Friday, 22 April 2016

Take A Breath - Raffi, Stress and Self-Regulation

A couple of weeks ago one of our babysitters, and friend AW, sent me a link to a new Raffi song, Take A Breath, that she thought might be helpful for Jack when he gets stressed out, frustrated and acts out because he has trouble finding his words.  I listened to the song, long after the children had gone to bed, let Chris take a listen and didn't give it much further thought. Save for Christmas time, and a few select other songs we don't play a lot of kid music in our house, even though our kids (specifically Jack) are big fans of music.  From my adult perspective the Raffi song seemed a little boring and slow to me, so I put it on a shelf.

Image courtesy of The MEHRIT Centre
Fast forward to Wednesday night.  I had a kid pick-up sent directly from the bowels of hell.  Since it's been nice outside the kids have been playing outside after school and I'm able to grab them all rosy cheeked from a big yard where they run around and have a blast.  When I arrived, Jack was determined to get to me first, but Molly was closer.  When Molly jumped into my arms, her brother crumpled into the ground and began screaming and crying hysterically.  I sent Molly off to find both of their backpacks and I picked up Jackie Bear to try and calm him down.  By the time I had stopped him from crying, and explained to him that Molly had gotten to me faster because she was closer to me when I arrived, Molly arrived with the backpacks.  No longer crying he asked me if he could talk to Molly.  I lowered him to Molly and he proceeded to pinch her arm as hard as he could and yelled, "NEXT TIME I'M FIRST!" at the top of his lungs.

I then had two hysterical children.  I set him down, scolded him for hurting his sister and scooped Molly up as we walked to the car. Suddenly Jack ran ahead, got to the car and started punching and pounding on the door both furiously and desperately as he wailed at the top of his lungs.  Silently and as calmly as I could, face red with anger and embarrassment, I got both of the kids into the car.  I told Jack I would talk to him about this when we got home, and refused to engage or provide negative attention for the entire trip to pick up dad from the subway and all the way home.  It was a challenging trip for both of us, I assure you.

When we got home I put Jack in the time out chair, where he sat calmly and quietly.  When time out was over we talked about his frustration and about other ways he can cope when he's upset and feels out of control.  He started crying and told me that when he's naughty it makes him miserable.  We cuddled, I calmed him down, and then I played Raffi's Take A Breath for him.  About half way through the song he asked if the song was about him.  I told him yes, that it was for him and about him.  He listened to the rest of it and happily followed Raffi's instructions.  We moved on from the pick-up debacle and went on with the rest of our evening without incident.  On Thursday at pick-up when Jack got frustrated at me because I opened the car door instead of letting him do it, I asked him if he could try to calm down.  Slowly and deliberately he took a deep breath, just like Raffi's instructions.  Later that afternoon he asked if he could listen to the song again, and we did.

Apparently a 42 year career in children's music has served Raffi and Jack well.  I'm sorry for ever doubting your Raffi.  Thanks for the find AW, it has helped immensely!

To check out the song yourself click here, and give it a listen...The impact on Jack was immediate and amazing.

To read 6 Tips to help you and your child deal with anger, rage & tantrums click here.

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