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behaviour - son with cp having tremendous meltdowns

MacPhee Member Posts: 7 Connected
Hello, I haven’t been on for a while my ds was diagnosed with spastic diplegia mild cp, when he was 18 mths old. He has now started school. He can have these tremendous meltdowns, to the point where he is sweating and exhausted, im just wondering if anyone else has experienced anything like this with there own child? 


  • Adrian_Scope
    Adrian_Scope Testing team Posts: 8,074

    Scope community team

    Hello @MacPhee. It's such a huge change for little ones when they're starting school and I definitely had to endure many a meltdown when my eldest two started. There are suddenly so many expectations on them and so much change happening that it must be very overwhelming and as small children they can't regulate their emotions like we can and often don't even understand why they're feeling the way they are. 
    I found it really important to remember that meltdowns weren't bad behaviour and it was my daughter's way of expressing how overwhelmed, over-stimulated and stressed she was feeling. 

    Action for Children have a bit of advice on meltdowns here: what can I do if my child has a meltdown

    And the advice I'm linking to below is provided by National Autistic Society. I'm not suggesting your child has autism, but I've always found these tips useful for helping to frame meltdowns for anyone and it supports what is written by Action for Children above. 
    Meltdowns - a guide for all audiences

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  • MacPhee
    MacPhee Member Posts: 7 Connected
    Hello Adrian, thank you for your reply sometimes it just helps to hear it from a different person perspective that also understands what I’m experiencing, I have found you advice very helpful
  • Richard_Scope
    Richard_Scope Posts: 2,912

    Scope community team

    Hi @MacPhee
    I echo a lot of what @Adrian_Scope has mentioned and I have collated some general information that I hope will be useful to you.

    Temper tantrums in children with cerebral palsy can often indicate a greater problem. 

    Therefore, it’s essential to understand why children with cerebral palsy act out and how to manage their behaviours. 

    It may be that cerebral palsy has not got anything to do with temper tantrums, but it is useful to have some tools to best manage them. 

    Causes of Cerebral Palsy Temper Tantrums 

    Roughly 25% of people with cerebral palsy have behavioural issues. Temper tantrums are completely normal in children with and without cerebral palsy. The cause of a temper tantrum may not even have anything to do with CP and instead, could be age-related and developmentally appropriate. 

    Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the developing brain and results in motor impairments. Therefore, it is not directly related to the emotional regulation difficulties that cause temper tantrums. 

    However, the motor impairments that cerebral palsy does cause can cause children to feel frustrated and lead to temper tantrums. 

    For example, oral motor impairments can make it difficult for children with CP to talk, or spasticity in the leg can make it challenging for children to run quickly during play. Similarly, associated conditions of cerebral palsy such as chronic pain, poor quality sleep and learning difficulties may contribute to temper tantrums. 

    Children with cerebral palsy can usually tell when they’re not understanding or doing things as quickly or as easily as those around them. As a result, they may act out because they feel different, misunderstood, and unaccepted. 

    Now that you understand the link between cerebral palsy and temper tantrums, let’s discuss ways to help your child better cope with their emotions. 

    How to Manage Cerebral Palsy Temper Tantrums 

    Management of cerebral palsy temper tantrums is essential. 

    The harsh reality of life is that often, people with disabilities are still expected to go through their daily lives the same way people without disabilities do. 

    While a temper tantrum in a child is typical, a temper tantrum in a teen or adult is usually looked down upon. Therefore, it’s ideal to address temper tantrums early and teach your child more effective ways to communicate their feelings. 

    Below, we’ll go over mistakes to avoid and some of the most effective ways to manage temper tantrums in children with cerebral palsy. 

    1. Avoid Giving In 

    When your child throws a temper tantrum over not getting what they want, the worst thing to do is give in. 

    Giving in only reinforces the idea that the child can get what they want by acting out. While it may quiet them down, you’re not fixing the underlying problem. 

    2. Behavioural Therapy 

    Children that continue to act out as they get older are often not developing the social skills necessary to effectively communicate their feelings and emotions. 

