One of the most frequently asked questions we get about child behavior is whether a child is engaging in a tantrum or having a “meltdown.” Do you know the difference, or the unique response each one requires?
Most people view tantrums as behavior that a young child engages in to get what they want, to manipulate the situation, or to otherwise gain attention from adults. These are behavioral outbursts to avoid bedtime, get an extra dessert or delay finishing homework.
On the other hand, the word “meltdown” has come to refer to behavior that is characteristically out of control, highly emotional, and often prompted by external factors such as sensory information (loud sounds, overwhelming environment, etc). A child on the spectrum might experience a meltdown after hearing a loud siren or experiencing a negative texture, for example.
How we define these behaviors reflects our perspective toward these behaviors. At STEPS for Kids we emphasize an empathic approach to understanding the child and teaching the necessary skills to reduce BOTH tantrums and meltdowns.
Here are some quick tips to understanding and managing these most challenging behaviors. Download the PDF version here.