Important Steps to De-escalate and Reconnect

  • Check the vitals
  • Breathe
  • Get on their level
  • Ask Questions
  • Reconnect


  • Check the vitals.First, think about any biological concerns and take care of them as quickly as possible. Is your child hungry, exhausted, overstimulated? If this is so, until they can meet their physical needs, their emotions will inevitably be hijacking their common sense.


  • Take a deep breath.Nearly every child on the face of the planet has had a meltdown. In public. At the worst time possible. Knowing that you are not a horrible mom, and most moms have more compassion for you than judgement can be freeing and ultimately can be the release that allows you to then meet your child’s need instead of reacting to your own feelings of embarrassment or inadequacy. Breathing also allows your stress response system to gain control and your child needs your stability now more than ever.


  • Get on their level.Do this physically as this makes them feel less threatened and lets them know that you see them and hear them. Do this emotionally- try to find a feeling word to validate what they might be experiencing. EX: “I can see you’re mad that she took your toy.” Or “I’ve noticed that (observation and a feeling word), what’s up?”


  • Ask questions.Our little ones have brains that see the world very differently from how we see it. Asking questions can help us connect with our children and allows them to feel heard and understood. Often times the reason for the meltdown is different from what we might think. Fully understand their concerns and their perspective. Support them in exploring solutions that are workable and mutually satisfactory. EX. “I wonder if there’s a way (address concerns)?”


  • Reconnect. Nine times out of ten, when bad moods descend on a family, the root cause is that one person (or more) feels a lack of connection. Literally a dis-connect. What is needed most of all is a moment of healthy connection with someone we love to help us pull out of the nosedive until we hit the Magic 5:1 ratio. Science shows that to have a happy relationship in spite of the negative bits, you need a ratio of five positive interactions to every one negative interaction. Which means that to repair your relationship with your child after a negative moment, you needfive positive interactions to balance out the negative.

Ideas for Magic 5:1 ratio: Ex.Physical touch (hug, high five, fun family handshake). Smiling or a silly face (try it, it’s contagious!). Say “I love you.” Sit down and just play for a few minutes. Tell a joke. Start a game of chase. Look through family photos together. Tell a funny or cute story from when they were younger. Say “I appreciate when you….”

Written by: Kelsee Melton, M.A., LPC-Intern
Supervised by Stephanie Legendre, LPC-S


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