For the parents of children with Autism, meltdowns are a part of life. In this episode, I’m sharing the three biggest mistakes I see during meltdowns, both personally and from my clients. However, I’m also sharing what you can do to reduce these mistakes or stop them altogether.
If you’re anticipating that meltdowns might become a regular occurrence as we move toward the end of summer and into the new school year, this episode is for you. We’re never going to be able to react perfectly every time when our child has a meltdown, but any improvement we can make will create a huge difference for both ourselves and our children.
Tune in this week to discover the three biggest mistakes parents make during meltdowns, and what you can start doing right now to either prevent these mistakes from happening or reduce the possibility of these mistakes exacerbating future meltdowns.
You are listening to episode 75 of The Autism Mom Coach, Meltdown Mistakes & Solutions.
In this episode of the podcast I am going to share with you the three biggest mistakes I see during meltdowns, both personally and in my clients and what you can do to reduce these mistakes or stop them altogether. Stay tuned.
Welcome to The Autism Mom Coach podcast, I am your host, Lisa Candera. I am a lawyer, a life coach, and most importantly, I am the full-time single mother of a teenager with Autism and other comorbid diagnoses. I know what it is like to wonder if you are doing enough or the right things for your child and to live in fear of their future.
I also know that constantly fueling yourself with fear and anxiety is not sustainable for you or of any benefit to your child. That is why in this podcast I will share practical strategies and tools you can use to shift from a chronic state of fight, flight to some calm and ease. You are your child’s greatest resource, let’s take care of you.
Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the podcast. I am so glad you are here and I’m so glad to be here with you. I can’t believe it’s August already. I hope all of you have been enjoying the summer and finding ways to keep your kiddos occupied and finding some time for yourself as well. And of course, I hope that the meltdowns this summer both for you and your child, have been low. But if that is not the case or you anticipate that meltdowns might be making a comeback as we move from summer into the school year, listen up.
I’m going to share with you the three biggest mistakes I see during meltdowns and what you can start to do now to either stop these altogether or at least reduce them. Remember, we’re never going for perfect here, never, ever, it’s just not possible. But whatever you can do to make this easier on yourself, whatever you can do to stop making it harder on yourself, that’s what we want to do. And there’s a lot of things that you can do, so that’s good news.
Alright, the number one mistake during a meltdown that I see parents making, myself included, is resisting it. This should not be happening, not again, why me? Whether, it’s he should understand that we need to go, I gave him the three minute warning or I should not have to have a battle royale with my daughter just to get her out of the bathtub. All of these thoughts about the meltdown, about your kid or about yourself, they are creating resistance to the fact that in this moment your child is melting down.
The more you resist it, the more suffering and the more stress you create for yourself. And then guess what happens when you are jacking up your stress levels during a meltdown by resisting it? Well, you are much more likely to melt down yourself either internally or externally and this is not helpful.
So the antidote to resistance is dropping into what is happening right now, dropping your resistance, dropping your agenda for how you think it should or should not be and letting yourself accept right now it’s like this. Because when you do that, when you drop the resistance, first you stop jacking up your stress levels, which is always good. And then you’re able to turn on that rational brain that we all have and ask yourself, and now what? Because meltdown’s happening, the only thing we need to figure out now is what’s the next right decision? And that decision is never, ever resisting the meltdown.
Mistake number two, talking too much. Now, this is one I am definitely guilty of. My son’s melting down and all of a sudden I decide to become hyper verbal with him. I do not recommend this because the more we talk, the more instructions we give, even the more alternatives that we provide. You want your iPad, but you can’t have your iPad. How about your coloring book? And it’s, yeah, iPad or coloring book. Now, if that works, great. If the distraction works, wonderful.
But what I have seen is that the distraction doesn’t work and instead we’re saying, “Well, this is the reason you can’t have the iPad. I already told you about this, I already gave you the warning.” And the more we talk, the more we talk, the more we talk, the more jacked up they get and also the more jacked up we get. We are increasing our stress and their stress. So less talking, less talking to them, instead, you want to give your child very short brief sentences that they can understand. We are leaving now. Things like that, you want to keep it simple.