    Consider taking your child to a behavioural therapist to further work on developing social skills like: 

    • Problem-solving 

    • Controlling impulses 

    • Negotiating 

    • Social expectations 

    • Delayed gratification 

    Behavioural therapy will teach your child that there are better ways to cope with frustration than having a temper tantrum. 

    3. Time-Outs 

    Sometimes, you just need to take your child away from the situation causing the temper tantrum. 

    Generally, children have short attention spans and will quickly get over what they were overreacting to if you take them out of the situation. 

    Calmly explain to your child why they are in a time-out and allow for an appropriate amount of quiet, alone time. Generally, the length of the time-out should be about one minute long per year of age. With this guideline, a five-year-old would have about five minutes in time-out, while a three-year old’s time-out would be about three minutes long. This will give them time to cool off and reflect on their own before returning to their activity. 

    4. Be Positive 

    Diverting your child’s attention away from what they can’t do and encouraging them to do things that they’re good at will help relieve frustration and boost confidence. 

    Acknowledge and praise your child for positive behaviour. This will help them distinguish the difference between good and bad behaviours. 

    5. Encourage Emotional Self-Regulation 

    Teaching children to find positive ways to deal with their emotions allows them to self-regulate. Emotional self-regulation is the ability to “check-in” with yourself and use strategies to ensure your emotions and behavioural reactions are appropriate for the situation. 

    This is ideal for older children, but even younger children can learn to better regulate their emotions with adult guidance. 

    If your child feels as though they are getting close to having a temper tantrum, having some solid strategies to manage their emotions is essential. 

    Self-regulation strategies can include: 

    • Deep breathing with counting: Count as you take 5 deep breaths, breathing in through the nose like smelling flowers, exhaling out through the mouth like blowing out candles 

    • Self-hugging: Giving yourself a hug (or squeezing a pillow) provides deep pressure, calming the sensory systems and often emotions as well 

    • Take a break: Go somewhere different and do a relaxing activity (colouring, listening to music, etc.) 

    Cerebral Palsy Temper Tantrums: Summary 

    Learning difficulties, motor impairments, and speech disorders can make it difficult for children with cerebral palsy to communicate. This can be very frustrating and result in temper tantrums. 

    While temper tantrums are normal in young children, they become less socially acceptable as the child gets older. 

    By developing better social skills, reflecting on their actions, and focusing on things they’re good at, children with cerebral palsy can learn to better express and cope with their frustrations. 


    Specialist Information Officer and Cerebral Palsy Programme Lead

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  • Reg
    Reg Member Posts: 56 Pioneering
    Hello @MacPhee
    I have mild CP and my parents tell me I was a nightmare as a child. I would not sleep so kept the whole household up with songs . I also had meltdowns when I started school. I eventually grew out of both. The insomnia was CP related but the meltdowns were just sheer frustration as I was bored at school. I hope you can figure out what is causing your son's meltdowns or he stops them like I did - I think I must have accepted that school was boring but I would have to endure it ! 
  • JodieO19
    JodieO19 Member Posts: 6 Listener
    Literally in the same boat. My 2 year old with PVL and Spastic Diplegia CP has meltdowns to the point where he sweats and cries, goes red, screams the place down, kicks and thrashes himself around and attempts to hit his head. There is no trigger we have found. It's exhausting. He also stims a lot. I could have written your post myself. I've spoken to all his health team - my family GP, paediatrician, neurologist and health visitor team. They all said there isn't much they can do as he is so young. But I definitely think he's on the autistic spectrum and feel like early diagnosis is key to helping them and figuring out what works for them by getting the support you need. I feel like there isn't much support whilst they're this young, and I don't know why.
  • MacPhee
    MacPhee Member Posts: 7 Connected
    hi hello Jodie thank you for your post i feel that when you hear that another mum is going through the same you don’t feel so alone, and it’s actually really assuring to no that we’re not alone in this situation,


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