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Dealing with meltdowns

(6 Posts)
BertramBertram Mon 19-Nov-12 09:09:17

DS (6) had a massive meltdown last night - and I failed spectacularly as a parent. For about half an hour I maintained the calm 'you don't get anything from a tantrum. You know that' but eventually I lost it and screamed at him (and I mean I really screamed at him). Within seconds I felt so ashamed of myself - I really scared DS. When I realised I had scared him, we had big hugs and he came down from his tantrum (I had already tried 'hugging it out').

DS has been referred for an assessment for dyspraxia. He often has tantrums that turn in to meltdowns that he appears to have no control over and he can't calm himself down. It usually only happens at home although he has started having them at school.

Does anyone have any ideas on how I can help him to try and calm himself down, as well as ideas on how I can react better and help him.

Feel like the worst parent on the planet at the moment...

SummerRain Mon 19-Nov-12 09:17:39

We all pose it sometimes... I certainly did this morning when ds2 started his daily meltdown about playschool.

You're human and it is virtually impossible to remain calm and reasonable at all times when dealing with meltdowns. Don't beat yourself up and move on from it.

As for how to deal with them.... I don't think there is a magic fix, there certainly doesn't seem to be with ds2. The best I ever manage is to ride it out without dissolving myself. 90% of the time I succeed, the rest I don't. Either way he doesn't seem to care once he's snapped out of it and having cuddles confused

DameMargotFountain Mon 19-Nov-12 09:39:05

Hi Bertram

first off, you haven't failed at anything, i'd take a guess that 90% of the parents reading your OP have done the same, and at least 5% of the remainder have short-term memory lapses wink

it's so difficult in the early stages of assessment because you really don't know what you're dealing with, so please don't give yourself a hard time, are you able to talk to DS about what happened?
assure him that you are trying to understand why he feels the need to kick off the way he did, and that you only reacted the way you did as you were feeling his frustration too?

DD is 5, and has ASD. it was her monumental tantrums that lead us to the GPs, who sent us on our way to DX. at that point I couldn't even contemplate being in the house alone with her, i was not coping at all.

now i'm learning that once she's in that zone, there is a point of no return. i have to learn how to recognise when she's on her way there, and stop it.

for example, a busy day, one where she's worked really hard in school or we've been out into a full and busy environment (shopping, visiting family etc) are always tricky. she starts to ask when we're getting home, are we walking/driving/getting a cab/talking about what she wants to do when she's home, that sort of thing.

if we miss the cue, if she goes into meltdown, then the best thing we do is leave her to it. make sure she's as safe as possible (and hopefully out of reach of too many missiles) and let her stamp and scream it out.

in our house, it's the stairs - plenty of noise can be made by stamping and shouting up and down.

talk to DS about his meltdown when he's calm, let him know that the behaviour is not acceptable but you understand that if he's feeling overwhelmed and like he's going to 'go', help him work out what will make him feel more calm. DD loves torches and light, after we had visitors the other night, she was heading for meltdown when they left, so we turned all the lights off in the living room and let her play with that.

do you keep a diary at all? this is really useful when you're trying to work out your DSs triggers, not all triggers are what you might imagine (DD cowers in horror at hand driers, but will spend hours listening to light aircraft engines confused )

lawks, i've written loads here, hope some of it helps

Ihavenobum Mon 19-Nov-12 09:57:17

<<hugs>> Been there done that, in fact my Ds 7 recently told me (on passing) that sometimes if he tells someone no they turn into the devil like you mum shock then he said "they go red and shout" doubly shock! I felt really bad! The day I did it I felt ashamed and spent most of the evening crying (you kind of feel that you are the only person in the world who should know better which adds to the guilt 10-fold), usually I am the calm one and take everything in my stride diffusing little unnecessary meltdowns which my Dh causes but is too blind to acknowledge but like its been said before we are only human and sometimes when there are other things happening eg money stresses, partners who seem to be more dependant on you than your Dc etc etc then its understandable.

I find that walking into another room while I quickly gather myself helps but Sometimes I know that isn't possible and on these times I take REALLY deep breaths while counting to 10 in my head (yep the old fashioned way wink ).

You are probably handling the meltdowns the best way, you were just caught on an off day thats all and everybody has off days no matter who they are smile.

claw4 Mon 19-Nov-12 09:58:15

Agree, dont beat yourself up about it, we are only human.

For ds things that have helped meltdowns, finding the triggers, putting more structure into his day.

For example when ds was 5, he would kick, scream, hit me when it came to putting on his school uniform. At home, i used visual timetables, sequencing charts for getting dressed, timers and let ds have some control over it, by him choosing which item of clothing to put on first, if he refused.

He also didnt want to go to school, as they were not providing him with any support, but thats another story.

BertramBertram Mon 19-Nov-12 12:55:26

Thanks all. I feel a bit better knowing that i'm not alone. I just felt so bad about losing it with him to the point where he was scared. We hugged it out once he had calmed down and he went to sleep knowing just how much I love him but I'm finding it hard to forgive myself!

Dame - thanks for the idea of a diary. I will get a book tonight and start making notes. I've been trying to rack my frazzled brain as to what triggered last nights episode. I think I was expecting a tantrum as we had had a tiring day (lots of walking) but I can't remember the actual trigger. It might also help when it comes to assessment if I can give examples of DS behaviour and triggers as I'm worried that if we have the assessment on one of DS's 'good' days they won't take me seriously.

I really want to try and help him recognise when this is coming so he can try and help himself. He has started to have meltdowns in class and I'm worried about him getting bullied. DS likes playing with torches so that might be a good place to start...

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