Revving is when a child has been triggered by a provocative stimuli and is engaging coping skills to manage emotions. Understanding when children are beginning to rev is critical to our ability to help before things get out of hand. Knowing your child’s signals of revving is the first step. Revving looks different from one child to the next. Some children may get red in the face, others may pace, while still other children bounce their leg or start talking faster. How they communicate to us that they are starting to get upset is helpful information if we pay attention to it and work to help them get calmed down.
Activity: Favorite Room
Skills: Distraction, self-soothing, mindfulness.
Materials needed: none
Instructions: Help your child visualize a room that feels safe and comfortable. You may want to say something like, “I want you to think of a room, any room, it could even be an imaginary room where you feel safe, cared for, and very comfortable. I’m going to ask you some questions about the room and there are no right or wrong answers, this is all up to you.” Begin to ask questions about what furniture, toys, or other things he/she would put in the room. Are there pictures or posters on the wall? What kinds of posters would be on the walls? Are there windows? Would the windows be open or closed? What would the weather be like outside? Who would he/she let visit in his/her room. What kinds of things would they do while in the room or what would they talk about in the room? What is the view from the window? Is there music playing? Let the child be queen of king of the room, totally in control of the imaginary space. Listen to every answer they give you and encourage their imagination. Then you can talk briefly about your room.
After the activity, check to see if the child is breathing more slowly, has calmed his/her affect, and is moving more slowly. At this point you may want to consider telling the child that this is how you would like to have the conversation or do the activity if they are ready. If you start to see the child escalate again, you may need to go back and have the child take some slow, deep breaths so that they can stay regulated before beginning again. The goal is to keep them calm so that they can think more clearly, make better choices, and hear your point of view more calmly. Stay as calm as you can, using low, slower, simple speech. The calmer you are, the more likely they will remain calm. Be careful to check your voice tone, body posture, and eye contact, being as neutral as you can will be the best approach.