34. Empty Your Child's Cup to Manage Meltdowns with Nancy Kling

By Brigitte Shipman

Mother's Guide Nancy Kling

In this week's informative episode, I interview Nancy Kling, the founder and director of Behavior Plus who has worked with children with challenging behavior since 1992.

Nancy has extensive training and experience with autism spectrum disorders and a wide variety of behavior issues. She is an author of the book The Cup Kid: Parenting a Child with Meltdowns.

She explains what's happening with a child with a tantrum using an analogy of a cup where their cup becomes full of sensory and emotional overload. A lot of kids don’t realize that their cup is getting too full so they don’t step away and the cup runs over.

She tells us that If we can figure out what’s going in the cup and what empties their cup, we can do whatever we need to do to help them chill out before it runs over.

She advises parents to come up with a list of cup fillers as much as they can and to also pay attention to what kids do when they have time on their own because what they do will be a cup emptier for them.

Understanding what goes on in situations where a cup kid tends to have a meltdown will help to make necessary changes to prevent meltdowns before they happen.

She shares a success story where they incorporated the strategy of jumping to help a boy on the spectrum manage his meltdowns in school and at home.

Finally, she offers advice to autism moms to stand strong and help their child find their “thing” that they like and they’re good at and cultivate that because their self-esteem comes from doing things they like and that they’re good at.

She emphasizes the importance of focusing more on what they can do than what they can’t do. "It’s important to focus on the strengths they have and to continue to develop those skills," Nancy says.

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