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How do I deal with the meltdowns?

(41 Posts)
veronicasawyerheartsjd Mon 26-Jan-15 17:57:53

ds6 is undiagnosed, and has very violent meltdowns. I picked him up from after school club today and he was on a massive high, that turned into a meltdown when I wouldn't let him go and knock on the door of an old neighbour's house he used to be obsessed with on our way home.

He ran away when we got out of the car, then when we got in the house he punched, hit, bit, screamed, kicked and picked up the coffee table and threatened me with it and then hit me with it. He has calmed down now as I gave in and gave him his tablet to watch stampy videos.

I stayed calm, blocked his attacks, tried to talk him down, tried giving jim sensory pressure, tried to walk away, but it doesn't work as he just follows me when I walk away even though I tell him I am there for him when he is ready. I feel like I am being too passive by just taking the abuse and punches and giving into demands eventually as I can't watch him get so distraught after half an hour of it. He will say he will be a good boy if I give him what he wants but will carry on being bad if I don't.

Help! What else can I do when in mid - meltdown? The professionals can't won't give me the answers, all CAMHS have said is that I need to teach him stress management and have sent me on a parenting course sad

veronicasawyerheartsjd Mon 26-Jan-15 17:58:45

him not jim

kojackscat Mon 26-Jan-15 20:47:28

Hi, I just wanted to sympathise with you. My DS is also 6, and we have exactly the same issues. He gets so violent.
The only way I can prevent me and DD getting hurt is to pick him up (not easy!) and get him into his bedroom.
Once he is there he calms down surprisingly quickly, the violence turns to shouting straight away, and that stops after 3 or 4 minutes.

CAMHS always start with parenting courses, they think it will make us go away. Do the course, then go back and say you need further help.

kojackscat Mon 26-Jan-15 20:48:25

sorry, that sounded really bossy, I didn't mean it to. blush

PolterGoose Mon 26-Jan-15 21:07:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PolterGoose Mon 26-Jan-15 21:09:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GoldBl3nd Tue 27-Jan-15 01:10:33

Can't really say more than polter has already smile

At 6 it's hellish for them and you but it does get better with time as you learn the warning signs that an earthquake is about to erupt!

Sometimes spotting early gives you the chance to redirect to something else quick. Change subject or give a job to do with you etc. Other times not so easy but once in full swing the meltdown is going to run its course.

One thing I did learn is to stand your ground that the behaviour is unacceptable. I used to back down and give in for peace but just made a rod for my own back as I wasn't helping DS in the slightest by giving in. He had to learn that talking his emotions was good, that removing himself from a situation to calm down was good and that there was a consequence for something that had been done or not been done that was requested by me.

Easy? Noooo bedroom was emptied with anything damage worthy including loose shelving etc and filled to brim with soft toys to chuck and he was taken there with a struggle and I sat on the outside of the door. Helped both of us as for one I was no longer the target and for another I wasn't going to lose my rag either. Smaller space with no distractions was better for him to regulate himself. Found he calmed down quicker and we had good conversations through that door ��

senvet Tue 27-Jan-15 01:22:00

Nothing to add except a loving patient parent is the first and most essential ingredient for your dc, and he clearly has that

streakybacon Tue 27-Jan-15 06:56:29

You can't stop a meltdown once it's happening. By that time it's too late - it just has to run its course, and the best you can do is keep everyone safe till it passes.

Your son is just six. Neither he nor you knows yet how to work with his anger, but you will learn. You will become adept at spotting the triggers, and finding ways to avoid them or learn how to manage them. That way you will help him to manage situations that cause him stress and in time he'll cope better.

I agree with Gold that he shouldn't be allowed to think his behaviour is acceptable. We all get angry and frustrated but there are better ways of dealing with it than aggression and violence. So yes, make it clear that there will be consequences for losing control, whilst at the same time letting him know that you will be helping him to learn how to manage his anger so it doesn't get that far.

I'd recommend The Incredible 5-point Scale to teach him how to understand escalating emotions and how that affects his behaviour. It might be a bit early to start with him just yet, but if you read it now you'll have an idea of how to use it when he's old enough to work with it.

I have a copy of the NAS notes from their Anger Management seminar - PM me with an email address if you want me to send them to you.

And listen to Polter. She knows what she's talking about smile.

veronicasawyerheartsjd Tue 27-Jan-15 09:59:39

Kojackscat, not bossy at all smile You are all so fab, I get more common-sense help and way more support from here than anywhere else.

A few of you have mentioned getting him into his bedroom to work his way through the meltdown, I think that is the key. I will get him into his bedroom but I have been at a loss for how to keep him in there on his own, he just hits his way out. I suppose I will just have to barricade him in by sitting in front of the door and not worry about him breaking it down. He really wants me as an audience and punchbag when he is melting down so I have to try and make that option not available, and also keep his little sister safe.

I have been too soft by letting him think his behaviour is acceptable when melting down, because it isn't his "fault". I tell him it is not acceptable but don't follow through with any consequences after, which must be confusing for him.

And thanks senvet, I wish I was more patient, I spend a lot of my time angry and frustrated, and am trying so hard not to let the kids see this is how I feel sad

I am getting better at spotting triggers though and distracting him, but sometimes, like last night when it started ramping up when I was driving home from picking them both up from childcare, I can't do much to stop things before they get out of hand. I have the Explosive Child after you recommended it on another thread Polter and am looking forward to reading it, but I am reading the Incredible Years book as part of the parenting course I am on and will wait til I have worked through that one. I will then get on to the 5-point scale grin.

