Pirates likely didn’t worry about their feelings, but for kids, learning how to regulate their bodies and feelings is part of early development as well as kindergarten readiness. Even though they are very young, feelings can be deeply intense for children. Emotions can overwhelm kids and they react to something small with big actions such as temper tantrums and hitting, screaming, kicking, etc. As parents and caregivers, we know what that looks and sounds like, ‘cuz we’ve all had to deal with such challenges.
Kids do not come with self-regulating skills and strategies already in place. We need to help kids learn how to calm themselves and release tension in acceptable ways. Often, some form of vigorous activity such as racing around the playground will work. Playing in water is another way that is very calming and relaxing. Sometimes though, as in the middle of the grocery store, we need a different solution. One treasure is The Glitter Bottle. Kids can shake it up hard and slowly calm down as they watch the glitter float and settle. It’s surprisingly quite mesmerizing and children’s breathing will also slow down as they watch.
The glitter bottle is easy to make and any mess is well worth it. Fill an empty clear water bottle about 3/4 full with water, (using hot water helps break down the clumps). Add a bottle of glitter glue and more fine glitter. Kids can choose a favorite color or use a whole rainbow. Clear gel glue will slow the sparkles down even more. Once done, hot glue the lid on so it’s really, really stuck. This is an important step.
As kids use this treasure-in-a-bottle, you can give your child some feedback in the form of comments and questions. For instance, tell your child that you see s/he is breathing slower, or that s/he has been able to stop screaming. Self-control takes a lot of effort for your child and it’s not easy. As a skill or strategy though, it will go far beyond readiness for kindergarten, and will be needed for a lifetime. That’s why it’s such a treasure. Does your little pirate have a glitter bottle?