I stand there and take it all.
As the applesauce hits the floor and his shirt, I knew it was coming. After turning off the tv before he was ready, I knew it was coming. After taking a phone call, interupting his music, I knew it was coming. Screaming, crying, kicking, hitting, and pinching.
I stand there and take it all.
I try to tell myself it’s just a phase, he can’t control it, or it’ll be over soon enough, just tough it out. I know that there has to be something better out there. Some magic word or phrase, some As Seen on TV miracle that will make it easier. I know I can’t be alone, but at that moment, when I’m holding back tears, I feel it. Epic, soul crushing loneliness and despair, wondering how my life got to this point. I quickly shove it away, I have a 3ft 6 bomb to diffuse after all.
That bomb? It’s my 3.5 year old Everett. He’s on his 5th meltdown of the day. Each one, progressively worse than the last one, so I know this one is going to be a battle royale. The one that is going to take at least an hour to come down from.
That day? It was a little over a month ago. Since then, I’ve been trying coping strategies nonstop.
Looking at Everett, you wouldn’t know he isn’t your average 3 year old. He makes fart sounds, loves helicopters, and is obsessed with music. You wouldn’t know that behind that sweet smile, he’s seeing the world in a way even I have issues fathoming. His world is full of hidden triggers, just waiting to go off.
The worst part of the triggers? New ones pop up all the time. Take for instance the vacuum cleaner. He used to LOVE LOVE LOVE the vacuum. I couldn’t keep him away from it. Now? I turn it on and he runs away terrified. Every day I’m discovering new triggers. Every. Day.
Welcome to the day in the life of a mom with a kiddo who has sensory processing disorder.
After trying countless methods to diffuse the ticking time bomb in my house, I’m finally feeling more like a professional hostage negotiator and less like the hostage. My head starts spinning when I start trying to list all the (anti)meltdown methods, discipline strategies, and tips I’ve tried. Lucky for you, I’m going to share some of the better ones I’ve found.
Method 1: Divert Divert Divert
Redirection folks. That’s what EVERYONE says first. “Oh your 3 year old is dragging the dog around the house by his tail? Obviously he needs heavy work! Redirect him to start XYZ!”
Pros: it refocuses their attention, and keeps you from having to put him in straight jacket. It also teaches them that the current action is unacceptable and helps them find better outlets. It works great for the long run.
Cons: it’s EXHAUSTING. With Everett constantly testing boundaries, redirection takes a ton of work, especially on the lovely 3.5 hrs a night of sleep I’m averaging.
“That’s it! You can’t keep throwing blocks at your brother! Time out!” *Cue screaming and crying*
“I see you’re throwing blocks at your brother. Why? Are you not wanting to share or are you wanting mommy’s attention? I think you need some time to reset and then we can address this. Let’s go to your sensory corner and do our reset xyz”
Time out pros: immediate negative consequence and removes them from the situation.
Cons: I feel like it loses it’s effectiveness and you don’t find the root of the problem.
Time In Pros: You take the time to listen to your child and find the root of the issue (children aren’t inherently “bad”), then provide them tools to help reset the balance.
Cons: it takes time and you aren’t always in a situation where you are able to give them the time needed. Also, with Everett still not having a great vocab, I can’t always figure out what the problem was.
This is one of my faves. I’m actually in the middle of making a super rad one for Everett with the help of a few fantastic companies! The corner is a place where they go to self reset. You limit the outside influences (light, sound, etc) and provide a basket of sensory gear (weighted lap pad, headphones, lacing games, picture books, fidgets, etc).
Pros: it’s a great way for them to self regulate, it can help prevent and minimize meltdowns. It creates a safe place for the kids.
Cons: it can be expensive based on what you get and it can require a decent amount of space.
We recently started yoga with Everett’s new therapist. It has been AMAZING. I’ll be doing another blog about our experience and tips in more detail later, but here are a 3 breathing techniques:
1. Hot cocoa breath -make your 2 palms into a cup and smell or breathe in deeply like smelling hot cocoa. Then it’s too hot so blow out gently into your palms.
2. Trace the #8 in the sky or on the floor. Breathe in on the way up and out on the way down.
3. Billy Goat Gruff breaths. Open one palm and your fingers are the ‘mountains.’Use your other index finger as the goat trying to get to greener pasture. As your index finger traces up the opposite finger you breathe in and then breathe out as it traces down the finger on the open palm. (5 deep breaths)
There are a couple great kids yoga books you can find, if you’re looking to start yoga at home.
Pros: it gives both you and the kiddo time to calm down, it helps strengthen mind and body, and it teaches the kiddo coping methods for the long run. It’s also fun!
Cons: I’m not a yoga teacher, so sometimes it’s awkward for me to help him. Getting a pro to help with yoga can be expensive.
I have a couple more methods I’ll add in a bit, but right now it’s dinnertime! Be back soon!