Ask An Autism Mom EP. 57

How to Cope with Parental Stress During Meltdowns

Let's admit it. Meltdown doesn't just hurt your child, it really hurts you as a parent.

The biggest thing with managing yourself during your child's meltdown... it's managing your own reactions so you're just not becoming part of the problem. Because if you can't control yourself and you can't control your own reactions to the situation, there's really no way you're going to be to help your child manage the situation and they need you for that.

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Episode Highlights:

Today we want to talk about how it feels when you watch your child go through a meltdown. Let's bring in a whole new perspective to this extremely difficult situation. Kori has some tips and ideas that she's come up with over the years to really help herself as a mom of an autistic child.


Jenn Eggert: Hi everyone. I'm Jenn Eggert of ask an autism parent and you can join me every Monday, live at 1:00 PM eastern to meet other parents, share your insights and learn some tips and tricks. This week we're actually sitting back down with Kori to continue our in depth perspective on mental health and emotional regulation. Now I want to say for those of you not familiar with Kori and I working together, we have a lot going on together. We are actually working on a Webinar. Please. We will post links to the Webinar. Please check out our webinar and sign up. It is an amazing webinar. This one is free, right Kori?

Kori Tomelden: Yes, free and right you cannot make it so we will have the replay available as well. Good Morning Angela.

Kori Tomelden:Good Morning Angela.I want to welcome those of you watching live on youtube, iTunes, Facebook, Amazon live or any of our podcasts that we work through. Matthew, just joining us. Kori and I are actually going to sit down today and talk about the feelings that happen when you are watching your child go through a meltdown. Let's admit it. It doesn't just hurt your child, it really hurts you as a parent. There's so many feelings of uselessness grief struggle. So Kori and I are going to kind of walk through that a little bit today. But first I want to give a huge shout out to our sponsor. Today's shows, will this month sponsor is of course, where you can join our Kickstarter right now for the new write and chill weighted lap pad and all of May. We are having a launch party so you can join every week in May. And enter the contest to win one of three prizes, which I will probably announce it tonight or tomorrow for this week. But you can join us at to celebrate our launch, which is for, as all of you have seen lately, my weighted lap pad that changes color when I draw on him. This thing is amazing. So remember we have a lot going on. We have a webinar going on in the next couple of days. We have the Kickstarter launch. Come back us on Kickstarter. Anyway, you can come check out our are weighted lap pad more. Come check out our webinar. As you all know, Kori and I, when we talk we tend to forget about time.So join our webinar and enjoy now. First I want to say welcome to everyone, Angela and Angela. So far. I see. Good morning. We have any watching, Christine, Betty, lots of good viewers. Thanks folks. Now today I want to talk about how it feels when you watch your child go through a meltdown. Riley, so most down fairly frequently, especially now that life has been insane and I've been fun, physically unable to care for my own children. So that brings in a whole new perspective to it and it's extremely difficult and humbling. So Kori has some tips and some ideas that she's come up with over the years to really help herself. Kori.

Kori Tomelden: Yeah,my biggest thing with managing yourself during your child's meltdown, it's managing your own reactions so you're just not becoming part of the problem. Because if you can't control yourself and you can't control your own reactions to the situation, there's really no way you're going to be to help your child manage the situation and they need you for that. I mean it yet as like this additional sense of pressure, but our kids need us to be that, to be that stability to the best of our ability.

Jenn Eggert: Now, I, as much as I wish all of our alleys meltdowns can be handled in the house because it would make my life a million times easier life. Just some work that way. We need to adapt and we need to teach our children how to adapt. Again, if you're not familiar Kori, or doing a webinar coming up and this is all things that we're going to dive into more teaching ourselves to adapt, teaching our children to adapt that emotional regulation. Because I can tell you a Walmart meltdown is nothing like an at home meltdown.

Jenn Eggert: I'm sorry if I'm laughing, but it's honestly true. You have these people who feel that they have a say or an opinion on what you're doing. You have people just staring. It's like, really Just leave us alone for five minutes. We'll be good.

