Reply To: Getting Your Child to Calm Down During Explosive Meltdown

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I had this kid once upon a time, and he is now a reasonably well-adjusted 17-year-old. Many of my friends have neurodiverse kids, and we’ve noticed that puberty seems to have a weirdly calming effect on kids with these issues, so hang in there!

One of the things that helped me – we deal with an anxious/aspergers/EFdysfunction child – was advice given on – think of your child with developmental delays (of which ADD is one) as being 1/3 less his biological age. These kinds of behaviors aren’t that unusual for a four-year-old – they have to do with frustration with communicating, changing gears, and dealing with authority figures. Your child is probably going through that stage in some parts of his development.

We found for my son that the only thing that worked was isolation – so either he went to his room to calm down, or we did. We taught him to see the signs of an oncoming attack of frustration (balled-up fists, tight shoulders, clenched jaw) and gave him license to go to his room to calm down whenever he noticed that happen.

I remember being scared that my kiddo’s outbursts portended serious issues with violence as a teen/adult…I am sad for both of us that that concern is there. I think it’s unlikely that your child will continue this way if he’s functional in other ways: he will eventually develop and catch up. In the meantime, teach him specific skills to manage his frustration – isolation, using a fidget, writing/reading instead of talking, putting on earplugs or headphones or sunglasses, taking a movement break – whatever works for him. There’s a great OT therapy out there called the ALERT system where they basically try every intervention they can think of and chart them all so you have a lot of tools in your toolkit; I highly recommend that if you can find it where you are.

I also like the Ross Greene approach; take a look at The Explosive Child or Lives In The Balance and see if you can find help there.

Hang in there, Mama! You’ve got this – it’s going to be OK.