How do you deal with a young child's meltdowns?

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Emmett
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15 May 2009, 8:32 pm

Hi my son and I likely have as. Neither of us are dx'ed but my wife and I are pretty sure we are. My son has been getting worse with his meltdowns. I just recently identified my meltdowns, and I've been trying to use that understanding to help him to deal with his. Unfortunately, I'm having a hard time translating a 30 yr old's coping mechinisms to a 6 year old. I can remember a lot from my childhood, but I don't remember having frequent meltdowns so I'm a bit at a loss. Have any of you dealt with this? I'd like to know even failed strategies so I know what not to do.

Thanks



DW_a_mom
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15 May 2009, 9:07 pm

Usually getting him out of the situation and into a quiet place to calm himself down is the best. Pick him up and take him there if you have to.

At home you can simply allow him to get it out, as long as he isn't destructive. If he is destructive, you can hold him in your lap facing forward, but be aware that this will intensify the meltdown at first.

My son's eyes look different as he is heading towards a meltdown, and his voice changes, and he gets more and more controlling. For us, THIS is the time to change the situation. Take a break, whatever is available. He's eventually figured out these signs for himself, and learned to ask to escape the situation.


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Emmett
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15 May 2009, 9:27 pm

Hmmmm. Maybe some more background info is in order. Usually the meltdowns he's been having are in response to him not getting his way. Sometimes with his 8 yr old sister (he's biting again in frustration) because he can't figure out how to deal with her not doing everything he wants. Intelectually he knows that he can't get his way all the time, but can't figure it out emotionally.

He also melts when we ask him to do something. He isn't throwing a tantrum, he's just devistated. He is really good and always starts to do what is asked of him, but then we can see him fighting off tears and his face turns red then he starts sobbing. He doesn't want to cry but he can't stop it. I usually have to tell him to take deal breaths and calm him down.

It used to be only once in a while. Now it's so frequent I can't just stop everything for him every time.



LarissaM
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16 May 2009, 7:56 am

I would recommend the collaborative problem solving approach discussed in the book The Explosive Child, by Dr. Ross Greene.

It helps reduce the number of meltdowns, helps you teach the child how to problem-solve in order to avoid meltdowns before they happen, as well as analyze them together after the fact.



Emmett
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16 May 2009, 12:05 pm

Interesting, I have that book. I don't have a lot of books on autism, but I do have that one. I'll have to re-read it.



DW_a_mom
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16 May 2009, 12:37 pm

Ah, I was thinking of sensory meltdowns. But, with my son, that is really what it always comes down to: the sensory overload or stress. The last time he did what you describe we were on vacation and, well, while the situation itself was as you describe, I figured he was under a certain level of stress from traveling to start with. So, basically, it comes back to the same thing. I would think about that relationship. The more you can manage his overall environment, the less likely meltdowns of any type become.


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LarissaM
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16 May 2009, 1:34 pm

Here is an article from the author's web site about collaborative problem solving that might be interesting. The approach can also be used when sensory issues are contributing to the meltdowns.

http://www.ccps.info/cpssentials/index.html



DW_a_mom
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16 May 2009, 2:30 pm

I should get that book. My NT daughter is the classic explosive child. It isn't sensory with her. It's emotional.

It's always important to remember that more than one thing can be going on with any one person.


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lowderra
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22 May 2009, 10:24 pm

My K is 4 and her meltdowns are almost entirely from not getting her way, being asked to do something she doesn't want to do.

She was out of school for easter break, then I kept her out b/c I was unsure of the swine flu thing. I ended up teaching her a little ritual, and it worked.

She begins to melt down, or show signs of impending meltdown, and I say "OK, stop - what do we do now?" Then I clap one time. Then I say "Do it with me." And we both clap together one time and she says "I'm feeling frustrated!" If she starts to giggle we have a hug and move on. If she's not quite over it we do the ritual again, and sometimes if it's particularly bad we have to do it three times. But mostly it's a two-time ritual thing.

After each meltdown I remind her it's ok to feel frustrated but it's not ok to scream or push or whatever.

This works for us - your mileage may vary.

I picked this ritual also b/c we are looking at mainstream kindergarten in a year from now and it's something that the teacher can do to. Simple, not too involved, and eventually maybe they can wean her to just a clap or a "hands ready to clap" silent signal as a reminder to step back and self console.



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23 May 2009, 6:41 am

one simple tool helped with handling infants and kids due to my sensitivity to sounds...earplugs or those big clunky ear protectors.
They will prevent you from not being able to cope. 8)
I used to pray for strenght and belief in myself to cope when I was raising my kids. I did NOT do what I remembered as having offended me as a child. It's a good feeling to remedy the pain of the past with your own actions in the present.



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23 May 2009, 11:27 am

I've found for both myself and a relative of mine that has aspergers that darkness, quiet and often a cool temperature helps immensely.

Reduces sense overload so they can just work through it and calm down. Also gives them the ability to come out when they feel they are ready which build self-coping skills necessary for later in life.


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Emmett
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23 May 2009, 12:36 pm

lowderra wrote:
She begins to melt down, or show signs of impending meltdown, and I say "OK, stop - what do we do now?" Then I clap one time. Then I say "Do it with me." And we both clap together one time and she says "I'm feeling frustrated!" If she starts to giggle we have a hug and move on. If she's not quite over it we do the ritual again, and sometimes if it's particularly bad we have to do it three times. But mostly it's a two-time ritual thing.

After each meltdown I remind her it's ok to feel frustrated but it's not ok to scream or push or whatever.
Interesting ritual, i'll have to try that. I think the hand clapping may be an important aspect of the ritual because it diverts their attention in a snap. I sometimes with clap to distract him from his meltdown enough to talk him down.



lowderra
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25 May 2009, 2:16 pm

Yes, it started with clapping. We'd clap to get her attention and focus and try and get her to calm down....and then we hit upon the clap once ritual thing.



Aili
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27 May 2009, 6:32 pm

DW_a_mom wrote:
Ah, I was thinking of sensory meltdowns. But, with my son, that is really what it always comes down to: the sensory overload or stress. The last time he did what you describe we were on vacation and, well, while the situation itself was as you describe, I figured he was under a certain level of stress from traveling to start with. So, basically, it comes back to the same thing. I would think about that relationship. The more you can manage his overall environment, the less likely meltdowns of any type become.


This is true for my daughter as well. The condition is the environment. The trigger is a situation that is not going the way she wants it to. (ie not getting her way.) What this means, of course, is that she is more likely to have a meltdown in public and will be seen as "spoiled." But that's another topic....

At first would try to move her to a safer, less stimulating enviroment. However, i found that it's better just to just plop myself down about 3 ft away from her, be *very* calm, don't talk or touch, and do my best to shoo other people away from her.(the last part is the trickiest).

she's 7 now and for the past year or so, she's been switching form meltdowns to shutdowns. i use the same approach to these, but i've found that she is less likely to need my presence. duration is always 20 minutes if she's left alone.