The calm-down chair

We’ve recently moved from using the cane to another item less likely to induce an anxiety attack – a comfy kiddy chair.

We felt the caning was getting us nowhere although it was effective in deterring tantrums – occasionally. More often though, it was making us feel angry, abusive, and overall horrible on the inside. While we do the debrief (why we caned you/what you did wrong) part, the hug and make up part, and praying and asking for forgiveness part, it still didn’t seem to be getting us nearer to sanity (or me to mama-haven). JJ was still having trouble managing the big boy emotions wreaking havoc in his little toddler mind.

Then one day the big idea sat on me. Like a chicken on an egg. And then it hatched. (I mean the grand plan, not the egg.) So the little guy has trouble managing his emotions. He gets upset over little crazy unexpected things that happen (mostly normal daily things like trying to get up his high chair and his precious smelly bolster and blankie drops) and he goes bazookas.

In essence his little perfect world caves in on him and we desperately try to get him back from crazy to normal by…? Waving the cane at him and hitting his bottom?

Thinking back, I think we were more crazy (than him) to do that.

He needs help to manage his emotions. Yes, it’s common knowledge – human emotions do go haywire at times. Sometimes I get mad and upset at the hubby too – and thankfully he doesn’t try to spank my behind.

So… enter this cute little orange kiddy chair that we bought some years ago. It’s been drawn on, and drooled upon, but no matter, it’s still usable and comfy.

We now call it the calm down chair. We get JJ to sit on it when he’s out of control and stay by him until he calms down. That means no raging, no yelling and no loud crying – leftover sobs are fine though since those take a bit of time to stop completely.

Every time he calms down quickly (well anything less than 5 minutes is quick enough), we acknowledge and affirm him, reinforce the fact that he is capable of calming down and regaining control over his emotions and anger.

We try not to focus on the chair as some kind of magical tool (although deep down I secretly think it is), and focus on him being able to grow his ability to regulate himself – this thing called emotional management.

It’s been some two to three months now of using the calm-down chair, and as much as it’s served us well, I find he has less need for it these days. I also acknowledge (and fervently give thanks) that we are starting to see the light at the end of the temper tunnel as JJ approaches his three-year-old milestone. Sure he still gets upset sometimes. But he’s demonstrating to us more and more than he can pull himself back, provided we stay calm and stay close to him.

Ahh, my little JJ…You’ve come a long way.

Do you have a raging toddler in your house too? What’s your favourite tantrum deterrent or calming down tool for your child?

a quote about tantrums

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