Passionate about speaking values into the hearts and minds of our children, my husband and I have begun to compile a list of our family axioms. These virtues, overtly communicated from day to day, week to week, help our children notice and acknowledge when they need an assist. We picture these axioms as mini towers of refuge. A solid – in their otherwise chaotic world.
One axiom we use regularly is this: Sometimes we need a reset.
What is a reset? When the children start to get fussy, angry, aggressive or out of control, a reset helps them take a breath, calm their bodies, and center themselves.
Three reasons a reset is better than a time-out.
1. A reset is not punitive. For a few years, when my children were acting out, I put them in time-out. This never really felt right to me because sending them away resembled a punishment of shame. God never sends me away when I am out of balance, or out of his will, but rather embraces me with understanding, and grace. While I admire and respect the Supernanny – - the naughty-chair seems to stir up chaos, rather than facilitate calm. In my next evolution, I sat them right beside me for their time-out, which was more compassionate. But it still did not quite accomplish the self-soothing advancement I hoped for. That’s when I came up with “the reset”. Their bed is a safe space, a place of comfort and support (blankies and snuggle friends). I can walk them to their bed and say, “Sometimes we need a reset”. This helps them see that they are ok and this is normal – we all need a reset now and then. I never want them to hear, “you’re bad”, or “shame on you”. Reset focuses the attention on their action rather than their character.
2. It allows a gentle removal from the situation. Most of the time, our upsets spin out of sibling arguments. At age 8, 10, and 12, many children are still not entirely skilled at using their words and thoughtfully working out their disagreements. A reset lifts them up and out of unproductive bickering and allows a change of scenery, fostering fresh perspective.
3. It is self-regulated. Reset helps them to take a break, and regain composure. I walk them to their bed, acknowledge their feelings, and remind them to breathe and rest. They are given the freedom to rejoin the family whenever they are ready. This could be 4 minutes or an hour. They can nap or read or talk to their stuffed animals – whatever they want to do to. The goal is to coach them in understanding themselves (triggers, patterns, emotions).
One morning last week, I was in the kitchen making coffee. My 12 year old stumbled in, and began complaining about how his neck hurt and how he didn’t sleep well…etc. I hugged him and was about to suggest that perhaps he wasn’t finished sleeping. Before I could say anything, he looked at me and admitted, “You know mom, I think I need a reset.”