show them photos of family members they haven't seen in a while, or talk about fun activities they can look forward to, like playing with cousins or eating their favorite foods.

It's also important to let your toddler know that it's okay to feel overwhelmed or anxious and that you will be there to support them throughout the event.

Create a Safe Space

When your toddler is feeling overwhelmed, having a safe space where they can retreat can be incredibly helpful. This might be a quiet corner of the room where you are or it could be a separate room altogether.

Before the event, scope out the location and identify areas where your toddler can retreat if they need some time alone. You can also bring a familiar blanket or toy from home to help your toddler feel more at ease. The Monti Kids Puzzles travel especially well!

Stick to Your Routine

Toddlers thrive on routine, and disrupting their usual schedule can be unsettling. While it's impossible to maintain your exact routine during a family gathering, you can try to stick to a similar schedule as much as possible.

This might mean bringing your toddler's favorite snacks or meals with you, or making sure they take a nap at their usual time before heading out. Keeping a familiar routine can help your toddler feel more comfortable and secure in unfamiliar surroundings.

Limit Stimulation

Family gatherings can be overwhelming for anyone, but for toddlers, it can be especially challenging. To help your child manage their emotions, try to limit the amount of stimulation they're exposed to.

This might mean taking breaks from noisy or crowded areas or setting limits on screen time or sugary foods. You can also bring along quiet activities like books or coloring to help your toddler decompress. Check out the Monti Kids Art Set for inspiration.

Stay Connected

Lastly, it's important to stay connected with your toddler throughout the event. Check in with them frequently to see how they're feeling, and offer reassurance and support when needed.

You can also engage in activities with your toddler, like playing games or doing crafts together. Spending one-on-one time with your child can help them feel more secure and connected to you, which can alleviate feelings of overwhelm.

Tips For When The 

Inevitable Happens

Validate their feelings

Even if you don't agree with why your toddler is upset, acknowledging their feelings can help them feel heard and understood. For example, you might say, "I see that you're feeling really angry right now. That must be really hard."

Offer comfort

Sometimes, toddlers just need to feel comforted and reassured. Offer a hug, hold their hand, or offer them a blanket or stuffed animal to hold.

Give them space

While it's important to be present for your child during a meltdown, it's also important to give them space to work through their emotions. You might sit nearby, but allow them to have some time to calm down on their own.

Avoid punishment

While it can be tempting to punish or threaten consequences during a meltdown, this can often make the situation worse. Instead, focus on de-escalating the situation and addressing the root cause of their upset.

Be patient and flexible

Meltdowns can be unpredictable and can happen at any time. Be patient with your child and remember that this is a normal part of their development. Be flexible and willing to adjust your approach to best meet their needs in the moment.

Dad and Sad Toddler Cuddling

Tips For Self Talk 

During A Meltdown

Take a deep breath 

When your toddler is melting down, take a moment to step back and take a deep breath. This can help you regulate your own emotions and models for them how to regulate their own.

Practice mindfulness 

Mindfulness is a technique that involves being present in the moment and observing your thoughts and emotions without judgment. It feels hard because it is hard, and that's ok!

Stay positive

It can be easy to get caught up in negative thoughts when your toddler is melting down. However, it's important to stay positive and focus on connection rather than the problems.

Repeat a Mantra 

Positive self-talk involves using affirmations and positive statements to encourage yourself and stay motivated. For example, you might say to yourself, "I can handle this. I am a good parent."

Seek support 

If you're feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, don't be afraid to seek support from other family members or friends. Sometimes just talking to someone else can help you feel more calm and centered. For deeper, unbiased, one-on-one support contact the Monti Kids Coaches - we're here for you!

By staying calm and composed when your toddler is melting down, you can help your child feel more secure and regulated. Remember that your child is looking to you for guidance and support, and by staying positive and empathetic, you can help your child navigate their emotions and enjoy family gatherings without feeling overwhelmed.

"A tantrum is not an attempt to manipulate. A tantrum is a plea for a warm, sturdy leader."

Dr. Becky Kennedy

A toddler happy among their family
Dad and Toddler Hugging

By implementing these tips and strategies, you can help your toddler feel more comfortable and secure at family gatherings. This can make the event more enjoyable for both you and your child and create lasting memories for years to come.