When I first started learning about this whole therapeutic parenting thing - I found a blog called Welcome to My Brain. It totally changed how I thought about parenting. It completely turned things on end. In fact, I remember being a little scared. My kids were relatively young. I thought all of Herman's "issues" were related to his incredible stubbornness. TT and Bart were too little for me to really worry about. I wondered, sometimes, what God was preparing me for.
Well, Christine doesn't blog so much anymore. And she completely reorganized a lot of her posts and took a bunch down.
But her YouTube videos are available and they are amazing!!
This one is probably my favorite:
FYI: Don't watch that video WITH your kids. It's better if you implement the tips and they come out of nowhere. Believe me. I know this one from experience.
I'd like to add on to everything that Christine has to say about getting kids un-stuck.
For me, I've boiled it down to the fact that when my kids start to get dysregulated, they need to DO something to get un-stuck. They need to stimulate their senses in a new way.
That's one of the biggest reasons we leave the house when a kid starts to lose it. Go for a drive. Just get OUT. I know Christine says to go for a walk in the video. Unfortunately, that really triggers my kids and makes it worse. They don't want anyone in the neighborhood to see them upset. They don't want to talk about anything that's bothering them where anyone else could possibly hear.
When you're in the car, there is no expectation of eye contact either. That is huge!! Sometimes we run a basic errand. Sometimes we go to McDonald's. Either way, I make sure the kids left at home are safe and under control. If not, everyone comes. Then I grab the child that is upset and I just start driving.
So if we're stimulating the senses, leaving the place where the dysregulation is happening is SEEING something different. Stimulate the visual.
If I'm working to just keep calm, I enjoy diffusing essential oils. I don't necessarily believe in all the hoopla about EOs. Good Lord - I know that's a dangerous thing to say. Probably ranks right up there with talking about politics or religion. (LOL) I like having my house SMELL nice though. I do think that certain scents can help boost my mood. Most of the time, when I diffuse, it's for me. The lights on my diffuser are a reminder to me as well that I'm "on my game".
I also work on keeping order and not overstimulating everyone with the SOUNDS in the house. When I'm really on my game, I've got music playing quietly in the background. Again, this is more for me. But it's my job to be the external regulation. Though, sometimes, cranking up some music and dancing is a good way to get a kid out of a funk.
That leaves touch and taste.
TOUCH: One of my kids is sensory seeking when he's getting dysregulated. I've got several different things around the house for that. A simple vibrating massager is kept in the living room and it's always ready to go. And because we've talked about this so much with my kids, sometimes he will ask to take a bath when he's stressed out. The warm water covering his whole body gives him the input he needs. Of course I always offer up back rubs or hugs.
Along with touch is anything that stimulates the large muscle groups. Run around the block. Play basketball. Go punch a heavy bag. Do anything that gets you to move. When your kids are little, you probably have to do this with them. Sometimes mine will recognize the dysregulation though and choose to go move on their own.
TASTE: Like I said in my post yesterday, kids from the hurt places often have a harder time managing their blood sugars. I know I'm not exactly phrasing that right. It's not like they've got diabetes. But when their blood sugars dip - they get "hangry". This is VERY true for one of my kids. I figured it out when he was pretty little. And even though he's much older now, I pack snacks like the mom of a toddler any time we're going to be going out for a long time or if we're going to be doing something that I know is difficult for him. The last thing I want to have happen is for him to get hungry and have to deal with that feeling on top of the stress he's already trying to manage.
Dr. Karyn Purvis did a study during a camp with kids that had experienced trauma where they addressed this issue.
This first link describes the camp.
The second link mentions where they fed the kids at camp every two hours.
I took this information to heart several years ago. It's made a huge difference with my kids. And I can tell every time I screw up and my kids haven't been eating right. A bowl full of sugar cereal for breakfast and then a skipped lunch is a sure-fire way to guarantee there will be a temper tantrum of epic proportions at about 1:30pm when someone slights someone else playing outside.
Sometimes my kid(s) need a whole meal. Sometimes they need it earlier than when we serve lunch or dinner. I've learned to be OK with that. Sometimes they eat supper the minute they walk in the door from school. Sometimes, when I know it's been a rough day, I pick them up from school and we immediately swing through a drive-thru. I know it's crap food. But one of my kids REALLY likes crap food. And I'm OK with that. It keeps him level-headed and better able to handle life sometimes.
When they were little, I kept dum-dum lollipops in my purse. Sometimes stimulating the sense of taste with a piece of candy is enough to ward off a melt-down. The sugar, the strong flavor, the act of giving them something they like, is all helpful. Sour candy can work really well too.
Please don't think I've got it all together and I remember to do this stuff every day! Believe me, I get it wrong as much as I get it right. But when I'm working hard to be on my game, these are tips I keep in my toolbox as they've been very helpful over the years.