Tip of the Week: De-escalating a meltdown

We know how difficult it can be to watch your child have a meltdown, especially because of how helpless it can make you feel. Here are some tips for families and caregivers of individuals with Prader-Willi syndrome to help de-escalate your child during a meltdown:

  • Ignore verbal threats and aggression but answer their questions.

  • Keep your voice low and speak slowly.

  • Don’t meet their chaos with more chaos.

  • Distract.

  • Have a physical exit at all times. Don’t find yourself in a corner or with them between you and the door.

  • Stay calm and non-judgmental. Their feelings are real, even if you don’t understand why they are upset.

  • Suggest coping skills one time but don’t insist if they are not ready to use these.

  • Keep your answers short and direct. The less talking, the better.

  • Be aware of facial expressions and body language. Try to appear and sound bored.

  • Remember that they would not choose to act this way; it is out of their control in this moment.

  • Attempt to remove loose objects or vulnerable people from the room.

  • Don’t threaten the loss of items, activities, or tell them that others will be disappointed in them… It will only add to the meltdown.

  • If they fall asleep, let them sleep. This is the body’s way of resetting itself.

  • Think back to what could have caused the meltdown. Chances are there was something in the environment that can be modified to avoid further incidents.


Patrice Carroll is Latham Centers’ world-renowned Prader-Willi syndrome specialist. She works with Latham’s residents with PWS, their families, and consultants, continuously learning and teaching about PWS best practices. Do you have questions for our PWS specialist? Submit your “tip” topics or general questions to TipTopics@LathamCenters.org.

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