Meltdowns vs. Tantrums: What’s the Difference?
Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a meltdown and a tantrum? They can both look pretty similar, but there’s actually a big difference between the two.
A meltdown is an involuntary response to sensory overload. This means that the person can’t control it. It’s like their brain just goes haywire and they can’t cope with everything that’s going on around them. Meltdowns can be caused by things like loud noises, bright lights, or too much physical contact.
A tantrum, on the other hand, is a voluntary behavior. The person is choosing to throw a tantrum in order to get what they want. Tantrums are often caused by frustration or anger.
Here’s a quick comparison table to help you keep things straight:
|Cause||Sensory or emotional overload||Frustration or anger|
|Difficulty to calm down||High||Medium|
So how can you tell if your child is having a meltdown or a tantrum? Here are a few tips:
- Look at the context. Is your child in a situation where they might be overwhelmed by their senses? Or are they simply frustrated because they’re not getting what they want?
- Pay attention to their body language. Are they stimming? Are they covering their ears or eyes? Are they rocking back and forth? These are all signs of sensory overload.
- Listen to what they’re saying. Are they saying things like “I can’t take it anymore” or “It’s too loud”? These are also signs of sensory overload.
If you think your child is having a meltdown, the best thing you can do is to help them calm down. Create a safe and quiet space for them, and try to remove the trigger for the meltdown if possible. Once they’ve calmed down, you can talk to them about what happened and help them develop strategies for coping with future meltdowns.
If you think your child is throwing a tantrum, the best thing you can do is to ignore them. Tantrums are often attention-seeking behaviors, so if you give them the attention they’re craving, it will only encourage them to throw more tantrums in the future.
It’s important to remember that meltdowns and tantrums are both normal behaviors for children with autism. With patience and understanding, you can help your child learn to manage their emotions and cope with both types of outbursts.
And remember, laughter is the best medicine. So here’s a funny story:
My son had a meltdown at the grocery store the other day. He was overwhelmed by the noise and the crowds. He started screaming and crying, and I couldn’t calm him down. Finally, I just picked him up and carried him out of the store. As we were walking to the car, he looked up at me and said, “Thanks, Dad. I really needed that.”
I laughed and said, “No problem, buddy. I’m always here for you.”
So there you have it. Meltdowns and tantrums are both normal behaviors for children with autism. With patience and understanding, you can help your child learn to manage their emotions and cope with both types of outbursts. And don’t forget to laugh along the way.
About the Author:
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Note: Always consult with a professional when implementing new strategies or tools for your child.