Toddlers are not easy!
I feel like I have to retrain my brain and question my own body’s reflexes.
This is because I was raised in a completely opposite type of home than the attachment parent home my husband and I have created.
When my toddler continues to spill something, hurt her sister, or poop in her pants just seconds after she sat on the potty, it is hard to remain patient.
We just moved recently and with the change we had to find a new routine. Little bear was having multiple meltdowns a day and started biting Baby bear or trying to hurt her frequently.
I got so angry after hours of this going on. I shook with frustration and anger.
I took a time out for myself.
I shut the basement door behind me and cried with Baby Bear in my arms. I counted, hoping that would help calm me down. It didn’t.
“Bite her back so she knows how it feels. She won’t do it again,” comments like these are common pieces of “helpful” advice from family members and others.
To me that would be hypocritical and disrespectful to my child, while going against everything I am trying to instill in my children such as bodily autonomy, respect, treating others as you wish to be treated and more.
Then I had a thought.
A new mindset.
If I as an adult with a fully matured brain, with all it’s capabilities to control my impulses, I’m feeling this much emotion over my frustration; how much harder is it for Little Bear to deal with her big feelings?
How much harder is it for her to control her impulses with a brain that hasn’t matured? A brain that is ruled by impulses?
That is where my mindset changed and I was able to get above the situation.
I read some very helpful blogs and a book which helped explain this more in depth, you can find them here.
I started implementing a few changes honing what was right for Little Bear specifically.
10 Gentle parenting techniques that I used.
1) I started asking “Why” again. Why is Little Bear acting like this? Why is she not listening? Why is she biting?
2) I found her triggers. Frustration. Hunger. Tired. Sad. Mad. Needing space. Excited. Needing a change of scenery.
3) I implemented a routine. Little Bear is so full of energy and if she can’t get that energy out, she gets frustrated. So, lots of outside time. Making sure to offer snacks often. We joined play groups, and headed to the parks or other activities.
4) Little Bear started napping again from all the activity. I rock her to sleep after giving her Milkies or wear her on my back in my Mai tei swaying her to sleep.
5) We cut out Tv most days, which was limited anyways. We read, do crafts, color, playdough, sensory games, let her play by herself, join her, let her play with Baby Bear.
6) I give her freedom of choice. Little bear is bursting to be independent and so I give her options with everything.
Things like going home from the park when she wants to stay and play, she gets two options. She can walk or I will carry her. Her choice.
She usually chooses to walk, and I talk about what we will do that she can look forward to at home. So I am still setting boundaries, but also giving her the freedom of choice.
7) I make sure Little Bear and Baby Bear have my full attention. My phone is out to take pictures and video, or text back Papa Bear.
I only use my phone for social media when they are both napping. This way I get to enjoy my time with them and focus on what is real, and most important. I get to pick up on Little Bear’s cue’s on when she starts to get hungry, tired, frustrated, and curb her towards something else, or help her solve a problem before a melt down happens.
8) I connect with her. I let her know I understand her feelings by empathizing with her. Encourage her to use her words, and guide her when she can’t find them.
9) I try to say yes. If it’s 8am and she is asking for Tv I’ll say “Yes, you can watch something after bath tonight. Let’s go do ___”.
This has helped immensely. Meltdowns are rare and usually happen around bedtime when she is tired. I’m fully engaged.
These techniques have helped me to stay grounded, be more patient and have a better day.
Remember your child is not giving you a hard time, your child is HAVING a hard time and you are their safe place.
10) Another thing I have to do is take some me time. In order for me to be more patient, have the stamina, mental energy and not be so touched out; I need some time by myself. I need to be able to do things that help me feel like I am getting something back, not just giving from myself.
For me this is being creative in many forms. Writing, cooking, making decorations for our house or the girl’s events, planning ahead for fun activities, whatever makes me feel like I can relax and fill up my well.
What do we do when those frustrating times come? They will come only hopefully farther and fewer in between.
Remember to breathe. Deep breaths. Take a time out for yourself to calm down and re ground yourself.
I found even saying to phrases to yourself out loud like,
“She’s not giving me a hard time, she is having a hard time. I’m her safe place ”
“Gentle. Patient. Kind. ”
Then imagining myself as a tree with roots to ground myself.
Cool down, literally. Glass of cold water, ice pack on the back of your neck. Whatever works.
Drop your expectations. House is a mess, you have a to do list? Forget about them. Go for a walk, read some books with your child and try to reset. I find that sometimes when I throw my to do list to the wind with my expectations I am able to be more relaxed.
Am I perfect?
Far from it. We had one of these hard days today in fact. I am always working hard on myself to become a better gentle parent. These 10 things helped me and my family and they might help you and yours.
Please feel free to comment with suggestions of other things we can implement or share how this helped you. We are a tribe of mothers who are only doing what we believe is best for our children.
Helpful and gentle parenting advice is always appreciated!
Sometimes all we need is that change of mindset to get above the situation.
Photo Credit: Blanka