0

In Meltdown

There is a point of anger or anxiety that a child can reach, when calming techniques don’t work. This is when the child is in meltdown. There is a point of no return where the child’s brain and body is in ‘fight or flight’ mode. Reasoning with the child or trying to calm them down will not work as the “downstairs brain” is in primitive survival mode and the “upstairs (thinking) brain” is inhibited (see Upstairs, Downstairs‘). ‘Fight’ may manifest as aggression, verbal abuse, throwing things, kicking etc as the child tries to release the adrenalin and stress hormones in their bloodstream. ‘Flight’ is when the child runs off to their bedroom or engages in other escape behaviours. Your priority at this point should be the child’s safety. If they are safe it is best to leave them to calm down, as following them and trying to engage them may exacerbate the situation. Never take anything they say personally when the child is in this frame of mind.

So how do we know if a child is in meltdown or just having a tantrum? Easy, ASD expert Sue Larkey says. bribery doesn’t work. If you were frightened of mice and a mouse was next to your kitchen sink, would bribery make you walk up to the mouse?

When your child is calm you can talk to them about the trigger (although they may not know why it happened. It could be cumulative effect of many things), and about ways they can deal with their anger and anxiety in the future, as well as strategies they can use.

Learn to recognise the child’s triggers and early warning signs. These are very individual and different for every child. Redirect them before the point of no return and teach them ways to recognise their own early signs and methods they can use to self-soothe.

When a person is stressed, they often “revert to habits”, so teach them good habits for dealing with their low level anxiety or frustration and they will eventually learn to do this automatically before they reach the point of no return.

Advertisements
0

Relaxation Techniques for children

My son’s psychologist recommended a few simple techniques for helping him to relax, which I shall share here.

Hug for 20 seconds, Hugging releases a hormone called oxytocin, often called the “love hormone” which has been “linked to a sense of calmness and wellbeing”*

Deep or slow “belly breathing“. You and your child lie down on your backs with a cushion under your heads, and tell your child to breathe in deeply through their nose until they can feel their belly going up. Then you both breathe out through your mouths, almost blowing the air out in one long breath. They could blow a feather or windmill (pinwheel). See breathing techniques for children for more information. Do this several times building up to five minutes. You or your child may feel a little dizzy or lightheaded after this so make sure you are lying down. Alternatively, if they find this difficult teach them to hold their breath for five seconds and let it out through their mouth as before. Relaxing music may help them slow down and get into the right frame of mind.

For muscle relaxation pretend to be a ragdoll and make your bodies go all limp, or “shake like a dog”, pretending to be a dog and shake as a wet dog would to get dry, shaking all over.

Further reading:

http://childrenwithanxiety.com/articles-resources/how-to-teach-children-progressive-muscle-relaxation

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-practice/201301/anxiety-in-children-10-ways-parents-can-help
http://media.routledgeweb.com/pp/resources/CBTCHILD/worksheets.pdf

*Source: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/spectrum-theory/201306/the-trust-hormone-how-oxytocin-can-help-treat-autism

0

Working Memory

Susan Gathercole in her book ‘Working Memory and Learning: A Practical Guide for Teachers‘ defines working memory as “the ability we have to hold and manipulate information in the mind over short periods of time. It provides a mental workspace or jotting pad that is used to store important information in the course of our everyday lives”. Think of it as RAM inside a computer, compared to the hard disk drive of long term memory. Continue reading