When dealing with wild kids, the Not Quite Crunchy Parent today suggested trying to “center” the child rather than punishing him. She described taking the child aside and modeling deep-breathing to settle him down.
Not yet bold enough to do a piece on discipline (I do believe parental discipline and guidance have their place, even if they are “artificial” at times), but I strongly agree this centering is useful in many situations.
I’ve noticed that simply touching and slowing down to focus on the child has a great deal of effect– many children have such a high ratio of yelling/talking to touching that they’ve developed selective hearing and the touch is instantly significant. At that point the modeled breathing is just a bonus.
Having the adult on his/her level is also quickly responded to– I have an adult’s undivided attention. What am I going to do with it?
As an addition to breathing I wanted to offer another centering tool: Lock-ups.
“Lock-ups” is a folding of the arms that takes a bit of thought, and something I’ve occasionally used myself when stretched or tense. It is remarkably centering.
I was shown this during a supplemental-type education class on autism.
I was never an Ed. major– the class just looked interesting. Free tuition is one of the perks of being married to a university employee.
I was very pleased to figure out a way to describe this.
- Hold your arms out straight in front of you, palms down.
- Rotate both arms so the thumbs now point down.
- Cross one arm over the other and interlace fingers (thumbs still down), holding hands with yourself.
- Slowly open your arms a bit, bending your elbows and letting your hands drop.
- Continue the movement slowly, first your thumbs then your fingertips pointing toward your body
- Finishing with your pinkies touching your chest, and your arms resting on your body.
I think this works for several reasons:
- The uncommon movement
- The slowing down and thought required (at least at first)
- The almost snuggly feel of having your arms “locked up.”
I save the slow deep breaths until after the lock-up is formed, since explaining it to a child is not conducive to modeling slow breathing.
While we have used slow breathing as an antidote to whining and tired frantic-ness, it wasn’t until I read this post that I thought about adding in lock-ups. This is definitely going in my parenting toolbox this week, and I suppose I’ll have to give an update (like I did this time) to report back on how it worked outside the lab.
If you don’t mind, let me know if you tried to follow the directions and if they made sense to you. Of course I think I did a fine job, but I know already how it’s supposed to work.