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… )
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.
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 :).