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Any advice for coping with constant meltdowns.

(22 Posts)

I am really struggling with dd1's constant meltdowns, after an hour sccreaming abuse at me I have just ended up with the learning mentor in the school office in tears. I genuinely dont know how to cope any more, dd2 was in tears. Anything can set her off and she has returned to having a few tantrums everry day and at least 2 meltdowns a week.
The learning mentor at school says everything I do is right but nothing seems to work and I know I should just take it but I am starting to feel really down.
She is in the process of referal for assesment, I dont really know what for, they said dyslexia, dyspraxia, and that she has traits of asd, adhd and ocd.
She is perfect at school, she goes to a group for help with her self esteem and the learning mentor said the first thing they discussed was anything they had done that they werent proud of and she told them all about how she is so nasty to me, they said she put none of the blame on me but told them she screams at me and says nasty things to hurt me.
I have no idea when a meltdown is coming, anything triggers them, this morning it was a cardboard box.
she is 10. If anyone has any ideas for me I would be eternally grateful, just how I can not get so downtrodden bby the whole thing, my anxiety is through the roof.

well that has been a fun afternoon, dd1 started again the second we picked her up from school, she has been laid in the middle of the floor in shop kicking her legs and screaming, over the course of 1hour and twenty minutes she has been punching and kicking me and dh, ripping up her sisters craft things. she is now sat on the sofa crying her eyes out. I lvoe her so much but I am struggling so much, dd2 has been intears and I ended up sending her to a neighbours to help. DD1 has just started crying as she realised she had destroyed dd2's prize thing she had made and dd2 told her its ok she qantes to make another anyway, she has just come through and told me she has calmed her sister down, she is 7, a 7yo should not have to be so responsible.

Mollyweasley Tue 05-Nov-13 18:42:11

I can relate to what you are going through as I felt at my wits end before my DS was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. The strain on some children can be very big at school yet they seem to be coping so well- when they come back to the comfort of home they let it all out! This happened to my DS and what you are describing is very much what we deal with. My son's diagnosis helped him a great deal as he/we started to accept is difficulties and identify his strength. I could suggest some strategies that might help but I am only familiar with ADD/ASD strategies however I don't think that trying them would hurt:
1) predictability: try having a really good routine that she knows well when she gets home from school- At my house it is downtime in form of screen time! - this goes on for a long time. I also use a planner that is on display in the kitchen and accessible to everybody so that my DS knows what happens on which evening/week-end- The planner is our "gospel" what is on the planner goes. I also plan food ahead so my DS knows what he eats on each night of the week.
2) In my experience, it is best to let a meltdown pass without intervening
probably best to even get away from DD1. Once she is completely calm (that could take a while after the meltdown is over) explain to her why she can't behave the way she does - if she feels bad about herself, try comforting her (my son loves having his back stroked).
3) try keeping a log-book of her positive traits which you can refer to when you are really cross with her!
4) for DD2: Before DX, I told my other children that DS behaviour was not acceptable and that we were looking for help.

Hope this helps.

thank you for the response, you are right at this point nothing can hurt to try. I sat with her for about half an hour after she had stopped tantrumming just stroking her hair before she said I am ready to talk about it now. She nearly went again then when I told her she culdnt have something but reigned it in. Sometimes (but not today) she will start by almost joking that she is having a tantrum, its really hard t explain she will say she is not going for a shower and pretend to kick off while smiling then suddenly turn and be having a proper tantrum, almost like she is trying to be manioulative but has lost control.
I think what disturbs me the most is how quickly it starts and how quickly it ends, tonight she was shaking and genuinely upset but this morning she just stopped and started talking to me about something normal. I dont quite know what to do at that point and feel really confused.
Routine is difficult as I work shifts and she goes to a childminder.
We are gooing to start keeping a log book amyway as school advised this before her assesment, they are also giving her one to keep a modd diary, thing is her moods are what she is that second, so if I asked her to do it now she would say happy despite havng 2hr and 2mins worth of tantrums today.

Jacksterbear Tue 05-Nov-13 19:41:06

dita have you read "The Explosive Child"? I really recommend it for helping understand why explosive children tend to behave the way they do, and a suggested approach for dealing with it.

that looks good, will order it tommorow. have also devised a chart (after reading it on here) with animals ranging from a mouse to an elephant and given each animal a level of disater, so an elephant is when my gran feel over and cut her head open and needed an ambulance, a mouse is when daddy stubbed his toe on a magnet board and given her amagnet to asses every situation that she feels stressed about. While we were showing her she lnocked over an ornament which smashed and was about to start sobbing so I just said well that was clearly a mouse and she stopped and put the magnet on. Dh is going to do it with her as he has a tendancy to over react at himself and so she doesnt feeel like it is just aimed at her.

PolterGoose Tue 05-Nov-13 20:10:53

Agree about routine, predictability and letting the meltdowns pass, I also found Ross Greene's 'The Explosive Child' incredibly helpful, life-changing. There's a summary of the author's approach here in PDF form. I would say that, whilst it's lovely that the learning mentor is supportive, she's maybe a bit misguided to suggest what you're doing is right, if it was then dd wouldn't be having so many meltdowns confused Ross Greene's approach is very much that if all the usual recommended and accepted strategies don't work then stop using them! It's powerful stuff and quite liberating. I think that using techniques that don't work can be soul-destroying, especially when everyone tells you they do work.

