Sometimes we parents want things from our children we think they should know already. Extrapolation, cause and effect, judgment, forethought and regulation are skills that must be taught. They must be modeled, shaped, expanded, repeated, and taught over and over, as a matter of fact. Yesterday, Play It Again Sam was my motto. Today it is, Take Time for Training. Take A Long Time For Training.
Nothing pleases me more than to see my son stop in mid-sentence, take a purposeful deep breath, and wait until his brain moves from “stuck on blank or nonsense” to engaged conversation. He does this often without prompting. And it makes me smile at him every time. I usually give him a quick acknowledgement for realizing he needed to “regulate” and get on with the conversation. It is a practice between us now. I do it sometimes and he does it sometimes. We are working together to fight our cycle of dysregulation.
I started teaching that breathing thing to him years ago:
- Stop for a second, honey, and take a deep breath, so you think better about what you are saying.
- I need to take a breath because I am getting frustrated.
- When you feel overwhelmed, it just means your brain needs a little more oxygen, so breathe deeply a couples times.
- There is a big word for what is happening to you when you can’t think the way you want to–dysregulation. Wacky word. You should see how it is spelled, too. Really wacky. The opposite of that word is regulation. Easier to spell. When I say regulation, I just mean remember to breathe.
- Please take a breath so I can understand what you are meaning to say.
- I am so angry that I need to stop talking right now and breathe. I’ll come get you in a second so we can finish, okay?
- I know you don’t want to have to do this, but breathing really helps.
- It is hard to remember to breathe deeply when you are upset. Me, too.
- I feel badgered right now. I don’t want to yell at you. Please stop and take a breath cuz I am stopping and taking a breath. Thank you babe. That really helps me regulate.
- I know you don’t want to badger me, but it feels like it. Can you take a breath and slow down?
- I just yelled at you because I didn’t take time to regulate. I’m sorry. I’m needing to breath more first. Sorry. That is my problem. I am working on it.
- When you rush me as I first come home with your body and words and questions and computer, I get dysregulated. I need some breathing time before I can actually listen. Okay? Can you give me a few minutes please?
- Every day after I set my bags down, put my things away, and change my clothes after work, I will be ready to talk. If you can make yourself wait, we will have a better conversation. Breathing deeply helps me wait sometimes. Maybe you can try it. Deal?
X 10 or 20,000