12/13/2020 by Kathleen Austin. Hi, I am an Occupational Therapy Supervisor at South Shore Therapies. I specialize in working/supporting children with sensory and/or behavioral challenges. Our mission with SST's social media platform is to empower, educate and inspire families to take on life’s challenges while promoting an optimistic outlook and a brighter future. If you want to read more about us, visit www.southshoretherapies.com 0 Comments
Tips and Tricks to Help Manage Your Child’s Behavior and Avoid Meltdowns
Now that we have learned some of the common triggers for behavior and donned our detective hats, it’s time to investigate some tips and tricks to help manage those behaviors. Check out this article for some helpful hints during those difficult moments.
5 strategies to help you & your child
The most important piece to remember is that children do well if they can - meltdowns are no fun for anyone involved. Check out this video to learn more about Ross Greene’s philosophy to collaborative problem solving HERE
We need to look at these behaviors as our child's attempt to communicate a problem- are they feeling overwhelmed? Do they not understand the directions? Was this transition too much for them? When we as the adults start to view these behaviors as a guide, rather than a nuisance, we start to understand our children better and therefore can help predict and prevent future meltdowns.
1. Communication is Key.
Before, during, and after a behavior or meltdown, be mindful of your verbal & non-verbal communication. It is always best to be clear and concise, avoid tough vocabulary words, and remember to only give one direction at a time. Non-verbal communication, such as body language, posture, tone of voice, and facial expression are just as important! Click HERE for the do’s and don’t’s of verbal intervention
2. Visuals, visuals, visuals!
A great way to minimize or even eliminate excessive verbal interactions is to incorporate visuals for your child. If getting ready for school is a challenge, try creating a visual schedule with pictures of each step in the child’s routine. For children who struggle with new situations or activities, showing them a picture ahead of time may help alleviate some anxiety and decrease the likelihood of a meltdown on the way there. Another great visual tool is a timer. Incorporating auditory and/or visual timers can be a lifesaver for kiddos who have trouble with transitions and time management. Click HERE for some simple visuals to use at home.
3. The power of Praise.
When a child is having a hard time, it is easy for us as the adults to get frustrated and focus on all the negatives (remember as a kid when your parents told you they were disappointed?!). As we said before, children do well if they can. If your child is mid-meltdown, he or she is just as stressed as you are in that moment. In those tough times, be sure to acknowledge even the slightest compliance. If they feel threatened by you or your words, the behavior is more likely to escalate. If you provide positive feedback, though, it is more likely to elicit more mini victories. As a general rule of thumb, be mindful to praise the little things throughout the day to help build your child’s self-esteem and foster a sense of security within your relationship. Click HERE for 10 positive affirmations you can use with your child.
4. Choices are a child’s gold.
For most kiddos, every moment of their every day is planned out for them- what to wear to school, what to eat for lunch, what to do on the weekends, etc. In some cases, this lack of control can lead to a child feeling frustrated and end up in a power struggle. When appropriate, giving your child choices can make a huge difference in their behavior. If mealtime is a constant problem, perhaps allowing your child to choose between two meals (or even sides) will help her feel more in control and minimize the breakfast battles. For those kiddos who have touch sensitivities and have trouble getting dressed, giving them the power to pick an outfit from two or three options may help them feel more comfortable over the course of the day (after all, they are the ones who know which socks feel yucky which ones are safe). Bear in mind when giving choices to always provide options that you are okay with- if you offer pasta or ice cream as the two dinner options, be prepared to serve up a sundae! It’s also important to not overwhelm the child with too many choices at once; sticking to two or three options is best.
5. Distraction is a great Band-aid.
Although it won’t help you discover the root of the behavior or prevent it from happening again in the future, using distraction can be a powerful tool when you are in the midst of a meltdown. Try redirecting your child to another task, location, or activity. Be playful or silly and incorporate humor- throwing yourself under the bus or making a foolish joke can sometimes be all that the child needs to snap out of the moment and release some tension. Just be mindful that this is a temporary tool and won’t work every time.
Learning to minimize meltdowns takes time and no strategy will be an overnight cure. Always remember to be patient and stay calm. Use your detective skills to predict when challenging behavior may occur. Of course, not every meltdown can be avoided. In those tough moments, be mindful of your verbal & non-verbal cues, incorporate visuals as needed, and give choices when appropriate. Provided frequent praise throughout a child’s day will help to build their confidence and feed their self-esteem. If you want to learn more about fostering a growth mindset for your child, check out our blog post HERE
At the end of the day, just remember that your child is doing his or her best and tomorrow is a new day!
We hope you found this post helpful. Click HERE to learn more about what services and supports South Shore Therapies has to offer. Results that make a difference.
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