Thursday, October 8, 2009

Book Review: No More Meltdowns by Jed Baker, Ph.D.

No More Meltdowns by Jed Baker, Ph.D. is an excellent resource for parents trying to deal with their child’s out of control behavior, whether the kids have a diagnosis or not. This book is straightforward, with a simple step by step plan for dealing with tantrums and meltdowns. At the same time, there are plenty of detailed examples that show how to fit the simple plan to complex situations.
Certainly parenting is tougher when children have special needs, like an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Asperger’s or Attention Deficit (ADHD or ADD). And frequently these parents have to also deal with harsh judgment from the world every time their kids act up. Too often, parents are simply told to be firm, be consistent, take control, and their kids will behave. Well, what should parents do if they are firm and consistent, and it still doesn’t help? This book offers some solutions, and since the author has experience dealing with special needs kids, the ideas are realistic and practical for all families.
Baker acknowledges the basic rule of of child rearing, using consistent rewards and consequences. And that’s a good place for all parents to start. But he quickly moves beyond that to a four step plan of action for when this basic plan just doesn’t work. His model begins with accepting the child, then moves on to de-escalating a meltdown, understanding why the meltdowns are occurring in the first place and preventing future meltdowns.   
The real heart of the book is its detailed analysis to understand why meltdowns are occurring, and the techniques to set up a plan to prevent them in the future. Baker breaks down the different issues that might cause problems, then methodically explains how to change the triggers causing the tantrums, teaching the child skills to deal with the triggers, and how to set up a system of rewards and losses.
One thing I really appreciated in No More Meltdowns was the way that Baker exhibits respect and understanding of the children and parents in his examples. These aren’t presented as bad, out of control kids, with ineffective parents. Instead Baker acknowledges the difficulties of these tough situations and focuses on both short term crisis management and also long term skill building. This is a book I’ll be sure to recommend to my clients.