Farewell, Spring Break! OR, Helping Kids Build Emotional Tool Boxes

So, spring break is over.  …The first two days, really, I thought I was going to be relieved when it was over.  I had never heard the words “I’m bored” repeated so much in my life.

Now, I can’t believe it’s over, and I’m… honestly sad about it.  In comparison to having him home for the past week (which has flown by!) sending him back to school is depressing.

My favorite part of this week has been the mornings.  On the days The Husband had school, The Wizard climbed into bed with me and The Squid, and we watched movies, (though The Squid woke up part way through the movie each time, and I don’t think we saw the end of any of those movies, because each time we ended up we end up giggling and playing and distracted by super-cute baby attacks.

It made me dream of maybe a future where we could homeschool.  With our current custody situation, it’d be impossible, but still, it’s a fantasy.  In six years, The Squid will be six, the age when we’re going to have to start making the public school/homeschool/unschool decisions, and arguments.  (As The Husband apparently is of the opinion that homeschooling makes kids poorly socialized weirdos with no self control… which is awesome, since I was homeschooled.)   And The Wizard will be 12, the age when he gets to make his own decisions as far as custody goes.  so, we’ll see.

Our last day of spring break was awesome.  We packed a picnic lunch, and hiked down to the railroad tracks in the back woods.  While The Wizard ate his sandwich and The Squid attempted to eat rocks, I read from Prince Caspian (one of my best friends gave us the boxed set for The Chronicles of Narnia, and we’ve been working our way through them.  we’re now on to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.), and we watched for faeries.  When we got home The Husband joined us and we took The Wizards recently de-training wheeled bike out and he practiced until he started getting frustrated.  Then he went and played with The Princess for a while, and then, towards the evening, and the rapidly encroaching return to school, he began emotionally disolving.

We wrote up a list of “How To Feel Better”.

“1. Breathe Deeply.

2. Squeeze – Relax.

3. Think Happy.

4. Blow Bad Away.

5. Stretch.”

We stickered it and hung it on his wall, and he’s apparently been referring to it, because we haven’t had any major emotional crises this past week.  …which is amazing.  Maybe I should make one for myself.

Being there for our kids and supporting them emotionally is one of our most important jobs as parents.  However, if we are the EXTENT of their emotional support, we’re taking away their ability to learn how to handle their own emotions.  Not to mention, being another persons Emotional Coach becomes exhausting after a while.  Our real responsibility as parents is to teach our children how to function individually on their own.  By teaching our children what to do when they’re upset, we give them tools they’ll be able to use for the rest of their lives.

I’m looking for a toy tool box so The Wizard and I can work on building him a literal Emotional Tool Box.  the Emotional Tool Box is a technique that I learned when I partook in a DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) group when my anxiety was getting seriously out of control a few years ago.  It’s a method of getting us in touch with what is called ‘One Mindfulness’ in DBT.  Getting us in touch with our senses, and back into our bodies, and focusing on something else, helps us get away from our emotional distress, and helps us accept the distressing event.  It uses the senses to reconnect us with the physical, and tool boxes often contain things that stimulate our senses in a calming way.  (For a kid: calming music, a picture book, lavender spray, play dough, and maybe something somewhat sweet to eat or drink, though that part you might want to keep in the kitchen as opposed to your kids room.  Sugar ants are the devil.)

Like the old addage, “Give a kid a fish or teach a kid to fish”, giving our kids the tools to deal with their own emotions is something that no one can ever take away from them.

-Domestic Anarchist

5 comments on “Farewell, Spring Break! OR, Helping Kids Build Emotional Tool Boxes

  1. Penny Wilson says:

    I have found that homeschoolers tend to be more social than other kids. The Others are concerned about being cool or fitting in. Whereas a homeschooler usually fits in within their family. I think that the others make kids feel insecure and worthless. Bel recently went on a trip with my sister and her cousin My 9 yr old niece was just concerned with being cool and Bel was concerned about what to play next. Kids need to play but the daycare generation doesn’t know how. They all have to be scheduled. I think kids need some structure by they also need to some freedom and homeschooling allows it. Dave was a skeptic at first and now there is no way he would put her in public school. Plus the available curriculum now is outstanding. Much better than at public school.

    • domesticanarchist says:

      I agree whole-heartedly. I try to make sure The Wizard spends most of his time after he gets out of school in free play, and while he isn’t too worried right now about being cool or fitting in, I think that’s due to all of our support at home, telling him that he can think what he wants, like what he wants, and play what he wants, and games need to be collaborations, not ordered by the school hierarchy of “coolness”. I wish I could homeschool him, I think he’d do really well at it. it’s just not an option with his dad. I’ve got 6 years to work on convincing The Husband when it comes to our Squidliness though, and I’m going to at least insist on a trial period.

      • Penny Wilson says:

        We started Bella at 5. A year earlier than what would have boon her school age. I figured if I screwed up public school would fix her. Well now she is in 4th grade and only 8. She is a 1/4 way through 5th grade math.

      • domesticanarchist says:

        yeah, I love the idea of kids being able to learn at their own pace, take the time on the things they need to and blow through the things they’re kickin ass in. Israel is so bored doing school math. I’m glad Bella is thriving so well at homeschooling! what curriculum are you using?

      • Penny Wilson says:

        For math we use teaching textbooks and for the rest a lot of from the hip. I use a lot of Evan-Moor products and daily grams. Plus there is a lot of free stuff on the web. I am also making her read the classic…..Alice in Wonderland, Little Women etc. I will go through some of my old books and see if any could be usable for you.

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