Kori: Yeah, no, that's, that's tough. Because then you're dealing, it's like the added stigma of people are watching you and it becomes, I think more difficult because then you're not just trying to focus on your child. You're trying to focus on deflecting all of the things that are going.

Jenn Eggert: Now, for all of you watching. I know it's a little bit hard to hear right now. We're having some problems. Kori is going to try and speak up a little bit louder.

Kori Tomelden: Yes. I don't know why it's acting up.

Jenn Eggert: Ooh, Shannon. Enjoy Las Vegas. So when you're a parent being placed in that position of, let's admit it, we're a buffer for our children. We're constantly buffering the outside world to protect their children, keep them safe and keeping them calm and melt them free. But at what price does being a buffer cost us I mean, y'all just saw Kori's face. It's a huge cost. We pay greatly, emotionally, mentally, physically. We have, you know, how many of you don't have social friends because it's just too hard.It's just too much. I like, I tell people, I save all of my cares for my kids. So by the time I get to other people, I'm done.

Kori Tomelden: Oh yeah.

Jenn Eggert: So as a parent or caregiver, and let's admit it, not all caregivers or parents, we have had in our group some wonderful parents step up in their foster parents, grandparents,aunts who are helping raise the child. So this is important not just for the mother, but for anyone who steps up in this child's life. And as they slowly start to see you learn to regulate your emotions, it becomes easier on them to model that behavior. Riley's not a huge one in modeling, but Kori, I thought you said your daughter was sometimes.

Kori Tomelden: She is. And one of the biggest things that we've learned with her, because it was one thing that folds her behavioral therapist, I believe her occupational therapist and I were all working on together with teaching self regulation techniques in the first three people who had to learn it. Well, the first person who learned it was me. Cause so that way I could show her how to do it. And aside from showing her how to do it, it was also useful to have that for myself. Not just in the times when she was having meltdowns, but just in those times of frustration.

Kori Tomelden: So learning how to do that, it was just like a simple breathing techniques. They either call it like balloon breaths or people call it the deep breath. And that was huge for us. And one of the other big things for me cause like Nora, my daughters is also nonverbal. She does not have epilepsy that she's nonverbal. And the biggest thing for me was just reminding myself, it's like, well, if I'm really frustrated in this situation, I have to remember that my daughter is not able to articulate the things that she's feeling. She's not able to articulate her frustrations with the situation. I can't. And you know, that was one of the biggest things for me. It was always just remembering. It's like, well, if I'm having a hard time with this and my daughter's having a harder time with this.

Jenn Eggert: So one thing I do want to talk about is the yes, the emotional regulation. That's something that our Webinar we'll cover, but it's so much more than just dealing with your emotions and it's something that I didn't realize up until recently. It's, it's dealing with your surroundings is dealing with the situation you're in. So many things go into emotional regulation that you don't think about. I've been really sick this past week dealing with my issues and I didn't even have time to care. It's really hard when you don't have that energy to put out there and you need, you know, your child needs you, but you have to let your mom and your husband take over and guess what folks, it's okay to ask for help.

Jenn Eggert: It's okay to say I need to step back. Maybe another point of view will help with the situation. I know oftentimes with Riley will switch off and one of us will get her calm. It's having that other person to take over for that minute or two.

Jenn Eggert: I'm Alicia with this. What the tantrums. That's hard especially because we don't have a lot of information other than it's your sister and his negative behavior. Reach out in group after the show and we will work on that in helping you at least come up with a plan. And yes, everyone here understands everyone else's issues. I'm saying, I'm seeing lots of, thank you for understanding autism parenting is not for the faint of heart. It's a challenge and every day is for some people like Grandpa Day, you wake up to the same exact routine and it gets really old. I mean Nora join us in group and we will help you as well.

