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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Heading Off a Toddler Meltdown Before the Point of No Return

This one.


She’s got some sass.

Can you see it in her eyes?

Can you see it in the way she sits on the table?

She is not a follower.


Nope, not this one.

Well, maybe sometimes.  When it suits her purposes.


It’s hard being 3.  There are so many things you want to do.

So many things the grown-ups won’t let you do, because they are dangerous.

Or they don’t fit into grown-up plans.

Those mysterious grown-up plans.

Like not drinking milk right before bed (and after brushing your teeth).


Water, yep, you can have that.  But not the milk.

There are lots of reasons for this rule.  Usually Emma just rolls with it and accepts water instead.

Not last night.  Last night it became a bone of contention.

“I want lots of milk in a red cup!”

“No, you can have water.”


“NO, you can have water.”


There are some things that are not worth a meltdown.  I know it, but this rule is not one I’m willing to give on, because it’s really not easier to give her the milk.  Because it would also mean involving the voices of other children in the conversation.

“How come she gets milk and I can only have water?”

Because we can’t afford to add to our already ample milk consumption.

Because by the time everyone brushes their teeth again, well, I think you are getting the picture.

It seems like a molehill, but it quickly becomes a mountain.  The water solves all that.

So I wouldn’t give in.  And she wouldn’t give in.

“How about a cup of water with a squirt of lemon juice in it?”

Her eyes lit up.  And the screaming and crying was gone.

She  galloped into the kitchen, eyes sparkling.

“Can I squirt the lemin?”

“Of course!”


You see, I gave us each an out---a way of letting go of our demands and agreeing, together, on something different. 

It was special enough that it wasn’t just water, but not something to undermine the “no milk outside of a meal” rule.  The carefully orchestrated bedtime routine was still preserved, egos were saved. 

I almost felt like Super Woman!  Not a feeling I get too often.

Have you ever had a brilliant, spur-of-the-moment idea that headed off that toddler meltdown?


  1. Good idea! I have one of those very opinionated children also. :-)

  2. Emma is very stubborn, but then so is her Mama. ;0)


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