Re-Introducing Electronics: Part Three – Calm?

For those new to the saga part one can be found here: No Electronics Here: Why we cut Electronics from our Children’s lives.

Yes, there is a question mark at the end of that title. Calmer certainly, and I have to say all thanks to two blogging buddies.

First, hakea suggested a bit of bio-feedback. I sat with him the first stint of watching and measured his pulse and muscle tension from time to time. My guidance certainly helped, but he was still highly reactive. We waited another week, for the next scheduled session.

hakea also suggested a great relaxation exercise. I’m going to assume that it was for public consumption. It goes like this:

(It’s from the Second Step programme… )

Stand tall.

Take a deep breath and tense your muscles, make them tight all over.

Let your breath out and relax your muscles.

Take another deep breath and tense your muscles.

Now let your breath out and relax your muscles.

Close your eyes and count slowly to 10 with me.

Reach for your toes and hang there.

Pretend that you are an elephant and swing slowly from side to side.

Now reach for the sky, stand up on your toes.

Hold it there.

Now relax.

I got him to practise before he watched the next programme on the dvd. He hated it. It was a huge strain for him to even do the muscle tightening and release at the start, as for closing his eyes and counting with me… (Of course, the faster he wanted to go, the slower I went – relaxing was key.)

After he’d had a few practises, he watched the programme and then did the exercises again. There was no immediate reaction to the screen at all. I thought we’d cracked it first go. But no. After he went out to the garage and listened to commercial radio (the effect is cumulative) he was in reaction mode – about 75% of the usual though. So, we did the relaxation exercise again.

We also used the exercise for any random acts of nastiness (a side-effect of the times when we used cry-it-out and controlled crying with him as a baby) throughout the week. It was great. He didn’t want to do it sometimes, but he is highly attached and generally compliant these days, so he understood the importance of it, and he knew it was helping and in the end he was happily participating.

Meanwhile, new blogging buddy, janekatch, suggested that he help make a plan for reintroduction, with the proviso that it would have to change if there was a problem. ( This is a great idea for children older than nine. I’ve taught children with behaviour difficulties, and I *know* that’s what you do – I’d forgotten,  it was a great and timely reminder.) He was very excited. He decided that he could watch every day. I looked at him. He then said perhaps twice a week. I agreed on the understanding that he had to: break eye-contact with the screen from time to time (hakea :)); that he didn’t show any nasty reactions afterwards; that he did the relaxation exercise when he felt himself tense.

He said he’d push pause sometimes, and he did; he did show some small reactions after the first showing, and he did the exercises twice during and once after the programme.

The conclusion: relief.

The other conclusion: he’s not there yet. However, I think the combination of both of these strategies is going to help a-l-o-t.  He’s back at school this week, in a school which has no electronic (music, video, computer, etc) exposure for students prior to high-school-ish age, so the temptation isn’t there all day every day. He hasn’t asked for his second lot of electronics this week, but that’s not to say he won’t another week.

Conclusion three: I still see no need to have electronics prior to age nine or 10, and even then –  aside from avoiding the horrible neurobiological effects, I would rather he was doing other things.  However, isolating our children from their peers was never our intention, calm and maturity was. It is time, we think, for our nine-year-old Hare to have exposure to electronics in measured doses while he is open to our guidance. The plan to ease responsibility over to him, now he is old enough to somewhat understand and somewhat rationalise the experience, will continue.

Post Script One: he started learning piano this week, the teacher gave him a cd to listen to and play along with…every day.

Post Script Two: we took him back to our marvellous chiropractor as well during this period, after his neck had been manipulated, again, he was generally calmer in himself, again. I was going to write more about the exercises and help we have had from our man John the chiropractor, but this is long enough. That information can now be found here: Reading Problems? Try this

All in all: BIG thanks to hakea and Jane :).

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About Karyn @ kloppenmum

kloppenmum is me, Karyn Van Der Zwet, mother of three and ex-teacher. I'm part of a revolution in parenting, with the aim to raise mature (not sophisticated) and self-assured children. I also know some stuff about adults. I have also had articles printed in The Journal for The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (Children and Young People) and the US parenting magazine, Pathways to Family Wellness, as well I regularly write for World Moms Blog (named as one of the Forbes 100 most useful blogs for women 2012 &2013). You can follow me on facebook (kloppenmum) pinterest (Karyn at Kloppenmum) and twitter (@kloppenmum). I'm also vaguely on LinkedIn (Karyn Van Der Zwet). Thanks to Joe (Mr Hare) for taking the photo. Cheers, son: xxxx.
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11 Responses to Re-Introducing Electronics: Part Three – Calm?

  1. hakea says:

    That’s progress.

    Progress is good. And the Hare is implementing strategies that he feels he can work with.