DS has his ADOS assessment in February, hopefully something will come of that.... CAMHS have been useless, even though I keep telling them he is physically hurting me, trying to strangle me, scaring his sister, saying he wants to die... he presents so well in assessments and meetings, and at school, he is like a different little boy sad

PolterGoose Tue 27-Jan-15 10:08:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GoldBl3nd Tue 27-Jan-15 11:47:21

I don't give out a consequence for the actual meltdown and should have explained it better.
If a consequence was issued for something that was done as in bad behaviour or if DS hadn't done what was requested. THAT consequence would still stand. So DS got out of the idea that a meltdown changes the rules.

What I DID do is reward him and make a big thing of it if he chose to take himself off to calm down wether it be in a stomping loud scrappy manner or not. Because he made a good choice��

GoldBl3nd Tue 27-Jan-15 11:57:39

As in the running off bit? DS safety awareness is zero so high safety issue and so he would have a consequence as in loss of TV or computer. He may not be happy because his mind was on seeing his friend (using your example) and yes meltdown ensued. Can't punish for that as it was beyond his control until he learnt ways to curb or calm, but the initial consequence would still stand iyswim x

streakybacon Tue 27-Jan-15 11:58:09

I tend to go with natural consequences, so for example if his actions mean time has been lost he won't be able to play Xbox or watch tv. I'm not imposing a 'punishment' on him, it's more that the situation has developed and the time isn't there any more.

I do expect him to recognise that he has to help repair or replace breakages. He's not being punished for losing his temper, but for the outcome of having lost his temper, iykwim.

PolterGoose Tue 27-Jan-15 12:08:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

kojackscat Tue 27-Jan-15 12:26:33

This sounds dreadful when I type it, but what I do is just close the bedroom door and hold onto the door handle for a minute till he calms down. Then he starts throwing stuff at the door, kicking it etc, but he knows I am outside, so he rarely tries to open the door until I do it.

I tell him that when he has calmed down I will start 2 minutes timing, so I can be sure he is properly calm before I let him out. He often chooses to stay in there longer than that, until he is really ready to come out.

I don't punish him as such, I think being in his room is enough.
Many of my friends with NT children think I am letting him get away with it by not punishing him,and say they would never let their children act like that, but I really think they just don't understand.

streakybacon Tue 27-Jan-15 12:54:12

Ds and I used to have a 'contract' that we wrote at a calmer time, agreeing what would happen when he went into meltdown, how I would support him, what he did and didn't want me to do. It helped. It took away the confusion about whether I was helping or hindering, so I didn't lose my patience with him at his worst. We had an agreement that I'd go into his room after 15 mins and bring him a drink of water, just to let him know I was there (no speaking), then again in another 15 minutes to ask if he was ok and beginning to settle. We just developed it as he got more capable of controlling himself.

He eventually stopped having meltdowns altogether, and now hasn't had one for best part of five years grin.

veronicasawyerheartsjd Tue 27-Jan-15 12:54:38

Good idea to reward him if he does stuff to help himself when distressed, I will try that out. What I meant by not following through with consequences is not following through with the consequences I have set for the behaviour that led to the meltdown or happened before the meltdown usually, such as refusing to come off the computer / turn TV off, taunting his sister etc., because he is distressed after his meltdown. I told him yesterday morning he could not have his tablet in the evening because he refused to come off it to go to school, but then gave in and gave it to him as I know it helps calm him after a meltdown.

kojackscat it sounds like you handle meltdowns well (well, you all do), and I know what you mean about other people judging me for "letting him get away with bad behaviour", I sometimes feel very judged. I also can't stand it when well-meaning friends say "Oh God Yes, my ds hits me / runs away / shouts and screams / poohs his pants etc too, I know how you feel". Yes, but your ds is 2 hmm grin

It's all such a massive learning curve....

veronicasawyerheartsjd Tue 27-Jan-15 12:57:19

streakybacon no meltdowns for 5 years, wow, there is hope for the future! The contract sounds like a great idea smile

streakybacon Tue 27-Jan-15 13:01:54

veronica I have emailed you something that might be useful smile.

kojackscat Tue 27-Jan-15 13:14:19

Streakybacon, a contract sounds like a great idea.

Did he have to do anything, or was it all things for you to do?
Because when DS is in mid meltdown, he won't remember or care what he has agreed to at another time. It is impossible to talk to him, its as if his ears stop working all together!

veronicasawyerheartsjd Tue 27-Jan-15 13:18:12

streakybacon is a star, just thought I would point that out smile flowers

streakybacon Tue 27-Jan-15 13:18:37

No, he just had to concentrate on having his meltdown and I'd do the rest wink.

Everything was agreed beforehand. We worked a lot with five point scales, social stories, choice cards, that sort of stuff. I also had a card made that I could give to him as he exploded, telling him "You are now in meltdown" - he got so out of control at the point of breakdown that he didn't recognise it, and had to learn it. You can't start to tackle a problem unless you're able to recognise it, so that was our starting point.

I had several series of cards written in the style of different character obsessions he had at the time: Doctor Who, Bionicles, Star Wars etc, so I could use whichever set seemed applicable at the time. Really helped to engage him when we had more than one option.

kojackscat Tue 27-Jan-15 13:27:04

that sounds great, Streakybacon, I might use that idea.
Off now to have another argument meeting with the school, I feel serious dejavu going on!

veronicasawyerheartsjd Tue 27-Jan-15 13:35:47

Good luck kojackscat

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