7 Guidelines to Try When Your Child on the Autism Spectrum Cries or Tantrums
“These basic guidelines will help you help your child learn to communicate in a sweeter easier way when going after their wants and desires. To communicate what you want in a sweet and clear way is an important social quality to have, particularly in your relationships with family, friends, in school, at work, etc.
1. It Is Just Communication: Remember that when your child cries or tantrums they are simply using this as a tool to let you know that they want something to happen (i.e. to get the cookie; to get a video; to go for a ride in the car; etc.) or to get something to stop happening (i.e. to be removed from an over-stimulating environment; to get others, who are interfering with their repetitious play, to stop interrupting their activity; etc.)
2. Don’t Light Up Like a Christmas Tree! If you get upset and quickly move to give your child what they want when they cry or tantrum you teach them that this is the best way for him/her to get what they want. This type of reaction is similar to turning on the lights of a Christmas tree, it is big, bright, and easy to remember! This behavior shows your child that their crying is very important to you, that you ‘sit up and listen’ and move quickly to get them what they want. Your child will learn very quickly that this is the way to communicate when their wants are not happening fast enough or it looks like they won’t get what they want.
3. Attitude: Be as calm and easy as possible. Getting upset is the power that lights you up like a Christmas tree and gets you moving fast, and this just reinforces to your child that crying or tantrum, etc. is the most effective way to get what they want. Allow yourself to think how wonderful it is that your child has this motivation and determination and that through using The Son-Rise Program you will help them use these very same qualities to talk, interact and become more social.
4. Move Slowly and Stay Calm: Instead of being a Christmas tree, upset and moving quickly, be like a person walking on the moon. Move slowly and talk calmly as you help your child get what s/he wants. If they are not verbal yet, offer choices, and only on the third or fourth offer give them what you believe they are seeking. If your child is verbal tell them you can’t understand them because they are crying and that if they spoke without crying you would be able to help them quicker.
5. Do Not Give In – Offer Alternatives: Your child may be crying and throwing a tantrum for something that you have decided that you do not want them to have (i.e. more cookies; going outside because it is raining; using the computer or TV; etc.). In this situation, again be slow and calm and explain that even if they cry they will not get the item or activity they want. You can be kind and gentle as you explain this versus frustrated and annoyed. Slowly offer alternatives that you can give them (i.e. offering a piece of fruit or rice cake instead of a cookie; etc.) If they continue to cry, tell them it is ok if they want to continue crying, then simply go do something else (read a book, do the dishes, etc.) and leave them to cry, making sure to keep an eye on them to make sure they are safe and others (i.e. siblings) around them are also safe. Remember, your child is not fragile – they can handle not getting what they want. Additionally, you are not fragile, you can handle them crying and screaming.
6. Celebrate When You Get What You Want: If your child does not cry or tantrum when you have not given them what they wanted, celebrate them for this, pointing out how wonderful it is that they are calm and easy.
7. Run Your Son-Rise Program: Again and again, we hear from families that the more their child is in The Son-Rise Program playroom being worked with, the less they cry and tantrum. When in the playroom they get to have 99% control and so when situations arise (and they will) when they don’t get what they want they are better able to handle it in a calm and easy fashion.
“Remember these are guidelines and while applying them never let go of common sense (i.e. if your child hurts themselves and cries of course move quickly to help them.)
“If you are having a particularly challenging situation with your child crying, throwing a fit, hitting, etc. then please let us help you. We (The Son-Rise Program® Staff) have all been cried and tantrum-ed at, hit, bitten, been the target of a swiftly thrown object, etc. and we have all learned to follow these guidelines, and more, to help a child learn to communicate in a sweeter easier way. We would love to be of service to you – give us a call.
“We hope you will use these ideas with your child, we have seen how effective they are with all the children we have had the pleasure and honor of working with.”
Written by Senior Son-Rise Program Teacher