Do you have any ideas/tools to help a child learn to manage their nervous energy?
Ultimately this is just like teaching them any other Yuck Release Strategy.
First they have to recognize that they ARE nervous. I’d have them give that feeling a name, and perhaps even draw that feeling. Then they need to find other ways to release that energy (assuming the current strategy is unacceptable).
My guess is that that new strategy will have to start with something physical and rapid and include slowly bringing themselves down. (Maybe shaking their arms and then legs fast… and then medium… and then slowly.) What is your child doing now to release?
Then the final (and most important) piece is practicing these soothing skills between times of Yuck.
My son has always tended to act up when we go anywhere, like the park, grandma’s house, the store, the doctor’s office. I usually explain what kind of behavior is acceptable beforehand. We haven’t been anywhere in a long time, so when I had to take my other child to see a doctor, I bribed him before we went in. He couldn’t keep it together. I asked him later on, how he was feeling and he said ” I just feel so nervous”. His “bad” behavior in public has suddenly made sense.
Giving an explanation ahead of time IS a great strategy. But if an explanation and a bribe don’t work, it’s a sign that something is causing the behavior…. I’m so glad he was able to pinpoint it and now you understand it. 🙂 Now to just teach him other ways to get out those nerves!
So maybe try doing something physical before we leave the house?
Yes, you can do that!
Importantly though, he’ll likely need some strategies for IN THE MOMENT when he’s nervous… Ideally he learns to identify those nervous feelings (maybe he calls them the “butterflies in his belly” or whatever he chooses) and then when he feels them, he does something that’s physical but also acceptable… that’s where he may pace, or push hard against something, or shake his legs and his arms — whatever helps him tolerate and release that energy in a non-negative way.