I don’t. It’s that simple. You will never hear me punish a kid for running in the house. I know what you’re thinking, “she must be crazy!” ….”she must live in a mad house!” ….”but something will break!”…..”what if they get hurt!?”. Ok, so here’s my reasoning- we are an asd, adhd, and spd home. Big body movements, are part of our sensory diet. Sure, sometimes the constant clatter of feet as they crash from the stairs to the hardwood (or vice versa) is enough to drive you batty- but instead of yelling at them to knock it off, I offer alternatives. When the running is accompanied by extremely loud voices, tormenting of siblings, or boisterous screaches- They are presented with two options: either choose a calm and quiet activity to do in your room for 10min (together or separately , and door open) or you take your energy outside. They can jump in the trampoline, ride bikes, go to the park- whatever….but outside. Sometimes I take a mummy-break. I explain to them that mummy needs a time out because the kids aren’t doing anything wrong, but her anxiety is getting high and she needs to calm down before she yells. (We speak openly about our neuro-differences and the challenges and also benefits, they present)
I don’t yell at them to be quiet or calm down, or stop running. I praise them for their giggles and fun, I will say “I love that you guys are the best of friends and playing so nicely together! It sounds like you’re having lots of fun! Before someone gets her though, let’s make a choice together: quiet activity, or outside. I don’t get fits of anger, I don’t get protests. Sometimes they can’t agree on the same thing, so I explain that it’s ok to do something alone for a bit- or we could all do something together. They love that option, of course, so I have to only offer that one if they really get stuck and I have the time to focus on that.
I’ve recently been adding to our big body movement options for in the house. I have put chin-up bars in the boys’ door frames, and have a teardrop hammock swing for each, and now a rope ladder, a climbing rope and a balancing steering wheel. I will be getting more pieces to switch out, and I’m also putting climbing rocks along the wall in our big loft space that mainly goes un used. I give them challenges to try, obstacles to complete (Mia – my ‘spirited’ little, LOOOVES obstacles!!) and when extremely disregulated, I set them up in the swing with some of their favourite things to calm down. We also have pod chairs, activity pillows, weighted lap pads, sequin sensory pillows, fidget bins and lots of different sensory pleasing lights. I bet this sounds chaotic to parents of neurotypical kids, and overstimulating or overwhelming. But in our home, this brings a sense of calm and organization. Organization of thoughts, movements, minds, hearts, and self esteem. I praise rather than punish, when I can. Of course, sometimes punishment is deserved and needed- but never for who they are or what they need.
When my oldest can’t sleep, his mind buzzing about and his body just not able to settle- I give him a 10 minute jump break on the trampoline. (In the warm months). He usually jumps for 2 minutes and then is ready to sleep. When it’s cold, I offer weight therapy, swing time, etc. This baffles many people because they assume the jumping will raise the heart rate and give a blast of energy….but in a sensory processing disorder kid, it regulates the messages from brain to body, and allows his body to finally sync the “I’m tired” signal with his brain. Our brains and bodies are incredible things, aren’t they!?