“Here at the Autism Treatment Center of America®, home of The Son-Rise Program®, we want to share some powerful tools and techniques to help you help your child on the Autism Spectrum to use more effective ways to communicate when they are crying, whining, or yelling.
• “Be aware of making assumptions.
You may guess your child is sad when he is crying, angry when she is yelling, or upset when he is whining. Alternatively, you may believe your child is crying because of something you said or something you did. In reality, we do not know why our children are crying, whining, or yelling (unless they tell us) so it is best not to assume we know. When you stay away from assumptions, your mind will be open and clear and you will be present with your child.
• “Be non-reactive.
Often when our children cry or yell, we react and it shows in our body language, such as gasping, tensing our body, or yelling back. These reactions can be fun and exciting for our children. In The Son-Rise Program, we refer to our reactions as ‘lighting up like a Christmas tree’. A big, fun reaction is a useful technique in response to behaviors we are encouraging our children to grow. Therefore, if we react when responding to behaviors we want our children to change, this will often encourage more of the behaviors we don’t want. Therefore, the next time your child whines, yells, or cries, practice this instead: relax your mind and your body will follow.
• “Feel calm, comfortable, and easy.
Our children use crying, whining, and yelling as a way to communicate. This is a wonderful awareness of the brilliance of our children that we can hold to help us be calm and comfortable in our response. Believing your child is okay and even appreciating their passion and persistence in trying to get what they want, can give you a sense of ease. Accepting your child, as he/she is crying or yelling helps communicate to them that there is nothing wrong or bad happening.
• “Give your child explanations.
If your child cries in response to not getting what she wants, explain, in a calm manner, why you are not giving her what she wants. If your child continues to cry, let her know (with an attitude of acceptance) that it is okay if she continues to cry, and that her crying won’t change your mind. When your child yells or whines as a way to get something (food from the kitchen, a toy in a closet, etc), slow your movements while softly explaining, ‘I love knowing what you want and getting it for you, so you don’t need to shout at me. What will help me get it fast for you is using your regular voice.’ Maybe you have just set a boundary and your child begins to whine and cry, you can then explain, ‘Even if you cry, I am still going to…’, and you can fill in the rest with whatever boundary you set.
• “SLOWLY offer your child things they may want.
Drinks, food, sensory input, etc. – moving SLOWLY will show your child you are always there to help them, but crying, whining, and yelling aren’t the most effective or the fastest way to get what they want.
• “Take your focus off your child.
If you notice your child’s crying escalates after you have tried all of the above techniques, take your focus off your child. In most cases, physically moving away from your child is the easiest way to no longer focus on your child. When you take your attention off your child, they will be able to focus on their energy as they work through their crying. Next time your child whines, cries, or yells, see this as a wonderful opportunity to show them another, more effective way to communicate their wants.
Have fun using these wonderful Son-Rise Program techniques the next time you experience crying, whining, and yelling with your child. You got this!!”
Written by Suzanne Pruss, Son-Rise Program Teacher