*Deep Pressure Touch Stimulation
Recently, I was on a long-haul flight and I sat next to a young mother traveling on her own with a 2-year-old toddler. He was absolutely gorgeous, a true Viking child. I got chatting to the mother. She was on her way to some tantric festival in Thailand. She lived on a farm with her parents in Norway, and she believed that children should run free and not be schooled. She still breastfed her 2-year-old and they co-sleep. It was lovely talking to her and cooing over her child.
Then the Viking child threw an almighty tantrum. As she was so soft and cuddly with him for hours, I thought she would get her breast out to pacify him. Instead, she apologised briskly to me, and without much ado, she strapped herself up and then strapped her child up with the child seat belt.
He screamed and kicked and punched, his face going red. She, on the other hand, sat there with her eyes closed, breathing calmly, ignoring him. Other passengers turned to stare. Even the concerned flight attendant stopped by.
“Ma’am, are you alright?” the flight attendant asked.
“Yes,” she replied politely. “Please allow me to deal with my child.”
The tantrum went on and on. I can feel the annoyed vibes of other passengers, who wished they could snarl at her, “For God’s sake, pick your child up!” or “Breastfeed your brat and shut him up!”
But you know what? She took the appropriate action. As I told another mother recently, no healthy child has ever died from a tantrum fit or suffer any long term emotional damage. In fact, it is utterly important for a toddler to learn about boundaries instead of pandering to him each time he screams (he will never learn the meaning of NO then). So often parents take young children out of car seats when they scream.
Please read this article: 43 Percent Of Children Who Died From Car Crashes Were Improperly Restrained, from a study published in The Journal of Pediatrics.
I strongly believe that children have to learn that there are red lines in their world that they should not cross. Like jumping off a balcony, for example. Or jumping into deep swimming pools without a responsible adult’s permission. If you teach your child not to jump off balconies or deep ends, teaching them to respect the word NO is the same thing.
Meltdowns are often due to sensory overload, inability to adapt to changes in their immediate environment, discomfort (because of tiredness, hunger), etc. It is just like letting off steam in a pressure cooker. And in Terrible 2’s and 3’s, it is anger when he or she fails to get his/her own way.
My psychologist friend tells me that children need to learn to self-regulate, and when they are having a meltdown, DPTS has been found to be useful. It’s not the same as leaving kids to scream in an empty room, but teaching them about boundaries within a loving environment.
Wrapping a child up in a blanket (like swaddling a baby) calms the sensory system by putting pressure on the proprioreceptors. It returns them to their safe, snug world of infancy. So yes, seat belts do have a similar effect, I would say. I personally swear by seat belts and car seats. And my children grew up just fine.