Thursday, August 27, 2009

A small parenting success

It's been raining here for the past two days, and while we need the rain, it would be nice if some children could go outside. It also doesn't help that I am in the middle of redoing schedules and chores to get ready for the new school year, because it means we're not really on any type of schedule at all. Earlier in the week, this was fine. D and TM spent a couple days playing imaginary games for hours on end, either outside or up in the 3rd floor playroom. They were so busy that I had to go check to make sure they were OK every now and then. But its hard to sustain that level of play for too many days in a row, and some boys have been at very loose ends. This is harder on TM than on D. I often call TM my Border Collie. Like a Border Collie, he is extremely bright and extremely energetic and if all that energy and intelligence is not harnessed in a productive way, well, let's just say it isn't pretty. When this happens, I often lose my patience (what little I possess) and TM ends up in bed until I can locate said patience again. Looking back, I can always see where the downward spiral started and wish I had stopped it before it was too late. Ah, hindsight...

I don't know what was different about today, but this time I was aware of the vicious cycle starting. This time I decided to try redirecting all that aimless energy with a fun activity instead of a punitive one (which hasn't been terribly successful anyway). TM is a very tactile learner, but doesn't often get to explore things the way he would like. (I know that sounds bad, but since the way he would like often involves taking things apart, there isn't a lot I'm willing to sacrifice to his explorations.) But I hit upon what turned out to be the perfect activity: the plastic balance scale which I had stored away. It is fairly indestructible, so he could explore to their heart's content; it has metal weights included, so numbers were involved; and he had never seen it before. He was thrilled to be able to play with it how ever he wanted without anyone disturbing him. It kept him busy for at least a half an hour. That doesn't seem like a very long amount of time, but it was enough. In that half an hour of play and exploration, his brain was able to start functioning on a higher level and get out of the lower, more instinctual one he gets trapped in sometimes that causes much of the out of control behavior. I had no idea this would be the ultimate result. My initial goal was just to keep him busy for a while so I didn't end up sending him to bed. I'm thrilled to have another tool in my toolbox for helping TM to heal from past trauma. Now, if I can just remember this the next time the spiral starts.

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