10 Steps to Navigating “The Bad Performance” Meltdown

Compass and Map

We have all been there and we have all witnessed it…That moment when your child has an awful performance when he/she should have had their best. The meltdown is brewing just under the surface and you have to help your child save face. Here is a list of 10 things to help your child get through “the bad performance” meltdown moment.

1.  Remember: This is NOT about you!

  • I know you feel badly for your child and you wanted so desperately for them to do better. It pains you to see your child in turmoil, but he/she has just endured what feels like the upset of a lifetime…your focus is on them. You can grieve later.

2.  Get someplace private quickly.

  • My vehicle is my place of choice. No distractions, semi-private, and can be moved to a more secluded area for additional privacy.

**NOTE: DO NOT drive while doing these steps! You must be fully present in the moment and give your child your undivided attention.  Your child’s mental well-being depends on you in this moment. FOCUS on them.

3.  Give your child room and permission to let it out.

  • Let them know you are there to listen then keep quiet and do it!
  • No judgment, no censorship.

How you feel about what he/she is saying is not important. Your child is entitled to their feelings.

4.  Don’t rush the moment. Give it time.  

  • Let them find their own words. No prompting.
  • I know the silence is deafening and you want to fill it with all the many quips, quotes and “isms” to make it all better. NOT NOW! This is your child’s time.

5.  Let them vent.

  • Do not attempt to console them or make it better.
  • Trying to console them is our selfish attempt to assuage our own discomfort at their situation. It does not help the child.

6.  Listen to them! Really engage.

  • It is their moment, their feelings. Remain focused. Being distracted will damage trust if he/she asks you a question “mid-vent” and you haven’t been listening!
  • Make mental notes of things that you wish to clarify AFTER the venting is complete.

7.  Correct erroneous, derogatory or self-deprecating comments that your child makes about him/herself.

  • For example: “Yeah because I suck!” or “I’m a screw-up!”
  • Those must be addressed immediately.
  • Interruptions, at this point, are allowed, but do not steal the floor.
  • Help him/her distinguish themselves from the event.
  • Example: “Yes, perhaps you did not have your best performance today, but you are still the same person who set the record, hit the note that brought the crowd to its feet, choreographed that killer routine, got the sack, interception, TD, goal, free throw etc. just last week. And you are still that person right now. Tonight is an event in your life, it is not you.”

8.  Give them time and opportunity to grieve the moment.

  • I allow my child 5 minutes to do whatever he/she needs to engage and express the intense emotion that comes with a loss or disappointment.
  • She can scream, cry, roll around on the floor, jump around, yell or punch a pillow.
  • Profanity, self-inflicted pain, and property damage or destruction is NOT allowed.
  • Teach appropriate behaviors for dealing with grief.
  • While watching your child rolling on the floor may make you uncomfortable, it is a lot less painful than other things that your child may find to numb unexpressed pain later on.
  • This can become quite the comical moment, but try to remain focused on the gravity of the situation.
  • At around 2 minutes the grief subsides. (It does not last forever even though it may feel that way.)
  • At about 3 minutes she begins to feel silly because it doesn’t hurt anymore.

**NOTE: It is important that you emphasize that once he/she has this moment to grieve, that the pain and emotion of the situation is over. The event can only be revisited and used as a learning tool, not to be worn as a badge of one’s inferiority.

9.  Wash away the physical residue of the moment/event.

  • Once she is done with the grief, then it is time to get some comfort food, a good movie, ice cream, a hot bath or whatever lifts the spirit to a happy place.

10.  Find something good in the situation

  • Even meltdown moments have flashes of brilliance. Emphasize the good in the midst of the bad so that your child knows that all is not lost and he/she WILL live to perform another day.

1 thought on “10 Steps to Navigating “The Bad Performance” Meltdown

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *