More Than Just Meltdowns: Navigating Emotional Dysregulation in Excited Children

You’ve been planning this experience for months. You’ve got the tickets for Disney on Ice and the matching t-shirts for the family, and you are ready to head out the door. And then it happens … major meltdown.

How many of us have experienced this? The building excitement of going somewhere or trying something new, then the need to shift focus because our children are experiencing emotional dysregulation in anticipation of or during the fun event.

When we, as caregivers, think of dysregulation, our minds often go to a child’s “big feelings” surrounding the dredging up of a negative emotion. However, even happy events, activities, and moments require emotional investment from our children and can sometimes trigger emotional dysregulation. Watching our children struggle during a “happy” or “exciting” event can feel confusing and disappointing. However, an overload of energy—even positive energy—can still trigger an emotionally dysregulated response.

Co-regulation is essential in these moments for all children. Offer a cold drink of water, a yummy snack, a pair of headphones with music, an opportunity to burn off some energy, or a preview of the day’s activities. Manage your expectations, and don’t push your child/children beyond what they are capable of in that moment. The time you invest in helping your child regulate that energy will allow you all to look back fondly on this new memory you are creating.

Recommended Resources

From the Lending Library

  • The Emotions Book: A Little Story About BIG Feelings, by Liz Fletcher
  • Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage with Life, by Dr. Stuart Shanker and Teresa Barker
  • No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tyna Payne Bryson, Ph.D.

Tip Sheet

Training From Champion Classrooms

Additional Resources

  • Raising Kids with Big Baffling Behaviors: Brain-Body-Sensory Strategies That Really Work, by Robyn Gobbel
  • A Little SPOT Emotional Regulation Box Set, by Diane Alber