When Your Child Shuts Down

When Your Child Shuts Down | Part 1


What Does This Look Like?

We have all seen a parent, or been the parent, with the child in the mall or the grocery store that is just done. They are past the point of a temper tantrum and are lying face down on the floor trying to make themselves as stiff as a board. What about the teen who flat refuses to follow instructions or do anything for that matter? They aren’t budging! These situations can make a parent panic because they can be embarrassing or we may not feel equipped to handle this level of behavior.

This week we are going to look at how to handle those moments when a child shuts down. Are there some things we can do when we start noticing things going down hill to prevent a “shut down”, if so what are they? What are these signal behaviors that we can look for? We are going to spend this week looking for how to predict and then prevent a shut down.



When Your Child Shuts Down | Part 12018-04-05T09:00:37-04:00

When Your Child Shuts Down | Part 2



When we think of a child shutting down we inevitably think of those toddler years. My mom and I have often laughed and said to each other, “it’s a good thing that God makes toddlers so cute”. They are so awesome, cute and pudgy, exploring everything with wonder; but even the most laid back of toddlers can have days that may give you gray hairs. The first thing we must remember is we cannot give in to the shut down. I once watched a father little girl in the mall, who had moved past the temper tantrum and was laying face down on the floor in front of Build a Bear. He had told her that they we not going to buy one today. I watched to see how he would handle the pressure of the onlookers. He was unfazed and simply sat down on the floor next to his daughter and calmly handled the situation. He was able to get her up off the floor and didn’t give in to her demands for a new toy. I wanted to cheer! It is so easy to allow your child to win because of the embarrassing situation that toddlers can put you in.

There are times where by simply staying one step ahead we can avoid the shutdown all together. Especially when out and about having snacks or something to entertain the child can help dramatically. It doesn’t have to be digital entertainment either; magna-doodles saved many a grocery trip in our house. Be wise in your timing of things for example don’t run errands around lunch or nap time. Realize that a lot of this can be attention seeking behavior so having something the are engaged in during dinner prep can help. Utilize distractions when you can. When my son is headed for a meltdown in his car seat my husband often has him look for airplanes or count birds. Make sure to use both consequences and rewards.

For more listen to today’s podcast and we have an entire week long series on toddlers you can check out by clicking here.


When Your Child Shuts Down | Part 22018-04-05T09:01:47-04:00

When Your Child Shuts Down | Part 3


The Elementary Years

Once your child passes the toddler years the likelihood of a total shutdown lessens. In fact if a shut down happens, as your child gets older, it can serve as a warning sign. It’s like one of those lights on your dash bored that alerts you that there is a problem with your car. The problem can vary anywhere from you need to fill your car with gas, to there is something wrong with the engine. It is an alert that you need to pay attention to.   When older kids shut down we need to investigate the why. What is going on behind the behavior? Things to ask yourself, is there inconsistency in handing out consequences for behavior, so that when one is handed out a battle ensues? Is it time to revamp or create a parenting plan? Am I hovering or being a helicopter parent and not allowing my child to “exercise their choice”, the “E” in the ICE plan? Is something going on with my child emotionally, at school or home? Is the possibly attention seeking behavior? These are just a few examples of the reasons your child may be shutting down. For more information on the ICE plan click here and for our week-long series on signal behavior click here.



When Your Child Shuts Down | Part 32018-04-05T09:02:57-04:00

When Your Child Shuts Down | Part 4


The Middle/High School Years

For a parent, the thought of a teenager shutting down may cause some anxiety. “What happens when they are bigger then I am and I can’t physically make them follow my instructions?” “What do I do when they refuse to follow the rules?” There have been many times I have had to sit outside a bathroom door with one of our residential girls who had shut down and didn’t want to come out. Or sat out side and talked with a boy who didn’t want to work. It seems the key with preventing a shut down in the teen years is relationship. Always pursue relationship with your teen. Just like younger children there are warning signs that a shut down may come. We need to pay attention as parents to those warning signs and pursue our children relationally. In those instances with the teens in the residential homes the thing that brought them out of the shut down was relationship, sitting and talking. Most of the time the shut down started because they felt misunderstood or that no one cared. Even though the teen years are packed with busy schedules make sure to set aside time for your teen weekly. Always pursue relationship.



When Your Child Shuts Down | Part 42018-04-05T09:10:31-04:00

When Your Child Shuts Down | Part 5


Preventing The Parent Shut Down

It is very easy to give into the temptation of shutting down yourself as a parent. We have seen movies where a child goes into their room and slams the door, only to be followed by a parent retreating to their own room and slamming the door. A parent who has shut down can also be heard uttering phrases like, “fine”, “whatever”, or “do what you want.” We have to be so careful not sink to our children’s level; even if you feel like giving up because you don’t know what else to do.

So what are some things we can do to prevent the parent shutdown? The first is to make sure to keep proper perspective. Remember that this is only a small battle to win the war for your child’s heart. It is temporary. Second, make sure to stick to your parenting plan. Remind yourself, and your child, of the pre-established consequences. Third, STAY CALM, if you feel yourself beginning to loose it emotionally take a breath or a “time out” yourself. I have known many a mom to sit in the bathroom alone for a moment to regain composure. Finally, make sure that you are setting aside time to replenish yourself. Make sure that you are getting time to yourself, time with others for encouragement and setting aside time to grow spiritually.



When Your Child Shuts Down | Part 52018-04-05T09:11:46-04:00