As we wade through these muddy waters of toddlerhood, one thing we’ve been dealing with recently is unwanted, slightly aggressive behavior. This type of behavior often manifests itself in ways such as hitting, biting, kicking and throwing. Because toddlers have little to no impulse control, they often exhibit this physical behavior as a result of difficulty dealing with really big feelings such as frustration or anger or sometimes just from being scared or even tired. I found a great article from L.R. Knost on what to do when children hit. As a gentle parent, I found Asher’s aggressive behavior surprising, but this article helped me understand that what my son was doing was normal and age-appropriate and gave me practical tips for how to handle it.
One of the many tips we’ve implemented from the article was to make busy bottles or calm-me bottles to use as an outlet when difficulty processing big feelings looks like it will lead to a meltdown. I looked on the internet for pictures of these types of bottles and let my Asher choose the type he wanted to make. He fell in love with the idea of making a “rainbow” of busy bottles, so off to Jo-Anns we went in search of items for our bottles. A trip to the craft store is definitely not required in order to successfully make busy bottles—especially if just making one—but since we had eight to fill I just didn’t have enough supplies at home.
The basic formula for making a busy bottle is:
- Fill bottle with fun objects of various sizes, textures and buoyancy
- Add 1/2 tablespoon of glitter
- Fill bottle with water, leaving about 1/2″ at the top
- Fill the remaining 1/2″ with light corn syrup
- Cap the bottle and hot glue the seal to prevent leaks
- Shake bottle and enjoy
In making all eight busy bottles, Asher and experimented a lot with different objects. We found that you can, in fact, have too many sequins. Since they don’t float, they are pretty boring and tend to clump together. Sequins are fun, but less is more. The same goes for glitter. We used way too much glitter and instead of floating nicely in the water it, too, ended up clumping at the top. We found that a 1/2 tablespoon was the perfect ration for our 16 oz. Smart Water bottles. What did work really well for us were the cheapy plastic beads that can be found in the kids section at Jo-Anns. They float nicely and there are lots of fun, themed options to choose from. We used sea creature beads and transportation themed beads. And to make the bottles even more fun we added a few random things such as yellow tractor buttons, and orange fox, a Daisy Duck figurine, a Minnie Mouse figurine and silver coins. Asher really enjoys searching for these random items among the glitter, sequins and beads.
I was a little skeptical at first as to how useful these bottles would be for Asher as he wasn’t overly interested in them initially. True, he enjoyed making them and liked to look for items in the bottles, but he wasn’t really playing with them. However, over time I’ve found that they are awesome when it comes to their intended purpose – as an outlet. When my son is overstimulated and overwhelmed these bottles give him something else to focus on as he processes through his feelings. He can shake the bottle as hard as he wants. He can watch the glitter and tiny objects float gently to the bottom of the bottle. And when he’s ready, we reconnect and he tells me all about the special “treasures” he found in his bottle!