What to do during meltdowns

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by julierose24, Oct 27, 2012.

  1. julierose24

    julierose24 New Member

    Hey everyone. I need some advice. When my daughter (6) has her meltdowns/tantrums over anything and everything -what should I be doing? She will not stay in her room. She kicks the door if we close her in (I'm worried she might hurt herself). If we let her out around the house, she tries to destroy my house -throws everything in sight, pulls everything out of drawers, etc.

    We've tried ignoring her, but she follows us from room to room -hitting, pushing, etc. I can't let her destroy my house, or hurt others.

    Today, I held her down until it was over. I tried using the least amount of restraint possible -sat hovering over her holding her hands above her head on her bed. While this worked as far as her not being able to hurt me, and me not hurting her while being able to hold her -her meltdown was much worse until it was over. I just kept telling her that I loved her and trying to get her to take deep breaths. Now she is fine.

    What can I do? I don't want to restrain her. I don't want her to destroy my house and break everything. I don't want her hurting others.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Is she in therapy? Can you get advice from the therapist?
  3. julierose24

    julierose24 New Member

    yes, she sees her psychologist tues and her new therapist a week from Monday. I plan to ask them, but was looking for help until then.
  4. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Hi julierose. Well, I have a nearly-6 year old who has big meltdowns too, though perhaps not as destructive or as long-lasting (but that may be no more than a detail). I totally understand how desperate you feel and how impossible it seems to find the right balance in this situation. At the same time... my strong intuition on reading your post was that you should NOT be holding her down when she is raging. I understand why you do that - it's truly not a judgement of you. But I think it will feel to her like abuse, not love, and it will enrage her all the more.
    But what DO you do? She is allowed to rage (though better for her if she does not), she is not allowed to damage people or property. I don't suppose an empty room with padded floor and even walls is a possibility? Probably not, I realise...
    What is behind the rage? I wish I could help more. I've never found any real "solutions" for my son's rages but his are unpleasant but not horrific. I do hope others will come with more specific advice.
  5. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hi. Good question!

    Sometimes I could lure my son outside merely by going out the door, because he'd want to hit me, and then I'd turn around and shut the door. Occasionally he'd kick the door but it was much less damage than having him destroy the entire house. Many times, we'd send him to his room and he'd run up the stairs screaming, and he'd trash his room. We learned to strip his room of everything but basics (as fate would have it, he had a snow globe collection. I think there are 6 left).
    I also used The Hold, which the therapist taught me, where you sit on the floor or couch and cross your legs with-the child in your lap, and criss cross your arms over the front, with-the child facing away from you, and then you have to keep your head back so they don't head butt you. But I did it less than 1/2 doz times because by the time I learned it, my son was already almost too big.

    We had one babysitter who was 6 ft tall and all muscle; she was on the swim team. She would grab difficult child by the back of his pants and hold him in the air for as long as it took. I wished I had her calm attitude and big muscles!

    I don't think I'm being very helpful, but at least be aware that this is not a unique problem.
  6. julierose24

    julierose24 New Member

    Today was the first time that I restrained her. No, I don't want to do it again -but I'm not sure what else to do. If I lock her in her room, and she kicks the door -will she hurt herself? Most of the time, I sit inside the door of her room to block the door while she destroys her room. But now, she has started throwing things at me and my husband. That's why I restrained her.

    Maybe I should just let her kick her door? If it hurts bad enough, she should stop, right?
  7. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I tried it all and nothing worked except running a bath and putting her, struggling the entire time, in it. After just a few moments she would settle down and just play in there. It really really helped to calm her. As she got older this was more difficult to pull off, but until she was around ten or eleven it was helpful. So much so that the first time she had a rage attack with her dad during the holidays he called me freaking out. I calmly told him to run a bath and get her in it, add bubbles or lavender oil. He did. When he called me back he was in awe at how much it helped!

    Thats all I have. Sorry, hugs. You are definitely not alone.
  8. TheBoyHasArrived

    TheBoyHasArrived New Member

    My son (6) also has destructive, angry rages. We've used a mix of things to keep the tantrums under control. We started with restraining him 100% of the time. At first, it increased the intensity of the rages. But, I just repeated over and over that I was holding him to keep him safe, keep me safe and keep him from breaking the rules. Since I don't want him relying on me rather than learning self-control, I started slowing backing off from restraining him and just verbally reminded him that he could calm himself or I could help him calm down. Now, I rarely have to restrain him, and even when I do, he typically calms down very quickly. He will still throw things around if he can reach them, but the destruction has decreased a lot. We're still working on the screaming...thank goodness we don't have neighbors right now, who knows what they would think about the noise...
  9. julierose24

    julierose24 New Member

    Unfortunately, we have already spoken to the neighbors -just as a precaution. I like the bath idea -I will try that. Though, it will be messy with water everywhere, I'm sure.

    I just made my parent report (thanks to this forum), and plan to bring it on Tuesday to her psychologist, and on next Monday to her therapist. Hopefully they will have suggestions.
  10. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    You've gotten some good ideas. I REALLY recommend you try to pinpoint WHY she's acting that way. A couple helpful books you might want to invest in are What Your Explosive Child Is Trying To Tell You as well as The Explosive Child. Reading these two books gave ME a change in MY thinking. Once I was able to think outside the box, it was a tremendous help.

    She won't go so far as to hurt herself by kicking the door and if she does, it will be once and she won't do it again. Many people here have said they emptied their room of everything except the bed. Dressers can be emptied and even tipped on top of themselves so that goes too. I haven't done that myself but then again, there was no way I would have been able to get difficult child 1 up the stairs to his room in the first place, not to mention that he shares a room with his brother.

    I have used the restraint TerryJ2 described. It was restraining difficult child 1 but it also gave him deep pressure (sensory) and I could calmly whisper in his ear that I loved him over and over. When he was done, he would turn around on my lap and want me to just hold him while he cried.

    Who diagnosed her with ADHD? Is she on any medications? Are the rages new? Has she ever had a thorough evaluation by a Child Psychiatrist, PhD level psychologist, or neuropsychologist?
  11. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Expecting the bath to be "messy"?
    1) remove all paper products from splash line
    2) close toilet lid
    3) clear vanity counter,
    4) remove the shower curtain (so the kid doesn't try to climb it... )
    5) line the floor with multiple layers of flannel sheets - it is amazing how much water they absorb.

    When she's done, take a bucket in to put the sheets into. You might have to mop up a tad more, but... it really cuts the mess.
  12. buddy

    buddy New Member

    My son needed to be restrained too when young but now he is big. He has always felt it was for nothing after and will still say something about back then. It's a last resort for us even though deep pressure calms him...he does not have the underlying secure attachment to know he is safe when in that state.(had no choice when TVs were being tipped and things were being thrown at me or walls were being broken.....we rent.)

    But the way we reduced it when he was young was through a combination of medications and early use of baths and getting Integrated Listening Systems (ILS) workers to take him out several times per week. Now if he reaches that level I tell him he has to go to.the hospital. And we do it. He just recently said no! No.hospital, I don't like it.......that is new. The last time there the doctor heard him threaten me so he said, " do you want a shot? " and wow did that work! So I think he fears a shot now. Who knew?

    So really during I'd only restrain if there is going to be serious injury or damage and Id only say do it if trained. I was.trained in crisis prevention intervention CPI holds and really kids can be hurt and die if.lying down in a restraint. Arms can be twisted and broken easily. Some kids just don't feel the pain they should when in a rage. Adults do become emotional and it's easy to accidentally hurt them in a split second.
    True you'd think she would stop if she was kicking a door? Mine will kick holes in it but he has always stopped short of hurting himself. He will also bang his head into walls. Every child is different and if she doesn't register pain or seeks intense stimulation she may accidently hurt herself. I just had to weigh options and have decided if that time comes I will then have to change strategies because preventing every possible time he bumps bangs kicks etc gives it toooooo much attention. The less upset and less attention I gave his rages the faster they went down.

    If he was at all cooperative (again big risk if you aren't trained ) I rolled him in a blanket like a "hotdog " (head always out ) so I didnt have to hold him. Or put a weighted blanket on him in a rocking recliner. When really small I bounced him on a big exercise ball or rolled the ball on him. S ented cotton balls.calmed.himtoo. A battery operated vibrator on his shoulders or back (or foot massages) worked miracles sometimes as did swinging him in a home swing hung in our basement sensory room. He also would let me put a neoprene squish vest on him.

    It's intensely mentally and physically exhausting. I hope as your bag of tools increases and you figure out more of the triggers (to avoid it in the first place ) you will experience less. If you can catch it earlier the above things work better of course. Oh big thing for us was to talk very very little. Not ignore but reduce all demands for processing.
    Sorry this is disjointed, had to dig back to the earlier days .....

    For us it comes and goes and is less frequently but a given episode can be much more intense just because his size is bigger so now safety has to include 911 if he doesn't calm. Oh another thing I can do now is leave my house. Could never do that until this year. I say we need a break from eachother and then say I'll be back at..... usually 15-20 min. If he blocks me I show him the cell and the emergency dialer. If he tries to grab my phone I will dial it....haven't had to do that yet but he knows I will. You are not there yet. I hope you never are.
  13. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    We did restrain a lot. Deep pressure seemed to calm our difficult child the best and so we were often literally lying on him or he was wrapped into the rug, if we were quick enough and did that, when he was still a little bit in control and co-operated. And he did co-operate, it helped him feel less bad and he knew that, so if he could still think and control himself, he was mostly welcoming the being wrapped. We were never able to work him to recognize his beginning dysregulation early enough to ask for it himself and if we missed it early, he wasn't able to co-operate any more. And when he grew older his meltdowns changed less physical and more verbal so need to restraint went away (and he wasn't any more welcoming deep pressure, because he found it embarrassing.)

    I know many have bad experiences with restraining, but I have to say that it worked for us.

    By the way, I just understood I should probably suggest, that difficult child tries deep pressure to his anxiety/panic attacks. He did describe his recent full blown panic attack to feel just like these meltdowns when he was little. He didn't even second think he was having heart attack or any other physical problem like people usually think when they have their first panic attacks. Feeling was so familiar to him, he knew it was mental, not physical right away. I guess there is no reason not to try same thing that worked before again.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2012
  14. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    I raised twin boys who suffered from extreme prematurity. I noticed that the tiniest one could calm down when I put him in my shirt against bare skin and rocked very hard and fast. Later, when they both got older I hauled them to their room and let them throw every book off their shelves. I also provided stickers with which they decorated said shelves as they were calming down. Our agreement was that I would put the books back with their help.

    I also wrapped them tightly in a blanket and held them. That worked, they actually thanked me afterwards. I found this book and used the technique: http://www.a4everfamily.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=112&Itemid=104 . The author is rather a fruit loop because she claims to cure autism with this, however it calmed the boys down. Be prepared to be hit in the face as she struggles. I got kicked and punched but it worked. Oddly, I couldn't use it on our daughter who had spent 9 months in an orphanage. She screamed for 45mns straight "no, mama, no!". We were both covered in sweat at the end and it started to feel like abuse to me. Now she is the least attached of my three adoptees., so very sad.
  15. Bluenose

    Bluenose New Member

    I'm not a professional, but this is what we do.

    My difficult child has terrible rages since she was 2 and I have struggled with what to do to keep her safe, the house safe and myself. One day during a quiet moment when she was about 5, I asked her what I could do to help her when she was having a meltdown. She told me to hug her tight and tell her how much I love her over and over. So that's what I do. She generally resists at first but I don't let go until the moment is passed and she hugs me back. I have been hit and kicked but it is the only thing that I can do that seems to help her.
  16. HopeRemains

    HopeRemains New Member

    This sounds a lot like my difficult child's tantrums. (Won't stay in room, kicks door/walls, follows you hitting or screaming...). difficult child is now 9 and I still don't have any clear answers for you, though I wish I did!

    I guess what I do is make sure I don't engage him (no talking, responding to his quest for an audience). This is hard when he is hitting or getting right in my face and screaming. I've taken easy child into the bedroom with me before or outside (uh, make sure you have your keys, difficult child locked me out once) to get away from it. We've made him do lots of extra chores to pay for things he's broken. I even had to call the police on him this year. That is now what I say when he is getting too violent- as much as it breaks my heart. "If this continues, I will have to call for some help.". It might insight screaming and crying, but he stops the violent behavior.

    Those are the things that we do during a rage, but he still rages on. The best thing to do is try to catch it before it turns into a rage if you can. Good luck to you! The ladies on this board are very helpful. Hopefully they have have some more useful advice than I!
  17. allhaileris

    allhaileris Crumbling Family Rock

    Mine used to rage like that, it doesn't happen often anymore, I think due to maturity. But at 4-7, oh boy the rages! I wish I had known about the blanket trick, I'm sure it would have worked. I have done the bear hug thing sitting on the floor with them facing away. That helps sometimes. I have had to do what you did, kind of sit on top of her without actually sitting, and then holding her hands above her head. I had to get her into a position where she couldn't bite me. As soon as the crying started, I knew she had broken the rage. For mine, she never seems to remember what happened at the height of the rage. It made it really hard to talk about her actions.

    She was put in her room with us holding the handle a ton. It was for OUR safety. She would kick the door, throw things around, etc. We replaced the door at least once. Never ever hurt herself in her room. I was always afraid she'd knock into something in the living area, and we had a small apt and it was crammed so there wasn't a lot of room to run around. I was afraid she'd leave the house, which did happen, and I had to put a lock on the door to keep her in. There was absolutely nothing I could say to get her to stop until she wore herself out. No amount of "I love you"s mattered. She just wasn't herself during these times, the look in her eyes just wasn't her.

    I still don't know what caused many of those rages. Food dye is a trigger, so that did cause some of them, always the worst. She had one once when we were camping at a group event. It was dusk and hard to see and I couldn't control her. I was doing that sitting over her thing for a long time, trying to just keep her safe. I ended up giving her to a group of 7 big men and 1 woman so I could have a break and go pee. I came back to find her tied to the chair and the woman sitting on her. And yes, this was a red food dye episode. So many of the others I think were just from dumb stuff, transition, her not being allowed to do something, but I can't pin it on one thing in particular. She may end up bipolar (which we just recently found out), which I guess would explain them. I'm just glad they don't happen much anymore, her verbal communication has grown, and we've gotten better at knowing what's going on with her moods and whatnot.
  18. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Oh, yeah, I remember the sweat! I happened upon the blanket by accident, just to avoid the slippery skin effect.

    Also, in regard to the difficult child stopping head banging or door kicking when it hurts, don't count on it. When my easy child daughter did that in her crib, I asked the pediatrician about it. He said, "She'll stop when it hurts." Then my difficult child came along. I let him hit his head way more than I should have, assuming that the pediatrician was right. No, g'sfg will not stop. They are wire differently. They are neurologically different. They'll stop if they are bored or no longer raging, but not because they're in pain. Just saying ...
  19. julierose24

    julierose24 New Member

    Thanks for all of the great responses. We saw her psychiatrist on Tuesday morning, and he said that her therapist (who we will meet on Monday) might be able to help out more with what to do during a rage. He also started her on Chlonodine in addition to the Adderall XR. He thinks it might help with sleep issues and behavior in the evenings. Anyone agree or disagree?

    Then we met with the chief of neurology to discuss the results of her EEG (which we had done to rule out seizures). He said her EEG came back abnormal. He asked if we see her pause and blink for a few seconds several times each day. We haven't noticed anything like that at all. We will watch her, but I really don't think she is having any seizures. He seems to agree -said he treats the patient, not the EEG.
  20. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Good catch on the EEG! Keep your eye on that. Seizures can be rages. There is also such a thing called "absence seizures." Others here on the board can help explain that.

    We've had very good luck with-clonidine. It calms down difficult child a lot. It's an adult heart medication used off-label for kids.