Let's figure out the difference between the two: Tantrum vs. sensory meltdown.
Common characteristics of a tantrum:
Tantrums typically have a purpose. They are a way for a child to express feelings they cannot yet put into words, and generally elicit a desired response from the parent or an outcome. When the child achieves that response or outcome, the tantrum typically subsides.
Common characteristics of a sensory meltdown:
A sensory meltdown is a neurological stress response to something in the environment that is unwanted. It is a fight, flight, or freeze response to undesired stimuli assaulting the sensory system. A sensory meltdown will not just stop after "giving in" to the child.
What do you do in either situation?
If you want guidance on how to tame a tantrum, I would check out the resources at Big Little Feelings.
To manage a sensory meltdown in the moment, try to:
What you can do to prevent sensory meltdowns from happening in the first place:
Not all sensory meltdowns can be prevented, but there are some things you can do to help reduce the intensity and frequency of them:
I hope this helps you tune into what your child is communicating, and equips you with some new tools!
Hi! Austen here. Portland based Pediatric OT obsessed with leggings and all things child development. Welcome to my journal! I hope to educate and empower parents and caregivers with science inspired insights, effective strategies, and confidence.