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How a Mums and Dads Feel During a Child’s Meltdown

screaming childWhen talking to any parent after a child who has had a tantrum in public a common comment that is said is that “people look like they have not seen a screaming child before.”   As a mum with autism, I have had numerous “well meaning” people say to me that my child needs a smack.  Mind you I do get a kick out of asking the person if I could smack them first.  Plus do not even get me started on people do not have any children who want to add in their 5c into the issue.  I like to ask them what do you know?

Usually after their opinion, I then inform them of the situation and they usually walk away with their tails in their legs.  You see a child screaming and in your head naturally you think you know the situation but usually you don’t.

Do you know how the mum and dad are feeling?  I remember a recent situation where Grace was having one of her meltdowns (emotional eruptions) whilst on a bike ride around the Maribyrnong River.  She was beyond being able to calm down quickly and all we could really do was wait it out until there was some change.  We spent the time telling her it was ok. But my goodness the looks that we received were incredible and even with some rubber neckers.

As a mum, I felt like a failure.  I could not provide her comfort when she needed it.  I felt like I had a good understanding of what she needed in these cases and usually it is a hug but on this day it all went out the window.  I felt embarrassed, I felt angry but mostly that I was all alone.

No one gave us any encouragement, not even a smile or any acknowledgement that they knew how I felt.  Instead of making mums and dads in this situation feel all alone, a kind word of acknowledgement or even help may make all the difference.  It is not easy for the child when they feel like this and mums and dads feel the same.  Understanding is what parents need not alienation.

Emotional Eruptions (Meltdowns)

I have to admit that I am not a massive fan of calling my children’s emotional eruptions as meltdowns because I guess people already a perceived perception of what entails.  But reality, is what happens is that their emotions goes to extreme levels and I always picture a volcano erupting with their emotions flowing over.

I have to admit that I do not enjoy them what so ever.  Grace has a massive set of lungs Ahh! and the last eruption went on for 1.5 hours and she was impossible to bring down.  Then if Emma joins in it definitely becomes a noisy house.  Sometimes I worry what the neighbours think is going on in my house.  Sad.

But I find that my stress levels increase as I feel like I have an inability to cope with them.  Then by the time Steve comes home I am stressed, cranky and wanting to escape.  It also puts Steve and I at odds and it is not that we disagree on how we handle the situations but Steve feels bad that he is working and I am simply just cranky mainly with myself.  I find it easier to simply talk to Steve about how I am feeling and Steve simply just listens,

The way we help the girls is that we sit with them.  Both tend to scream go away and lash out but I know that they want us close.  Children at all ages (especially when they are tantruming) need help in managing their emotions.  Most children do not understand their own emotions and get quite confused.  If a child can not put a label on the emotion and not understand them, they will not be able to control their emotions.  We see countless times the affect of adults loosing their own control of emotions but we do not allow children who do not understand those emotions.  We explain when they are quieter what they are feeling and they are slowly learning strategies to help them overcome these moments.