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What to do when your child flips out

October 10, 2012

Every parent dreads the moment when their child exhibits extremes of emotion, particularly in public.  Over time, many parents have worked out their own methods of what works best through trial and error, but sometimes you can still be left floundering.

Psychologist Susan Quillam in her book “Your Child’s Body Language” says that a child who loses emotional control is often scared by what’s happening in the environment.  She provides the following 8 tips for helping your child regain that sense of control:

  1. Obtain eye contact with your child, then keep saying his/her name, calmly buyt loudly, until you can see he/she is calming down.
  2. Stay with him/her, making sure he/she doesn’t hurt him/herself – or you.
  3. Get him/her on his/her feet and moving around.
  4. Keep his/her head up and eyes focused above eye level.
  5. Get him/her doing a complex but non-risky physical activity that engages his/her attention, such as wiggling fingers an increasing number of times.
  6. Get him/her doing some kind of complex but undemanding mental activity that engages attention, such as counting all the shapes on the wallpaper.
  7. Get him/her to breathe deeply and slowly.
  8. As your child recovers, he/she may need to sleep.  Keep him/her warm and stay within calling distance.

These tips aren’t intended as a replacement for ongoing or more deep-seated issues that may require help from a psychologist or more permanent solutions, but it’s a good place to start.

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