We are taking a parenting class through our church called Loving on Purpose. It is based on the Book Loving Our Kids On Purpose by Danny Silk. It is making a huge difference for our family.
To sum up what I have learned in one sentence: "I have to be in control of me." I started this class thinking we would walk away with all kinds of "tricks" to get Crash to do what I want him to do, and instead I am walking away with something much more valuable.
If I can stay in control in situations and keep my brain working instead of getting caught up in the drama he is creating the situation will deescalate. I bet you don't believe me. It took a long time to get me to buy in as well.
But, let's consider one of the big reasons meltdowns occur...Crash is trying to take control of the situation be it his socks, pants, loud noises...you name it he feels out of control or overwhelmed. The screaming and crying and challenging behaviors are his response to the situation in which he feels threatened. When you feel threatened...you natural response is to control.
If I can stay in control of me, I can guide Crash in some of his decisions and set the stage for learning to occur. By offering acceptable choices right at the beginning (or better yet before) the meltdown Crash is beginning to learn that he CAN control his life without melting down.
So often I have tried to prevent the meltdown by telling him what to do. If he spilled milk on his pants, I would tell him to go change. Which of course resulted in even more screaming. His sensory system was over loaded and he still feels out of control.
This morning, when he spilled milk and was about to start screaming, Crash's dad acknowledged the problem and then said "I have a couple ideas about your problem. Let me know if you want to hear them." Holding back tears, Crash said ok. Dad said "looks like your pants are wet. That must be tough. You could go and change or you could keep them on. You could go and sit by the fire until they dry. "
That was enough. Crash ran to change his pants.
Now here comes the amazing part. When he returned, his dad said you can clean up the milk with water and a wash cloth or a spray bottle and a towel. Crash made a choice and completed the job!
This would have been a power struggle in the past. A very LONG power struggle. But we stayed in control, didn't get caught up in the drama, offered choices, and let Crash take control.