He's better now, but when my son was younger...meltdowns use to be really bad. Yes, I did run into the people who thought they were behavioral. But, though alot of these techniques can help with tantrums and behavioral meltowns, that is not what I'm talking about here.
The meltdowns I'm talking about here, are the ones that often come from overwhelm or from a child's inability to understand what was going on around him.
They often come with uncontrollable crying (alot of the time until they can't breathe), banging there hand against their heads really hard and sometimes horrible self talk. As a parent it can be very hard to watch.
If you have found yourself in this situation more than once, and feel like you could use some tips, here are some that I have found that help...and of course, let's talk about it in the comments below. Sometimes we all need a little support.
FIRST. YOU TAKE A DEEP BREATHE
One of you has to stay calm...and it isn't your little one. Getting loud, getting angry, showing your frustration...none of this is gonna help. It'll only make it worse before it could ever make it better. Nor, does it help your child learn how to calm themselves. If your child has Aspergers or another form of Autism, then raising your voice will only confuse them and add to their stress. So YOU stay calm..and remind yourself that you are the harbor in their storm. Try to see it like you are helping them get through it, not pushing them to get over it.
SECOND. GET DOWN TO THEIR LEVEL
Drop your body down to their level and do your best to make eye contact. There's something about coming down to the child's level that is comforting to them. Supportive even. The goal is to calm them so that they can think again and be better able to solve the problem.
DO YOUR BEST TO TRY AND UNDERSTAND SO THAT THEY CAN
I try not to talk alot during meltdowns...but when I do, I keep it to short phrases. For example, I'll see things like this to son "Luka...tell me what's going on" "You seem like you're overwhelmed" "Let's slow things down a bit" "let's break it up...one thing at a time". I feel like this method helps them to recognize how they're feeling and then how to self regulate.
LET THEM GET IT OUT
I may be taking it slow and talking in short phrases. But for them, they feel like exploding inside and that's all they're noticing...so once they do speak...words could come out in a furry. Let them speak. Let them scream...let them say what they need. My son repeats himself. Sometimes he will curse. Sometimes he would say..."Mom, I just can't do it. I'm stupid." In those moments, I just listen. I don't let him put himself down...but in those moments I let him vent.
LASTLY. HELP THEM TO SEE THINGS MORE CLEARLY
This too shall pass...and eventually you will be able to calm them. Sometimes it's getting them to take a break. Sometimes, its showing them how to break things down a bit. Sometimes it's helping them approach it another way.
It's all about patience...and I'm always learning something new. Sometimes these moments show me where I need a little additional assistance (for example, from a teacher or research). Either way, this is a practice...and a process. But it will get better and they will better learn how to handle things. With time.
Now It's Your Turn
We're all in this together. Have you dealt with meltdowns? What tips have you used that have worked? Tell me in the comments below.