    Did you encourage him to use slow, deep breathing (down into the belly) with the biofeedback? It’s so important for kids (and adults) to be able to recognise when they are fight or flight mode, and be able to calm their breathing and pulse, in order to control their impulses and avoid making hasty decisions.

    Thumbs up!

    • kloppenmum says:

      Why thank-you.
      Yes, we did the deep belly breathing. We do a lot of it! He kinda understands when he’s in flight/fight, but hasn’t yet got the strategies to stop once he’s underway. I feel if we can get even a very small pause, he will be OK. Thanks for your support. 🙂

      • hakea says:

        Does he respond to words when he’s in this mode, or are signs more effective?

        • kloppenmum says:

          Depends if he’s close-by or far away. Close-by I can use signs effectively. Just a palm facing him in the ‘stop’ sign works well, and then he breathes deeply with me before he speaks – if he’s not too en-pattern. Sometimes it takes a few attempts, but he’s pretty responsive. But often he’s trying to get away (y’know flight!) and then I am present but not chasing (I can’t think of a better way of putting it) – so now that I’ve thought ‘aloud’ I’d say, signs.

  2. hakea says:

    Yeah, sometimes words are too overwhelming. The brain just can’t process.

    Are you thinking of writing a book on your experience? I enjoyed reading Temple Grandin and Donna Williams when I was working with children with autism. Gave me so much insight.

    • kloppenmum says:

      I love Temple Grandin! The whole squeeze machine idea I think would work for so many people, on the spectrum or not on the spectrum, but that’s another whole thesis. I considered writing a book on our experiences, but want to wait until he’s old enough to give permission. He’s happy enough with snap-shots up here, but it’s pretty personal to him and I suspect he’s going to be a fairly private sort of a person. I do want to get all the research and hints into small booklets for parents though. Gotta feed the kids somehow!

  3. kari says:

    I am cutting out television from my kids lives (ages 6 and 8). What is your thought on ebooks and internet research. My 8 year old loves to research presidents, states and other fun things and both my children love the internet learning sites. What are your thoughts on cutting tv and non educational computer stuff vs. not allowing electrical devices at all.

    • Hi Kari,
      Great questions! We felt we had to cut everything for our boys for a few years in order to detox and then ease back into things – still now (almost seven years on) the days when we have no tele we tend to have nothing else either and life is so much calmer than days when we’ve had some. With regards to ebooks and internet I would perhaps try and see if you can find the same information in hard-copy at libraries etc. The ease of access could be an issue – it’s so quick and easy to find the information electronically – although that can be a lesson in delayed gratification. I don’t think much of anything ‘educational’ which is taught electronically – the learning is so much more shallow than hands-on learning. Lovely to hear from you, and I’m interested in hearing what your decisions/outcomes were

    • Hi Kari,
      Great questions! We felt we had to cut everything for our boys for a few years in order to detox and then ease back into things – still now (almost seven years on) the days when we have no tele we tend to have nothing else either and life is so much calmer than days when we’ve had some. With regards to ebooks and internet I would perhaps try and see if you can find the same information in hard-copy at libraries etc. The ease of access could be an issue – it’s so quick and easy to find the information electronically – although that can be a lesson in delayed gratification. I don’t think much of anything ‘educational’ which is taught electronically – the learning is so much more shallow than hands-on learning. Lovely to hear from you, and I’m interested in hearing what your decisions/outcomes were

      • Narelle Smith says:

        I put a stop to television about July last year in response to some behaviour mainly from my 10 year old. Their TV viewing had not been a problem prior to this. After three months of whining, begging, pleading to have the telly back and me not giving in, my boys started to enjoy not being bound to the telly. They were allowed to continue to have their 40 minutes computer time twice per week to play games, provided they were on track with homework and behaviour.

        Now, nine months later, and a new school year, the amount of homework they have is incredible. We just couldn’t manage to complete it if we had to go to the library. They are also required to go on a Mathletics programme almost every day. To my surprise the boys are coping brilliantly. They are motivated to complete their homework because it is computer based, they are very responsible with it, they are learning really well, and it is not affecting their behaviour.

        I am not changing the minimal telly rule though. Documentaries are OK occasionally.

        I have found my boys, all three of them, have a “Star Wars” switch in their brains. If they do anything associated with Star Wars – books, video, Lego, play – they go berserk.

        • I think that the pressure to complete homework for children younger than high-school age is a huge issue on its own – but another story – I can understand why internet useage for this is so much more practical for many parents.
          We have taken the…as long as it doesn’t affect your behaviour…approach with our 10 year old too (computer, tele & the whole she-bang), and didn’t think it was getting to him too much – until we removed it for two days. He’s settled to sleep so much better those two nights and he is more settled in himself than he was, so I’m now in a quandry as to whether to reinstate it again. As for Star Wars – let’s just say, it’s not my favourite either! Always good to hear from you, Narelle.

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