Strategies for Parents to Deal with a Meltdown

Supporting the development of healthy emotional regulation

We would all like to avoid meltdowns and tantrums completely. Unfortunately, that is not possible. Instead, you may find it helpful to identify the underlying causes. That is, to identify what is overwhelming your child. Consider keeping a diary over a period of time. Record what happened before, during, and after each meltdown / tantrum. You may be surprised to find that patterns emerge. Some of the outbursts may even occur at particular times and in particular places. And while every child with autism is different; changes in routine, sensory differences, anxiety, and communication difficulties are some of the most common triggers.

In addition, being calm and clear about behavioral expectations is vital because it helps you to communicate more effectively with your child. “So, it’s not, ‘You need to behave today’. It’s, ‘You need to be seated during mealtime, with your hands to yourself, and saying only positive words.’ Those are very observable, concrete things that the child knows what’s expected and that the parent can reinforce with praise and rewards” said Dr. Lopes.

Now that you have a clearer idea about meltdowns/tantrums, you can minimize their frequency once they take form. Consider the aforementioned management strategies based on your child’s individual needs. Putting them in place can minimize the stress and anxiety of day to day situations that may contribute to these outbursts. You just have to find what works for your child so that you can proactively and appropriately support their emotional regulation.