Whenever my friends describe “meltdowns” their young children have, I have to restrain myself from busting out into maniacal laughter.
They really have no idea.
If you’re a parent, you know what meltdowns look like. They’re not pretty.
If you’re a parent of an aggressive child with special needs, you know what a meltdown feels like.
You’ve got the bruises, blood, or black eye to prove it.
It was my son’s aggression at an early age that clued my husband and I in that something wasn’t quite right. He would smack his head on the floor at 13 months old when he was frustrated. He couldn’t go more than few minutes at daycare without banging into someone or something, constantly pulling out the hair of other children and the daycare providers.
In one respect, Big C’s aggression has been a blessing. It’s helped us realize early in his life what his struggles are, and while it took a few years to really pinpoint the issues, we have a much better handle on how to handle him (and ourselves) when he gets overstimulated.
The great news? Big C’s tendency for aggression have diminished tremendously over the past year. Don’t get me wrong. He’s still way more aggressive than the average four year-old (he threw an eight ball at my head a few weeks back because he didn’t want to end the play date), but at least he’s starting to recognize the aggression in himself and, every so often, stop himself before it escalates.
More often though, he has the meltdown, then explains later why he was upset. For a four year-old, I think this is impressive.
Very recently, a new form of meltdown has emerged. It’s one I haven’t quite figured out how to cope with yet. I find myself just getting frustrated.
Lately, if Big C doesn’t want to do something or feels threatened in some way, he closes his eyes, starts rocking his body, and makes animal-like moans. His ability to use language completely shuts down. When I try to get him to talk, he just runs and hides. This has happened several times in public places like daycare and preschool.
The only “strategy” that remotely works is to wait it out. It’s not easy though. I find myself getting more and more frustrated and less and less patient.
BUT, the last time this happened, a couple of days ago, after the meltdown subsided, he hugged me so tightly we both fell over and then he said, “I’m sorry I’m frustrating you.”
Seriously? How do you not smile at that?
The moral of this story? Epic meltdowns can sometimes lead to epic apologies.
What are some of your strategies for dealing with meltdowns?[/nextpage]