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Big kid meltdowns

Deborah Gordon of Radnor, PA, had planned a big family event for the same day her 9-year-old wanted a playdate, so he threw a tantrum. Like Gordon's son, lots of grade-schoolers struggle to control their emotions. We expect them to be more rational, but even big kids get hungry, tired, and frustrated -- all meltdown factors.

More tips on what to do:

Give him a heads-up. Meltdowns occur when plans change. If a child knows what's happening next, he'll be more likely to go with the flow.

Help him roll with the punches. To bust him out of his mood, engage him in a favorite activity. For some kids, a back rub might do the trick.

Deal with the issue afterward. It's hard to be rational when we're mad, so don't try to get your kid to apologize in the heat of the moment.

Help him see the big picture. When he's calm, brainstorm about what he can do differently next time. He's got more perspective now than when he was a toddler.