After feeling all proud about the tools Ian and I made to help him calm down (see the last post), tonight was the big test on whether or not they would "work"...

Tonight was a shower night for the kids.  Rowan had a sore foot so I suggested that she take a "shower/bath" (you take a shower and pug the drain so the water becomes a bath...). When Ian caught wind of this he decided that he wanted a shower/bath, too.  We only have one shower in a bathtub so this would't work.

Cue the meltdown.

On the floor, moaning and groaning, yelling and crying...  That must be exhausting, I thought to myself.  I spent about a minute trying to reason with this ball of emotional overload before I decided to head upstairs, silently affirming my faith in his ability to calm down.  I began to help Rowan get ready to wash...

It wasn't long before my sweet boy had brought his meltdown upstairs.  The anger wheel!!!  The mind jar!!!  I had forgotten all about these tools that were downstairs, just waiting to be suggested...

"Ian," I said, crouching down and staying very calm and neutral, "it seems like you have lost your thinking cap.  Do you think it would help you if I went and got your spinner and your mind jar?"

Quiet.  "Yes."

I rushed downstairs to get them.  Funny, as soon as I asked him if he wanted to use these tools, he began to calm down.  By the time I came back with the spinner (this is what he calls the anger wheel) he was almost bouncing with excitement to use it.  He spun it a bunch of times, not satisfied with where the spinner stopped.  Finally it got to Green Jar. "That's what I want," he said.  He shook up the jar and layed down next to his dad on the bed.  "Don't forget to take deep breaths," I said as I walked back to Rowan to make sure she was moving along...

A little while later I saw Ian in the shower, calmly having his hair washed by his daddy.  "Wow!  It looks like the green jar helped you calm down," I said.  "I still don't get to have a shower/bath though," Ian said, with some annoyance in his voice.  "Yeah," I replied, "but your thinking cap is back on, you're calm again."

YES, I thought, already imagining how I would share this story here, on the blog.  I love it when PD tools work!  Ian had been encouraged enough to give the spinner a try.  The suggestion itself seemed to help him bring his "thinking cap" back and reminded him that he could handle his emotions.  Also, it was a learning experience about how we may not get our way, but feeling better helps us do better.

Not much later he fell apart again, triggered by the fact that the jammies he wanted to put on were in the wash.  How dare I wash his clothes!!!  He wasn't swayed by the tools, didn't want the spinner or the mind jar.  He said things like, "Fine!  Then I am not going to brush my teeth for a month!"  Gone was the thinking cap, replaced by the power of emotion (and perhaps some hunger, he didn't do much eating at dinner).  Fortunately for him, I still had my thinking cap on...  I gave his little back a scratch and let him know he could join us in my room for reading when he was ready.  Then, I left.

Ben began to read to Rowan and soon, Ian walked in to join them, dressed in his baseball uniform.  This is a kid who takes off all his clothes before he goes to sleep.  Did I want him to have jammies on for bedtime reading?  Yes.  Was it so important that I needed to make a big deal about it?  No.  Maybe this was his way of feeling a sense of power.  His way of saying, "fine - you can't magically get those jammies that I want but look, I can take some control over the situation."  Good for him.

So there you have it.  Just because you spend time doing these projects, creating these tools for your kids, doesn't mean they are going to use them.  Or maybe they will use them sometimes, but refuse them other times...  This is why there are LOTS of tools to use!  The more we tools we use in our parenting "practice," the better...

Smiles ~ Casey

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