Meltdowns and De-escalation


The first thing to establish in moments of extreme behaviour scenarios is whether you are dealing with a trantrum or a meltdown. They may look similar, but they have important differences. The chart below can help with this (thanks to TES teaching resources for this graphic).


Most parents and caregivers of tamariki and rangatahi with FASD have experienced meltdowns – you are not alone! They can happen anywhere and if it's in public, we all feel that others will jump to the conclusion that we are bad parents if we don't 'discipline' the child or young person.

We have developed a series of wallet cards for caregivers which can help with this – click here to check them out, download and print.

It's really hard to keep your own cool in a meltdown too, but here are some good educational options to help you be ready to cope in any situation.

Taming tantrums vs. managing meltdowns

FASDsuccess with Jeff Noble – Barb Clark FASD Educator on serious meltdowns

Nate Sheets of Oregon's Cognitive Supports has some particularly helpful videos on de-escalation - see below. 

Five unhelpful responses we have to escalated kids and adults 


Finally, in calm moments, it's great to build self-soothing skills that you can workshop with your tamaiti or rangatahi to co-regulate with them (this builds trust). They can hopefully use these skills instead of other attempts at self-regulation as they get older (which can in some cases turn into substance use or self-harm). 

Four tips to teach self-soothing skills