One tool the training reminded me of was the use of Positive Time Out. This is a sacred and special place that our students can choose to go to when they are starting to "flip the lid" or become so emotionally unregulated, angry or sad that they are unable to access their executive functioning skills needed for learning. Once they are calmed down they can rejoin the group. This place is not a punishment, but rather a place to feel better. As we know, kids (and adults too!) DO BETTER WHEN THEY FEEL BETTER. Some classrooms have called this place "Hawaii" or "Space" to really embrace the idea that it is a good place to go!
I have always thought of this tool as being most effective when the students can help create it for themselves. This can be so powerful at home too! It did not think I would be able to use it until around the age of 4, but this past weekend I mentioned it in passing to my 3 year old. She was "having her feelings" (aka tantrum) and I said that maybe sometime we could make a special place in her room where she could go to feel better all by herself. I could not believe it when, two days later, Josephine was having a rough morning (the details are hazy but has something to do with her asking for a "slow morning" and me being late for work and 40 weeks pregnant and exhausted and snappy and she wanting to wear her Husky cheerleading outfit without tights and no pants or coat etc etc etc.) Through her tears, Josephine said "I want to go to my sad place!!!" "What??" I had no idea what she was talking about. She said "my chair! (her little reading chair in her room) where I can feel better!" I could not believe she had remembered my brief comment! "What a great idea!" I responded. "Do you want your buddy and blanket and favorite book too? And should we call it a feel better place? ("sad place" felt so, well, sad!)" She immediately brightened up, and we gathered her cozy lovies, favorite book of nursery rhymes, and she settled into her chair. "Let me know when you feel better" I said, thinking now I am REALLY going to be late but I have to see if this works! Sure enough, two minutes later she comes out with a big smile and ready to cooperate. We both felt better. Try it for yourself!!!!
POSITIVE TIME OUT
"People do better when they feel better. Positive time-out helps us cool off and feel better."
1) Create a time-out space with your chidlren. Let them decide what it would look like and what is in it.
2) Let them give it a special name.
3) When they are upset ask, "Would it help to go to your_______ place?"
4) Model using positive time-out by going to your own special place when you are upset.
*I am offically on maternity leave starting March 2nd, but look forward to returning to Queen Anne in September and continuing parent education classes through the summer!
All the best,