Hope for Disabilities

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Tantrums, Meltdowns, Understanding And Support

Posted by Ask Emily on July 3, 2014 at 2:50 PM

Everyone has AT LEAST one tantrum, or meltdown in their lifetime, it is a fact of life.  Society is more accepting, and understanding of tatrum's and meltdown's in babies and small children then they are in preteen, teenage, and adults.  Some people wish that they could figure out why this is.  Why is it that it is okay for a baby or a small child to have a tantrum, but if an older person has a tantrum then there is something medically wrong with them?  Some people are raised that crying is for babies, crying is not allowed, and they would actually get punished in one way or another if they were caught crying, and some people who have been through counseling either as an individual, or even in a group setting, may have learned that it is in fact okay to cry, have a meltdown, or a tantrum because they can be considered to be very healthy, stress relieving, and calming.  

Tantrums can happen for a variety of reasons.  For those of you who are parents of young children, you might think back to the days before they could talk, and how they would communicate their needs to you.  If they were hungry, tired, needed their diaper changed, not feeling well, etc., they couldn't verbalize this to you, so they would cry to get your attention.  When someone is non-verbal, these types of behaviors are all that the person knows to express how they are feeling.  

Some people might see someone in public who is obviously upset about something that has taken place in their life, and the outsider looking in might say cruel and negative things because they may not know the whole situation.  This only adds fuel to the fire for the person who is strugging with whatever is going on in their life.  If someone is struggling with something that is on their mind, but they refuse to talk about it with someone for one reason or another, it might continue to cause the person unnecessary grief, stress, sadness, and a mix of other emotions.  If you happen to come across someone that you may or may not already know who seems to be having a tantrum or meltdown, you can ask if they are okay, and if they need any help, but if the person refuses your offer, do not take it personally, and do not be offended that they have turned down your offer.  Sometimes people going through these types of emotions need to deal with them in their own way, and in their own time.  Sometimes you just have to let the person know that you are there if they need anything and leave it at that, and trust that they will take you up on your offer if they feel that they can't cope with whatever is bothering them anymore.  

Sometimes the person experiencing the tantrum or meltdown may or may not know what exactly is bothering them.  There is absolutely nothing wrong wtih that.  When a person is going through a tantrum or meltdown, the last thing that they want most of the time is for someone to be in their space trying to comfort or help them.  Sometimes they just want to be left alone to work out whatever is going on in their head.  In your heart of hearts, you know that you mean well, and that your heart is in the right place by trying to show the person that you care, but sometimes whatever is going on in the persons head, is almost an overload for them as it is, and if they have a diagnosis like Sensory Processing Disorder, they might get over stimulated if you try to help them.  We all know that it can be very painful emotionally from the outside looking in to watch someone go through something like this, but sometimes just letting the person know that you are there is better than any alternative.  

When you see someone experiencing a meltdown or a tantrum, don't stare or make rude comments.  Let them know that you are there and that you care, and if they are okay with you being there then they will let you know, and maybe even thank you for understanding, or at least trying to understand what exactly it is that they are going through.

Categories: Coping Skills, Children Services, Parenting Coping Skills

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