Bedtime. A relaxed routine of snuggles, powering down and storytelling. Ha! Only Joking! This was bedtime a couple of weeks ago in the Boorman household:
Me: Chimp it’s time to read the book you picked out.
Chimp: <bounce, bounce, crash…talk about superheroes>
Me: C’mon chimp. Come sit by me so we can read the book and settle for bed.
Chimp: Ok. Can I sit on your lap?
Me: Yeah….ahhhh! <Clunk-Stars-ringing in my head> OUCH!!!
Before I could finish my answer, chimp had taken off at full pelt to jump into my lap. Seeing him at the very last moment, I turned my head away, only to leave my temple vulnerable to the incoming velocity of chimp’s hard noggin. After the initial impact, the other side of my head ricocheted off the wall. Blammo, concussion!
Chimp’s head has collided with my head so frequently that I’ve often joked about getting a concussion from him. So when Jon came home from work later that night, he didn’t take me seriously. A few hours of nausea, wobbliness and fuzzy word finding later, we were headed for the doctors.
I have known that my youngest’s psychomotor intensity can be exhausting to parent. The non-stop chatter and bouncing and moving and singing and fidgeting, and spinning and dancing and running frequently leaves me over stimulated and needing a break. But, I’ve never really thought about his intensity being hazardous to my health. Turns out, though, I’m not the only parental casualty to the psychomotorly intense.
I posted “you know you have a child with psychomotor intensity when….” on the Fringy Bit Facebook page. The answers included “you end up with a cracked tooth because he stood up……you have a black eye because he gave you a hug” and “they come crashing in for hugs and cuddles, can’t stay still while ‘cuddling’ and writhe around before finally sliding off and barreling around to crash into something else. Our only half joking quote in this house is “cuddling, ur doing it wrong”. Ha! I’ve had friends head to emergency rooms due to psychomotor intensity related injuries. And friends with broken noses. This is dangerous parenting, y’all.
So, what do we do? First, we understand that this is simply how they are wired. These kiddos have exuberant, unending, intense energy coursing through their bodies. They can’t help the squirming and fidgeting and vibrating and flapping and non-stop talking. We cannot train it out of them or discipline them sufficiently that they will one day stop. Accept it. Your kid buzzes.
Second- accept that they need outlets for their energy. We need to help them feed their intensity or they will never gain mastery over it. Sorry, tying them up, duct taping them to their chairs or keeping them in from recess isn’t gonna work. It only starves the psychomotor intensity and creates a whirling dervish maniacal monster. Give them movement breaks. Let them stand up, move around, fidget and wiggle when they are working. Get the gadgets- the trampolines, exercise balls, crash mats, wiggle chairs; and let them have it. Get them outside. I once saw a meme that said, “they can’t bounce off the walls if there aren’t any!” Let them hum and chat and sing and talk. They need to.
However, they also need to learn ways/times to harness their energy. Take it slow and teach them to focus and sit still. For 10 seconds at first, if that’s all they can handle. We tell kids to settle down or focus, but we don’t ever teach them how! Teach them! Use a visual timer and challenge them to hold a pose until the timer is up. Meditate- for 10 seconds or one minute, and work your way longer. We use calm.com every morning together. At first Chimp couldn’t even tolerate a minute. The other week he sat still and quiet for a full 8 minute meditation! Practice yoga or tai chi together. Plug them into a martial art. Anything that teaches body and mind awareness. Practice self-care. When the vibrating is becoming too much, lock yourself in your room, take a break. Do what you need to do to reset.
Know that this psychomotor intensity can be dangerous stuff! Valuables will break. Kids and parents will get hurt. Frustration will occur. Remember- they are doing the best they can. Practice forgiveness and compassion. Many of our psychomotor intense kiddos are also emotionally intense. They feel things deeply and empathize greatly. My Chimp has apologized more times than I can count and promises to take care of me “while your head is bonked mommy”. Reassure them that accidents happen. No one is to blame and you love them just as they are.
And finally, concussions suck.
So, maybe learn from me, and start wearing a helmet :)