My son had a meltdown today.
He hadn’t had one for a while so I didn’t expect it. I thought we were past that. Truth is, he hadn’t been falling asleep until 10 PM every night this week, and he needs his 12 hours.
I realized long ago that “the meltdown” is the almost immediate result of sensory processing overload and frustration. Usually there is some kind of wind-up until the meltdown point but this time my son went from 0-60 in about 10 seconds.
And so I was caught off-guard. He must have also been. He was trying to explain something to me (argue, rather, why he had a better idea than I did) and at the same time I was calmly reminding him of our “no arguing” rule. (I should post about that another time, why I had to institute it.) I’m not going to deny I messed up in dealing with it.
Lesson learned: When a child is having a meltdown, that’s not the time to be speaking to him. The meltdown places a thick, invisible brick wall between adult and child. Words don’t penetrate the barrier, but they can cause the meltdown to build in intensity.
Before the meltdown point, I did see that he was frustrated, jumpy or even hyperactive, and more compulsive than usual. I knew right away that he wouldn’t calm down unless he got some deep pressure stimulation and so I suggested a bath or shower for him. If he’s a bit worked up, a shower will relax him, when he’s really craving that deep pressure stimulation, only a full tub of water does the trick. I gave him the choice of bath or shower to let him choose, thinking it might get him in the water quicker.
He didn’t want either and immediately became more jumpy, more frustrated, more compulsive. I saw that he had very little control over himself at that point and knew I had to get him in the water. That’s when we reached meltdown.
Reminder for self: Nobody likes having a meltdown. It builds as if it has it’s own life-force. The child having a meltdown cannot control it or be expected to listen to reason. It feels awful and like something outside of you is making you act out-of-control. And it won’t be over until it’s went through and done with on its own.
I hope to do a better job next time although I’m wishing for No More Meltdowns.