On a particularly stressful Friday afternoon in mid-March spent prepping for some quality social distancing time at home with my husband and our three-year-old daughter, I made the bold decision to take a break by going to the bathroom - by myself.
Yes, alone. This is not something I do very often, and my daughter was not very happy about it.
About twenty seconds in, my sweet girl threw it down on the other side of our bathroom door, crying, kicking and screaming. I sat on the toilet, soaking in my “me time” (pathetic, I know) and feeling guilty all at the same time. And then, as I washed my hands, the crying stopped.
I opened the door and the hallway was empty. Frankly, the quietness had me worried. I moved quickly down the hall, past her empty bedroom, and into our living room, where I found my daughter lying on the carpet in our Calming Corner. Shocked, I got out my phone to show my husband.
Our little girl was using our Calming Corner all on her own - something that, until that moment, we'd only done together. With my jaw on the floor, I asked her a few questions, and this is what she said:
Six months ago, my sweet, smart and sassy kiddo had been struggling. She was almost three, and it happens, I know, I'm a teacher, but my first and only child was seriously off the charts. Tantrums at the store, playground, other people’s houses, and our own. This was different from the I-didn’t-get-my-way tantrums or tantrums that stemmed from being overtired. It was all the time.
They were becoming so frequent that, as I neared my breaking point, I’d actually started counting them. Our daughter had reached 33 meltdowns in one day... and I did not know how to handle it anymore. I knew the constant battles were a cry for help, but I didn't know how to help her, and that felt terrible. This is when I found Generation Mindful's Time-In-Toolkit.
Waiting out the four days it took for our ToolKit to arrive was tough, but driving home to find that big blue package tipped against my garage door? It felt like Christmas morning.
Following the mini-manual that came in the box, we began creating our Calming Corner, and in just about 24 hours, we‘d created our new safe space for learning about and for feeling our big feelings, together.
We visited our Calming Corner, as the manual instructed us to, daily. And not when we were mid-meltdown, but when we were feeling calm. We talked about the emotions in the games and we practiced the calming strategies. It was fun. These were games to her, and to me, they were little rays of hope.
We were building our connection, I could feel it. My daughter was transforming, and so was I. Within days, she was having an easier time recognizing her feelings, and by the end of the first week, we were down to 3 meltdowns a day.
And then, after two months using the tools, the above video happened — my daughter was actually going to our calming space all on her own and using the tools.
I could not be more grateful to have found Generation Mindful. My daughter is learning some of the most important skills of her life, and, now four weeks into GENM’s online class, I’m feeling so much more capable as a momma.
The Time-In ToolKit has truly transformed our family. I only wish I'd found it sooner.
By Traci Esposito, early childhood educator and Generation Mindful mom.
Generation Mindful creates educational tools, toys, and programs that nurture emotional intelligence through play and positive discipline. Join us and receive joy in your inbox each week.
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