I cannot claim to have dreamed up this handy parenting tip, but it has worked so well at our house, I had to share.
Being a mom of a threenager (yes, it’s a real thing!), I will try just about anything to tame the crazy little thing living in my house. He is super cute, but without notice can turn into a straight-up psycho. I know I sound like I am dissing the pour guy, but in actuality I feel for him. Imagine having loads of confusing emotions that you simple can’t express, what would you do? I bet I’d rip all the books off my bookshelf and run around with underwear on my head too. You know how much better you’d feel, plus it’s hilarious!
When we had Scout’s parent teacher conference last week, she mentioned he was doing a great job using their class’ “Safe Space.” John and I looked at each other in curiosity and asked, “What’s that?” She showed us a nice cozy setup in the corner of the class with a tent. She said when kids are feeling upset, sad, angry, confused, etc., they can “choose” to go spend some time in the “Safe Space” to calm down. They have stress balls and even pictures of the emotions (from Inside Out) to identify what they are feeling. She stressed that this is NOT time out, they can’t be sent there, it is completely up to their free will. THIS IS GENIUS! That is exactly what we needed at home. Three years olds are completely allergic to anything that isn’t their idea, so this “Safe Place” felt like a dream come true.
We immediately implemented it that night, asking Scout what he wanted his “Safe Space” to look like. He picked out his tent from upstairs, a blanket, bean bag, some books, and a pillow. We set it up in our office, away from any TVs or toys. That night right before dinner, he was getting upset about me not letting him have anymore snacks. I jumped on the cue and said, “Scout, you seem like you are getting angry at me…maybe your Safe Space will help.” A huge smile appeared on his face and he said, “Yes, I am going to my safe space.”
He stayed in there for about 5 minutes, read a book, and then emerged happy, and ready to have dinner. John and I were in awe. Of course, we aren’t naive; we knew this could just be the newness of the idea and it might not stick. But, I am happy to report, after more than a week, he is still using the Safe Space as a retreat from his threenager emotions. Sawyer has even used it a few times too.
Heck, I even might start implementing it for myself when I a feel a case of mom rage approaching!