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How to have a just right ‘Engine Level’

As I discussed in my previous blog, a child’s body is typically functioning at one of three ‘Engine Levels’.   Ideally, the goal is to be at the ‘just right’ level, in which your child can accomplish the most and focus on the task at hand. It is important to remember that each child’s ‘Engine Level’ runs differently, and is affected differently.  Therefore, different strategies work differently for each child.

Here are a few strategies which might help your child to reach a just right level:Little boy practicing a yoga position

  • Listen to calming/quiet music
  • Get a drink of cold water/drinking through a straw (e.g. water bottle)
  • Chew gum or a crunchy/chewy snack
  • Take a walk, or get a breath of fresh air
  • Excuse herself to the restroom
  • Exercise/heavy work
  • A big bear hug/joint compressions
  • Yoga breaths (e.g. inhale through nose as long as she can, exhale through mouth like blowing out birthday candles)
  • Rub a small amount of lotion or scented hand sanitizer onto hands (massaging lotion into her skin can be calming, and a nice scent can help to ‘wake-up’ or ‘calm’ her body)

Try the strategies above, and note whether or not they help your child’s mind and body to feel more organized and ready to take on the tasks expected of her.  By incorporating this ‘Engine Level’ lingo into your child’s vocabulary on a daily basis, your child will ideally be able to better understand how her body is feeling, and what she can do when she’s feeling “off” or over/under aroused.  Please reach out to your child’s therapist with any further questions as to how this program can be incorporated into your family’s routine.

Reference: Williams, Mary Sue and Shellenberger, Sherry. (1996,) “How Does Your Engine Run?:  A Leader’s Guide to The Alert Program for Self-Regulation”.  Therapy Works, Inc.

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