How to Use S.T.A.R. in the Entryway
Active calming is an essential life skill, the key to the Power of Perception, and the prerequisite for self-regulation. The four core calming activities used in Conscious Discipline are S.T.A.R., Balloon, Pretzel and Drain.
S.T.A.R. stands for Smile, Take a deep breath And Relax. Taking three deep belly breaths helps to shut off the fight, flight, or freeze response in the body. Taking deep belly breaths with a child sounds like this, “You’re safe. Breathe with me. You can handle this. Take a deep breath in through your nose.” (Count slowly, 1-2-3-4.) “Now let the air out through your mouth.” (Count slowly, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8.) Counting helps you meet the goal of making the exhale twice as long as the inhale.
Watch to see if the child’s belly is moving (rather than just the shoulders). If the belly isn’t moving, the breathing is shallow and ineffective. When Sophie first learned to S.T.A.R. breathe, Dad helped her be successful by providing tools that offer visual feedback like the S.T.A.R. Breathing Tool, blowing bubbles and breathing with a stuffed animal balanced on her tummy.
Sophie’s mom and dad incorporate S.T.A.R. and the other active calming techniques into their daily activities. They’ve also placed printouts of the free downloadable Safe Place Breathing Icons from the Free Resources Toolkit around the house to help everyone remember to breathe. The more we model, teach, post and practice these techniques with children, the more easily they will be able to access them during times of distress.
Photo Examples: S.T.A.R. in the Entryway