I want you to take a BIG stretch. Go on, feels good hey. Stretching is an action we use to support a reaction. Do you agree that stretching is good for everyone’s physical wellbeing? Yes, of course, it keeps our muscles flexible, strong and healthy. So, what happens to us when it comes to caring for emotional wellbeing. Why are we so scared of making flexible decisions that suits the behaviour? Why aren’t we willing to use some “give and take” to manage a child’s meltdown?
Our first question should be, “What is the emotion behind this behaviour” or what causes a meltdown? While choices are important for a child’s development, children become anxious when there is uncertainty. Although children require some structure and limited choices to help them get through the day, too many choices and a child becomes overwhelmed.
Secondly, we need to distinguish whether this is an emotional meltdown that requires soft boundaries like chilling out, jumping on the trampoline or having a sip of water. If the child is hurting someone or themselves or breaking something, it is a behavioural issue that requires firm boundaries and action which includes a pre-arranged, non-threatening consequence or outcome.
Taking the time to work out the emotions behind a meltdown or the causes of a meltdown allows us to be flexible in the way you handle the situation, strengthening and keeping our relationships with our child healthy.
Triggers and causes of a meltdown to be aware of:
To spot the difference between an emotional meltdown and a behavioural issue, take the time to consider:
• What has changed in their environment? Are they transitioning from home to school or starting at a new childcare centre?
• Which sensors are being overloaded? Are there unexpected sounds, bright lights, new smells?
• What stressors are coming from outside sources? Is there a new baby in the house, Grandma visiting or a relief staff member?
• How is the child feeling today and have they had adequate sleep or rest?
• How are you feeling today? Are you caring for yourself so you can be there for others?
Other things to consider:
Or, is the child just not getting their own way and throwing a tantrum or being disrespectful? Do they have social or emotional sensitivities associated ADHD, ASD or anxiety that causes them not to understand the intensity of their reactions?
How to stop a meltdown:
A meltdown isn’t always a challenging behaviour; it can be a sensory reaction. It is important to step in before the meltdown gets into full swing. A couple of ideas is to use gentle love with soft boundaries, allowing for some relaxation space, techniques like EFT- Tapping! and most importantly, time for the meltdown to pass.
Have a look at how EFT- Tapping! can help handle emotional meltdowns.
Sue Suchocki - Facilitator of: ADHD / ASD -