Meltdowns Mitigated: Taking a Minute


For adults and kids alike, meltdowns are tough. As adults, I feel like it’s easy for us to get overwhelmed, apologize, and then repeat. The cycle continues. Why don’t we just say, “I need a minute”? And then actually take a minute?

When I first found out I was pregnant, I wanted my daughter to know it’s ok to take a minute for yourself, to collect your composure, process something, or just to be upset. I wish I had known this when I was younger as it probably would have considerably cut down on my meltdowns. I think it’s important for kids to feel what they’re feeling. Even though we know the moment is fleeting, it’s important to understand their feelings are valid at that moment.

Right before my kids turn two, I make it a point to teach them to say “I need a minute” and to respect whoever is taking that minute. They are free to go up into their rooms, my room, or another room in the house that isn’t being occupied. No one can bother them while they’re taking their minute unless it’s an emergency. This has made us late before, but it doesn’t bother me because I’d rather they feel better and less anxious. And let’s face it, a meltdown would have made us late as well. 

We’ve all experienced a moment in our lives where we have felt like we couldn’t breathe or the walls were closing in. If taking a minute isn’t helping as fast as they’d like, we count to 10, very quietly and calmly until they feel like they’ve gotten a handle on their emotions. Both of my kids have done this with their grandparents when I’ve been at work, and their teachers are always impressed when they showcase this skill at school. It just shows kids they aren’t alone and that their feelings are valid and real.

There are days where we take no minutes and days where we count to 10 at least 100 times, but these are my favorite moments. Knowing that they can cope with their feelings and advocate for themselves is invaluable. They are not to be afraid to feel their emotions. It’s been a game-changer in our house and a way for us to mitigate meltdowns and keep everyone on an even keel. Because let’s be honest, sometimes when your kid has a meltdown, you want to have one too! I’ve sat down on the ground in Trader Joe’s or on the lawn in front of our house to count with one of the kids, and it’s not long before they are back to their happy selves. This has worked for our family so far, and I hope this skill will continue to develop has their emotions become more complicated.