The first step though is for me to try and help her fathom out why she is reacting in this way. Anger is a by-product of other emotions but the big question is what is making Katie feel so angry? Is it Pip's arrival? Is it frustration at not always being allowed to do the things she wants to do? Is she simply tired? She asks lots of questions about her birth family, is that bringing up all sorts of emotions that she doesn't know how to deal with? Is she worried about starting Year 1 and the change of classroom and also the children in that class? Is she reacting to my stress levels?
Is it all of the above?
Another change in recent months is the rise in her anxiety levels. She seems worried about all sorts of things that she wasn't worried about before. She is worried about eating too much and being sick (food has always been a major problem with Katie); she worries about doing new things for the first time and will seek lots of reassurance from Daddy and I as to whether we've done it before and how it was for us. She seems to be worried about everything. Why? Where has this all come from? Is this a developmental phase and she is becoming aware that the world isn't the safe place it has always been for her?
I felt that something practical was needed at home to help Katie calm down a little bit. I also want to move about from negative consequence parenting such as "time-out", although this is quite tough in the heat of the moment. I've realised how alike Katie and I are. Neither of us like being told what to do so using "time-out" seems to fuel a situation rather than diffuse it.
I found some inspiration from a blog that I've recently discovered called Left-Brain Buddha. I am trying very hard to live my life more mindfully and I like the idea of parenting mindfully and also helping my children be more mindful. This is a bit of a challenge for me because I'm highly analytical and spend far too much time thinking about things that have happened rather than just being aware of the moment that I am currently living. One of the things I love about Reiki healing is that I stay in the moment when I'm healing. I remain very focused on what I am doing and what I am experiencing. It's one of the reasons I also love doing yoga.
Anyway, I digress. Whilst reading Left-BrainBuddha I discovered a post called "Mind in a Jar" Mindfulness Practice for Our Little Buddhas and it was all about creating a mind jar using a jam jar, water and glitter. The jar represents our brains and the glitter and water all our thoughts and emotions. When you are feeling angry or stressed you can shake the jar, breathe deeply and slowly and watch the glitter swirl about and slowly settle to the top and bottom of the jar, just as our feelings also settle back down. You can also use the jar to sit quietly when you want a few minutes peace and quiet. The jar can be decorated with paint or stickers and is a great (and easy) arts and crafts exercise. Once complete the jar needs to be put somewhere easy to reach and be available at all times so your child can access it whenever they want to.
I showed Katie the post and we decided that we wanted to make our own Mind Jars so we bought lots of glitter from Asda and found some old jars. We filled our jars with glitter and water and decorated the outside of the jar with lots of stickers. Note: you don't actually need much glitter. We got carried away and used far too much and ended up having to make three jars!
Here is what we made:
Katie loves her jar (and I rather do mine as well). She has used her several times already. We have put them on the book case so we can access them whenever we need some calm time. It will take a bit of time to get into the new practice and I'd like to think of a way we can use this technique on the move (I'm not taking a glass jar out in the car but we could probably replicate it with a plastic bottle). We took Katie's into school to show her new teacher, who was also very taken with the idea and is now thinking about making a class one, which I think is a marvelous idea. I have warned her though that she might get told off by the Head Teacher if she herself is shaking it all day long! So a big thank you to Sarah Rudel Beach at Left Brain Buddha for sharing this idea on her blog.
I'm off to buy some more glitter because I'm feeling inspired to make single coloured Mind Jars.