Meltdowns which are definitely different to tantrums; are exhausting for both the caregiver and child and can be a time of high stress and emotions. Unfortunately, they can’t always be preventing and sometimes they are almost needed for a child to expel some of the pent up frustration they have been feeling.
So what can help?
All of these strategies will depend on your child’s age, expressive & receptive language, sensory needs and diagnosis. So I’m going to keep them pretty general and hopefully one or two will suit your child’s needs.
1. Set up an enclosed and safe space at home where they can retreat or be directed too. If your child gets volatile or self- destructive, you might decide to have very little in this space- just soft padding or a beanbag. Lots of houses don’t have the space for this so it might mean keeping one room clutter free.
2. Prep your child for outings and discuss possible scenarios. Give them a visual or safe word they can use when getting overwhelmed so you can either go somewhere quiet, go home or give them something to calm. I always recommend a sensory toolbox wherever you go with items that calm your child e.g blanket, suther, teddy, chewy, chewing gum, weighted vest, ear defenders, headphones and music on your phone. This will help reduce avoidance behaviours and hopefully meltdowns in public.
3. If a certain setting always leads to a meltdown e.g shopping- maybe decide to do online shopping or go at a time when your are by yourself. If this isn’t possible, bring something your child can play with in the trolley or give them the list to tick off. You could also use visuals and a reward scheme- picture of shopping and then a specific treat.
4 Try to incorporate sensory calming exercises throughout the day to keep your child in a regulated state. Increase the intensity before leaving the house and have a plan in place for worst case scenario.
Hope these tips help,
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