This trick came to me by way of my friend Shally and it is something that has worked in our house for years! That is the kind of powerful stuff that happens when we share with each other! This trick is something that constantly goes in and out of fluctuation at our house. Just as many things should, right? I think that sometimes we beat ourselves up thinking. "oh yeah I am forgetting to do...xyz." Thinking of that fantastic trick that once helped you parent your kids so well. But the reality of us being able to think through, even if it is accompanied by frustration, what our kids need is the very process that helps us pinpoint what we and they need right in that moment. It is constantly evolving! When tips and tricks circulate it brings back a familiar newness for both us and the kids and this also helps us prevent being stuck in the same old rut. When something is working, behavior improves, thus dispelling the need for the trick. Then time goes on and we find ourselves needing a new trick or method to help us deal. Its a cycle. Thats all. Nothing to beat yourself up about! We just need to have a few tricks in our pocket so we know what to do when life feels frustrating. If you ever feel the self imposed guilt that you are not doing what you know you should be maybe just look at it differently. Think of it as an internal alarm telling you its time to think about what everyone needs and to act on it. Its just time to bring back something out of that pocket, one of the many parenting tricks that you need, like and will continue to cycle through. When I have a plan or at least a default for times that are tough it makes life much smoother. So here's to adding another trick to your pocket!
So the idea behind this trick is to reconnect the right and the left brain. To build new pathways so that kids have a different way of: thinking, responding, acting, problem solving, etc. Right now, my youngest is deciding to just go into meltdown mode the minute I announce that it is time to do homework, put away clothes or anything that he doesn't want to do. Time to stop and rewire his brain so that he can think about it differently!
Here are the steps. Below I will tell you about them individually. If the first step fixes the problem you stop there if not, you continue to go through the steps, only moving on if the behavior is not corrected.
So when something is amiss ask you child to first check. That is all you say. And you don't say it weird or upset or nagging like, you just say the word as natural as you can, "Check." This sort of acts as a warning and reminds them to do a check on their body or behavior and to have a free minute where they can fix it. Give them a minute. If they fix it you are done. If not, you move to the next step.
When you say criss cross, it means to cross at your hands and feet. Think of sitting in criss cross applesauce and then reach your arms out in front of you, wrap one hand over the other and interlace your fingers, then pull them into your chest. If they are sitting in a chair or standing, it still works. Just have them cross their feet. Let them sit like that for a minute or two. Or three. Or four. Sometimes we need the time to chill out too! This activity helps them to turn on the right and the left brain and allows them access to process their thoughts in a different way.
IF criss cross doesn't correct the behavior then you ask them to do 20 jumping jacks. If the child feels threatened, do the jumping jacks with them. Help them to understand it's not a punishment, it helps them turn on their brain so that they can make better decisions. This is especially helpful if it is not your child.
I once had a child in my class at church. We used this trick and I was so grateful I knew about it. We only had to do jumping jacks a few times, because the previous steps worked so well. We would do the jumping jacks in the hall. I would wait to make sure no one was around, so that it wouldn't embarrass him, and I would do them with him. Yes, in heels, I would do them with him. Seriously this was a kid that was usually being taken to his parents Every. Single. Sunday. BUT this trick was exactly what he needed. It allowed me to see him as a totally different kid. Seriously loved him. AND I loved watching this trick be so effective for him.
If the jumping jacks doesn't work then you move on to the next step.
Do a Chore
Working also helps us reset our brain. Working with our hands, breathing, moving our limbs across the midline of our bodies, these are all things that help us to build and connect new pathways in the brain, to create more balance. Plus, knowing that doing a job is the next step is usually plenty of motivation for kids to gather themselves and handle the situation differently. It can turn into more than one job if the first one doesn't work, you be the judge, just don't kill the trick by completely overwhelming them.
So now the that you know the trick, explain it to your kids in a very "normal moment" (whatever that looks like to you!) so that they will be a little familiar with it when suddenly you say the word "check." They catch on quick! They will put it together and soon figure out that the sooner they respond positively the sooner all the hoopla is over.
This truly has been such a great resource for me and my family. Forever grateful for girlfriends who share!