Meltdowns and Tantrums, is there a difference? Oh yes there is!!
Chloe has both quite often. Saturday started out quite calmly and we had planned to have a relaxing morning and then I was going to declutter the shed in the afternoon. Chloe asked to go outside, which was fine since I could clean out the shed while she played. I decided to film my declutter results video for YouTube during this time as well.
A few minutes into filming Chloe asked to get in the truck. I calmly told her “Not today”. She started repeating and whining “Go to truck” over and over again. I kept filming because this is real life folks. She hadn’t ramped up to badly yet. I finished the video and she went straight into crying “Go to the truck”!!! It was getting louder and screaming began. Still a tantrum at this point. I firmly, but patiently, told her “No truck, staying home”. I also told her that if she couldn’t stop screaming we were going in. She continued so we went in the house.
Ok friends, this is where it shifts. She was sent to her room after being warned in the house to stop screaming. I again said “Staying home today”. Now she was screaming “Go outside”!!! Phew. This shifted into a 3 HOUR MELTDOWN!! I kid you not. Let me explain the differences in a tantrum and a meltdown.
1) A tantrum is goal oriented. If they get what they want or something they will take instead the tantrum calms down.
2) A meltdown is when the child goes into overload and can no longer control themselves. The fit has to run its course.
3) Tantrums need an audience. Outside she stayed in my view crying and followed me around.
4) Once in meltdown mode begins she is all over the place screaming, hitting herself and almost impossible to talk to. There’s no getting through.
** Once the meltdown is over we do not mention the situation that caused it. Why not? Sometimes she has forgotten why she was upset. Also if we mention it the fit can start all over. Chloe will usually start playing and laughing when she is finished.**
Some people might say if we just took her back outside she would have been happy. Maybe or she would have started about the truck again. Also she isn’t learning right from wrong. Kids with autism always want their way, but we have to teach them that can’t always happen. Saturday was the roughest day Brett and I have had with Chloe in a long time. I am not sure what is going on with her, but I am praying it is a phase that ends SOON! Brett had me leave for a bit to decompress, but I walked back in to her still screaming. I love my husband and I appreciate him trying to give me a break.
Does your child have a lot of tantrums or meltdowns? What is your strategy with them?