Both our 9 year old and 6 year old are fiddlers like me. Unfortunately, not the instrument. That would be pretty rad, though. We all like to fiddle, or fidget, with things. Either our hands are messing with something that we know of, touching something while we’re not even paying attention, or in our mouths. I’ve worked on that last one, but the other two are in there deep.
My nine year old has the habit of messing with his feet and then sticking his hands right in his mouth. Eww. He says he doesn’t notice he’s doing it and I actually believe him on this one. I’m working on getting him to be self aware of his actions, but sometimes I need to pick my battles with other things. When it’s gotten a little out of hand (pun intended) I calmly ask him, “Do you know what you’re doing right now?” instead of telling him. He’ll look around and I get the, “Oh. Oh I’m sorry,” response and he stops, for about 30 seconds. Thus far that hasn’t seemed to slow things down, but below I’ll share something that is helping a little.
J loves, and I mean LOVES, wrestling. You will never see that child more excited about anything else in this entire world. Whenever we watch wrestling is when he either constantly sticks his pinkies in his mouth, or slaps himself in the face. We have to keep telling him “fingers” and “no hurt.” He takes his fingers out just to turn around and stick them back in. Little bugger. I’ve had discussions with other Cri Du Chat parents and a lot of them say their children also have that habit. I shared a hack on a support page that I came up with for that and I’ll share that same hack below. Hopefully it will help someone else out there.
Our daily little fidgets and preventers:
- A hair tie/rubber band. Yes folks, it’s that simple. You rarely ever see me with out a hair tie on my wrist. That’s even if I already have two in my hair. I always keep that spare. Why? The obvious answer would be incase one in my hair breaks, which has happened, but I’m always hesitant to give up that last one even when it is needed. I normally change my hair style before giving up my band. Twisting it around my wrist is one of those automatic things that I seem to do without noticing. This is why I believe my son when he says he didn’t realize he was touching his feet. Recently I have bestowed upon him his very own hair tie. He has short hair, so it will not ever be needed elsewhere (lucky guy). Both of us enjoy twisting the rubber bands in, around, and through our fingers finding never ending combinations. I would say I passed the metaphorical torch here, but you know, I kind of need mine too.
- Knee High Socks. They’re not just for feet! Whenever we’ve said “fingers” or “no hit” to J a number of times, he sees that particular look on my face and knows what’s coming. He sticks his little arms up in the air and waits for the knee highs. Since hitting himself is a rare occurrence and not out of anger, I’ve found a way to just let him have at it. He needs to get it out and I don’t want to stop that. Whenever he’s watching wrestling or anything Kung-Fu related, I keep them near by. On a side note, keep an extra pair around too. They tend to get soaked by him still attempting to get his fingers in his mouth. I usually end up knowing when they need changed by watching the other two boys run away from him screaming, “baby drool!” I give a wink and tell him to go get ’em! He’s a full contact kinda guy. Here he is modeling his very own knee highs. (Please excuse the background we were having a lazy day in the middle of trying to set up the house.)
- Regular Socks. There are two uses for regular socks.
- The first is to cover L’s poor defenseless little toes from being picked at. Again, gross. Normally we go barefoot around here, but the habit was ruining the bottom of his feet.
- The second is as a fidget item. I don’t have a picture of ours to show you because it was destroyed by a little man who shall remain unnamed *cough cough J*. However, I’ve found a link to a similar one done by Playful Learners. I seriously need to make both of them another one of these. I didn’t use any herbs in mine, but that is a fantastic idea! Here is her picture:
- Coasters. Yes, you read that right. I did say coasters. I have to admit that while learning the basics of crochet, I went a little crazy in the coaster department. They were simple little crafts that didn’t consume much time which allowed me the instant gratification I needed while trying to teach myself. I find coasters all over the place, but I don’t mind because they keep hands occupied. One of these pictured below was a goof. I attempted to make a patriotic coaster, but it turned in to “Captain America’s Shield” instead. I tend to crochet a little tight at times. That one serves as the guilt free fiddle item in this category since it is technically a toy accessory now.
- Nuts and Bolts. Keeping a small bolt with a few nuts on it in your pocket can also help with the sometimes necessary discrete fiddle. You don’t even have to pull this one out to turn the nuts around. Here I have a larger nut that “floats” with a little difficulty and one below it that threads on there perfectly just to keep the motions a little different. This one seems to be L’s favorite. Perfect, cheap, simplicity!
- Pipe Cleaners! There are so many things that pipe cleaners can be used for. Sensory play is a big one, but we’re just talking about hand held fidgets on this post. Simply holding one of these can turn into so many possibilities. Especially if you’re just acting automatically. I ended up doing this to my hand only by grabbing them for the picture.
- Power stones. My son loves his little power stones. He says they make him feel better and I agree. I had a stone at one time that I gave away that had only the word “Strength” inscribed on it. Whenever I felt I needed a little boost, I would toss it around in my pocket and somehow found my inner strength to tackle whatever was ahead of me. Was there some mystical power involved here or was it because I was fiddling with something that I was able to ease my mind enough to think more clearly about the situation? I believe that what ever you believe can be your reality. There was a line in a movie called Practical Magic that has always made sense to me. Sally Owens said to Officer Hallet, “Your badge – it’s just a star, just another symbol. Your talisman. It can’t stop criminals in their tracks, can it? It has power because you believe it does.” Whatever your thoughts may be, these little polished stones posses the ability to keep busy hands at bay. (Thank goodness there are a bunch of fidgets here, because his stones have mysteriously disappeared recently.)
These are the little fiddles we use every day. Those of us with racing thoughts have a tough time concentrating. Even more so when you have enough energy to run a triathlon. Sometimes we need to control our motor functions in order to control our thoughts. All of the above help us with quieting our minds and keeping our hands in a correct place, rather than in the messiest, nastiest, or most breakable of places.
Speaking of breakable, the twirling blanket of terror almost caused a full on mental breakdown here the other day. It didn’t help that the youngest had snatched a smartphone from the table as the green microfiber tornado started. The twister then caused enough wind damage to knock the game controller off the table, the youngest got off balance, and then the oldest was (oh my goodness) touched! I need to start tying their fidgets to their belt loops. Hopefully that will keep the whacky indoor weather at bay.
Thank you guys for reading! Have a wonderful day!