6 Signs Your Toddler's Meltdown Might Mean Something More
Toddlers aren't exactly the most competent at managing their emotions. It's honestly not their fault, as they lack the developmental capabilities to (and, let's face it, so do some adults). I'm pretty sure everyone thinks they know how to deal with a toddler meltdown, and then they experience one and are at a total loss. Especially since, no two toddler meltdowns are the same. There are multiple reasons why your toddler may be acting out, and signs your toddler's meltdown might mean more than just, "I didn't get my way and now I'm angry." From the expected ones to the most ridiculous, inane toddler meltdowns known to parent-kind, every situation requires some careful consideration because in lieu of fully-formed verbal communication, we have fully-fledged meltdowns.
I remember my daughter hitting two years old and, after a few months, breathing a deep sigh of relief. I thought I had gotten away with one of those rare children who don't really have meltdowns. I thought that maybe it was my superior parenting skills that had contributed to her perfection as a child. I thought that I had beaten the system. Boy, was I wrong. Turns out, my daughter just needed a little time to figure out the most unique and effective ways for her to lose her collective shit and leave me in nothing but a puddle of my own tears.
Sure, those meltdowns seem like complete insanity, but there can be an important message within the thrashing and the screaming and the kicking and the yelling, that definitely warrants your attention. Sometimes, it's not just about wanting the green spoon, no the red spoon, no the yellow spoon. Sometimes, our kids are trying to tell us something important. So, keeping that in mind while you practice the beautiful art of the internal scream, here are six signs that your toddler's meltdown may mean something more:
There's Been A Big, Recent Change
Maybe you're pregnant again. Maybe you're moving, or someone close to your family died. Maybe you've welcomed a new baby into the mix or maybe you and your partner are going your separate, respective ways. Toddlers don't have the emotional capacity to deal with major change, so it can often manifest in other ways.
The Meltdown Happens At Bedtime Every Night
It's possible that your child is just overtired. You can try moving bedtime forward by 15 minutes every few days to see if things improve.
Meltdowns Happen Before Or After Daycare
It could just be the adjustment of routine, but it's important to pay close attention when your kid freaks out about being with other caregivers. I'm not one to say that nannies or caregivers or daycares are inherently bad, evil places where horrible people do horrible things to your children (because reality is cool) but things do happen, and when your toddler reacts negatively to one particular person or place, over and over again, something might be going on.
They Have Meltdowns About Clothing Or Other Items Touching Their Skin
This goes beyond the classic toddler freak out over a potentially annoying or uncomfortable tag. For a small percentage of the population, Sensory Processing Disorder can manifest as an inability to tolerate the feel of certain materials, including certain types of clothes.
They Freak Out About Sounds Or Bright Lights
Again, this is beyond the typical overreactions that toddlers have, and in line with more consistent, specific freak outs. My daughter occasionally loses her mind about sunlight in her eyes, but it's not an everyday thing. For kids who constantly have meltdowns about these scenarios, again, Sensory Processing Disorder may be an issue. See your doctor to see what he or she thinks.
They Haven't Eaten Much That Afternoon/Morning
Adults aren't the only ones who get hangry. If your toddler has been particularly picky in a given day and is now losing it, the cause may be low blood sugar. You you can fix that pretty easily by giving them some cheese and crackers or an egg, if they'll deign to eat it.