The Tool Box

When our first Sweetie came home to us in 2003,  she had many puzzling behaviors.  We had taken several weeks of training that was very good!  We had started to read books  to help us understand how to parent her,  yet, there was much we needed to learn and much she needed to learn.
I always saw the books and training as my “tools” to help me parent her.
One day, as we were having a conversation, it dawned on me that she didn’t have tools herself! She needed tools to help her control her behaviors.

I took her out to our Auto Shoppe and showed her daddy’s tool box.  We looked at all the tools in his tool boxes and talked about what they were for.
She seemed to be really engaged in our conversation and excited to talk about the tools.

We then went into the house and I explained to her that she needed a tool box too!
But HER tool box was going to be “pretend”. She was delighted!
She liked to play pretend, having 2 imaginary friends, “Holly” and “Sister Nuthin'”. 🙂
So it wasn’t too big of a stretch for her to have a pretend tool box.

What we did was pretend that the tool box was in her head.  She would take her hand and unlock her “tool box” and open the fake lid.  Then, we put “tools” into it.

The first one was “The Self Control” tool.
Then we added a “speak softly” tool, and a “tell the truth” tool.
We added them as needed.
NOTICE they are all positive tools.  Not don’ts but do’s.
Instead of “stop lying” or “no lying”, it is “tell the truth”.
It was always a deal to unlock the tool box and put the tool in.

She loved it!

A typical scenario would go like this:
Sweetie would get dysregulated or telling an obvious lie, and I would say, “Let’s unlock our tool box and get our ‘tell the truth’ tool out!”
She’d would stop what she was doing and actually use the tool!  It was amazing! LOL

I had tools she gave me too!  She loved opening my tool box. 🙂

One day, we had had a particularly difficult morning doing school work.  She was just not willing and was playing a lot of games….
I finally told her, “Sweetie, you need to use your tools!”
Her reply was, “I can’t.  It’s locked and I cannot find the key!”

To which I replied….. “Well mine is locked too and somebody better find a key fast!”

We have used the tool box concept with all of our girls and it has graduated with age.
Sweetie 4 likes using the magic moustache where she presses on her upper lip, and deep breathing with mom.
She still responds very well to using tools.
I told one of my friends about the tool box method and she had her son make a real toolbox with real cards with the tools written out to choose from. 🙂
We never did that, but I can see how it could be fun and productive!

The best thing about the tool box is it distracts in a positive way and sort of recalibrates the brain to do something different!
So if you are stuck in a rut, get out the “change the scenery” tool! 🙂

It really works!

Comments warmly welcomed!


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