After school, my son was clearly off track and needing to offload some feelings. He had been at his little brother since he got in the car, and then on the way home, he started calling me “stupid.” Normally, being called stupid is very restimulating for me, but I had been working on it with my Listening Partner and on this day I felt like I could play with it.
So I said to him, “Oh, that’s not my secret name! My secret name is Kombucha Head, but don’t tell anyone. It’s a secret!!!” So of course, he and his 2-year-old brother started yelling out, “Kombucha Head!” as loud as they could. I pretended to be horrified, worried that everyone would know my secret name. This kept going for a while and I felt like it was losing its allure.
Intro the Raspberries…
So I changed tack and said that I had lots of raspberries* to give them. They both ran and hid under the blankets, giggling together. I pretended I couldn’t find them, and ended up sitting on them whilst they were under the covers. They were laughing and squirming and I sat there blowing raspberries towards them, without being able to actually reach them, pretending to be upset I couldn’t land any.
Then, the two of them turned the game around and started trying to raspberry me. So I played it up. “No, no, no! You can’t raspberry me! I’m the raspberry person around here!!!” I protested, whilst they landed raspberries all over me. After about five minutes of this, they both got up and went off to play together.
They were fine for the rest of the evening, until just before bed. We had a pillow fight. When I told them that it was time to stop and get ready for bed, because I was getting tired and felt unable to keep everyone safe, my 6-year-old kicked me and tried to bite me. So I moved in quickly and held him in my arms, so that he couldn’t hurt me or his little brother. He started screaming and raging and yelling, “ No, no, you are hurting my neck! Don’t hurt my neck!!!”
Working Off Fear
I was checking in to make sure I wasn’t holding or hurting his neck, and my arms were not even near his neck. I repositioned him, just in case I was somehow hurting him, but he continued saying the same things and thrashing about. This is a familiar pattern, one that I have been working on a fair bit with him. It’s got to do with being held down for stitches, I think.
After only five minutes, he stopped crying, looked at me and said, “I want to sit next to you, Mum,” and we all read a book together. He fell asleep that night quickly, holding my hand.
I was amazed at how quickly the Playlistening allowed both of my sons to connect with one another again, after a pretty torrid time in the car. I was also very pleased that the evening ran so smoothly after our Playlistening and that the night ended so sweetly after a big rage and release of feelings.
-Melinda Booth, Queensland
* A “raspberry” is the American word for putting your moist mouth on someone’s skin, usually tummy or back or arm, and blowing hard, so that a big wet sound is made.
From the Hand in Hand Toolbox:
- Find out why playlistening builds connection and fosters gentler parenting
- How can play help a picky eater? Find out in Playlistening with a Picky Eater
- Learn more about Hand in Hand's transforming parenting tools in the book Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges