Mar 11, 2015
This story is about bean bags... and whenever I think of bean bags I always have a giggle remembering a time when we had to dispose of the "Styrofoam beans" out of our bean bag. We put them straight into our wheelie bin without bagging them up (I know - I've learnt my lesson!). When the garbage truck picked up the bin and tipped it upside down beans flew everywhere! One of my neighbours was most upset as most of the beans had landed on her lawn. And so our family spent a good afternoon vacuuming thousands of beans off their lawn. The memory makes me chuckle!
Anyway... I digress. This post is actually about making a "Comfort Corner". These holidays I decided to start practicing what I preach and help 2 of my children build their own Comfort Corner. The Comfort Corner is a strategy I learnt about from Crystal Lutton, author of "Grace Based Discipline". As a new mother quite some time ago I was very privileged to be mentored by a group of mothers practicing Grace Based Parenting, and Crystal was the lead mentor. Many of the strategies I use daily with my own children, and teach to my work clients, are based on Crystal's great work. And the Comfort Corner is an idea I've learned from her. And although we had used the idea a little at home, it is mostly a strategy I've used with families I've worked with.
Two of my children, as lovely as they are, feel and express their emotions very intensely. And during the summer heat it seemed to be intensifying. So I mentioned the idea of a Comfort Corner to them and they perked up.
A Comfort Corner is a space set up to be a retreat for a child. It's a place they can go to step out of a situation, take a break, regroup and deal with some of those intense emotions. There are things there that provide them with comfort e.g. bean bags, stuffed animals, pillows, blankets, music, books, whatever will bless and comfort your child when they are feeling at their worst.
A Comfort Corner is different to a "Naughty Corner"... the idea of a naughty corner is to punish a child and make them "think" about what they have done/said - ultimately to make them feel bad. The idea behind Grace Based Discipline (GBD) though is that when children feel bad their behaviour is bad, when they feel good in themselves their behaviour is positive. So GBD is not into the punitive mindset intended to make children feel bad in order to modify their behaviour (or be rewarded in order to encourage positive behaviours).
In contrast, a Comfort Corner is a safe place where a child can be when they feel strong, intense, overwhelming emotions (otherwise known as a tantrum!). They can be there with your company and support (or a sibling's) or alone. It gives them time and space to settle down until the storm passes and they can return when they are feeling ready. By connecting through this storm, and nurturing in a time of intense need, we end up empowering them to be able to handle the stresses that led them their initially. It's akin to making yourself a cup of tea, talking to a loved one, or having a warm bath when you've had a rotten day - the nurturing helps with the strong emotions and you end up feeling like you can cope a little better...
An example of how our Comfort Corner has been used so far is when my son wasn't able to play outside as he was having trouble getting along with the other children. I wasn't sure where he had disappeared to and found him in his Comfort Corner, snuggling up and looking sad. He told me he just needed some time and space. He emerged a little while later ready to talk and explore ideas about how he could spend his time, how he could try again to play with the others, and even some ideas about what he could do with me if he stayed inside. I felt relieved as rather than us battling through his strong emotions, he had had some space to cool down. And then we both felt ready to tackle the problem together, back on the same team rather than feeling like we were working against each other.
For us it is one more "tool" for the tool box (also a term borrowed from Crystal Lutton). And the more strategies I have up my sleeve as a parent, the more ideas I have to draw upon, the more positive our relationships are.
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