Saturday, April 16, 2011

Repairing Relationships with a Time-In ~ Sensory Processing Disorder

(This is a guideline. It is of course, harder than this)

I'm Upset and My Child is Upset
When necessary, I start with a "Time-Out" (for me, for my child or for the both of us) until:
* I know that I am bigger, stronger, wiser and kind, and
* I remind myself that no matter how I feel, my child needs me.
(A "Time-Out" can be helpful as a first step, but not as a punishment.)

I'm Calm (enough) and My Child is Upset

We can build a safe "repair routine" together (remember the first 1,000 times are the hardest!).
* I take charge so my child is not too out of control.
* We change location. Go to a neutral place that is our "Time-In" spot, where we can sit together and let the feeling begin to change.
* I maintain a calm tone of voice (firm, reassuring and kind)
* We can do something different (for several minutes): read, look out the window or attend to a chore together.
* I help my child bring words to her/his feelings. ("It looks like this is hard for you" "Are you mad/sad/afraid?")
* I talk about my feelings about what just happened. ("When you did that, I felt ...")
* I stay with my child until s/he is calm enough. (It may take a while for a child to calm down from overwhelming and un-organised feelings. Rule of thumb: Stay in charge and stay sympathetic.)

I'm Calm (enough) and My Child is Calm (enough)
I use the following to support our repair and to make repair easier in the future.
* I help my child use words for the needs and feelings that s/he is struggling with by listening and talking together. (Remember KISS - Keep It Short and Simple)
* I help my child to take responsibility for her/his part and I can take responsibility for my part. (Rule of thumb: No blaming allowed.)
* We talk about new ways of dealing with the problem in the future. (Even for very young children, talking out loud about new options will establish a pattern and a feeling that can be repeated through the years.)

Bottom line: It's the relationship and only the relationship) that will build my child's capacity to organise her/his feelings. My child's problem may look like something that is being done on purpose. But at it's root, it's an issue of needing to reconnect and learning to handle difficult feelings in a safe and secure way. By taking an "I can/we can" perspective ("together, we're going to figure out what you need") my child will realise that I'm in charge as someone who is bigger, stronger, wiser and kind. This will reassure her/him, feelings will settle and organise and the relationship will have been repaired.

Information from Avon and Central Primary Health, Child Development Team, Occupational Therapy Dept.


Renee K said...

I may need to bookmark this- thanks for sharing. I *know* all of it already but when I'm frazzled (more and more often these days) it's hard to remember so that's a great way of making it simple :)

Parenting Premmies said...

Hi Renee, thanks for reading =)

I often read back on here to remind myself on how to cope better.

Glad you found it useful x

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