How to Support a Child Who is Having a Meltdown but Doesn’t Want Help

As a parent or teacher, it can be tough to watch a child have a meltdown. It’s natural to want to offer help and support when a child experiences distress or discomfort, but what happens when that child doesn’t want your help?

It’s important to remember that children have their own emotions, thoughts, and feelings, and sometimes they need space to work through them on their own. When a meltdown kicks in, your role is to provide support and care, even if that means respecting your child’s wishes to handle the situation on their own.

So, what can you do to support a distressed child who doesn’t want help? Here are a few tips from Kids First’s psychology team.

How to help a child who is having a meltdown

1. Respect their wishes

Firstly, it’s important to respect your child’s autonomy and acknowledge their desire to handle the situation on their own. Let them know that you understand their wishes and are available to help if they change their mind.

By respecting their wishes, you’re showing them that you trust and support them.

2. Stay nearby

Even if your child does not want your help, it’s important to stay nearby and keep an eye on them. This will help your child feel safe and cared for, while still giving them the space they need. Make sure they know you’re there for them if they need you, but also give them some space to work through their emotions.

How to help a child having a meltdown

3. Offer reassurance

Let your child know that you care about them and that you’re there to support them, even if they don’t want your help in the moment. Offer words of encouragement and remind them that they’re not alone. This can be really helpful for a child who is feeling distressed and unsupported. If you feel the need to say something, try things like:

  • “I’ll stay close so you can find me when you’re ready
  • I’m here with you

4. Check in later

After some time has passed, check in with your child to see if they’re feeling better or if they still need support. You could say something like,

  • “I know you didn’t want me to help earlier, but I wanted to check in and see how you’re doing now.”

This will show your child that you care about them and are still available to support them.

How to Support a Distressed Child Who Doesn't Want Help

5. Seek professional help

If your child’s distress persists or worsens, it may be necessary to seek professional help from a child psychologist, counselor, or mental health professional who is trained to work with children. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help when you need it, and seeking professional support could be the turning point that both you and your child need.

Can Kids First’s Child Psychology team help your family?

Supporting a distressed child who doesn’t want help is not easy. If you need help to meet your child’s emotional and behavioural needs, our experienced child psychologist and counsellors can help. Contact us on (02) 9938 5419

Psychology and Counselling for families and children at Kids First Brookvale

We’re here to support you and your child - no matter what.

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