What to do when my child has a public meltdown?

What to do when my child has a public meltdown?

A child having a meltdown in public is loud, grabs attention, and can be very embarrassing for you. You may very well feel the eyes of judgement on you, and you’ll inevitably feel like people think you’re doing something wrong, or that you haven’t raised or taught your child properly.

As embarrassing as that may be to you, your child or the child under your care is going through a rough time. This meltdown may be the only way they know how to express their discomfort, pain, or frustration, and they may be completely overwhelmed by the surroundings or sights and sounds.

How you react as a parent, guardian, or educator, can trigger an escalation or help to calm things down. Punishing the child should be out of the question. They aren’t kicking up a commotion to punish or embarrass you. They are doing it because they are having a difficult time coping with something.

Like stimming, it could also be a self coping mechanism. These actions can:

  • Help calm the child down. The repetitive behaviour distracts from their anxiety and acts as a soothing mechanism.
  • Help the child to refocus their attention from the sensory overload that is often experienced by people with autism and sensory processing disorders.
  • It may also help shake off excessive energy.

Punishing them may make things worse by taking away things the child depend on for dealing with their situation.

You should also focus your attention and have empathy for the child. Don’t be distracted by your own embarrassment or the public’s judgement. Remain calm, and focus on ensuring you can calm the child down. You can do this be removing them from the immediate environment. Sometimes the sight and sound could be triggering for them.

You may have a favourite toy or security blanket or special bag that they like that helps to make them feel at ease.

The meltdown may last some time, but as they calm down, hopefully you have some coping mechanisms you’ve worked out with the child to help regulate their emotions.

College of Allied Educators offers our Diploma in Learning Disorders Management and Child Psychology. This part-time programme is designed specifically to train potential teachers, parents and caregivers to identify, detect and support children with special needs, such as Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Dyspraxia, and Dyslexia.

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