What to Do If Your Child Has an Epic Meltdown While Traveling
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Not only was March 1 a day to remember in the points and miles world as the launch of the World of Hyatt — for me, it will go down in history as the day my 23-month old daughter had the most epic meltdown ever. I’m talking about a level-10 tantrum in the middle of a busy airport.
The Meltdown to End All Meltdowns
If anyone has ever spent a significant amount of time with a toddler, you’ll know the 18-24 month stage is tricky. It’s when children often don’t know how to deal with their emotions, so they default to crying and screaming as a way of processing what they’re feeling. As much as people like to think there’s something “wrong” with the child, it’s a normal phase of their developmental behavior. So keep that in mind as you read this.
We’d just spent the last three nights of a fun family trip with my in-laws at the Hyatt Ziva Cancun. I made sure to properly plan things so we could completely maximize our time there, booking a 7:00am departure flight from Newark (EWR) and an 8:00pm flight back home from Cancun (CUN) a few days later, allowing us to enjoy our last full-day of fun at the resort before heading home.
It all started as an normal day to say the least. We’d woken up and enjoyed some time at the pool and beach before we checked out at 4:00pm, grabbing one last dinner and heading to the airport at 5:30pm. My kids were so happy to be spending time with their grandparents — they don’t get to see them very often — so they didn’t miss a beat. As a result, both of my kids skipped their naps that day. And when the kids don’t nap, they usually conk out around 7:00pm.
Disaster struck as we were getting ready to go through security and my daughter decided it was an appropriate time to completely lose it. Nothing worked to soothe her — and I mean absolutely nothing. We tried carrying her, rocking her, offering her snacks, rotating between parents and grandparents, but everything was a fight. She carried on at the top of her lungs for no less than one hour. Not only were there crowds of people watching and pointing as if it was all a circus act, but someone actually came up to me and made a comment about how I must be abducting this tiny, screaming child.
At some point — as I was nearing my wit’s end — I decided to let her lay on the floor in the corner, and guess what? It was all over a minute later and when she fell asleep, I transferred her into her stroller. I seriously thought there’d be a standing ovation from everyone in the airport at that point.
Why Am I Sharing This Vulnerable Moment?
While traveling with kids is wonderful, especially as a way to make lasting family memories, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. I know some readers may try and use my story as an example of why I should not travel with young children, but then again, an epic meltdown like this can happen anywhere — at the supermarket, an amusement park or even during a family dinner party. If there’s truly a secret solution for preventing and stopping toddler meltdowns altogether, I haven’t discovered it yet. But what I do know is when little ones get emotionally charged, they simply do not think and cannot function.
So, What Should You Do If It Happens To You?
If your child ends up throwing a full-blown tantrum in public, the best thing you can do is find a way to minimize disturbances. If you have unfortunate circumstances like I did and all hell breaks loose in the middle of a busy airport, try to find a quiet spot, like the nearest lounge (just kidding!).
Next, try to eliminate interactions with nosey bystanders, who may end up just adding stress to the situation. The last thing any parent needs at a time like this is judgmental comments and outside opinions from the peanut gallery. A meltdown is nobody’s business except for you and your toddler’s, and it’s the parents’ job to stay in control and remain calm and collected while the child works it all out.
I was a little surprised that other travelers went out of their way to point and make rude comments while all of this was happening. As a parent, I was exhausted and beyond the point of feeling embarrassed during my daughter’s meltdown. I felt pretty defeated to say the least — believe me, I wanted her to calm down more than anyone else.
Despite all of the rude and unnecessary engagements, one person stood out. A kind woman came up to me, hugged me, while simultaneously trying to console my daughter and reassure me that I was doing everything I could possibly do as a parent during this difficult time. She went out of her way to offer compassion, and I’ll never forget her for it.
When all else fails, sometimes you just have to let them cry it out. On the bright side, at least it was a silent five-hour flight home!
Have you ever had a similar situation when traveling with your toddler? Tell us about it, below.
Featured image courtesy of In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees