There are proactive strategies, skills and activities to help children and families prevent meltdowns.
Knowing how to manage our feelings does not happen automatically. We can learn skills to help us bring our feelings to a manageable level rather than experiencing explosive behaviors. Make a plan for calming and practice it ahead of time.
- Control your own anxiety – stay calm and use a calm voice
- Model calming techniques
- Learn to read your child’s behavior
- Look for signs of stress and redirect the child
- Know what triggers might send your child into a meltdown
Plans for children
- Teach appropriate behaviors to triggers prior to a meltdown – Triggers are what might set off a meltdown like a request to change activities. Teach what you want the child to say. As an example, “Ok, when may I do this again?”
- Teach calming skills and learn about feelings while the child is calm. Examples of calming skills are counting to 5, taking deep breaths, and asking for help.
- Use descriptive words to tell children how they are feeling – calm –angry – happy – sad
- State examples of behaviors that make people happy, frustrated and calm. “I’m calm when I read a book.” “I’m frustrated when I cannot get what I want.”
- Provide appropriate choices for your child when possible.
- Have visual supports prepared and available to help your child understand.
Examples: Social Stories, Instructions - First – Then, Social skill supports, Schedules with clear beginnings and endings
When a meltdown does occur ensuring everyone’s safety is the highest priority. Meltdowns do not have to be a part of your everyday life.