You know what I mean. We’ve all seen that poor frazzled mom in the grocery store, right? Talking through her teeth, trying to reason with a crying child, while both voices escalate and frustration bubbles over. Then, what follows is the inevitable look of defeat on one of their faces, depending on who won the battle in the checkout line over the candy bar. You glance her way with a sympathetic nod to show your solidarity, quietly letting out a small sigh of relief that you are not “that mom” today.
I must admit.
I’ve been that mom.
I’m not gonna lie!
More times than I’d care to confess. I am an ADHDer, and a mom to an ADHDer, sensory seeker, and neuro-divergent thinker. So, my experience with self-regulating and helping Jude calm his emotions, is always a work in progress.
I’ve been a teacher for over two decades. Big emotions have always been difficult for children to process, and often result in unwanted or unacceptable behaviors. However, new buzzwords, tools, and techniques hit the educational scene Post Covid like a swing from the pros. Social and emotional learning, self-regulation, mindfulness, fidgets, brain breaks, sensory halls and walls, calming corners, and coping strategies. The list goes on and on.
But why? Simply put, a strong focus is now finally being placed on our children’s mental health, so they can:
recognize when feelings are building up
express their feelings appropriately
release extra energy in a safe way
use a toolbox of strategies to calm their emotions
transition to another activity smoothly
Let me tell you something, there is nothing formal about our family, and years ago our “sitting room” quickly became a playroom resembling an occupational therapist’s dream as we learned of our son’s need to move… a lot! And, my husband is, fortunately, McGyver and made that swing set when Jude went through his American Ninja Warrior stage!
And, I firmly believe that if we are successful in teaching our children these important skills, we’ll begin seeing little humans that know how to control their emotions better than adults who throw temper tantrums in the board rooms of companies and fling gestures at drivers who cut them off in traffic.
Through the years, my area of specialty and passion became reading intervention because of our son’s own struggle to read because of undiagnosed visual dysfunction, which is a story for another day. Teaching a child to read is a fantastic experience, most of the time. Unless they’re throwing themselves on the floor, screaming in your face, or launching their Chromebook across the room. No, I am not joking!
I taught basic skills reading for years, and I knew when these students walked into my room, they were spent!
“How could I possibly teach students to read if they couldn’t hold it together long enough to look at the page?” I would wonder to myself.
So, with the help of some grants, I jumped on the kinesthetic classroom bandwagon, which provides opportunities for movement and stimulation while learning, to try and help my friends regulate these emotions they were feeling.
And what do you know? It worked! Gone were the days of desks in rows and feet firmly on the floor. The time had come for bean bag chairs, yoga balls, exerbikes, and fidgets. Conquering emotions was the first step in learning to read.
I continued to think out-of-the-box and advocate for my son and students every way I could, always knowing that at the heart of it all, a struggling learner needed a safe place to be vulnerable when they are tackling that mountain, ways to cope if they can’t make the climb, and a comfortable place for them to land if they fall.
It all kinda came together. I had been unknowingly compiling a toolbox of strategies for years to help children of all ages self-regulate their bodies and emotions so that they could be in a positive mindset to learn.
Therefore, when an unexpected medical condition placed me on leave from the classroom,
My attention shifted to my passions; advocacy and writing.
And, after much research, I signed up for the NSEAI’s Educational Advocacy Program which leads to board certification. I am now a BCEA Board Certified Education Advocate and it was a great decision!
I was grasping the content and gaining self-confidence. It’s that confidence that gave me the courage to try my hand at a bucket list item… creating a children’s book.
And, while I admired Roald Dahl, C.S. Lewis, and Judy Blume, whom I met at her Key West book store, I knew my first book would not be a chapter book, nor a Newberry Medal Winner for that matter.
But, I knew exactly what it would be, a simple and relaxing coloring book! Ideal for elementary students, it would teach them effective and fun coping strategies that they could use anytime to self-regulate themselves.
Each coloring page has a simple technique listed and a large design to color. Different coping strategies are presented that build self-awareness through communication, emotional, physical, and sensory-based techniques either indoors or out.
It lends itself perfectly to parents, teachers, and clinicians reminding them to choose a calming me coping strategy when needed. These skills are crucial for positive social and emotional development because it teaches them to:
rely on themselves to find a healthy way to cope
I’m writing a blog for the NSEAI and was asked to be on their advisory board committee upon earning my board certification. There have been two book signings with awesome follow through and further promotion.
While I’m not sure that our children are more emotionally dys-regulated after experiencing the Covid 19 Pandemic, I think the good news is that school districts have started shining a light on children’s mental health concerns Post-Covid. Providing lessons, strategies, and tricks to guide them on how to calm their minds and their bodies are steps in the right direction.
Teaching them that they can manage their emotions will allow them to be less stressed and more academically ready to learn. It will improve socialization skills and create happier children! And in the end, that's all this frazzled ADHD momma wants. And that’s why I did my little part by making the Calming Me Coping Strategies coloring book….
And, if I am being totally honest, I also wanted to put an end to all those stressful grocery store situations in the checkout line!
In all seriousness though, remember, if we equip our children with the tools they need to succeed based on their individual needs, they will hold the world in the palm of their hand, and that is exactly what NSEAI’s Advocacy Program is teaching me! Thank you Marie and MJ. For this I will be ever grateful!!
Big emotions are difficult for children to process and may result in unwanted or unacceptable behaviors. Therefore, it is important to teach them how to recognize and express these feelings in a healthy way, calm their body's responses, and transition to another activity well. This simple and relaxing coloring book ideal for ages 5-11, designed by a teacher and mom of an ADHDer, will give children effective and fun coping strategies that they can use anytime to self-regulate themselves.
Each coloring page has a simple technique listed and a large design to color. It presents different coping strategies that build self-awareness through communication, emotional, physical and sensory-based techniques either indoors or out, and lends itself to parents and teachers reminding them to choose a calming me coping strategy when needed. This is crucial for positive social and emotional development.
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