Prevent Forest Fires
by Diane MacKenzie
For parents of children with behavioral and emotional
problems life is a constant struggle. It often seems as though they are
fighting sporadic forest fires throughout the course of their daily
lives. Parents must find creative solutions to help their children deal
with short fuses, low frustration tolerance, and unpredictable swings in
moods and behavior. Children must be taught methods of damage control to
help them learn to cope with the minor problems that set them off. These
are just a few of the techniques that I have had to use to defuse my
son's, shall we say, explosive tendencies.
Monotonous activities seem to be relaxing and comforting to a child who
leans toward losing his or her temper easily. Whether the activity is
physical or mental in nature, such endeavors tend to produce a feeling
of control. Jumping rope, bouncing on a small trampoline and playing
Skip-It are prime examples of comforting physical activities. Excess
energy is burned. The rhythm of the repetitious movements is similar to
the sensation produced by rocking a child. These methods create a double
benefit for children who are easily over stimulated. Cracking nuts with
a nutcracker and popping the bubbles on a piece of bubble wrap are also
excellent repetitive tasks for a child to perform. These projects
require more focused concentration and can help to improve attention
span to some degree. Large pieces of bubble wrap (with the large
bubbles) are good for older children to stomp on, in order to release
building frustration and aggression. The sound of the air being expelled
from the pockets of air and the feeling of the bubbles deflating also
gives them a concrete sense of what is being accomplished. Teaching them
to *see* the source of their anger, vanishing into the air, further
increases the effectiveness of this technique.
As adults, we often take warm baths as a means to relax and bring
ourselves back down to Earth. Often, parents correlate kids and bath
time as one of two things. A time to play and a time to get clean.
However, children can experience some of the same therapeutic benefits
as adults, if they are taught to do so. Simply having the child lay back
in the water and let it support his or her weight can often be enough to
calm them and redirect their energies. Just having them wash off may
serve to rid them of sensory distractions. Children are often too young
to realize that being itchy and dirty, from a hard day at play, can be a
source of aggravation in itself. If they are taught to recognize the
feelings a bath can be a blessing in disguise. Throw in a pinch of
aromatherapy by adding some lavender or rose baths salts to their water
and everyone benefits in the end. The child is calmed and the parents
have a clean, sweet-smelling youngster on their hands.
Last but not least, parents should evaluate their own relaxation
techniques. After taking a good look at what they do to regain their own
composure, they can write them down and modify them to fit their child.
For example, if they listen to music, they can teach the child to do so,
as well. Buy the child a set of headphones and a small tape player, to
listen to when they feel the heat of a fiery temper rising. Encourage
them to find music that they enjoy, provided that it does not go against
pre-existing household rules. Showing them how to take time-outs on
their own, will teach them how to control their own tempers. As parents
begin to recognize signs of frustration, they can point them out to the
child in a non-threatening way. If they are able to recognize, what
ignites their own personal fuse, they can stop the fire before it gets
started. Keep in mind what Smoky the Bear has always saidÂ….
"You too can help prevent forest fires."
I am a poet by nature and a writer at heart....29yo
mother of three born in Memphis, TN on Halloween. I love to
write...poetry, articles, fiction, the whole shebang. I write for myself
and for anyone else who might be interested in my occasionally coherent
Diane is a talented a gifted writer and her works
include many other venues besides Bipolar Children. She writes for
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