The Coke Bottle Effect

by | Apr 21, 2021

There was a discussion last weekend in my Facebook group about the coke bottle effect.  Many of the group have experienced it and we talked about ways to reduce it.  


Listen to the Podcast…

What is the Coke bottle effect?

 In case you don’t know what the coke bottle effect is, here’s a little summary.  Think of your child as a coke bottle.  As they go through the day the bottle gets more and more shaken, with the pressure building up.  Anything from getting dressed to sitting in a classroom to breaktimes increases the child’s stress and anxiety.   

They hold is all together whilst at school and that takes a lot of effort.  Then you pick them up from school and bang!  All the coke is released from the bottle at the same time and it makes one almighty mess. 

These meltdowns are not easy to manage.  If you’re ‘lucky’ you get home before it happens (so the whole world doesn’t see it). If not, it might happen in full view of the world in the playground as you pick them up or somewhere on route. 

There are some ways to reduce the intensity of the meltdowns and potentially stop them from needing to happen.   

Here are some ideas: 



  • Give your child a chewy or crunchy snack as soon as you see them.  Both of these types of foods give sensory input that can help aid emotional regulation. 
  • Give your child a drink in a sports bottle – the sucking action also aids regulation. 
  • Do something unexpected on the way home.  Maybe see if you can all hop to the car.  The unexpected thing/action can help to trick the brain and the movement gives sensory input. 
  • Ask the school to give your child some sensory breaks throughout the day.  Maybe have a box of sensory toys in the classroom that they can use when they need to. Or, give them somewhere quiet to go when it’s too much.   
  • Build sensory breaks into your day to help them regulate.  They are great for us as adults as well! 


As with everyone, there is no one size fits all approach, what works for one, may not work for another, so play around with ideas and see what works for your children. 

The aim with all of these ideas is to release the pressure a little bit at a time, rather than holding it all in. As adults many of us will have found ways to regulate ourselves during the day, often without thinking about it, but our children need help to learn those ways.  We all know what happens when we don’t release it throughout the day, so if you’re finding yourself being like a coke bottle, maybe implement some of these strategies for you as well.  I know they help me. 

Help with strategies

If you’d like some help, and to be part of a supportive community, come and join me in my Facebook group where I share tips and ideas every day 

Find more information on how I can help by visiting the Parents & Carers Section of my website