As my sweet, happy, little man is growing and learning so very much every day he has become the epitome of a little guy with big emotions. We experienced our first full on tantrum recently stemming from frustration. Two things occurred to me as I sat with my screaming son – identifying his emotions verbally – reassuring him that we would get through this together – and hugging him when he needed it: 1. There is no way I am going to survive this 2. We are in for a bumpy ride if we don’t arm ourselves with some coping mechanisms as we enter toddlerhood.
The first thing I created was a magnet board. After trolling pintrest and asking around my mommy craft group I made a quick stop at walmart to procure a large oil pan and some adhesive and set out to make a magnet board that I could use to help him redirect.
The next thing I decided to work on was items for a “cool down” spot. A cozy place where we can go together when emotions are tough. We can regroup, surround ourselves with relaxing items and activities, and when we are in a better frame of mind, talk about what caused the distress. It’s a technique I’ve seen work with older preschool children and so making the items and activities for this “cool down” area is the first step. This is a long term project and hopefully I can implement this strategy a little bit at a time for my little guy and demonstrate how we use this cool down spot as these big feelings get bigger and bigger. He still wont be allowed to play with knives, but we can work through the frustration and then talk about why he can not have the knife and what he may be able to play with instead. (*says the optimistic first time parent*)
I’m not 100% convinced dad is on board with this technique but I am going to do my best to show that it can be effective. It requires a bit more patience and empathy from the parent/guardian but in my opinion, kids are worth the effort and need the empathy when they are struggling to communicate and understand what is going on.
So first up: Sensory bottle. These seek and find bottles can be very soothing. MINE…. yeah… I have not perfected this item yet. I started with water, glitter glue, hair gel, and the seascape. My issue is that the liquid is not viscous enough and the animals don’t float!
They’re just napping.
I have one more bottle and some safari animals for the second one so finding the right recipe will be crucial. Another round of pintrest browsing may be required. Also why do VOSS bottles (the ones I was looking for) only come in glass now? I am having a heck of a time finding the plastic ones. For now these slightly curvy bottles will have to do.
The next item I started working on are story stones. These ones he may not be given for a while as he is prone to throw things right now, not out of anger but for giggles.
The story stones are fashioned around the story of the three little pigs but also have some extra fun stones to allow for open ended story telling as well.
The stones are not complete yet and I still have to sew a bag for them but they are well on the way.
I have emotion cards to create to help us identify and label emotions, I would like to fill a basket with books and crayons with paper, perhaps a puppet or two, some over-sized cushions, and maybe a canopy or tent type covering to keep the space ‘safe’ . Soon his rocking chair will be placed elsewhere in the house and I am hoping to use that space for the ‘cool down’ spot. Again, these are big concepts and he may not be ready for the whole thing but as his little world gets bigger and more overwhelming I want to make sure I expose him to as many coping tools as possible.
And then when all the tantrums are done and everyone is sound asleep in bed, a sip of cab and a piece of chocolate will help mommy regroup for tomorrow because that bottle of red is its own sensory bottle kwim?! .
Okay, okay. Caffeine will work too. 😉