When I was growing up a favorite past time was to make "cootie catchers" with my friends to predict our future and make decisions. During our time of isolation we have had fun with this game at home and used it as a tool for regulation. This is a tool I have used while working with school age children and teens struggling with regulation at summer camps or in other settings.
It is good practice to try out different regulation strategies, helping us to identify those tools that will work for us. At other times it might be hard to think of a strategy and we need a suggestion. That is where the "brain catcher" comes in. We have used these brain catchers in our family to practice regulation strategies for a break or when we feel our lid about to flip and need a suggested strategy.
There are multiple options in the file above. One of the pages already has regulation strategies or you can choose one of the blank pages and fill in your favorite ways to regulate.
Below are some strategies to choose from for your brain catcher.
Regulation kit—Engage the 5 senses. I created one of these for a foster son of mine. In the kit we had a mps player for hearing, jolly rancher for taste, a piece of cloth with his mother's perfume for scent and touch, and a picture of his mom for sight.
A Task—A responsibility or a chore can sometimes reset and help get us back on track.
Time of peace—Sitting in a comfortable spot for a few minutes alone with no distractions.
Crossing Midline—Any movement that involves crossing the center of our body from one side to the other. Reading and writing are two key tasks in education that involve the ability to cross the midline. In addition, crossing the midline strengthens our left and right brain connection and integration. This in turn promotes emotional regulation. Examples of this type of movement include, clapping games, John Travolta dance move, cleaning (where you wipe a table or wash a car) or the Hokey Pokey.
Water—Drinking a cold glass of water can help regulate ourselves. When we are dehydrated we are more likely to flip our lid.
Healthy snack—Sometimes we just need a healthy snack, especially something that is protein (almonds, cheese, beef jerky or a hard boiled egg).
Connection—When we have the opportunity to hang out with someone that we trust, even for a quick check in, that connection can reset us. Sometimes it might be a hug, a fist bump, a talk or maybe playing a game.
Breathe—Taking a slow deep breathe that fills your diaphragm and then exhaling has been proven to calm the limbic system down. One breathing technique, known as colorful breathing involves visualizing colors while focusing on your breath. Inhale a peaceful yellow while exhaling a turbulent brown. Inhale a tranquil green while exhaling a bleak gray. Inhale a cool blue and exhale a fiery red. Use your imagination to see the colors with each inhale or exhale.
Sticky Hands—Pretend your hands have glue or honey on them. Now push them together 15 seconds, count out loud if that helps. Next, slowly pull your hands apart, visualizing the stickiness. Repeat three times.
Tense and Relax—Have your child form their hands into fists and bring their shoulders to their ears. Count to five with them and then relax. Repeat five times. Try using props such as “squeeze balls” to help exaggerate the motion.