Behavior is Communication: Understanding and Responding to Tantrums and Meltdowns


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Meltdowns or tantrums in the classroom can be a frustrating experience for both the educator and the child. However, it's important for educators to support children through their development of essential social and emotional capabilities.

In this episode, we are joined by Megin Ruston. Megin has worn various hats in the ECE field, from student to professional to educator and advocate. She started her career as a teacher. During this time, she began working as a Home Visitor in a parenting program supporting families with children ages 5 and under. After that adventure, she provided social- emotional interventions for school aged children identified as having increased risk factors. And now we’re very lucky to have her at Teachstone. Listen as Megin helps educators understand why tantrums and meltdowns happen and how to respond to them.

Here are some tips that Megin shared:

  • With infants and toddlers, meltdowns and the other behaviors like biting and spitting are developmentally appropriate behaviors for those age groups. Meltdowns are a common response to frustration, sadness, and… emerging independence! Children outgrow this! As they develop that self control and self regulation, they DO outgrow these behaviors!
  • Control your own emotions.
  • Conventional wisdom to ignore a meltdown is actually not that effective and can be counterproductive, can prolong meltdowns, and doesn’t really teach what we think it’s teaching (This includes sending a child to a “quiet corner” by themselves to “calm down.”)

This episode focuses on Early Language Support, Behavior Guidance, and Teacher Sensitivity.

Learn more about learning through play and child-led activities on our blog:

3 Overlooked Opportunities for Facilitation of Learning and Development

Behavior Guidance Is as Easy as PB&J

Educators who earn the Child Development Association credential understand how to meet and nurture the emotional, physical, intellectual, and social needs of young children. Earn your CDA credential through our CDA with CLASS program. ​​CDA with CLASS provides educators with a unique online and high-quality professional education experience.

More good reads:

Understanding and Responding to Children Who Bite

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