How to Survive a Child’s Meltdown

IMG_1164Last weekend while visiting my brother and his wife it took just one minute for my dog (who came with me) to locate a small cat toy my niece had bought and begin chewing it to pieces.

As you can imagine this resulted in tears, and the dog being confined to a downstairs bedroom.

This experience reminded me that reaching children for Christ involves viewing things from their perspective.

See in my niece’s eyes the dog hadn’t just eaten a cat toy from dollar general.

  1. It was a toy that she personally bought with her own money for the family cat
  2. That matched him with color (they were both orange)
  3. And she watched him play with for hours

While in my eyes

  1. It was a cheap toy so a replacement could easily be purchased
  2. One of many toys that the cat had
  3. And wasn’t really that important [1]

It shouldn’t be surprising that trying to explain this didn’t end the tears…because you can’t rationalize with emotional children

This truth is hugely important when reaching children with the Gospel of Christ because if you can’t get one child to stop crying uncontrollably then you will soon have a room full of crying children [2].

So instead of focusing on “ending their tears” we should understand WHY they are crying.

  1. By asking questions [3]
  2. By making sure we understand the situation [4]
  3. By learning what we can do to fix the problem [5]

After learning why the child was upset (see their perspective) we can help them understand ours

  1. By explaining that the dog thought it was her toy [6]
  2. She made a mistake [7]
  3. Telling them a story about losing something very special when you were younger
  4. And in this case encouraging them to forgive the dog for her mistake

I’m not saying every outburst should lead to a deep discussion (often it’s just best to let them cry it out). But there is a great need to understand it will take more than just rationalization to fix the problem.

You have to get down on one knee and look them in the eyes

Realize why the cat toy is important

And together with the child make a plan to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future.

Because in their eyes it’s much more than just an orange ball


  1. my niece thought differently and immediately wanted to buy a new one  ↩
  2. I know this from experience  ↩
  3. was that cat toy really important? Why was it important to you?  ↩
  4. So your upset because the toy was the same color as the cat, is that right?  ↩
  5. in this case planning to take a trip to dollar general and buy another cat toy  ↩
  6. I would make it clear that she didn’t understand the importance of it  ↩
  7. using words that a child understands helps a lot since now you can have a deeper discussion about the situation. Have you ever made a mistake?  ↩

One thought on “How to Survive a Child’s Meltdown

  1. John you are sensitive and kind Uncle, and Chloe and Titus are blessed to have You. We are praying for you and that all will come together in God’s good and perfect time.

    Say hi to all the fam, sure do miss the!

    Like

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