My ds is also 10, earlier this year he attended the Alert Programme which was to help him modulate his own emotions, it was fantastic and I highly recommend it, ds was referred through his OT but a couple of the other children had been referred through the school nurse, it's not available everywhere but I do think the school nurse might have some knowledge and access to local resources.

PolterGoose Tue 05-Nov-13 20:12:39

Well done on the scaling chart, it has really helped my ds smile

(my dp has over-reaction issues too wink)

we have also scaled emotions for a check in the morning, 10 being a ball of rage and 1 being so calm you are almost asleep, this morning she is a 7 on waking up. There is definatly some underlaying anxiety going on. Glad I asked that now i know to e a little bit gentle with her.

PolterGoose Wed 06-Nov-13 07:52:47

That sounds really promising dita smile

was it your scaling chart I nicked, I love it.

PolterGoose Wed 06-Nov-13 07:58:35

May have been, we did sea creatures. Ds is a sod for catastrophising so it helped a lot. Do look at the Ross Greene stuff, I think you'll really like it.

Jacksterbear Wed 06-Nov-13 08:00:47

Love the animal chart idea!

going to print out some picture charts for morning, evening routine and after school depending on who she is going to, so three different ones. Does that sounds ok, or does the fact that there are three different routines make that a futile excericse?

PolterGoose Wed 06-Nov-13 08:22:16

Sounds like a good idea to me. It can help to get dd to help make them so she has some input, help make it hers. So, you put in the stuff that is fixed and immovable and let her decide when to do other things and what order. Ds has always drawn the pictures himself.

Mollyweasley Wed 06-Nov-13 14:07:52

you could always all have the same main pattern on the planner and let her fill in the blanks in between. e.g if everybody is ok with her watching TV after school then maybe that could be a constant in her after school care, and then she could fill in the blank herself- our planner at home on a day to day basis is very basic (e.g only have the main meals and rest time/snack/after school activities built in)- it gets more complicated in the holidays and w-e though- but keeping it simple in my experience helps to be able to stick to it in various situation. Poltergoose is right it is good to have them involved in planning it because in the long term they have to learn to do it themselves.

NotAsTired Wed 06-Nov-13 23:16:29

Hi. Can I butt in here? dita I have a thread about the explosive child, please come join me.

Polter can you tell me a bit more about these animal charts, please?

PolterGoose Thu 07-Nov-13 09:25:32

NotAs our scaling chart came out of his huge and extreme reactions to invisible minute injuries. I'd commented something along the lines of how his screaming about one of these invisible tiny injuries sounded to me like his leg had been chopped off and that I was finding it hard to tell how serious an injury or pain were because he always reacted like he was near death!

Out of this came a 10 point scale to assess the relative seriousness of pain and injury. His obsession at the time was sea life so that's what we used, he chose 10 sea creatures and ordered them from small to huge (plankton to blue whale) and then we sat down and had a lovely gruesome discussion about where you would put various injuries and death. From this we started using it for general over-reaction and catastrophising.

What made it work I think was that it was embedded in his favourite topic (it could easily be done with bugs, cars, vehicles, animals, buildings, whatever the interest is), he drew the pictures making it his, and we talked a lot about where we would place different injuries and problems. It was just a way to get him to see how what he's seeing as the worst thing really isn't but without telling him not to be silly and not to over react, it was very much his scaling.

Jacksterbear Thu 07-Nov-13 10:08:29

(Sorry for hijack but this is all really interesting, useful stuff - hopefully useful for the op too!)

Polter I can imagine that my ds would be able to see,when calm and rational, that various minor incidents should go low down on the scale, but that (since he loses all rational thought very quickly when he gets upset), in the heat of the moment he would revert to "disaster mode" when it actually came to it. Did you find this? How does one deal with this to make the chart translate from the theoretical discussion to the real life scenario? This is a problem for ds with various things, eg he will agree, when calm, that if he starts getting upset he will go to his safe place / use a flash card or whatever, but then it all goes out of the window when he actually gets upset.

PolterGoose Thu 07-Nov-13 10:30:17

It takes time Jackster, ds is 10.5 now and we are making slow but definite progress.

With the disaster thing all the work is done when ds is calm, we talk a lot and will refer to specific incidents so it's real. It helps if you get in before things escalate, so when something happens that I know will lead to full on catastrophe I try to get in quick to avert the drama, I might say, calmly, 'ds, you're behaving like this is a blue whale problem, I think it's a shrimp', he will disagree and say it's a great white, we will use the negotiation skills we've practised when he's calm to find agreement. Like so much of what we do it's all trying to be proactive and preventative, there really isn't much you can do once a child's gone past a certain place. At that point you just ride it out.

Similarly, at the point where ds is in meltdown it's usually too late to use safe space/time out cards, they need to be used before the meltdown. So it is really important to learn to recognise early signs, initially it is parents/carers doing this and then it's about self awareness, my ds has only really started learning to recognise his early signs in the last year. Before that it was all adult led. Ds still chooses to ignore the signs and refuses to act to make himself feel better, it's all very tricky as he is very demand avoidant. More recently I'm using humour and we are drawing parallels with Marvin the Paranoid Android as a way to reflect back his catastrophising and negativity. But that's very recent and only possible now.

Jacksterbear Thu 07-Nov-13 10:51:29

Thanks Polter. That all makes sense - and gives me hope! smile

o problema t all jackster, like you said it is ll helpful smile

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