Why Do My Kids Meltdown When They're Excited? Understanding Internal DemandsApr 24, 2023
UNDERSTANDING INTERNAL DEMANDS
Why do my kids have a meltdown when they're excited, hungry, frustrated, or need to go to the bathroom?
You've dropped your expectations dramatically and embraced the low demand lifestyle, but your child is still struggling and suffering -- and you don't understand why. What are these hidden demands that still sneak in, and more importantly, how do we deal with them?
It might be time to begin to learn about: INTERNAL DEMANDS
Our bodies make demands on us, and all of us react to these internal demands differently. PDAers can be especially sensitive to these demands in terms of the impact on our neuroception and emotional stability.
PDAers react to demands on a subconscious, nervous system level.
So demands can be internal, bodily requirements to accomplish a task, like eating, using the bathroom, or sleeping, or they can be intense emotional demands like anticipation, frustration, or excitement.
Your child may react to these internal experiences as though they are existential threats.
Which is accurate with what their brain and nervous system are registering.
So what do you do when your child is refusing basic needs like they'll die if they acquiesce?
STEP 1: CHECK YOUR ENERGY
When an external demand layers onto an internal demand, it can be unsustainable for our children and push them into total meltdown, burnout, and long-term resistance. Recognize that your child already wants to do this thing. The wanting is what is triggering their nervous system. Your energy can focus on support and regulation.
STEP 2: DROP OTHER DEMANDS
Pressing internal demands like hunger, intense excitement/anticipation, and bathroom needs rise to the top as focus areas, allowing us to proactively drop as many other demands as possible to support these top priorities.
We let go of what matters less to support what matters most.
STEP 3: FOCUS ON AUTONOMY
How can we give our child more and more autonomy over this internal demand? How can we foster a sense of mastery, confidence, and control in this area? Autonomy regulates some children unlike anything else (PDA kids in particular). Control deepens their trust in themselves and their mastery over an overwhelming task.
STEP 4: CHECK THE AFFIRMING/MIRRORING
Many standard parenting approaches recommend statements like "Oh! You're so frustrated!" or "This is hard, but you can do it!" For some kids, this energy compounds their existing anxiety and makes it harder to manage the experience. If this is happening for your child, drop those tools. They're not serving you.
Experiences like excitement or needing to use the bathroom are internal demands, unsettling your child's sensitive nervous system and registering as a threat. We unknowingly add external pressures, making it even harder to accomplish the goal and breaking trusting connection. Drop demands, focus on autonomy, and check your energy to support these essential tasks.
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