Throwing temper tantrums is a part of childhood a lot of parents dread. The screaming, crying, and carrying on can sometimes be too much to bear even thinking about. It can feel worse when, instead of your toddler having a meltdown at home or in public, it’s your 10-year-old daughter, who should be old enough to know better. You may be asking yourself “how do I handle my 10-year-old daughter’s nightly meltdowns?”
To get a handle your daughter’s meltdowns, you must first identify what’s triggering her behavior. This could be any number of things, from being bullied at school to watching family members fight at home. Once you are able to identify the triggers, there are different ways you can help her to handle it. Teach your daughter she is in control of her emotions. Above all, be patient with her and don’t allow yourself to get dragged into a shouting match.
In this article, we’ll first examine the two different types of tantrums your daughter might throw. We’ll then go over some of the more common triggers which may contribute to these unwanted meltdowns. If your daughter is going through meltdowns and tantrums on a nightly basis, this article is for you. We’ll even share a few ways you can help her to get her behavior and emotions under control.
How Do I Handle My 10-Year-Old Daughter’s Nightly Meltdowns?
Sometimes your 10-year-old daughter’s emotional meltdowns seem worse than those of a toddler. She may be screaming, crying, even locking herself in her room. The thought of trying to find out why she’s acting this way seems like a daunting task. It’s exhausting for you just watching it all unfold. However, once you start to understand why your daughter is having a meltdown, you can help her move beyond it.
Meltdowns and tantrums fall into one of two main categories. The first is the power tantrum. This is a tantrum about control. You want your kid to put their coat on, yet they refuse to do so despite being cold. It’s the attitude of “I want what I want”. These power tantrums are more common in toddlers or preschoolers, but your 10-year-old is certainly not beyond it.
The second category is the emotional tantrum. This is when kids experience an emotional overload which they don’t know how to express. They get overcome with sadness, anger, or frustration and can’t process it psychologically. They reach a point where it becomes nearly impossible to think logically about their situation.
The first step in handling your daughter’s meltdowns is to understand the factors which are triggering the meltdowns in the first place. It could be issues with friends, schoolwork, or bullying. Her hormones could be changing due to puberty and causing frustrating mood swings. There may even be issues at home with witnessing arguments between family members. We’ll elaborate on all these triggers in the next section.
Once you identify the triggers of your daughter’s meltdowns, you can work on helping her get through them. In the beginning, your goal should be to get the meltdown to subside. Over time, you and your daughter can work together to get her to a place where her meltdowns become a thing of the past.
If your daughter’s behavior starts to become extreme, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Speak to a child psychologist if your daughter can’t calm down, causes damage to property, or tries to injure herself while having a meltdown.
Identifying the Triggers of Your Daughter’s Meltdowns
Some people will think any child older than a toddler throwing a tantrum is simply disrespectful or spoiled. They may even make snap judgements about the parenting skills of the kid’s family. The truth isn’t nearly so simple. Tantrums and meltdowns can happen for all sorts of reasons, as we’ve touched on. Often, it has nothing to do with how spoiled a child is.
Here are some common triggers to be on the lookout for when it comes to your daughter’s behavior.
Problems with Friends at School
Sometimes kids become friends with others who can be a bad influence on them both in school and at home. They pick up bad habits, begin testing the limits of what they can get away with, and do things purely for the shock value. If your daughter is getting involved with a group of friends who are negatively affecting her, this could be one reason for her meltdowns at home.
Struggling with Homework or Tests
If talking to your daughter about schoolwork is becoming an emotionally draining experience for everyone, it could be a subtle sign she’s struggling with school. Her interest in school may drop off sharply, and the amount of time she spends on homework can either be agonizingly long or almost none at all. Your daughter may even reach a point where she becomes resistant to going to school at all.
Being Bullied by Other Kids or Adults
Bullying is one of the biggest problems children can face today. Ark of Hope reports 71 percent of kids reported bullying as a problem in their school, with 56 percent saying they personally witnessed bullying in some form. Bullying isn’t confined just to school, either. Cyberbullying can be even more of an issue since it can affect children even when they’re home.
Changing Hormones Due to Puberty
We’ve talked in past articles about the emotional changes children go through when they go through puberty. You may notice your daughter begins to withdraw for seemingly no reason. She becomes moody and storms off to her room regularly. She may be frustrated with the mood swings caused by her changing hormones. One minute she can feel unstoppable, the next angry with everyone in sight.
Witnessing the Arguments of Other Friends or Family Members
Research has shown children who witness arguments between their parents can lead to feelings of worry, anxiety, and hopelessness. They can also become aggressive and develop behavioral issues in school and at home. It can disturb their sleep, make them physically ill, and cause problems forming relationships later on.
Five Effective Ways to Overcome or Manage Your Daughter’s Meltdowns
In the midst of a meltdown, your daughter will come across as completely unreasonable. She won’t listen to most anything you say. If she does, she’ll most likely respond with irrational and dramatic blanket statements. As a parent, moments like this can feel frustrating and hopeless. However, there are ways to defuse the situation and calm your daughter down. In time, you can even prevent meltdowns from happening.
1. Make Sure to Meet Basic Needs
You can help your daughter better regulate her emotions by ensuring all her basic needs are met. Check that she isn’t hungry, too cold, too hot, or overtired. You may find your daughter isn’t practicing healthy eating habits when it comes to snacking or meals at school. You may also discover her sleep cycle is off because she spends too much time at night in bed on her smartphone or tablet.
2. Validate Your Daughter’s Feelings
Be empathetic to your daughter’s feelings. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with her, though. When your daughter has a meltdown, she may come across as irrational or inconsolable. Feelings of anxiety can be so severe they can actually trigger headaches or stomachaches. The biggest challenge for you will be your daughter not being able to recognize her emotional state or listen to what you’re saying.
This extreme anxiety or panic can sometimes cause you to want to dismiss your daughter’s behavior as attention-seeking. This will only end up with her screaming and crying more as a way to make you understand just how upset she’s become. Instead of saying something like “you two are friends. You’re just arguing over nothing,” try saying something like “your friend did something to hurt you. You feel probably feel sick and want to be left alone.”
3. Be Patient with Your Daughter
In the midst of one of your daughter’s meltdowns, you may have to stop to tell yourself she’s coping as best she can, considering her emotional state. Don’t allow her to dictate the situation, but give her space if she needs it. Be there for her. Give her a hug, hold her, or just let her vent to you for a few minutes. Sit quietly and listen to what she has to say. Make sure to tell her you’re listening to every word. Don’t argue. Repeat what she says very slowly and quietly.
Showing compassion will lead to your daughter’s meltdown resolving more quickly, although it will always take longer than you want. It will also help her open up to you in a more constructive way in the future rather than throwing another temper tantrum.
4. Set Simple Routines and Boundaries
We’ve discussed on this blog all about household rules and the importance of being consistent in implementing discipline. Many of those same ideas apply to the situation you find yourself in with your daughter, but you have to walk more of a fine line here. The key is to keep routines simple and achievable and make boundaries clear. This will lessen the stress and chaos in your daughter’s day and help her feel like she’s more in control.
Try to structure your evenings at home if possible. Set aside time for homework, a family dinner, bathtime, and time to wind down before bed. This wind down time could consist of playing on the computer, tablet, or watching television. Use either this time or dinnertime to talk to your daughter about her day. Teaching your daughter that family time is a safe place will encourage her to come to you if something is wrong that may be triggering her outbursts.
In instances where you need to implement discipline, be firm and consistent. Let’s look at your daughter’s habits when it comes to using her phone or tablet late at night. Set rules around what bedtime is supposed to be from this point forward. If your daughter doesn’t follow the rules, then take the device away for one night. If this results in a meltdown, hold steady and explain that now it will be extended to two nights.
Your daughter may throw a tantrum to test you and see how much you’re willing to follow through on discipline. Stick with it, because if you don’t, she’ll use this poor behavior to try and manipulate you into getting what she wants. If you hold your ground and stay consistent with disciplinary practices, she will eventually learn how serious you are, and her behavior will begin to change.
5. Help Your Daughter Understand and Explain Herself
It’s important for you not to get into a shouting match with your daughter when she’s at the lowest point of a tantrum. She’s lost her grip on her emotions and is probably experiencing added anxiety or fear as a result of it. It may be very frustrating to be the one to remain rational when you’re dealing with irrational and unreasonable behavior. The situation will only get worse if you start shouting back.
Encourage your daughter to calmly describe to you what she’s feeling. Ask her to think about why she might be feeling that way, and work with her to try and pinpoint the source of her anxiety. Then have her imagine all of those negative feelings as a shrinking ball, getting smaller by the second. In turn, this helps your daughter understand how she’s in control of her emotions and not the other way around.
Dealing with your daughter’s nightly meltdowns can be a frustrating experience at best. Understanding the nature of her meltdowns and why they’re happening are the first steps to helping her get over them. Remember, above all else, to be patient. It may seem easier to dismiss the behavior or begin shouting back. Stay calm, work with your daughter, and someday soon, this will pass.
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