Meltdowns Are Like Having Knives Under My Nails
If you haven't read part 1 and part 2 you can do that now.
You can always tell a shift in Kaden's mood....it's like a change in the wind. And when it starts NOTHING can stop it, nothing. I have retracted the words I said or request I asked. I've promised all kinds of things to turn his attention elsewhere. But, that's one of the differences between a Tantrum and a true Meltdown. Here is an example: I'm making breakfast and it's a little bit of scrambled eggs a toast and sausages. He doesn't want the eggs because they look weird today. Ok, then you want just sausage and the toast? I say it cheerfully because any thing that is not perfect in his eyes can go south real fast. And sure enough he has that look as he starts breathing deeply and louder. He balls up his fist and starts hitting his leg as he starts looking around. Watching you might say he looks embarrassed, overwhelmed, maybe even disoriented. But, from what? He doesn't want the eggs, I have said cheerfully that's ok....but we are about to be apart of an apocalyptic situation. He stomps to the living room and on the way he bangs the wall with his head 3 times. I have recently been trying to actively ignore him during a meltdown. That means I don't say stop please or talk to him UNLESS he is about to do something that will cause bodily harm to himself or someone else. And at that point sometimes we have to restrain him.
This particular moment of head banging I was quiet, trying not to feed into it, but once he went into the living room he started to run towards the fireplace. He rammed it with his head and then I stepped in with a warning that I understood he was upset, but that he needed to let out his frustration in a way that would not cause him more pain. After 20 minutes of screaming, clawing his legs and arms with repeating phrases of it's not fair, why and I can't do this anymore he ran upstairs. Punching the walls, tearing through his shelves, knocking everything over in his path. But, I stay quiet...and a few feet away from him with Mahala a few feet away on the other side. This is our daily life.....daily! After almost another full 20 minutes it gets quiet, I walk into his bathroom to pretend to put something away. It's my way of checking in without sparking him again. Depending on what's going on I will engage him or back away longer. This particular day I noticed he was under his lego building table, rubbing the carpet with the back of his hand. No other movement or noisy, so I attempted to communicate with him. We always go off topic, never about the situation. Wow, Buddy I have noticed your sink is a lot cleaner today. Is the toothpaste holder working better then the old one? BOOM....he looks up at me and I see my sweet Kaden, he's back! He starts rattling off the pros and cons of the new toothpaste holder. What they should do to make the old one better, asking when he goes back to the Dentist and then mentioning other random things as he wiggles himself out from under the table. It's done, it's over life can continue. And we do...and later on we will come back to the meltdown and ask him how he felt and what we could all do to prevent it from happening again.
This specific meltdown was not that bad, they can become so intense that I physically get hurt. It's a scary place to be and we go there almost every day and if it happens once it will happen several times that day. In the middle of the night, while we are out at a store. All we can do is try to keep his world as predictable as possible. :) Later that afternoon when I talked to him about this specific meltdown he said that it was overwhelming him. What was overwhelming Kaden? I couldn't eat the eggs they looked wet. I had not seen them look like that before. You had the option to not eat them though. But, I can't eat just a toast and a sausage. That's not a complete breakfast. So, I asked him what could we do differently next time so we don't have to go through all of this meltdown stuff? I don't know. That's usually what he will say, so I'll ask if I can suggest something, he'll say yes and then I will give a few options and then ask him what he thinks about them. We talk about it for a short time only because if he starts feeling like a "bad kid" he will become depressed and that will start the anger all over again. It is important for him to feel like we have come to a resolution and that there is hope for a better outcome next time.
After we talk and think of new strategies I usually clean him up, neosporin and band-aids get used and I get him some water and then 9 times out of 10 he starts cleaning up his mess without me even having to tell him to. And while he picks up he apologizes and then starts talking about other things like nothing every happened. Because in his mind he is done and ready to go forward. While Mahala and I are still processing everything that went on Kaden usually finds a corner and crashes. He's exhausted and honestly so are we.