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Self-care for parents after meltdowns and tantrums!

stressed parent challenging behavior


Outbursts can be both physically and emotionally exhausting. To the extent that you may feel like you can hardly keep your eyes open and need to go to bed. Or you may be on an adrenaline high and feel like you’ve just drank several cups of coffee. Or you may feel utterly overwhelmed and like all you want to do is cry. All reactions are completely normal, and it’s important to honor your response and give yourself time to process the event and recover from it.

Give your brain a break!

Often, after an outburst, your head may be spinning, playing through the scenes again and again as you do an in-depth analysis. As soon as you can, take some time to let your brain switch off! You aren’t going to be able to rationally come to any conclusions while you are still emotionally reeling. Do whatever works for you: indulge in a gripping series on Netflix, go for a run, have a coffee, or enjoy your favorite chocolate bars. Don't worry about the mess; the clean-up can wait. What's important now is that you get some well-earned rest. Do whatever calms you and gives you a little boost!

The video below has some great tips about self-care:

Find someone to talk to.

Professionals know that they need to debrief, and there are systems in place to ensure that they get to do so. It’s the same for parents; try to find someone to talk to. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a professional, though this can be helpful. Often, anyone who is willing to listen will be enough. If this isn’t possible for you, try writing in a diary; finding some way to express how you feel and process your thoughts is the important thing.

Avoid burnout

This is where the phrase ‘to care for others, you have to care for yourself’ comes in. You won’t be able to properly support your child if you are completely burned out and exhausted. And supporting a child who struggles with anger, tantrums, or meltdowns can be exhausting. Of course, taking time for yourself if you are a parent is more easily said than done, and often you may feel as though taking time off is only setting you back further and causing more problems. This is where finding a balance is important. Try to balance whatever works best for you and your family; don’t do anything that you find is causing extra stress; be pleased with whatever balance you can manage.

Don’t feel guilty.

This one is tricky. It’s easy to go over the scenario again and again, finding places where you could have acted differently. Hindsight gives great insight. But remember, you made the best decision you could have with the information that you had at the time! You are human, doing the best you can do, possibly in very challenging circumstances, and you are doing a great job!

Try to focus on the positives!

If today was a bad day, try to think of all the things that went well. There might have been parts of the day that were good, or maybe yesterday was a better day. Try to make a mental list of all the things that went well rather than the things that didn’t.

Sometimes, it seems like nothing is improving and you are going around in circles. But think carefully; often there are little signs of progress that are easily overshadowed by the outburst. Try to focus on these; sometimes progress can be slow, but progress of any sort is what matters—things are getting better!


Reconnect with your little one. Share a quiet moment, read a story, or engage in a soothing bedtime routine. End the day on a positive note, reinforcing the love and connection that withstand even the stormiest of outbursts.

View it as a learning opportunity!

Use the outburst as an opportunity to learn and gain insight into what is happening for your child. The more understanding you have, the easier it will be to fix the problem. This is the ideal opportunity to use the Solve the WHY chart.

Tomorrow is a new day.

Remember, tomorrow is a brand-new day. Each sunrise brings a fresh start, a clean slate, and the opportunity to tackle parenting with renewed vigor. Meltdowns, tantrums, and anger outbursts are just bumps in the road, not roadblocks. So, chin up. You've got this!


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