Lots of parents come to me to talk about their children who are “meltdowny” (a word I made up).
To explain these “meltdowny” types, let’s look at the story of five-year-old Jared.
Prone to having meltdowns when he does not get his way, Jared shows extreme reactions whenever his parents ask him to do anything he does not want to do.
Demanding and difficult, Jared is simply quite often out of control.
Jared’s mother, Beth, explains his behavior in neurological terms, believing that “sensory and ADD issues” are at the primary cause. (Having met Jared, I wasn’t so sure if these hypotheses were correct.)
I ask Beth to tell me different stories that illustrate the nature of the meltdowns and what seems to trigger them.
The stories are all variations on a similar theme – when it’s time for dinner, time to go to bed or to get off of his xbox, as examples, explosive meltdowns are typical reactions. These can last for some minutes or even up to a half-hour or more, depending upon the situation. The meltdowns turns off like a faucet when Jared gets what he wants.
What does Jared want?
In basic terms, almost always, Jared wants pleasure – fun.
Pure and simple.
For most modern kids, pleasure comes on devices, such the xbox, iPad, or while watching YouTube.
With inflexible and difficult-style children, when they are not getting access to these devices, they can make a parent’s life miserable and hold them hostage with extremes of behavior.
In Jared’s household, this type of interaction is a daily ritual that can occur multiple times.
My sense is that these days there are a lot of Jareds out there. A small amount of frustration leads to huge reactions
What do you do in these situations? How do you handle “meltdowny” children? While there’s a lot more that I can say beyond the confines of a short blog post, start with a concept called “active ignoring.” That is, don’t react. Stay cool and don’t try and do anything to get him out of the state he is in.
While the tantrum is taking place (presuming nothing is being broken), go about your business. There should be no pleading, coaxing or yelling, as these will only add fuel to the fire.
Also, be careful with giving in to the meltdown with some sort of statement such as, “Ok, you can have 10 more minutes and then you have to go upstairs.” This will only encourage more of these in the future.
“Meltdowny” kids are tough.
Don’t “feed the beast.”
Copyright, 2020 www.shutdownlearner.com
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All good advice. What happens when he is still doing this at 18? Mine is
Haha…oh, man! Make an appointment with me!!!!!!