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Expert advice

14th Sep 2023

Parenting coach shares key advice on how to avoid a toddler meltdown

Jody Coffey

This is a game changer.

We’ve all been there: the ‘five more minutes until home time’ sentence is met with ‘no,’ tears, or a full-fledged tantrum.

If we’re really being honest with ourselves, we know as soon as we say it that it’s unlikely it will be received happily or obediently when it comes to toddlers.

However, a solution has finally been found that avoids the hassle of entering a playground battle with your little one.

Chelsey Hauge-Zavaleta, a parenting coach on TikTok, has come to the rescue with a technique that will save parents everywhere from trying to negotiate with a toddler during a meltdown.

In her video, which has amassed 117k likes and is growing, the mum of three shows a clip of Australian dad, Luke Trevillian, telling his young sons, who are happily playing in a bouncy castle, that they’re going to be leaving in ‘five minutes’, and, of course, they do not like what they’re hearing and begin to plead and negotiate.

Hauge-Zavaleta rightly predicts that this will result in an imminent ‘meltdown’ and this is often down to the ‘fundamental clash of perspectives between the adult brain and the child brain when you’re trying to transition.’

“This dad is future-oriented. You know how I know? He said, ‘Hey, guys, five minutes, and then we’re leaving’. His language is focused on what comes next.”

The parenting coach explains that children are more focused on what they’re doing right now and are more present in the moment.
However, fear not; Hauge-Zavaleta offers the holy grail of advice for both parties to go through any transition in a calm and positive manner.
It all comes down to understanding how your child’s brain works when transitioning from a preferred activity to a less preferred activity and working with it instead of against it.

“Focus on what they’re focusing on. Instead of saying, ‘Five more minutes till we leave,’ try ‘Five more minutes to play.'”

She also says getting involved and paying with them for these final minutes will do the world of good when it comes time to leave, as ‘getting close is a way of holding firmness’.

While parents may be thinking about getting on to the next activity or home in time for dinner, children are thinking about how much fun they are having on the swing or running around outside.

“The future has very little meaning to our kids. They’re thinking, ‘Why would I want to get off this swing to go to the grocery store when I’m getting a sensory delight and my friend is here?” the parenting coach told TODAY.

“This is going to end in a meltdown.”

The takeaway: a change in language around leaving and joining in with your kids play is going to save you tantrums in a big way.