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Spelling gets my 7 year old mad.
The pesky bs and ds that muddle themselves up.
Crazy vowels that keep changing the sound they make.
And those complicated consonant combos like “thr” that are hard enough to say never mind spell.
(Specially with an honest to goodness south London twang).
They all seem to gang up on her.
Until she’s boiling over with frustration.
Angry at the world and the English language.
Which – of course – makes it even harder to tell a “b” from a “d”.
BUT recently, a little elephant has come to our rescue.
And helped her discover the amazing power of calming down.
A power so powerful in fact, it can even help you spell!
That’s some power huh?
So how did the little elephant unleash this secret weapon?
Well, it all happened like this …
The Power Of Calming Down
We were going through her spelling book together.
(We’re using Toe-By-Toe (USA) which seems to really help both dyslexic kids and those kids – often those who enjoy maths – who struggle with phonics).
The letters were all jumbling themselves up.
And as she got angrier and angrier they jumbled themselves more.
Making her angrier still.
And when I suggested I’d seen a little elephant peeping round the door she WAS furious.
You see – since she was little – we’d counted “stinky elephants” as a way of calming down.
But faced with her spelling she wasn’t having any of it.
I was about to back off.
But something told me to hang on in there. And convinced me the little elephant could help.
And I started to explain in a level of detail that I couldn’t when she was little, the secret power of the little elephant and his stinky friends …
I explained that when we get mad our breath becomes shallow.
Our heart beats faster.
And our blood vessels tighten.
Making it harder to get oxygen to the brain.
Which sends the brain all a bit doolally.
And makes us think a little spelling is really a sabre toothed phonic tiger in disguise.
About to attack us.
Which makes us even more mad.
And makes our heart beat faster etc etc … until we think we’ve got a whole gang of sabre toothed phonics on our heels.
The secret power of the little elephant is he breaks the cycle.
The image of the little elephant – pooing where he shouldn’t! – makes us smile.
And as we smile our blood vessels relax. Letting that little bit more oxygen through.
And as we start to count how many stinky friends he’s brought with him – one stinky elephant, two stinky elephants, three stinky elephants – our breathing rate automatically slows.
And as our breathing rate slows, our heart rate slows.
Oxygen gets to the brain and suddenly the spellings are just spellings again.
Pesky but not life threatening.
When we’d finished counting the elephants – there were quite a few of them – my daughter chose to have another go at the page that had left her bamboozled.
And whizzed through it, getting everything right.
She was gob smacked!
The little elephant had helped her control her own body AND change how she saw the world.
It doesn’t mean she doesn’t get mad with the world – she’s wired a bit too much like her mother for that! – but it has given her a sense of the power she has over herself.
If you’ve got a kid who gets frustrated and angry with themselves the little elephant might help.
I would also recommend checking out this post from The Mommy View which has more simple physical tips to help children calm themselves …
And younger children may also find this simple book about Calm Down Time helpful.
I really hope the little elephant is able to help your kids as much as he has mine.
Do let me know if he does.
And for more simple slow parenting ideas do sign up for my newsletter …
I am excited to try this with my kids! Thank you!
I so hope it helps Kelly. Do let me know x