EPIC Blog: How to Use Proactive Strategies - 4KIDS
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EPIC Blog: How to Use Proactive Strategies

May 22nd, 2020 l Author: Linda Lukasik

One of the hardest things parents have to handle is their child’s meltdowns, which are really big emotions. The most important things to do during these times is to find ways to decrease the frequency, intensity, and duration of these meltdowns is with a proactive strategy.

We all possess and use proactive strategies in everyday life. Think about planning a wedding, or coaching a team for an important game. You plan and you practice ahead of time for the result you are after. This is what we can do with our children.

There are many proactive things that we can be mindful of with our kids, like making sure they have eaten, drank water, and are getting plenty of rest.

How To Implement A “Fire Drill”

One tool that you can use to help teach proactive strategies is a fire drill. Think about it – why do we have fire drills? We do them to prepare ourselves and to practice what we need to do when stressful situations happen. Meltdowns are like fires – so what are your fires? Are transitions hard for them? Do they struggle with homework? Is bedtime difficult? In order to reduce meltdowns, we need to pre-teach them what to do before their stress levels rise. The best time for pre-teaching is when your child is calm. A lot of time, we try to teach helpful concepts when they are melting down or just before they melt down. However, this type of proactive teaching can only happen when your child is calm, rested, fed and their brains are firing on all cylinders. Then, and only then, are they able to learn.

Here’s an example of how this works. Let’s say homework is your fire. You can say “Buddy, I noticed yesterday that you had a hard time doing your homework. I know you’re trying your best, sometimes we need a little extra help. I know playing catch helps you calm down, so why don’t we go over to the table and practice what we’ll do when you start to feel frustrated.” Then you’ll go over to where you do homework and do a role play. Tell him to pretend to do his homework and then pretend to start feeling frustrated. You say “let’s go outside and throw a ball around for 2 minutes.” Once you’ve practiced the “fire drill”, go back inside and pretend to go back to work.

This playful “fire drill” is a proactive strategy that helps the brain know what to do when they start to meltdown. As a parent, find times when your child is connected with you and then start teaching and practicing “fire drills” to help reduce your child’s meltdowns.