Musings of a Meltdown: How your child’s meltdown influenced me


On a blissfully sunny day in October, me and my two little ones were meeting another mom and kiddo trio at Shelburne Farms for a playdate. Even though my friend and I both had teeny babies at the time, we also had energetic almost-4 year olds that needed to get out and expend some of their juice. So, there we were, quintessential farm with views of the gorgeous lake, pleasant animals to study and pat, snacks. It was a pretty perfect day. Until my friend’s oldest realized her juice box was empty (fill in with any ridiculous reason for total breakdown).

The meltdown that ensued was, in my mind, typical. It was loud, over the top, and accompanied by tears and flying fists. It was evident that my friend was embarrassed by her raging daughter, and she kept apologizing, to which I replied “it’s ok”.

shelburne farms
A beautiful setting and a perfect day. What could go wrong?

Truth be told, it was more than “ok”, it was great. Not in the sense that I enjoy seeing that panicked look on a friend’s face, or that kids acting out are delightful; but, it reassured me that my 4 year old son is normal, and my response to his meltdowns is on par with my friends’. I also thought it could be a good lesson for my son, as he sees how ridiculous it looks when his friend is acting so incoherent over something as trivial as apple juice, when they were playing so nicely not more than 2 minutes prior. (Or he could be thinking, “man, her mom is a big jerk for not having an endless supply of juice boxes on her at all times.”)

After my friend was able to calm down her daughter, reassuring her that an empty juice box was not the end of the world and the kids were back to skipping in the fields, I told her how I appreciated seeing a meltdown happen with somebody else’s child. I admitted that as E approached 4, and possibly due to the addition of a baby brother, our son went from a sweet, agreeable boy to a raging lunatic when something didn’t go his way. With these outbursts occurring almost daily in our house, I was starting to worry that my son was the spawn of something evil. Some days I am so alarmed by his behavior; the way he can go from zero to 60 in half a second, with ear-piercing screeches and unkind words, I question if his emotional eruptions are a sign of any issues that would require special intervention (Super Nanny?!). And, of course, it always seems magnified when we are out in public.

super nanny
This lady makes it all look so easy
Picture courtesy of

My friend eased my worry, echoing some of the things I had said with examples of her own, and knowingly nodding when I disclosed my fears of being too tough on a child that is still so young and learning how to handle life’s incongruences. We discussed how difficult it can be trying to come up with the best reaction to said meltdowns, and how a 4 year old is just a big ball of emotion.

boy, dinosaur face paint
Some days it feels like he still has this make up on!

So, no, I don’t love meltdowns or kids acting bratty; but, I do appreciate that other moms and dads are going through similar struggles with otherwise wonderful children, and I am not the only one who isn’t 100% sure of their next move.

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I am a native Vermonter, and even though the winters nearly drive me away each year, the beautiful landscape, supportive family, and wonderful communities keep us here! I’m also very fortunate to have a job in Clinical Research that married my love of organization with my fascination for science. As much as I love my job, our family is by far the greatest joy in my life. My husband and I have three boys and we have lived in Milton for five years. I also love running, cooking, and being outside with the boys hiking or hitting the beach!


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