Circuit Breakers and Parenting

So, the other day we plugged an electronic device into one of the outlets in our bedroom. We left it alone to attend to other events in our lives, and came back to our room well after dark. Except – when we went to turn on the lights, there were no lights. We’d plugged in a device that had a faulty power supply cord, which caused the supply cord to pull too much electricity through the outlet. We’d tripped the circuit breaker. I’m glad the circuit breaker was there, otherwise we could have had a “toasty” experience that night.

Well, I got to thinking about certain situation I face as a parent.  Moments when I know my kids are going to pull too much energy and explode.  I don’t like it when my children explode. It’s not a pretty sight and it takes quite a lot of effort on my part to put them all back together again. I generally try to avoid these moments. I’ve learned to notice when certain environmental triggers are going to cause these explosions, and I’ve developed a few techniques that act as circuit breakers for these moments. I want to add I’m not a parenting expert, just a mom trying to figure out the best way to help her kids.

Circuit Breaker Number One: Gross Motor Movement
When my kids have had too much inside time, they start to tease and pick on each other. If I don’t catch the teasing quickly, they’ll start to really get after each other. Then they’ll start bouncing off the walls, or furniture, or each other. If I can catch this in its earliest stages, then I can trip the circuit breaker and avoid the damage to my furniture – and/or children. What I try to do is organize some sort of game like Simon Says, or kick the ball. Any type of game that gets the kids to move their entire body, but in a controlled way, seems to dissipate the energy before it can explode.

Circuit Breaker Number Two: Physical Touch
Sometimes my kids get too much screen time. Screen time in larger doses than about 45 minutes at a shot usually causes whining, crying, and disobedience. They become very fixated on the show they are watching and “can’t” do anything else – like eat. Usually, if I can catch them before they get to the zombie stage; I can trip the circuit breaker with what I call the “hug of life”.  The “hug of life” is basically a huge bear hug, with some tickling and raspberries involved. The physical interaction seems to reset their attentions and energy into more constructive pursuits.

Exploding |
My fourth grader needing her circuit tripped.

Circuit Breaker Number Three: Imaginative Play and Interaction
I’ll admit it. There are times when I feel like other things I need to get done are more important at that moment than interacting with my kids. If I get caught in one of these thought moments, my kids can become particularly explosive, if these moments last too long. If I can catch myself before my kids feel to neglected, and play with them how and what they want to play, then I can trip the circuit breaker and avoid the explosion.

I’m sure there are other factors that lead to explosions, and as I learn more about each of my children, I learn what kind of circuit breakers they need. And they will learn over time how to trip their own circuit breakers, and avoid exploding in the first place. And that’s really the end goal, right?

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