Jenn Eggert: There are tips and tricks to being a single mom and making it work. I'm not a single mom, but thankfully Kori has done this for a lot of years by herself and also an important aspect that isn't set in this is learning to coparent would the other parent, Kori, I know it's not easy. I'm a stepmother myself. And you have to learn all of these things though because they all add up to the bigger picture. You're not going, Kori's not going to be successful if she has her daughter potty training at home and then the minute daddy gets involved, oh, we'll just put on a diaper and whatever. It's never going to work for Kori.

Kori Tomelden: Yeah. We've had to have it consistent and structured throughout the whole like process that has to be the same. Similar routines are here as it is at her dad's house. And we're finally to the point I think where we've reached like a nice copacetic situations.But it took us several years to get there. Mostly just to get, I think past the personal animosity and yeah, realized that it wasn't about health is about our daughter.

Jenn Eggert: And I want to let you know, you may feel like you're single parenting it and it's hard, but you're never alone. You always have. Kori and I, we both have different groups, but we both have the same goal in life. We want you to be empowered as a parent to be able to empower your child. This is why we're working so hard on the webinars that we're doing, but one thing with coparenting, and I know a lot of people say, oh, but as useless come up with a coparenting plan, it's not useless. It gives everyone the responsibilities they need to take to ensure your child is having the best life they can.

Jenn Eggert: Now you're hearing me talking about the Webinar. Do I think that two sides of a separated family should both take the Webinar Yes, because I think that they could come together at the end and compliment each other and really make successful. Do I think even dads who live at home with their kids should take the Webinar Yes, because this is something that Kori and I have built, Kori mostly has built to be, it's task oriented, so you, you learn a lesson, then you do a task and then you imagine how stronger your marriage would be if you actually brought your partner into the course with you. If you worked on the lessons together, if you worked it out together. I mean, I know Mary Ellen right now, one of our viewers, she co-parents parents with her daughter and it works for them. But the kids also know that they're not going to turn out grandma against mommy and mommy against grandma. Okay. Very, very specific.Bonnie, I understand that it's really hard when you're an autism parent in a single parent and you haven't seen your child's parent and two years,It is hard.I'm going to recommend looking into state respite care.You can do, I mean there's extended school years, although I know a lot of states are getting rid of extended school years this year.

Kori Tomelden: Nora and for Bonnie, what I would suggest for them is to ask your child, social worker and then to check with your child's school to see if any of their teachers are looking for respite or extra hours and you might be able to coordinate something with your state.To get the respite care because that's been the biggest issue in our case. We have the services are there, but the support staff is not there where we found support staff, those with our child's, our daughter's school. And the nice thing about the daughters having it from her daughter, my daughter's school is that they already have.

Jenn Eggert: okay. So I want to,I want to get into Bonnie or not Bonnie. Sheryl's question real quick. What about Adhd and signs of autism Do you talk about this Both Kori and my groups are made for autism parents, but we also deal with other special needs. We are not limiting. So yes, in either of our groups you will hear a lot of talk about autism meltdowns or picky eaters every week. Kori and I tend to pick a different topic and work on that for that week. So you will see lots of different autism and ADHD related topics in each group. And Bonnie, I understand that sometimes our kids are too much for our parents, especially as our parents age. So checkout the family support in your state and maybe that will give you a little bit more of a more concrete help.

Kori: Bonnie, if you can come to the Webinar tomorrow and if you can't attend live, then there's going to be a replay for it. We are covering like the meltdown strategies and I think it might be a great resource for both you and not just for you but for your mom as well so she can really understand what's going on and possibly how to manage that aggressive behavior with him. My just, it'll help both of you and it'll help your son too. oh... fun. This is what more.

Jenn Eggert: Kori, do you want to quickly give us one idea of what a bonus that we will be getting just from going to your Webinar.

