I was hanging out with some mom friends and a few of the kids started to have meltdowns. The moms were apologizing, but actually, the kids were behaving normally for their age and the situation. While meltdowns aren't welcome, they are part of life with young children, and are a signal that some aspect of life is out of balance at the moment.
While I don’t like to admit it, I too have meltdowns—those moments when I don’t behave quite as well as I think I should, because something is amiss in my life.
In a bit of reverse mentoring, my 22-year-old daughter taught me an acronym that she uses for checking in with herself—it also works with children, but I find it helpful for my own attitude, and perhaps you will find it useful as well. It is used in some addiction recovery programs.
HALT - Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired
When I feel a meltdown coming on, or am in a funk, I can stop and check in with myself (HALT) and ask myself, “Am I hungry, angry, lonely or tired?” If I am lashing out at myself, my children, my spouse, a co-worker or a neighbor, perhaps there is some root cause that I can take care of to put myself in a better frame of mind to face the challenges of my day.
Hungry? I try to keep a banana or some almonds at the ready for times when I feel my energy sagging. While I would love an order of French fries, they don’t actually solve problems for me. Good food helps me face life with more energy.
Angry? Am I reacting to my spouse because I am actually angry at another person, but I am reacting to the person closest to me? Identifying my anger doesn’t fix it, but it can help me direct it and deal with it.
Lonely? Maybe I am in a funk because I need some positive social interaction. Community is important to us as moms, and to our children and spouses. One of my favorite children’s songs was “Four Hugs a Day” by Charlotte Diamond—kids and moms and dads all need hugs.
Tired? Go to bed, take a nap, or at least lie down for a few minutes and close your eyes.
Halting won’t solve all your problems or make your children behave perfectly, but it just might increase your resilience when you are having “one of those days”.
Dear God, thank you that you are with me in my good days and my bad days, and that you love me through all my emotions and meltdowns.
Written by Carla Foote