Last week I wrote about a calming down technique for highly sensitive sons, and it occurred to me that, quite often, it is I who need a calming down technique far more than any of my children do! Fortunately, I have a technique for all mothers, regardless of the gender of your child, although I have found that I need to call on it far more often with my beloved boys!
Return with me, if you will, to the days of fire safety week in elementary school. If your experience was in any way typical, your local volunteer fire fighter came out to the school to talk about what to do if you ever found yourself on fire. I am quite sure that those words still come easily to mind: stop, drop, and roll! It is because this mnemonic is already engraved on your brain that it makes a perfect technique for coping with unruly boys! You simply have to re-associate each of those words.
STOP: whatever youíre doing at the moment is obviously not working, or you would not be looking for a coping mechanism, so stop doing it! Try to bring some immediate relief to the chaos/crying/hitting (presumably sibling on sibling!), or whatever is occurring at the moment.
DROP: lower your voice. Research has demonstrated that children listen more when you speak more quietly. It is paradoxical but true: children tune out a yelling parent. When you drop your voice, though, they strain to hear what you are saying. Dropping your voice also has the immediate effect of calming the situation. Children mirror your tone and attitude. If you are ramped up and stressed, they will give that right back to you, a hundred-fold.
ROLL: roll with the punches. Unless the situation that has you bent out of shape is one involving potential bodily harm, see if there is a way to let it work itself out. So often, we as parents get very upset about things that just donít matter all that much. So your son colored on the entryway tile. Yes, that is not a good thing, and yes, you donít want him to do it again. But the miracle that is the Magic Eraser will take care of the crayon, and your son will be far more likely to absorb the lesson of why we only color in certain places if it is not delivered in the tone of a madwoman (I speak from personal experience here!). Rolling with the punches is the number one way to survive sons, Iím convinced of it!
By repurposing stop, drop, and roll, you instantly add a coping mechanism to your arsenal. You give yourself three immediately effective means of gaining control of a situation which might otherwise get the better of you. It might sound kind of facile, but give it a try! Your brain already has its pathways wired for these words: put them to use on a daily basis, and mentally thank the fireman who taught them to you!