Meltdown Mode Tricks and Tips

When kids are in a meltdown and the behaviors are going full force, try some of these techniques to help kids calm down and move out of a harmful or ineffective status.  Meltdowns are oftentimes a result of sensory systems that aren’t quite right, causing an overload of sensations.  


When the body is so overwhelmed or underwhelmed by sensory input, it turns to meltdown mode.  


Tricks and tips to help kids with meltdowns. These are sensory based strategies that can help kids overcome meltdowns by using a plan.

What does a meltdown look like?

Meltdowns occur when sensory input is overloading a child’s sensory system. This might happen fast and result in overwhelming emotions or behaviors.  You might see kicking, hitting, punching, or other sensory responses.  Kids can shut down when the sensory overload is a slower input. When a meltdown happens, kids need to reset themselves and their sensory systems.  The child who is in midst of a sensory overload may have difficulty getting their attention on the strategies outlined below, but they do need to know that they are safe, loved, and that it will be ok.  

It’s important to know that there is a difference between a tantrum and a meltdown.

Meltdowns look like different things to different kids:

For some, it might be laying on the floor and not moving.  


For another child, it might be fleeing or bolting.  


For another child, a meltdown might look like screaming or hurtful actions.  


Still another child might be quiet and hum to block out sensory input.


Just like a meltdown looks different for each individual, so do the strategies that can help move out of that mode.  When a meltdown is occurring, it’s best to have an arsenal of tools available in mind.  Most important though, is keeping the child’s safety and best interests in mind.  Below is a list of meltdown mode tricks and tips to try.


Meltdown Tricks and Tips


Try the following tips and tricks to help kids when they are having a meltdown:


Proprioceptive Input to help with meltdowns

Bear hug
weighted blanket
Crash on a couch or crash pad
Bounce on a therapy ball
Hide under cushions
Exercise: push-ups, sit-ups, burpees
Weighted vest (therapist approved)
Jump
Run
Pull a heavy weight
Stretch
Pound pillows
Punch and squeeze play dough
Stomp
Bounce on a therapy ball
Get under a mattress
Joint compressions
Jump on a trampoline


Sensory-based movement to help with meltdowns

Distractions or a change in environment can help when meltdown mode is in full effect.  Add slow movements to these activities such as slow swinging or calmly walking.
Take a nap
Move to another space or room
Practice deep breathing in a quiet space
Go outside
Take a walk
Run at a park or play at a playground
Turn on music (loud or quiet)
Roll down hills (fast or slow)
Play on swings
Rock in a rocking chair
Slowly spin in an office chair (limit time in spinning as indicated)


Refocus attention from the biggest cause of the meltdown with multiple-system sensory input:
Talk about impulses and jot them down in an Impulse Control Journal.
Deep breathing
Close your eyes and imagine
Low lighting
Put static on the radio
Set a timer to scream/run/cry/dance/jump
Yoga
Write a story
Act out frustrations with puppets, figures, or dolls
Get in water: take a shower, bath, play in water, swim


Calming Tactile Sensory Input to help with meltdowns

Incorporate calming tactile sensory input into a calm down space or room:
Fidget toys
Sand box
Rub on lotion
Brush your hair
Heated microwave (scented or unscented) bag
Write or draw with a vibrating pen
Use a vibrating toothbrush


Calming foods to help with meltdowns

Try some of these oral sensory motor calming foods:
Suck a smoothie through a straw
Chew on fruit chews or licorice
Chew gum
Chamomile tea


If any or some of these tips and tricks help, it can be beneficial to talk over the successes with your child.  Address things like impulse control in a way that they are able to understand and relate to the meltdown they just experienced.  A good way to do this is with the Impulse Control Journal.  


What are your best strategies for addressing meltdowns?


Tricks and tips to help kids with meltdowns. These are sensory based strategies that can help kids overcome meltdowns by using a plan.

Thank You Daily Professional Self-Reflection Sheets

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Use the printable pages to self-reflect on daily interactions, to grow and develop as an occupational therapist, and to guide professional development.

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Right now, you should have an email with the free download in your email inbox. There, you will be able to download the cursive writing assessment checklist.

Use the flashcards to match, sort, identify, and practice letter formation. 
Laminate them and trace over the letters with a dry erase marker. 
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Use these cursive writing activities to further address needs such as letter formation, progression, and practice:


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If you arrived on this page by search and would like to download the free printable cursive handwriting assessment checklist, grab it HERE.

Use these cursive writing activities to further address needs such as letter formation, progression, and practice:

Activities for Auditory Learners

Learning styles are the manner in which we best learn and process information. Examples of learning styles includ auditory learners, kinesthetic learners, and visual learners.  Each of us has a preference (either obvious or less obvious) to one style of learning or another.  As children develop, they can progress through different stages and preferences of learning.  



Kids can succeed with a variety of learning styles.  One strategy is to address the sense of hearing when teaching new concepts or reinforcing older concepts. 


There are many characteristics of a student who is an auditory learner.  A few indications include the children who can’t seem to stop talking, the child who repeats verbal information outloud, or the child who prefers discussion in classroom activities.  


Read below to find more characteristics of auditory learners and activities for auditory learners in the classroom or at home.


Try these strategies to help kids who are auditory learners in the classroom or at home.



Characteristics of Auditory Learners

Not all children who are auditory learners will experience all of the characteristics below.


Prefer listening in the classroom
Like to talk
Repeats directions
Can’t concentrate when there are noises in the environment
Can’t fall asleep to music or a television
Benefits from repetition of directions
Learns best when listening
Learns well from videos
Easily recalls songs, poems, and phrases
Talks out decision processes
Remembers facts in detail when hearing them
Prefers to hear all of the facts when learning something new
Hums or talks to self
Easily can identify differences in pitch or tone of sounds
Follows verbal instructions better than written instructions
Prefers smaller groups in the classroom (limits the auditory distractions)
Remembers facts better after repeating them
Talks or moves lips while they write
Recalls a person’s tone of voice when remembering a conversation
When reading or writing, written information may not make sense until it’s been read aloud
Writes with light pencil pressure


Children who learn best through the auditory sense may benefit from auditory strategies.  Try some of the activities for auditory learners that are listed below:


Try these strategies to help kids who are auditory learners in the classroom or at home.

Activities for Auditory Learners

Read homework directions out loud
Record facts on video and then replay it.  A mobile phone or tablet works well for this strategy.
Sing facts to a tune
Write a song when memorizing facts or spelling words
Teach to other students or even to stuffed animals
Practice in front of a mirror
Try a whisper phone
Listen to books on tape using headphones
Rhyme facts
Spell words out loud in different pitches and tones
Use noise eliminating headphones in the classroom or during tests
Find a quiet space for homework
Turn off distractions. Consider televisions, phones, or even fans
Use mnemonic devices to memorize facts 
Listen to audiobooks
Use oral reports for classroom projects
Allow students to record portions of homework or projects onto devices
Make flashcards and read them out loud
During classroom lessons, clap or speak louder during important parts
Speak in syllables


What are your best strategies to help auditory learners?

Try these strategies to help kids who are auditory learners in the classroom or at home.