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Try this Tuesday: Deep pressure

Posted Jul 28 2009 12:25am
I'm opening this one up for suggestions / input.

My boys like deep pressure and muscular resistance, Bearhug and Little Bitty in particular. Especially Bearhug. To be more accurate, Bearhug not only likes deep pressure, sometimes it's a necessity in the same sense that oxygen and water are needs.

A recent example:

Bearhug and I were sitting on the couch together. I had told him a few minutes before that it was almost time for bed, and that it was time to settle down (he and Cuddlebug had been running around in circles and screeching loudly). Cuddlebug had gone upstairs to get ready for bed, while Bearhug joined me on the couch for a few minutes of tv before bed.

After a few minutes of silence, he told me, "Mama, my brain is angry." He sounded perfectly calm and not angry at all, but I know better than be misled by his tone of voice. If he says he's angry, he feels angry. However, enough time had passed that I didn't immediately know why he was upset.

"Why are you angry?"

"My brain is filled with anger. There's no room for anything else."

"Maybe you should think of something that makes you happy, and let that push out the angry."

"I can't do that."

"Why not?"

"Because if I get rid of the angry, my brain will be empty."

"Couldn't you fill it up with happy?"

"No, that won't work."


I tried again a few times, rewording my suggestion and giving him ideas of some things he likes that might help him focus on something "happy" and forget about the "angry." Each time I got the same response. Then he told me I was making him more angry, so I decided to back off for a few minutes.

Then I had a thought. "Are you upset because I told you it was almost bedtime?"

"Not just that."

"Is it because I told you guys it was time to settle down?"

"Yes. I don't want to settle down."

"Sorry, honey, but it's time to settle down for bedtime."


I backed off again. After a few minutes, he jumped up, laid face-down on the couch and said, "put all da pillows on me, Mama."

I stacked the pillows from the couch on top of his back and legs.

"Put da other pillows on me, too."

So I started piling up the couch cushions on top of the pillows, knowing he was trying to get some deep pressure and that unlike his younger years, one cushion was no longer enough.

With about 4 feet of pillows and cushions on top of him, he asked me, "Is that all dem?" It was, but it still wasn't enough.

So I gently leaned onto the top of the cushions to add a little more pressure, being careful not to press too hard. Then I stood back up. He was quiet, and seemed a little more relaxed.

After a few moments, he slowly pushed himself up, relishing the resistance from the stack of pillows as he did. He gave me one of his signature oxygen-defying bearhugs (hence the nickname) and then trotted off to bed, clearly no longer plagued by an anger-filled brain.

As I put the cushions and pillows back in place on the couch, I felt a mixture of gratitude for his ability to instinctively figure out what he needs when his system is "off" and a little worry about the increasing levels of resistance and pressure that he seems to need at times.

I have to say, it's gotten better in that he can express what he's feeling now. When he was younger, I finally figured out that he was finding ways to get into trouble on purpose so I'd put him in time out. He and Cuddlebug never stayed in time out without me having to sit them on my lap and hold them there, which gave Bearhug the perfect opportunity to spend his time-out trying to get off of my lap to get "resistance." If I didn't try to hold him on my lap (trying to redirect and avoid the wrestling match), he'd keep escalating his misbehavior until I did. Thankfully now he can find less confrontational methods and can ask me directly if he needs help.

So that's my question - any suggestions on how to help him get the resistance and pressure he needs sometimes? I'm fine with doing some "pillow" therapy or "Bearhug sandwiches" to help, but I worry that he could get hurt with some of his other methods like crashing into things as he gets bigger. Maybe some exercises like push-ups or something?

Same question with Bitty although obviously he's not as big yet (and thankfully he's good with tight-squeeze hugs and no longer feels a need to head-butt me all the time!).

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