Friday, August 21, 2009

Taming the "Savage Beast*"

*AKA my little guy in the middle of a temper tantrum*

"Temper tantrum", "meltdown", "uncontrollable showing of emotions", whatever you want to call it, we have all been there with our toddlers. It can be as "mild" as a crying fit, or as violent as toy throwing. Either way, it is unsettling, and in me invokes a strong feeling of helplessness. As I mentioned in a previous post "Healing Myself", once I realized that Logan was feeding off my reactions to his distress, I could aid in the shortening or lengthening of his outburts. If I react with anger, frustration, and helplessness, he feeds off this and his emotions intensify, thus lengthening his suffering. Now, in order to be able to help him grow as a person and learn how to deal with his feelings, I first calm myself.

Which is great, because now I don't make the situation WORSE, but that still doesn't result in it's conclusion! I was still at a loss as to how to calm HIM! I mentioned my frustration to my meditation leader after a practice one day. She suggested that I get a bell and practice the sound of the bell with my son to calm him, in the same way as it calms us in our practice.
She recommended checking out Mindful Kids for more information.

The next day I was on Ebay looking for a bell,also called a singing bowl. I would recommend buying one in person so you can pick out the sound you like, but living in the Boonies where I do, Ebay it was. I narrowed it down to a few in my price range and let Logan pick out the one he liked. I explained to him that it was a bell to send love to his heart to remind him to take deep breaths to calm him down when he is feeling yucky. Basic enough explanation for an almost 3 year old.

We checked the mail every day and made it a big deal when we opened the package. I rang the bell and let him ring it a few times and explained to him again how it worked. When he is feeling yucky, angry or frustrated, I will ring the bell to remind him that he is loved and to take deep breaths and calm down.

It didn't take long before we were able to use our new bell. And of course, when I rang it he immediately calmed down and the tantrum was done. YEAH, RIGHT. This is what I was hoping for, but alas, not what happened. In fact, it took several instances that required the ringing of the bell before there was a noticeable difference. One day he just stopped and breathed! On another day, he asked to hear the bell before the tantrum EVEN STARTED!!Now I haven't had to use the bell for tantrums in a while. Whether he has out grown this phase, or has learned to calm himself down (I prefer to think the later!), I don't know. The bell worked for us. I am not saying it will work for everyone. But, if you are feeling as I was, what do you have to loose?

Don't forget to check out the Mindful Kids page. There are great activities to do with your kids to help them become mindful of themselves and their environment. Most of the activities are for older children, but can easily be adjusted to suit little ones. Also, I have started using the bell to help Logan relax at bed time. Ah, Bed Time, almost as fun for mom and toddler as The Tantrum!


Sarah J. said...

This is a great idea. I will be checking the link for bed time and sharing with my sister for my niece's meltdowns! Thanks!

Carly said...

This sounds to good to be true. I will try it and maybe it will work for my 4 year old