And you want to watch the tone of your voice because your voice will communicate message before your words register in their brain. They’re going to get the meaning of your message by the way you’re talking to them. So if you’re able to drop into a low, more prosodic voice and give them clear instructions, their nervous system is going to receive it differently than if you were speaking like this. That tone communicates your annoyance with them and what happens? They get more annoyed with you and the fire keeps burning.
We want to stop throwing embers on this fire so that it can cool down. And one of the ways that you can do that is by talking less to them. Now, if you want to talk to somebody while this is all happening, talk to yourself, use your internal voice to self-soothe yourself. We are safe. It is okay. I can get through this, whatever it is. The way that you talk to yourself, the voice that you use when you talk to yourself can have a soothing impact on your nervous system and that’s what we need right now because they’re already bonkers, we don’t need to be bonkers too.
So talk less to them, talk more to yourself. And when you’re talking, be aware of your tone, be aware of your voice, be aware of the message that it is sending.
And the third mistake that we all make during a meltdown is catastrophizing. And within catastrophizing I want to count the all or nothing thinking, the future tripping, all of it. All of that noise that goes on between our ears, that is creating more stress for us. So thoughts like, I’ll never be able to go to a restaurant again. He never listens. If she is doing this now what is she going to be like when she’s five or 10 or 15?
And oh, my God, other people are judging us, they are seeing this, they think I’m a bad parent. We’re never going to have friends. We’re never going to get invited back, all of this. Now, I am not saying that you never think about how to manage your child’s behaviors and the impact that those behaviors have out in public or just their general ability to function in society.
What I am saying is that right now in this moment that is not the time to do it. I promise you, this will only make it worse for you and for your kid because you will start panicking and overreacting and co-escalating with them. Now, a meltdown that could have been done in 20 minutes is lasting much longer, both in reality and in your head, because you carry it with you for the rest of the day, if not longer.
So the antidote to catastrophizing during a meltdown is that you need to make it your job not to indulge in these thoughts because you will have them, these thoughts will pop up. Your job is to notice them like a cloud floating by and not attach to them. Let them pass because if you attach to them, if you focus on them, you are throwing flames on the fire. You’re getting more stressed out and that’s not helpful to you or your child.
So instead of catastrophizing, the all or nothing thinking, the future tripping focus on the here and now. Redirect your brain to what is happening right now and what is the next right decision for you and your child in this moment.
Alright, that’s it for the big three. Now, all of these mistakes are common and these solutions are super simple, but none of them are easy. It takes a lot of conscious effort and practice to shift from reacting to responding, especially during a meltdown, but it is possible. Even when your kid is going bonkers, we all have the ability to lower the temperature both for ourselves and our child. If this is something that you struggle with, I can help you. Meltdowns are my jam and in my one-on-one coaching program this is exactly what I teach my clients to do.
I teach them how to keep their cool even when their child is losing it by teaching them the practical tools and strategies tailored to their real lives. And so I’m not going to tell you what to do with your child, you probably actually know. I’m going to tell you the how, how you can show up in a way that is supportive to you and your child so that when they are melting down, you’re not joining them.
To book your complementary consultation for my one-on-one program, you can do that in the show notes or you can go to my website theautismmomcoach.com and click Work With Me. Alright, that is it for this episode. I will talk to you next week.
Thanks for listening to The Autism Mom Coach. If you are ready to apply the principles you are learning in these episodes to your life, it is time to schedule a consultation call with me. Podcasts are great but the ahas are fleeting. Real change comes from application and implementation and this is exactly what we do in my one-on-one coaching program. To schedule your consultation, go to my website, theautismmomcoach.com, Work With Me and take the first step to taking better care of yourself so that you can show up as the parent you want to be for your child with Autism.