Joanna’s therapist lent us this DVD. I was hopeful. The presenter is an occupational therapist and it says it addresses the sorts of issues we see most days. I was going to write an upbeat review of how it was going to be life-changing for our family. No. Not so much.
Warning: sarcasm follows.
There are a couple of small things I’d be happy to give a try, but overall it doesn’t seem to be designed to deal with children who operate on the same level of intensity as our two. More of that in a moment.
Here are some of the key suggestions from the DVD:
An hour of gymnastics or swimming twice a week should help a child to regulate and the effect should last a couple of days. If you say so. We have had some epic meltdowns in swimming pool changing rooms. They seemed to last a couple of days…
Throwing a weighted ball back and forth should help a child calm down in about 30 seconds. Seriously?! We’d get it thrown at our heads.
Wiggle cushions and therapy balls can help children sit still (e.g. at school). They’re welcome to try them.
Playing the CD ‘Sacred Earth Drums’ by David and Steve Gordon to a tantrumming child ‘usually calms them down in 30 seconds’. Ha ha ha ha ha. I found this on Spotify. (It’s a New Age-y drums, pan pipes and jungle sounds thing, which is really not my style at all. I’m fairly sure the girls will hate it.) I’ll let you know how that goes.
‘Imagine you are a melting ice cream, dripping down your face, your shoulders, your chest, your arms… until you end in a puddle on the floor. Now imagine you’re a tree… your roots are growing… grow roots again whenever you feel anxious.’ They actually showed an ice cream melting on screen for this. It troubled me.
Stretching before bedtime releases energy built up in the muscles and helps them relax. Try stretches or yoga. Yes, because my children have such a shortage of procrastination techniques and could do with broadening their portfolio.
Using sensory fidgets can help calm a child down and stop them becoming overwhelmed. They can also be one more thing to get lost, and they will probably still chew their cuffs anyway because sensory fidgets are a horrible silicone texture that they don’t want to chew.
Switch off screens 90 minutes before bedtime, or at the very least, monitor the content for excitement. Right.
Transitions can be difficult. Use a visual timetable. Use carpet squares for children to sit on and when you want to move them, ask them to move their carpet square to the new location. Sing ‘Here we go to Mrs Smith’s class’ [to the tune of ‘Here we go round the mulberry bush’] as you skip down the corridor to your next lesson. That won’t get you any strange looks. Oh no.
Taking a child for a massage every week helps them get rid of their anger. Pulling the energy out of their muscles gets rid of a child’s wiggles. Now watch a small boy having a massage for ten minutes while we play some twinkly guitar music at you because you cannot imagine this concept for yourself.
You have to love the optimism of this DVD. We laughed out loud most of the way through, particularly at the repeated ‘this usually works in about 30 seconds’. None of the children were shown being taken from full-on rage to zen-like calm. There was no intensity of emotion shown at all. ‘William is mildly disgruntled. Oh look, he’s been on a swing and is fine again now.’ Because naturally the children never go from nought to sixty on the rageometer in under five seconds, they become dysregulated nice and gradually so you only ever need to use the techniques preventatively.
Anyway. If you want to give this a go with some well-mannered children of your acquaintance, good luck to you. I spent an hour of my life watching this and have reviewed it so you don’t have to.