This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how challenging discipline situations can be met with play. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Daniel has difficulty with sensory processing. We've been working through this since he was about five months old (he was the youngest child our Occupational Therapist had ever seen with these kinds of sensory symptoms). I take him to OT and Jaymz and I do many things at home to help him regulate his nervous system. A lot of those therapeutic activities are part of our daily playtime routines, including ball time and various other fun things.
Still, Daniel has trouble calming and regulating himself. He tends to spend a lot of the day vocalizing his frustrations with life through screaming, crying, yelling, screeching...whatever you'd like to call it, it certainly is LOUD. After hours of this every day, I get to feeling mighty cranky and impatient myself. Some of my least proud parenting moments have been as a result of the constant sound (perhaps due to my own sensory sensitivities). Sometimes I can tune out his sounds, but other times, I just can't. And there are times when it's helpful to have a tactic to help him quiet down so that we all can cope better, enjoy a meal together, or just try and avoid hearing damage!
Enter: The Monster Voice!
This is a sound Daniel started making one day that Jaymz and I thought was hilarious (and adorable). He's continued to do it for several months now, and we coined it "the monster voice" since it sounds (to us) like how someone might change her voice while pretending to be a monster.
When Daniel is vocalizing his emotions and it starts to wear on me, I start doing the monster voice to Daniel. He, in turn, does it back to me (usually), and it turns a once difficult and stressful situation into a playful exchange between us.
I've even noticed that sometimes when Daniel is upset, he switches back and forth between yelling and doing the monster voice. It's as if this has morphed from a tactic to turn down the volume in the room for a moment into an effective coping mechanism for him: He's still able to voice his frustrations, while keeping the sound level a tad lower, and the energy in the room a little bit calmer.
I'm extremely grateful that we've stumbled upon this playful strategy for the loud times. It's such a simple solution that can make a huge difference in a tough moment! I know I'll continue to try introducing silliness with Daniel when things get rough.
Visit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon September 13 with all the carnival links.)