Meltdowns! Words of advice for parents of children with special needs

One day my son was playing with a toy train while we were checking out at a local store. He was fascinated by the mechanics of it and I could see the wheels turning in his brain.

When it was time to leave, I gently took the train from him to return it to the shelf. Right away he became frazzled and confused, and began to scream. At first, shoppers looked at him and thought “it’s the terrible twos.” But as his screams escalated I could see their thoughts shift to “what is wrong with him?” and “why isn’t his mother doing anything about that awful racket?”

If I could go back in time to that moment, I would tell myself these four things:

1. Meltdowns will happen, and that’s ok!

Keeping your child safe and loved through a meltdown is the best thing you can do for them.

2. Meltdowns and tantrums are not the same thing.

A tantrum has a goal in mind – to get something the child wants – and often ends quickly. A meltdown has no goal or desired outcome, and can last for minutes or even hours. They are not the result of poor parenting. a lack of discipline, or a sign that your child is naughty.

3. Mindfulness and self-care are key to riding the meltdown waves.

If you do not take care of yourself, you cannot take care of others, including your children. Setting aside five minutes in the morning to meditate can change your outlook on the entire day and help you work through stress in healthy, affirming ways.

4. When a meltdown ends, let it go.

It can feel like you’re on pins and needles waiting for the next one to erupt. Rather than fearing future meltdowns, focus instead on the present moment. This will create love and connection between you and your child.

Looking for more advice on how to handle meltdowns?

SPARK is holding a free webinar on “Managing Frustration and Anxiety: Teaching Social Skills with Jed Baker” on Wednesday November 16 from 2-3pm EST. Visit the webinar page to reserve your spot today!