June 10, 2020


by: admin


Categories: Special Needs Parenting

How to Keep Calm When Your Child is Having a Meltdown

How to Keep Calm When Your Child is Having a Meltdown

How to Keep Calm When Your Child is Having a Meltdown

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It can be tough, keeping your calm when your child is having a meltdown or tantrum, especially in public. The staring eyes, your patience wearing thin, how do you do it? Keep reading to learn about how to cope with these situations and stay calm for your child (and yourself).

What Does a Meltdown Look Like

It can be different for every child and in all children, typical and atypical. For me, a meltdown occurs in my child when he is trying to deal with a stressful situation. It’s usually in public and it usually has to do when I am depriving him of something, like food in a doctor’s office lobby where no food is allowed or at a store when he wants a toy to be bought for him.

It starts with an increase in volume. The request changes from a regular tone question to a whine then a screaming meltdown. My kiddo will usually try to escape (elope) and because my little guy does most of these for attention, I have to practice keeping him safe, staying calm, and not giving him attention (positive or negative). It’s a balancing act for sure.

This may not be the case with your child as all meltdowns or tantrums look different.

Here are some helpful tips to help you keep calm AND manage meltdowns..

Tips to Cope with Meltdowns

Create a Schedule

This is more work for sure, but nothing compared to a peaceful trip to the grocery store or car ride to a family member’s house. My autistic son loves schedules, especially visual schedules. He likes to have control. So, knowing what is happening next helps him out immensely.

I have visual schedules all throughout the house:

  • In the bathroom for bath time, teeth brushing, self care
  • For daily chores
  • For weekend outings
  • In the car, for places to go

You can do a schedule for just about everything and they are super effective.

Talk to Your Child

For a long time, because my atypical child has a slower rate of development than peers his own age, I didn’t talk to him, unless I was giving him a command or order. I started talking to him, telling him places we were going to go, what we were having for breakfast, etc. and it had a big impact in a great way. Even if you think your child doesn’t understand you, still talk to them.

Calming Exercises

These things can help to calm you down:

  • Take deep breaths
  • Count to 10

To deal with the after effects of a meltdown, do something productive. For me, I usually clean the kitchen or closet, bake or cook or exercise. That helps me get it all out. Writing a journal or diary is a great way to vent and express yourself too. These things actually make you feel better.

Learn from the Meltdown

In behavior therapy, we talk about the antecedent, the behavior and then the outcome.

The antecedent is what caused the behavior.

The behavior is the action, how the child behaved or reacted to the antecedent.

The outcome is what happened directly after to hopefully end a reoccurence of the behavior.

An example: My son starts hitting me in the grocery store because I won’t buy him donuts. I tell him “no hitting” and redirect him.

The antecedent is not giving my son what he wants, the donuts. The behavior is his hitting. The outcome verbally correcting him and redirection.

Makes sense?

Final Thoughts

It gets a lot easier with more practice. There are things that can help you remain calm during stressful situations like meltdowns. Hopefully these tips have helped. Comment down below to share your calming strategies that have worked for you!


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