Kori Tomelden: Yes, Well tomorrow's Webinar is all about, I believe it's the it's wonderful. It's looking at why autistic children are going through meltdowns and some of the other challenging behavior that they start to present. And as Jen already mentioned, all of the webinars that we've presented so far, they are meant to be actionable and quick tasks that you can implement.And they're customizable for your family. Just because it worked for my family.I can't guarantee of course that it's going to work for your family, but it can be adapted to work with your family. So tomorrow specifically we're going to look at the meltdowns and why they're happening and once we understand why they're happening, then we can figure out strategies to help not just our child, but to also help ourselves. Which is huge because if we can't, as I said in the beginning, if we can't help ourselves when our child is having his meltdown, more often than not mom or dad, we are that safe space for our kids. And if we can't be that pillar of safety for them, then we're just making the problem worse. Unintentionally most cases.

Kori Tomelden: And that's, that's just it.Jackie, she just said that her daughter connects more with her dad and meltdowns or easy for him. But when it comes to her, she's more aggressive. My daughter was the same and well it may seem like the meltdowns are easier for him. It could be that same case with that you are her safe space. So she feels more comfortable just completely letting go because she knows that you are well, she's your, her safe space. And I know it may not seem like that, especially if she's being aggressive, sometimes that's, that is what happens. Like my daughter, she used to bite me and she would hit when she was having her meltdowns. It's gotten a lot better but she still, yeah, I'm still her safe space.

Jenn Eggert: So unfortunately we are running low on time. If you have any questions, please type them out real quick so we can get to you. Again, I want to remind you the link for the Webinar is in the live comments section right now and if you want, you stay up current with our lives, type the number "5" in the comments section now and it will subscribe you to all live up things. And remember this Webinar folks is tomorrow and Kori and I will be here going over tomorrow's Webinar. We hope that you join us. It's real simple to subscribe to our webinar. Just follow the process. It's super easy. Once you subscribe you will, they will be receiving an email link, correct?

Kori Tomelden: Yes, they will get the confirmation link to add it to their calendar of choice and if you opt in with a phone number you can get a text message reminder as well. And as I, as we've said already, if you can't make it live tomorrow then you can catch the replay. We are going to have a live Q and a session on tomorrow's webinars as well. And just to let you all know, last time we had planned for our Webinar to be one hour and I think Jenn and I ended up going almost two hours. So this might be a great time, hint to get some of your burning questions answered.

Jenn Eggert: So again, if you want to join, visit and registered to join us tomorrow. Like Kori said, it is the perfect time to join. I want to thank everyone for coming. Today was a great show. We've got to remember care about ourselves.

Kori Tomelden: Free. Our webinar is absolutely free. So please do sign up.

Jenn Eggert:Yes,the Webinar has no fee. Please sign up. It is free. It is a special gift from Kori, Jason and I to you to help you self regulate and become the better parents that we all want to be. So sign up, tell your friends, let them know about it. You never know who it may benefit. So share the information on the Webinar. Let people know, get them other signed up. We are so excited. We can't wait to see you tomorrow. Remember if you have any questions or concerns, you can always join our group at There's also a link in our group to join Kori's group. I will bust that out later and put it up at the top again. But I want to thank all of you for joining. I can't wait to see how many of you make it to tomorrow's Webinar.

Jenn Eggert: So remember, you can always join our group, join our Webinar, and every penny that you back us on our Kickstarter folks is appreciated. Remember the Kickstarter for the weighted lap pad. Now there are different tier levels, so you can donate a set amount or you can donate what you want depending on what tier you're pit. And you can get a lap pad, one of our new write and chill from to 55% off. I believe if you register through the Kickstarter. So please give us some great consideration. There are wonderful products and I will see you. What time is a Webinar or sorry, I will deal with that right now is 1:00 PM Eastern, which is, I see 10:00 PM 10:00 AM Pacific or 1:00 PM Eastern. It is the time that I try and keep everything at the same time. So it's not confusing folks to join us tomorrow at 1:00 PM Eastern.

Jenn Eggert: Have a wonderful day folks. And we can't wait to see you tomorrow. Until then, remember, every child brings good luck.

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