Special Situations - lesson 2

Mealtime Meltdowns

You followed everything I mentioned to the T and your child meltdowns at meal time. Let me tell you, it’s common and I want to normalize that our kids are not robots and they will get upset even if we have the best intentions. 

Here’s a scenario! You serve your child a meal and they put their hands up and run away or cry.

I need you to try to get down to their level, eye to eye and offer a hand on their shoulder or a hug for connection. Talking to them from above is scary and daunting. Some kids may not want you to touch them when they’re upset so manage by saying “I see you’re upset. I’m here for a hug or if you need some space that’s fine.”


“I see you’re upset. It’s dinner time and it’s waiting for you if you want it. Do you want to come with me?” They yell “No!” You respond “Okay. I will leave it here for you and you can join us when you’re ready.” This may mean a situation where they cry and cry.  Repeat the validation and the boundary. If you need space, you can walk back to the table and repeat. “I love you. Im here if you need me. The meal is here if you want it. Listen to your belly.” 

During meal time battles it’s extremely important to stay calm and matter of fact. You offered the meal, you perhaps included safe foods, you are providing for them. If you meet their meltdown with aggravation or chasing them or worse pinning them down to get food in their mouth… you have just introduced extreme pressure and a power struggle which is something we do not want. 

In regards to power struggles, if you notice one happening–You as the adult have to back down. And apologizing for pressure and offering a hug near the scene of the power struggle can help. 

Many times, the child may come around and come back. But BE patient. It may mean talking and verbalizing after a pause or offering them a hug. If they don’t come back or don’t want to eat remember what we discussed about laying the boundary. 

Break the power struggle with compassion and keep repeating the boundary. Incorporating some socialization here can help.

“Would you like to eat on my lap for this meal?”

“Would you like to try some off my plate.”

Keep your demeanor calm and collected – Remember to avoid bribing and becoming a short order cook.