“Mom, I’m going to go to Zack’s to play basketball. Is that okay?” Quinton, age fifteen, announced this morning.
I replied, “Quin, you have things to do here at home today, so I don’t think we will have time for friends until another day.”
Quin really wanted to go shoot hoops with his friend. What fifteen year old boy doesn’t? His mouth closed, his cheek muscles tightened, and his eyes narrowed. Then something miraculous happened.
Quin closed his eyes and breathed out with a soft sh…… sound. Then he looked at me and said, “Okay, Mom.”
“Quin, you are awesome! You just calmed yourself down instantly. You are really in control of your happiness. Well done!” was my reply.
Quin has learned over the years how to calm himself down; how to decide somethings aren’t worth getting angry over. He also knows that if he doesn’t agree with something we tell him to do he can always disagree appropriately.
Today he let go of is frustration without any prompting because he knows respecting his parents is worth it! His life is better, he gets more freedom, more privileges, and more respect when he is respectful too. Not to mention the fact that he stays happy.
Emerson said, “For every one minute you are angry you lose 60 seconds of happiness.” I believe that second number could even be higher sometimes. Regret is a hard thing to deal with.
Deep breathing is one of the best ways to calm down because it makes you focus on taking action instead of reacting to stressful situations. Engaging the logical part of the brain like this calms anxious children because the emotional part of the brain is disengaged with the new logical focus.
Recently Quin has also been learning how to drive. I get the privilege of teaching him and riding alongside him. I know every time he gets anxious in a driving situation because he breaths with a soft sh…. sound.
If he is making a tight turn I hear sh…. If he has to stop fast I hear sh…. If he passes a semi truck on the freeway I hear a sh…
I’m so impressed by his ability to stay calm in stressful situations. This shows great self-government and maturity.
There was a time, when my son was small, when he would have tantrums. He would throw toys at walls, and hit people in his church classes, and power struggle with his parents. My how he has grown.
His growing older was not the only thing that helped Quin learn self-control though. We learned the most effective way to correct him, and taught him respectful family communication skills.
When Quin used to choose to go out of control, I would do what I call “The Rule of Three.” As part of the rule of three I give a calming instruction. The calming instruction is, “I need you to close your eyes and take three deep breaths.”
Today when he felt himself start to become anxious and angry he automatically did what he has been coached to do for years. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
Practicing desired skills works. Soon the practiced skills become habits. And, calming habits are the foundation for successful relationships and happy living.