3 purple lies

Oh, the madness.

When I think of signature moves growing up, I definitely held the title of most stairs stomped and doors slammed.  My brother was maybe more of a Gameboy throwing and tantrum giving champ and Kyla, well, if looks or moods could kill......

We all have our own ways of dealing with our emotions and I have been learning over this summer how my little 5 year old is dealing with his.
Now, granted he is only 5 years old, I know he has a lot of growing up to do, but that isn't going to stop me from giving him a helping hand and some tools he can use when he is frustrated/angered/enraged.  When I think of qualities I want him to possess when he's a grown man, I think of characteristics like respectful, confidant, compassionate.  I don't want him to be throwing fits when he's 30 or being unable to deal with conflict or people.  So alas, I consulted with some friends and esteemed mommies to see what they are doing for their bambinos.

The first trick I tried was to model some tools he can use when I give him his quiet time in his room.
A) I showed him how he can bury himself in his stuffed animals and take it out on them: kick, scream, whatever.  He doesn't say the nicest things when he's mad and I showed him how he can talk it out in his room without hurting anyone's feelings.  Teddy Bears are just Teddy Bears and they don't get sad, Mommy does.
B) We went over some breathing exercises.  Sometimes he gets so worked up that I'm pretty sure he doesn't even realize what he's upset about.  So we practised taking 5 deep breathes.  This is the one he seemed to like the best.

So we rehearsed and went over, I acted and pretended (and Lucia freaked out, thinking I was upset) and I tried to give him examples of what these techniques would look and sound like.  One thing I know for sure: my little boy isn't an actor.  He hates role play and would not do anything for "pretend".  But once we got down to the nitty gritty and he was in the midst of a fit, I reminded him what his options were and patiently waited for him to put what he learned to the test.  This is what I've observed:

1- Willis hates time outs in his room.  It is much more productive and effective for me if I let him calm down on the couch.  He will actually, once breathing normally and not snotting anywhere, have a good conversation with me, going over what went wrong and what he could do next time.
2- Despite the fact that we haven't gotten rid of the tantrums, I do know he's having a better understanding of his actions.  A couple times into our exercises, he actually stopped yelling rude things, well in his mind anyway, Mommy I'm not your friend, for example really isn't so bad, because I know I rock :) and he replaced that with just screams.  I think he's getting it.
3- He needs constant reminders and modelling.  We are always talking through something in this house so that it becomes a habit.

The last thing I used was something that we use in the classroom when there are major conflicts.  The "I" statements.  Basically all he is doing is saying "I feel this way when this happens".  So he's identifying his emotion and labelling the problem.  I use these, Willis uses these and hopefully they will become a norm for us.  Not too sure if this has been effective or not....which leads me to a couple of resources suggested by some friends that I'll be looking into next:

1- Suggested by Jordan: "How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk" and "Setting limits with your strong-willed child" 

2- Suggested by Erin:  The Creative Therapy Store website. I used this website all the time for work and has great resources for helping kids. The Emotional Bingo game is a hit bc it has great facial pictures of all the feelings and then depending on their age they can either act them out or finish the sentence, "I felt nervous when..."

Anyway, I'm making progress and that makes this momma smile.  Also what makes me smile?  A perfect day at the lake with Dan's parents and the kids.  Gotta love hot Saskatchewan summers and the beautiful lakes!