Mastering the Meltdown - The Five C's

Mastering the Meltdown – The Five C’s

1 July 2022 • Words by Elle Walsh 2 mins

As caregivers, we all want to be able to master the dreaded meltdown when our kids get overwhelmed. Anchoring your parenting approach through emotional responsiveness, gentleness, respectfulness, co-regulation and reflective dialogue can be remembered using “The Five C’s,” according to Child Psychotherapist, Elle Walsh, (MEd, MBACP).

The five C’s offer the following components that help with big feelings and meltdowns:


Use mirroring, reflective responses and validation of feelings to offer an empathetic response that confirms and OKs their emotions. A reflective response means truly hearing your child’s words and summarizing how they may be feeling. “So you feel,” or “it sounds like you,” are great ways to start a reflective response.

Acknowledge your child’s big feelings by offering an empathetic and understanding response using reflection and mirroring. This will help validate their feelings. 


Co-regulation of emotions, for both you and your child, allows you to work through big feelings together, rather than spiral (together). A triggered adult cannot help a triggered child. Share with your child your own calm. It is through your calm that your child will regulate. 


Physically be with your child as you are their sense of safety. Ask to comfort them but expect resistance. Your presence offers connection so when they feel ready to emotionally connect, you are there. These are teachable moments: what can they learn about themselves through these feelings?


Wonder with your child about their response to their big feeling. It is in this calm space that you can think together about what has happened and think of ways in which you can help them in this moment. Movement from the spiral – perhaps a distraction technique may be useful? What works best for your child to help process these emotions?

The Moshi app is a great tool to help your child understand their feelings more. It’s full of calming meditations and moments designed specifically to help kids navigate their emotions.


Wonder with them about how they feel now. Listen to your child and affirm their big feelings. Frame the expectations for your child and learn what experiences and feelings push them beyond their current, ever-changing comfort zone. Checking in with your child can open up space for teachable moments.

The five C’s offer the following components that help with big feelings:

Elle Walsh