Ask Babs: Meltdown Magic

by Babs Hadjusiewicz October 01, 2015

Q: I heard that you have kid poems and songs for many topics. Do you have one for my toddler who gets frustrated all the time? He had a giant meltdown this morning. He wanted a purple shirt instead of the blue one I’d grabbed in a hurry. Help!

A: Language is a powerful tool with toddlers. All you need are your child, you, and a few learned (or made-up) words. You’ll break out those words in either a sing-song or song-song version whenever your little one’s mood goes awry. Here a one-size-fits-many sample for that purple shirt/blue shirt kind-o’-morning you describe:

A Purple Shirt?

A purple shirt?

A purple shirt?

You say you wanted a purple shirt?

I picked a blue––a blue instead!

Oh, why was blue in Mommy’s head?

NOTE: First off, take advantage of a Babsy B Tip that reveals this truth about babies and young children: They cannot listen and cry at the same time, so if you make your words and tone intriguing, your child will stop crying to listen.

Sing-song the purple shirt ditty and repeat, repeat, repeat. Change up the naming words for the items, colors, and your title as fits your situation.

The key is to use your most dramatic voice and facial expressions to deliver those words, or any others you make up. Lift your voice for the question marks. Announce that fourth line with utter disbelief. Accent the words in italics. Look all puzzled as you point to your head at the end.

Point is, the next time a similar meltdown threatens, you’ll use words like those five short lines to engage in a positive interaction as you communicate important concepts, such as:

  • You have heard your toddler’s wish for a different shirt;
  • You model ways to use your voice to ask a question, show surprise and disbelief, or to exclaim;
  • You identify some color names;
  • You model talking about making choices and how different people think in differing ways;
  • You enjoy a joke as the two of you think about the meanings of the words and voice intonations and then giggle together.

Lastly, whether you change the shirt or not is really up to you and the clock. Either way, there’s an added opportunity to talk about time-constraints, to say there’s time––or isn’t––to make a change.

Purple or blue, with a bit of fun language in your head, that challenging moment with a toddler can become a positive, interactive, and information-packed connection for the two of you. It’s a win-win!

Copyright © 2015 Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz

Babs Hadjusiewicz
Babs Hadjusiewicz


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