How to Diffuse a Child's Meltdown in the Classroom

Few things are as difficult for a parent to face as your child having a complete meltdown in the classroom as you drop her off for a day of class. Whether she’s upset because she doesn’t want to go to school or she doesn’t want to leave you, you probably don’t feel good leaving her in that state. You know her teacher can handle her meltdown once you leave, but sometimes it’s easier for you to take a few seconds and diffuse the situation before heading out the door.

Try distracting your child when you take him into the classroom prior to leaving, advises Joan Simeo Munson, a Colorado-based psychologist, for Empowering Parents, a child behavioral website 3. For example, if he tends to have a meltdown as you’re leaving, try taking him over to where his friends are playing and getting him involved in an activity so that he becomes focused on the activity on not on you leaving.

Stay calm, advises The worst thing you can do when your child is having a meltdown in the classroom is lose your patience. This does nothing but exasperate the situation. Take a deep breath, count to 10 or just close your eyes for a few seconds and imagine yourself in a happy place before you calmly direct your child to calm down.

Ignore your child’s meltdown if it is not out of control, advises National Association of School Psychologists 2. You can continue to talk to your child’s teacher while she melts down, giving her attention only when she ceases to misbehave. However, if her meltdown is too distracting to the rest of the class, simply take her to a place away from the other students and instruct her to stand or sit there until she has calmed down. Children often throw tantrums for the simple reason of getting attention and they don’t care whether that attention is negative or positive, which is why not feeding into negative behavior can help promote positive behavior.

Discuss your child’s meltdown with him after the fact, advises Smart Classroom Management 4. When he is calm, it is a good idea to discuss why he behaved this way, why his behavior is inappropriate and what he can do in the future to handle his emotions without behaving in such a negative manner.

Warn your child that if she continues her meltdown in class, you will enforce consequences for her actions. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, good consequences for children include anything from taking away privileges such as dessert after dinner to a time-out.