Over the last year, we have seen dramatic changes in my TBP. Physically, he is much taller and is often in danger of wearing “high water” pants due to his sudden growth spurts. He is well over my shoulder in height and appears to be quickly transforming into a “Man Child.” These outward changes are noticeable, but the more important changes are not as obvious…until you stop and listen.
One of the characteristics that I am happy to see, is my son’s ability to be self-reflective. He is becoming aware of strategies that calm his mind and body.
When school days were the most unpredictable, I used to search for items that might provide sensory feedback during the challenging times. Many “test runs” were not well received and would be tossed aside. At one point, I brought home a squishy brain toy. After a challenging afternoon, I brought it out and demonstrated how some kids feel better when they squeeze it and take deep breaths. He was only half-way aware of my words and seemed less than impressed with my suggestion.
“Well…I will leave it on the cabinet and maybe you will want to try it out sometime.” Eventually, the brain was hidden by Lego creations, drawing books, and papers covered with cheat codes to his favorite video games. I forgot about the brain…until this week.
The computer that my son uses was acting up, so he was using the one upstairs. At one point, Mine Craft was not going well and his character was taking a beating from the other players. In the past, this was sure to get my son fired up and would lead to a rant about the injustice. Suddenly, my son went downstairs in the middle of his game. Was he removing himself for a while? We were ready to celebrate this strategy when he said, “I’m going to get my brain. I squeeze it when I get frustrated and it helps my body calm down!”
I know these words aren’t exciting to most, but if you were in our house…you would realize that those very words sounded like angels singing from above!
“That’s a great strategy! I am so glad it helps!”
“Oh it does! The other thing that I think might help me is a lava lamp. I believe it would calm me to watch the movement of the liquids.”
“I think that we can look for one of those. ”
“Great! I would put it right next to the computer so that when I am challenging myself I have a way to calm myself down.”
Later on, I shared how impressed I was with his self-awareness. I explained that many people probably haven’t figured out what helps them calm their mind and body. I told him that this was a strength that he could use for the rest of his life during challenges. He seemed surprised at this news, but eventually accepted the compliment and moved on.
This serves as a great reminder to me, that when I am feeling stressed….instead of reaching for that peanut butter cup or triple grande latte, perhaps I should try to give that brain a good squeeze!