Self Regulation

Regulating yourselves at home:

With all this handwashing, everyone has learnt to take longer but remember you can also do this in a very mindful way and take the opportunity to give yourself a hand massage, giving deep pressure to the tight areas for extra nurture followed up sometimes with some hand cream too.

Connect with your resources, make a list of 5-10 things that you know help you to regulate and are accessible at this current time.

Commit to doing one of these things every day whether it is connecting with a loved one over Skype, putting on some music that you enjoy and makes you feel good or something else.

Food as a regulator:

this applies to everyone, if you have worked with an occupational therapist, you may be aware that food can be a regulator of our own arousal states and mood.

Crunch is for agitation

Think crunchy snacks like apple, carrot or corn chips.

Chew is good for anger

Think toast, meat, dried fruit.

Sweet/salt is for comfort

Citrus/mint for alerting and helping with focus

Orange slices, peppermints, chewing gum can be good when required to focus too.

Reference: Bhreathnach, E.

Self Care for Young People

Nature Trails

Bugs, bark rubbing and bird nests: turn your daily walk into a nature home school

Preparing children for returning to school

Many children have been at home full-time and others are (or will soon be) attending on a vastly reduced and different timetable.

Louise Bomber has had some excellent ideas in her recent webinars. She was happy for me to share these with you:

  1. Keeping connection with school: Exercise near school once a week, so your child sees school. This helps them to remember it is still there and it hasn’t disappeared. Initiate conversation about it. Share and create memories together. Ask if the school can facilitate virtual meet ups so children can check in with staff and your child then doesn’t feel forgotten. (I know some schools have been able to do this already). See if there are ways for schools are prepared to facilitate other ways of keeping in touch on a more regular basis over the coming weeks and months, even if it is via post.
  2. Start to prepare Transitional objects together -for many adopters, this will stimulate memories of things you might have done in the early days for your child, still important and in place for many children as they get older but for some it will be about returning to these.

Louise mentioned considering creating new transitional objects which also represent something of the time you have spent together at home over the quarantine period.

I liked the idea of decorating water bottles, the idea being that parent and child both have the same drink bottle. (It may or may not be permissable to take in a waterbottle from home according to school policy). Another suggestion was to make family friendship bracelets so when it comes to returning to school, your child and you (and others in the family) can both one. Of course, you may wish to do some new photos which can be made into matching keyrings etc. I’m sure you will have your own ideas too.

Louise has some further webinars coming up soon, next week is for parents/caregivers about Embracing Sadness at this time and then she is repeating her series of 3 for schools which I would highly recommend for schools to tune into. Tickets are a reasonable £10.

Stories for your child

Everybody worries: a picture book for children who are worried about Coronavirus

The Invisible String: this is a read aloud version on youtube but you can of course order a physical copy if you wish.

This is a book I have often used with families in the clinic, it gives a wonderful metaphor that our hearts are connected by ‘invisible strings’ to the hearts of people we love, even when we can’t be together or see each other. This is a great analogy for supporting children who feel anxious about being apart from parents and loved ones. I have used this a lot in relation to children struggling to separate while at school.

One way to help to embody the experience (and also support children who are more concrete in their thinking) is to then act it out with a long piece of string from your heart to theirs, practice giving little tugs on the string to each other (tugging back after an initial pull). Then try it without the string. Explain that this is what is like when we’re not together. You can tell your child that you will be thinking about them (helping them to feel held in mind) and you will pull on their string when they’re not with you and they’ll think of you and vice versa.

Another simple idea is to get a big piece of paper and draw with your child those in your family, you can then draw hearts on everyone and then get your child to connect all the hearts. This can be modified and adapted so even a young child or one with reduced fine motor/drawing skills can still participate in joining the hearts.