Tantrums and meltdowns are common in toddlers and even in preschool, but what about when your child continues to melt down at the drop of a hat beyond that age?
Some children have a difficult time developing self-regulation skills – the ability to manage emotions and behavior. They often have strong emotional reactions to something upsetting, more so than other children their same age, and they have a difficult time calming down. This inability to manage emotions is typically due to the child’s innate temperament and personality characteristics and often occurs in children with ADHD.
In order to help a child learn better self-regulation skills, we must first think of it like any other skill—one that needs to be taught and practiced. While you may rightly become irritated with your child’s frequent meltdowns and tantrums, know that it is typically not just bad behavior. A child lacking self-regulation skills is similar to a child struggling with reading; each child needs these skills to be directly taught and practiced over a long period of time.
The other thing to think about when tackling self-regulation is to consider whether your child gets agitated when there is a change in routine or in situations that lack structure. Sometimes children with ADHD can struggle with flexibility, and an unexpected change can cause a child to boil over. Here are some strategies that might help: