Have you experienced a public meltdown? Have you gotten the stares, the eye rolls, the gasps? What about the pity or angry looks? And let’s not talk about the nasty comments? If you have ever been out in public with a child with special needs and they are having a meltdown or even ‘just being themselves,’ I am sure you have witnessed these very discouraging or emphatic looks. I know I have experienced this several times when my students were having meltdowns out on field trips and/or around my school. It can be very uncomfortable, stressful, and discouraging when you are trying to handle the behaviors while all eyes are on you. It can also be very frustrating as you try to rectify the situation but nothing is going as plan. So here are some tips to keep in mind to make sure you do not losing your mind in the process…
1. Stay calm.
I know this is easier said than done. However, this is the most important thing, even though it may be the hardest. But, if your behavior becomes negative, it will only escalate the situation.
2. Ignore the eyes and voices.
This can also be challenging as well when all eyes are on you. But the best thing you can do is block out everyone and everything and focus on your child and the situation at hand.
3. Diffuse the situation.
Most of the time, the easiest way to diffuse the situation is leaving the environment quickly, especially if the meltdown is severe. However, there are sometimes when you can rectify the behavior if you know what was causing it.
4. Learn from the experience.
This is very important. Ask yourself…What happened before the meltdown occurred? What escalated the meltdown? What calmed them down, if anything? What can I do differently next time?
5. Prepare for next time.
Evaluate what to do differently next time. Do you need to bring an item or two to keep them occupied? Do you need to prepare them for the activity? What about the time of day or the time spent at the environment? These are all things that need to evaluated, so that you can be prepared for the next event.
6. Don’t beat yourself up.
This tip can actually be number 1. We all have our up and down days, but do not get down on yourself if your child is having one of those moments or days. Just remember that nothing lasts forever.