Tantrums can be a nightmare for almost every ASD parent. Once the tantrum starts, it can be almost impossible to stop the train. What starts as a call for attention, can end up as a war between the mom and the child, or at least that’s how it looks to people staring.
Fortunately, there is hope for parents looking for solutions to fix this behavioral challenge and today we will share a couple of tips that will ease the task.
The Reason For Tantrums
First of all, we want to clarify that tantrums are in no way anything close to meltdowns. As we have mentioned in the previous blog posts, meltdowns are completely directed to sensory issues, while tantrums have to do with unmet desires.
A meltdown can happen because of crowds, noises, lights, etc. While a tantrum can appear while walking by the candy bar and not having his/her favorite treat.
Remember, tantrums will always come as a result of not having what they want while, meltdowns are always directed to sensory over stimuli.
The following strategies are proven to work on ASD conditions, to provide comfort and relaxation during tantrums:
Usually, children’s fixations are the reason behind tantrums, so getting them distracted from that is the key to help them relax. Two of our favorite strategies are redirecting the conversation and redirecting environments. A change of environment can be particularly effective for younger children, for example taking them out of the place where they are to get them to focus on something else. Redirecting conversation works better for older children, and it consists of changing the approach of our conversation with him/her. In the midst of a tantrum it would look like this; instead of saying “Don´t cry, you can´t eat candy before dinner”, it could be oriented to grabbing his/her hand and stepping out of the candy bar while mentioning “I know that you like candy, so we will have a delicious treat right after dinner”. The goal is to be calm during the event so your child knows that you are in control all the time.
Some added advice: 1. Never hit or spank a child as a means of physical redirection. Hitting is an abusive practice that sends a double message: “I’m concerned about your safety, but I hit you and cause you pain and fear.” 2. We caution parents in the use of the word, “NO.” Because toddlers like to explore, their whole world can become one big “No-No” if you let it. Save “No” for the big things.
Also, when you use the word “No,” show an expression of disapproval. Slowly turning the head from side to side (a physical indicator of No) and a cold, non-smiling face tells the child you are displeased. After a while, just shaking your head “no” gets the message across.
When your child is throwing a tantrum, his/her whole body is under a stressful response, therefore easing stress with sensory stimulation is a great way to reduce anxiety. For this, you can hand him/her a finger toy, or a stress ball to distract attention while reducing stress. Other children may require more direct sensory input. For some children, physical pressure works well to calm them. In this case, the use of a weighted blanket or massager can provide the necessary sensory input and will help the child relax.
When we are hungry we tend to overreact and feel cranky. A crunchy snack is a great alternative to ease stress related to hunger because oral proprioceptive input is calming. Packing with you dehydrated fruit, healthy granola bars, SFGF cookies, or some other crunchy alternative is a great way to help your child distract and relax.
Remember, finding out what works for your child takes time and effort. Keep in mind that good things take time and that every accomplishment deserves to be celebrated. You got this!!!
At WSCC, we offer support for autistic families and their children with Stem Cell Therapy treatments that can transform autistic conditions by healing the gut, decreasing inflammation and improving brain function. We also created an on Facebook that is destined to offer support and companionship for ASD parents and their families on their journey.
Remember, you are not alone!