If I could give you one gift it would be to see yourself through my eyes and then you would see how special you really are.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

A Sensory Box

How to calm a 3 year old - talking? Rationalising? Time out?

Yeah right, none of those are going to work, not with our little chappie. Once the red mist descends he doesn't hear the talking, even if he was able he couldn't rationalize, what 3 year old can and time out well how can you reject a child full of massive emotions when he has already been rejected so much already.

It's time to think outside of the box. 

As many adoptive parents I probably could hold a degree in how to parent an adopted child, well that is if I could always be calm, if I could consistently remember the Dan Hughes way and if it was easier. Those of us that can be found with our noses, continually stuck in a book about therapeutic parenting will know that our brains are split into three parts, the reptile, the limbic and the neo cortex. But for those of you not in the know here is a quick explanation. The reptilian brain is the oldest part that's the bit that teaches us about basic survival - fight, flight or freeze. The limbic is that bit that is full of emotion - happiness, sadness and anger. The neo cortex which is the most recently developed is the bit that helps us with logical thinking, empathy and speech. Many children and not just those taken into the care system, struggle because the reptilian part of their brains are more active and stronger than the other parts, a brilliant example of how this affects them was shared by Nicola Marshall in her podcasts Teachers Introduction to Attachment. 
"Okay you are crossing the road, when a car comes hurtling towards you - do you stop look at the car and think, what are my options? Shall I run back to the pavement shall I run across the road, should I lie down hoping the car will miss me or do you react?" 
Traumatised children react, they spend most of their time in the reptilian part of their brain so whenever something worries them the reptilian part of the brain takes over and they DON'T think they just do.

Here in lies the problem, whenever something makes child 4 uncomfortable, worries or scared he reacts he doesn't think, he just can't and so we have to teach him how to control his reptile so as to enable him to cope with life. How do we do that?
Well, we have to keep the reptile occupied and that's where sensory calming activities come in.
We have over the last few days been creating all sorts of sensory calm stuff - we already have a big green 5 minute egg timer sometimes if I need and I mean need to get something done I can give child 4 the egg timer and ask him to hold it with the caveat that once all the green grains of sand have passed through we will do something exciting, like swing on the swing or bounce on the trampoline. But I have learned that I need many types of egg timers to keep that little red crocodile busy. So With the help of Google and Pinterest we have created a jellyfish in a bottle of blue water, glow worms float in a pink sea, balloons stuffed full of playdough and rice. A bottle full of glitter glue, warm water and glitter is brilliant and I am planning on buying an exercise resistant band. The idea being that at dinner time I can tie a band around the legs of his chair and he can kick at it, without making lots of noise. What we have found is that if we can keep the reptilian bit of the brain occupied the other parts of the brain have the opportunity to do their jobs.

We are hoping that we will be able to teach child 4 how to regulate his red crocodile so that except when a car is hurtling towards him he will be able to stop, think and breathe before he reacts. 

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